Sacred West

Buddhism and Modern Life

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When the Pain Gets Small Enough We Call It Happiness

August 20th, 2007 · 1 Comment · Filed under: Dharmic

I was reading Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche explaining the basic views of Buddhism in an old Shambhala Sun article, Buddhism In a Nutshell: The Four Seals of Dharma. Rinpoche explains that the Four Seals are four distinct characteristics that, if present in any path, can be said to be on the path of the Buddha.

The Four Seals he describes as:

  • All compounded things are impermanent
  • All emotions are painful
  • All phenomena are empty
  • Nirvana is beyond extremes

The second one captures the attention, the thought that all emotions are painful. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche says that only Buddhists would think this way. Everyone else celebrates the high emotions like love; Buddhists think, “this is all suffering.”

Then he describes in more detail what this says about our experience.

The dualistic mind creates a lot of expectations—a lot of hope, a lot of fear. Whenever there is a dualistic mind, there is hope and fear. Hope is perfect, systematized pain. We tend to think that hope is not painful, but actually it’s a big pain. As for the pain of fear, that’s not something we need to explain.
The Buddha said, ‘Understand suffering.’ That is the first Noble Truth. Many of us mistake pain for pleasure – the pleasure we now have is actually the very cause of the pain that we are going to get sooner or later. Another Buddhist way of explaining this is to say that when a big pain becomes smaller, we call it pleasure. That’s what we call happiness.
Moreover, emotion does not have some kind of inherently real existence. When thirsty people see a mirage of water, they have a feeling of relief: “Great, there’s some water!” But as they get closer, the mirage disappears. That is an important aspect of emotion: emotion is something that does not have an independent existence.

I wanted to share this.

And if you wonder, as I did, who is Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche…

UPDATE – if this is a new concept to you, do not despair, happiness exists, but not where we usually look for it. To answer this riddle spend five minutes with this video from Mipham Rinpoche, called What About Me

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Notice How We Allow Ourselves Happiness // Oct 3, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    […] Let’s always remember how well Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche explains this in that post I made a while back, called When the Pain Gets Small Enough We Call It Happiness […]

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