The Zen tradition dawns guidance to live in happiness and wealth in our mundane lives. It tells of eight ways to achieve happiness that are still of great use in our contemporary lives. We can even back it up with what science has discovered.
I find so much of the Zen tradition to be true and ready to apply in our lives. As it is said, we should not believe everything we hear, but test its wisdom in our lives, and adopt it if it works. Let’s find out what fits in the banner of our existences…
The 4 things that lead to the welfare and happiness in this very life
One day, a family man is said to have approached Buddha Sakyamuni, the kind teacher at the origin of Buddhism, to be taught how to live the dharma truth in his life.
“There are […] four things that lead to the welfare and happiness in this very life. What four? The accomplishment of persistent effort, the accomplishment of protection, good friendship, and balanced living,” said Buddha.
- The accomplishment of persistent effort is earned by whatever one does for a living. The wealth must be acquired by energetic striving to acquire it in a righteous way. One must be skillful and diligent, research appropriate means for living, and realize it properly, to gain happiness in this area. Abraham Maslow, who studied the most accomplished people to found the positive branch of psychology, identified a similar need in humans, the need for achievement.
- The accomplishment of protection is attained with proper protection of the wealth. One must protect his “righteous wealth righteously gained” from potential threats, like fire or floods. Abraham Maslow also had identified the need for safety, the security of body, employment, resources, morality, health, family or property.
- The happiness gained with good friendship is one where one associates with people who are of similar virtue, young or old, “accomplished in faith, moral discipline, generosity and wisdom”. He discusses with them and emulates them. In our days, the happiness science has found out that the most important factor for happiness is indeed relationships.
- What of balanced living? In this case, it is understood as living according to our means, neither miserly nor above our income. We can achieve it by living just a bit below our income. Science on happiness relates on money with the happiness treadmill concept that having an income is important, but passed a certain level it doesn’t influence much our happiness. The happiness that comes with buying doesn’t even last long. So balanced living must then be a good choice for happiness.
The first part of the Zen recipe for happiness isn’t so far-fetched; it is simple and straight-forward. What about the other part?
The 4 things that lead to the welfare and happiness in the future life
We don’t necessarily have to do a jump of faith if believing in karma and reincarnation is beyond what we can do for now. I find this happiness guidance can be applied and harvested in our very life.
“Four other things lead to a family man’s welfare and happiness in the future life. What four? Accomplishment in faith, moral discipline, generosity, and wisdom,” said Buddha.
- Accomplishment in faith is by believing Buddha, the one who is said to have transcended the human condition and suffering, who is enlightened, and know the world. I understand in this that by following his example, we too are on the path to happiness. Living our spirituality as spiritual beings brings bliss. And studies on happiness show that a belief in the transcendent is linked to positive benefits.
- We have accomplishment in moral discipline when we abstain from the destruction of life (human, animal, or others, the most we can), stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and from wines, liquors, and intoxicants, the basis for negligence. It’s easy to observe one feels better when he has moral actions.
- As for accomplishment in generosity, we can do so by remaining free of stinginess, being freely generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishment, giving, and sharing, and by being devoted to charity. As research relates, the secret to happiness might be generosity.
- Finally, the accomplishment in wisdom is possible when we see into the true reality of phenomena, when we develop a wisdom “that is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering”. This one can be attained with Zen studies and living.
Those 8 winds of welfare and happiness can pull our sailing boats out of the torments of suffering and into the peaceful sunset of a lasting delight.
- We can implement this happiness and wealth advice with practicing: righteous persistent effort, right protection, good relationships, living just below our means, believing in enlightenment, having a moral discipline, being generous, and developing a peaceful wisdom.
The Daily Zen Journey Newsletter
- Zen Space
- How to Live in Our Reality
- Questions and Answers: What is Zen?
- Should We Meditate?
- The Zen Journey
- Living beyond Appearance
- We’re our Own Person
- The 4 Mind Changers
- Clear-Light Awareness
- The 8-Fold Path to Enlightenment
- I Do, I Go for Refuge
- Mistaking the Illusion for the Truth
- “I Am No-Thing” Koan
- Zazen Magic
- The Marvelous within The Mondane
- How to Be Zen in our Busy Lives
- We Do Not Have to Do Anything but Wait Till the Time Comes
- Loving Guidelines
- A Sense of Peace, or the Story of the Lotus in the Tornado
- Writing Down our Soul
- Please Stop
And the list goes on as it is a daily email, on weekdays, year long. For more information and pictures of the Daily Newsletter, you may visit this page.