Meditation & Health #5 – Happiness Through Meditation
Happiness Through Meditation
Excerpted from Grandmaster JinBodhi’s Illuminating Body and Mind
Meditation helps us to better understand the most fundamental concepts and philosophies in life. Many people suffer from losses – losing their job, parting from their lover or loss of a loved one or ones’ own health after a car accident. They do not understand that one eventually loses what one owns because all possessions are transient.
Have you ever seen a person holding something in his hands for a year? That would be difficult, right? It is hard to hold anything for even an hour without ever putting it down. People often mentally ‘own’ something. In fact, with the exception of basic necessities such as clothing, food, shelter and transportation – all ownership is psychological. Thoughts of losing a job, money, a boyfriend are illusionary ‘losses’. The truth is nothing was ever lost (because we never truly owned them).
If you are a mentally stable person, you might feel awful when you realise you are lost and cannot find your house anymore. You might panic and scream, “Help! Help me find my house! I’m lost!” At this moment, you feel like you are suffering. In reality, ‘to have’ or ‘not to have’ something is all in your mind.
The ultimate goal of meditation is enlightenment. When you reach the state of enlightenment, you will feel the ultimate philosophical concept of the Universe. This ultimate realisation is what meditation brings us: an invaluable treasure that is the Great Wisdom.
After you realise all these, you will not suffer any more. Unlike today, you will not feel unhappy about losing something.
Personally, if I lose something that I like, I feel pain for a short time. The length of time depends on this object’s value and its value in my heart. If I lose a watch worth $20,000, I will feel frustrated, but this feeling might last one minute only, then I will think, “OK, it’s gone. Next time I will wear a two-dollar watch, so if I lose it, I won’t feel affected.”
If this happens to someone who has not had the experience of seeing the truth behind everything, he or she might suffer for half a year. And if they are filled with negative emotions for that long, they might develop physical illnesses. In the case of losing a lover, a typical example is the story told in the Chinese classical novel A Dream of the Red Chamber. Miss Lin Daiyu fell in love with her cousin, but could not marry him in the end. How long did she survive after his marriage to another woman? Perhaps, for a few days. Different people have different capacities to bear suffering. The weaker ones might commit suicide three days after losing a lover. Some could bear the pain for three months, others half a year, perhaps. ‘Suicide’ here means having no more vitality in one’s life, no more courage to face life. Even if they are still physically alive, their emotional lives have ended.
Meditation Is a Shortcut to Universal Truth
In our world, when there is gain, there is loss; when there is birth, there is death. What you seem to have now, you will ‘lose’ sooner or later. Many of you are married. Do you realise that sooner or later you will part from each other? I do not mean getting divorced, but at death you part. It is unlikely you will die together or that you will ask your spouse to kill him or herself because you are dying.
We ought to be clear about this: I am happy to get what I get and I cherish what I have. An ordinary couple should cherish the other person so that they do not waste their time together. Some people may try to be funny and say, “Oh good! I’ll ask (him or her) to do all the housework so time won’t be wasted.” This would lead to unhappiness, no matter how much the other person does for the family.
However, there is no need to go to the other extreme either; i.e. do not try to woo the other person to the extent that you become his or her servant. Slowly, you will learn how to balance the interactions with each other and you will realise that a happy life with each other is a symphony of pots and pans. Different tunes, including arguments, are all a part of this symphony. The overall sweetness includes patches of bitterness. Just like eating habits, people have different preferences. Some like to add spicy chillies to their food and although their tongue is on fire, they still enjoy the sensation. Some people like to add a bit of argument to their married life. Some northern Chinese people love to add vinegar to their dishes. Without the sourness, they do not enjoy their food. So add vinegar if this makes you happy, if this is your interpretation of a happy life.
Another issue is that some husbands and wives like to ‘drink vinegar’ (jealousy) when their spouse treats a member of the opposite sex well. There is a positive side to this: It indicates that your spouse loves you and cares about what you do. Thinking of it this way, you should feel happy. If you have an affair with another person and your spouse does not even care, would you feel happy? If so, maybe you should not stay married.
We also need a new definition for ‘happy life.’ Many people have an illusion of a happy life. For instance, they think “when I get rich I’ll eat abalone every day.” I believe that if you have the chance to eat abalone for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, you might get sick. In my view, a happy life is an ordinary life, as long as you enjoy what is in it. It is a mixture of different tastes, with each taste adding to the main melody. My advice is not to set unrealistic standards for a happy life. If your view of a happy life is where everything is perfect, you will inevitably be disappointed. It is better to have lower expectations so you will be overjoyed when they are exceeded. It is like when we are overjoyed to see the winter sunshine in Vancouver. Anything exceeding our expectations is a bonus.
This state of consciousness and these alternative views on life are the result of practising meditation. Through meditation, we realise that we must cherish what we have right now. How? Seize the moment – this moment that you are! Do not focus on tomorrow or next year. Concentrate on now, this moment right now. Are you in control of your emotions at this moment? Are you in a good mood right now? Are you in touch with your inner feelings this very moment?
If you can achieve this; if you can be in touch with your inner feelings every moment, you will be your true self and you will lead an authentic life. And being your authentic self, you will naturally do things that are most suitable and realistic to you. This is what you will learn from practising meditation. In conclusion, we can say that practising meditation brings multiple benefits and serves as a shortcut for us to get to know who we are and what life is all about. This shortcut is magical, direct and fast.