Dec 17, 2010
Writing a book entitled How To Be Rich and Happy means rather unsurprisingly I regularly get asked by interviewers, “What is rich and happy?” and I always respond by saying, “I have absolutely no idea”.
As you can imagine, that is seldom the answer the person is looking for, or indeed expecting, and it usually leads to a furrowing of the brow and a quizzical look before the follow up question of “Well how can you write a book on it then?” comes my way.
Philosophers have been debating the meaning of happiness almost since the dawn of time and we still don’t have a definition that everybody agrees upon. Modern …
Nov 09, 2010
When the film Four Weddings and a Funeral came out in 1994, I was irritated by the film’s ‘token’ inclusion of a deaf character and two gay men. A lesbian friend was less judgemental. She was just thrilled that a mainstream film featured a gay relationship.
Reading Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-seller, and seeing the film adaptation starring Julia Roberts, I think I know how my friend felt. The ideas are flawed, but to see Buddhism portrayed positively in popular culture is a delight.
The story – if you don’t know it – is of a thirty-something woman, unsatisfied with her affluent New York life, who goes …
Feb 23, 2010
We spend much of our time and energy trying to pretend impermanence isn’t real, but the strange thing is that when we embrace impermanence we become happier, Bodhipaksa argues.
Here’s a very “queer thing” about life: sometimes the things that we think will make us miserable actually make us happier. When Professor Eric D. Miller of Kent State University’s Department of Psychology asked people to imagine the death of their partner they reported that they felt more positive about their relationships and less troubled by their significant others’ annoying quirks.
We live in a world marked by constant change and impermanence. The things we love decay and perish. The people we love will pass …
Nov 30, 2009
We all want to be happy, but often we’re not. Bodhipaksa argues that this is because of the way we treat ourselves as a thing that lacks happiness, and happiness as a thing to be grasped.
In a parable in the Buddhist teachings, a king hears the sound of a lute for the first time and asks to see what produced such sweet music. A lute is produced, but the king is not satisfied. He wants to see the music. His ministers say,
“This lute, sire, is made of numerous components, a great many components. It’s through the activity of numerous components that it sounds: that is, in dependence on the body, the skin, the
Sep 25, 2009
Recently I received a request to answer some questions for a book on the topic of surrender. Here’s the first draft of my response:
1. How would you define surrender? Who or what is one surrendering to, in your opinion? God, Universe, Self, Soul, What Is, present moment…?
Surrender is an important part of all spiritual practice. Ultimately it’s what we’re aiming to accomplish in practice.
What we’re surrendering to is the reality of impermanence and non-separateness. In reality, everything changes and nothing (including ourselves) is separate or self-contained. But we have deep-rooted assumptions that we exist separately from the rest of the world, that there is something in us (and others) that is …
Sep 24, 2009
Technology brings a world of spiritual knowledge to our fingertips. But immersing ourselves in a world of gadgets may also distance us from more authentic connections with teachers, family, and friends. Guest blogger Justin Whitaker takes a look at the double-edged sword of our hyper-connected world.
Since you are reading this, presumably on a computer or other high-tech device, you owe a thing or two to technology. Nearly all of us in the Western world and a fast-growing number in the East live in a world molded and directed by technology. We have lived amidst changes that could scarcely be imagined just fifty years ago. We wake up, push a button or …
Jul 27, 2009
The bodhisattva moves through life elegantly, “in the zone” and in a state of playful “flow,” and he can do this because he has abandoned any clinging to the idea of self. “Let go of your sense of self; you have nothing to lose but your suffering,” Bodhipaksa tells us.
I think Chesterton was absolutely right when he said that the object of life is play. The best kind of life we can live, I believe, is one in which we love, laugh, and learn: one in which we can be serious without being down, and can laugh irreverently at life’s difficulties without being facetious or trivializing them.
One problem is that we …
Jul 20, 2009
Eric Weiner writes today in the New York Times about a recent report saying that the Danes are the happiest nation, and puts it down to their attitude of not having unrealistic expectations — something that he (rightly, I think) equates with Buddhism. It’s a post that’s worth reading in full, especially for his analysis of the "hedonic treadmill," but here’s an extract:
About once a year, some new study confirms Denmark’s status as a happiness superpower. Danes receive this news warily, with newspaper headlines that invariably read: "We’re the happiest lige nu." Lige nu is a Danish phrase that means literally "just now" but strongly connotes a sense of
Jun 18, 2009
As a pragmatic Buddhist, I felt a lot of skepticism when I first encountered the Law of Attraction (LOA). Many things I’ve seen really stretch my credulity. But the more I think about it, the more I see nuggets underneath the hype that make sense to me, if reformulated a bit.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Buddha was a Law of Attraction proponent, I do think there is some common ground to be found between the two. Read more in Sunada’s blog.
Nov 17, 2008
Most people will tell you the greatest happiness in their lives comes from having children, but research shows that most people aren’t all that happy while parenting. Can mindfulness make parenting more enriching? Bodhipaksa thinks it does.
In an article in Atlantic magazine, author and Yale University professor of psychology Paul Bloom makes a provocative observation about parenthood and happiness:
Pretty much no matter how you test it, children make us less happy. The evidence isn’t just from diary studies; surveys of marital satisfaction show that couples tend to start off happy, get less happy when they have kids, and become happy again only once the kids leave the house. …