True Happiness Pt. Two

Monday I shared some thoughts on the subject of true happiness by Chuang Tzu. According to this Chinese sage, happiness was found in wu-wei or “not doing.” Chuang Tzu said, “I consider doing nothing to obtain happiness to be true happiness.”

19th Century Tibetan Tangka of Shantideva
19th Century Tibetan Tangka of Shantideva

For Shantideva, the 8th century Indian Buddhist philosopher, there was no greater happiness than generating bodhicitta, the thought of awakening. Bodhicitta, the aspirational wish to relieve the sufferings of all beings, is considered the first and leading step toward awakening or Buddhahood.

In the first chapter of the “Bodhicaryavatara” (“A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life”), in which Shantideva describes the benefits of bodhicitta, he writes, “The jewel that is this thought is the true cause of happiness for all wandering beings.”

The selection below was included in a Mahayana liturgy based on Shantideva’s book. In the Wallace annotated translation this section has three headings: meditating on the happiness of fulfilling one’s own wishes, meditating on the happiness of benefiting others and fulfilling their wishes, and exhorting others to meditate on happiness.

This selection is roughly the last nine or ten verses (depending on the version) of Chapter Three. This version is my own, based on various translations.

Embracing the Thought of Awakening

After generating the thought of awakening, a person with a sincere and seeking mind will strengthen the aspiration with such thoughts as these:

Today my life is fruitful, my human existence a blessing. This day I joined the family of the Awakened, and now am I their heir.

In every way, now, I should undertake the tasks of my family, and never stain this pure lineage.

Like a blind man who has found a gem in a pile of rubbish, somehow this thought of awakening has arisen within me.

It is an elixir made to alleviate death in the world, an inexhaustible treasure to relieve the world’s poverty, a supreme balm to heal the world’s sickness.

It is a tree under which all living beings who wander over life’s paths may rest; the universal bridge open to all wayfarers.

It is the rising moon of the mind that soothes the afflictions of the mind; the great sun dispelling the darkness of ignorance. It is the fresh butter churned from the milk of dharma.

For the caravan of beings traveling the road of life hungering for the taste of happiness, this is the feast of true happiness that provides sustenance to all.

Today, I summon the world to the state of awakening, and enter into the true meaning of happiness, and may this cause all celestial beings, titans, and others to rejoice.


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