The Paradox of Worldly Happiness and Suffering

The paradox of Worldly Happiness and Suffering

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

If we look back at any past personal crisis, we can connect it to some happiness which we gained in the past, for instance, the suffering that comes from a divorce is directly connected to the happiness gained by the couple when they got married; the suffering from losing an object can be tied to the happiness gained when one obtained the said object. Every single suffering can be attached to some earlier happiness. The cause of suffering is some earlier happiness.

On the other hand, happiness is a relief from some existing suffering. A person loses a job and he feels sad. He gets a new job later on and he feels happy. Suffering is a period caught between two periods of happiness and vice versa. We can also say that the cause of happiness is an earlier suffering.

This may appear to be a bleak way of looking at life but it is an insight into reality. We may feel uncomfortable at first but that discomfort will quickly turn into contentment. Contentment is a cause for real happiness; the happiness of letting go.

We develop contentment because we can see that having more may lead to more suffering. But we should not deprive ourselves; there need to be some balance. Seeking after wealth is not a bad thing; it is how we attain it and later use it that determines the happiness that we derive from it.

Understanding this insight also helps us to develop equanimity when we face suffering. Instead of worrying, we can see it as an opportunity for us to make changes in our life to make things better in the future. We cling on to our existing circumstances because we are not able to see the opportunities. Sometimes the Divine must feed us a bitter medicine to bring more happiness into our life. The financial crisis which started in 2007 has created many successful and happy business people who lost their jobs. They suffered at first but losing their jobs turned out to be blessings in disguise.

One thing is for sure, happiness will always follow after suffering. Recognising this can give us the strength to go after the opportunities that our problems lay in front of us. Suddenly we have choices; choices that we were not able to see in the past.

When we see this paradox of worldly happiness and suffering, we start to understand the true causes of suffering. When we understand the causes of suffering, we will also understand how to remove them or what the Buddha called, the path towards the cessation of suffering.

Placing our happiness on external props is like construction a building on swamp land. It will never hold no matter how well we construct the building. We will be like a leaf which is blown about by the direction of the wind.

If we learn to find happiness from within, we will be like a pole planted deeply into the ground which cannot be blown about by the wind. We can easily test this out by minimising our ‘distracting’ activities for the next few days. Avoid watching television and spend more time alone at home or with nature. We will feel the gradual build-up of energy within us and we will feel happy naturally without the need of any external triggers. We will become like a small child again!

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