We want to be happy. Consistently happy! And we have some sense of what can bring us happiness. And we want to be happy even in the face of loss and failure!
We all know that some of the ways that we are looking for happiness are flawed. Yet we keep on trying faulty ways of finding happiness, and that brings suffering. Or we use conventional ways to find happiness to avoid suffering. We think that if we let go of faulty ways of finding happiness, we think that will bring suffering, so we do not even try to meditate! No one wants to suffer.
We meditate to move towards complete happiness! Happy with no need for things to be a particular way. Happy without the need for certain foods, entertainment or booze. Happy (or content!) when things are not going our way.
What made the meditative path attractive and radical 2500 years ago was the radical teaching that each person is in charge of their own happiness. People were in charge of their own destiny, their own movement to happiness. No matter what class, race, gender, or social conditions, one could find true happiness through simple techniques.
Although meditative techniques are simple, meditation practice takes consistency and resolve. Some beginners attain immediate results, other beginners need some faith in the meditative practice. For those aspiring to find true happiness, they work ardently and diligently, with a sense of commitment to daily practice and virtue.
Most of eastern meditative teachings are included in the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The final goal of liberation from suffering, and finding true happiness is through inculcating the Four Noble Truths. The four truths are suffering, the cause of suffering, the ending of suffering and the path to the end of suffering. The “path” to inculcating the Four Noble Truths is the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path includes view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and meditation. These eight factors are like metal fibers of a strong cable, they are mutually supportive and make for a very strong and resilient cable.
We use the Noble Eightfold Path as a framework to move towards the complete release of suffering and movements towards happiness. Through meditative practice we find that our patterns of suffering and the associated impurities run deep in the unconscious mind. We meditate to let go of these deep impurities, to purify the mind. As we let go of impurities, the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path becomes a lifestyle, and even who we are.
In the training of meditation, the development of the Noble Eightfold Path, we begin with view. Actually it is called Right View. Right view is about perspective. Right view is an orientation towards the final goal of liberation from suffering, of attaining true happiness. We could work diligently and ardently in our practice, but if we are walking in the wrong directions, we will get lost.
Right view begins with abstaining from harming self and others. Right View includes karma, which is our actions. We understand harmful actions waters seeds of greed, hatred and delusion. Harmful actions condition harmful actions for the future. We understand that benevolent action, such as generosity, water the seeds of connectivity and generosity. Benevolent actions conditions benevolent actions for the future.
“Beings are the owners of their actions, the heirs of their actions; they spring from their actions, are bound to their actions, and are supported by their actions. Whatever deeds they do, good or bad, of those they shall be heirs.”
The beginning of the path of practice is simple. Abstain from unwholesome actions, act with wholesome actions, and begin to purify the mind. This is the beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path, Right View.