‘Happiness’ as Explained

To the question why anybody in life does anything at all, the answer, undoubtedly, is to satisfy his or her mental and physical need/s. This mental or physical need/s that satisfies him/her might be either good or evil. This is something that provides the particular individual some form of happiness. Thus we observe behind all kinds of scientific and technological development, political, economical, social or even spiritual development, there is only one force that instigates to carry on their respective job and that is the desire for happiness. The concept of happiness varied from person to person. Something is delightful to one person may not necessarily be delightful to others. Hence we see some people find happiness in killing while others enjoy saving lives. Anyway, this driving force or happiness, according to the Buddhist description especially of Abhidhamma, might be classified into five categories. They are:

1)    Happiness obtained through unskillful means,

2)    Happiness obtained through skilful means,

3)    Happiness obtained through the attainment of Jhana,

4)    Happiness obtained through the attainment of stages of arya-magga and phala/s, and

5)    Happiness obtained through the attainment of Arahantship or Nibbanic bliss.

The first type of happiness that is obtained through unskillful means may be called somanassa akusala piti meaning unskillful pleasant joy. People experience this type of joy through the performance of evil and unskillful activities. In the world there are people who, for the satisfaction of their sensual desire, go after all sorts of unskillful means. They commit evil deeds such as killing, stealing, lying etc. and obtain joy out of it. But they forget that each action has its retribution. This type of happiness is more physical than mental, and it is not long lasting. As for example having stolen something a person will be happy as long as the thing is with him, but when it disappears or when he is caught by the real owner of the thing he then is sure to obtain unpleasant experience which could be painful.

The second type of happiness is of wholesome nature because it is obtained through skillful means. This is obtained by way of performing wholesome actions such as generosity (d?na), ethics (s?la), mental culture (bh?vana) etc. Through our three doors of actions namely, body, speech and mind we can perform the wholesome actions and be happy with it. As for example in our day to day life we can perform our job honestly accordingly. We can help each other in various ways in our own family and also in the neighborhood and work-place. We can speak kind and gentle words to people and thus create a peaceful environment. And also we can uphold healthy mental states such as friendliness (metta), compassion (karuna), and appreciative Joy(mudita). Thus we can be happy seeing the happiness and prosperities obtained by others: family members, relatives or friends. This type of happiness is to be called somanassa kusala p?ti meaning wholesome pleasant joy because this is related to the beautiful aspect of the mind.

The third type of happiness that is obtained through the attainment of jh?na is also called jh?nic or pr?nic happiness. This type of happiness is related to the aspects of mind in the states of jh?na. When one is in the deep concentration meditation one realizes that his/her energy flowing through different channels within his/her body without any blockage. One then feels tremendous joy within. The joy is so refreshing and profound that the practitioner (yog?) does not want to get up from his seat anymore. This happiness is purely internal as opposed to the first two types of happiness which are external in nature. However this happiness is not ever lasting. This is occasional happiness which means it is experienced only when one is in the jhana/s, not otherwise.

The fourth type of happiness that is to be obtained through the attainment of stages of ?rya-magga/s and phala/s is also called supra-mundane dependent happiness. It includes in its scope the attainment of stream entrant (sotapanna), once returner (sakadag?mi) and non-returner (an?g?mi), not arahantamagga/s and phala/s. It is called dependent happiness because when one is in any of the three stages he/she is not yet completely free from the self-idea. And it is that which defines this type of happiness (together with the previous three) to be dependent. And this happiness is supra-mundane because when one attains states of sotapannasakad?g?mi and an?g?mi he/she destroys certain fetters especially those of uddhambh?giya-sa?yojana completely.

The fifth type of happiness that is to be obtained through the attainment of Arahantship is the independent one which everybody should wish for. Only Arahants who are completely freed from any unwholesome state of mind experience this joy. They have done away with all ten fetters and destroyed all kinds of outflow (kh?n?sava). The self-idea has become extinct in them. Therefore it is called independent happiness because unlike other types of happiness it is not dependent on anything at all be it physical or mental. Therefore it does not go up and down with sense objects. This happiness is stable one. This is the state of nibb?na. And this is the supreme bliss (parama? sukha?). There is no experiencer at this state of being, but the experience only. The idea that someone experiences anything at all is but a misunderstanding. This misunderstanding is caused by ignorance (avijj?). As soon as ignorance is removed there is the light of wisdom by which one then can understand that the phenomenal world as it appears is mere illusion. Grasping on the illusion one moves around the cyclic existence repeatedly and experiences constant agony. Therefore let us learn about the dhamma, practice it earnestly and attain the supreme bliss of nibb?na.

May All Beings be Happy at All time!

Related features from Buddhistdoor Global

Related news from Buddhistdoor Global

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments