Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
I found it interesting how you and others shifted from "happiness" in my post to "unhappiness" in yours. Are there only the two states? Or is there a third neutral state between? Is there a state where you just "are"? When the mind is quiet, is there happiness or unhappiness?
The desire for happiness, "feeling good", etc. is very strong and instinctual stion is at what point does this desire stop influencing one's perception of reality?
Thank you for the questions.
I think that the possible answers to the question, “Are you happy?” are, broadly, (1) Yes, (2) No, or (3) I don’t know. The last implies a state of unawareness. There is a range of happy/unhappy mental states: from, say, contentment/discontentment to jubilation/despair. One might expand on those answer by identifying some state along the range.
I don’t know what an aware neutral state would be. Happiness (as I think of it) has to do with experiencing harmony or disharmony in mind, body and environment (circumstances). If one is aware, one is aware of experiencing either harmony or disharmony—whether one is actively thinking about it or not.
If one is in an aware state of harmony, one is happy. If one is in an aware state of disharmony, then one either changes the situation or adapts. One does not have to add to the disharmony with one’s thinking—
“It’s so hot, and I want it not.
“O woe is me!
“I wish there was a tall shade tree.”
One the one hand, the Serenity Prayer offers practical counsel here.
On the other hand, if one is not making any thoughts, whence unhappiness? Before you are asked, and think about it, are you unhappy?
So, I could revise what I said above: If one is in an aware state of harmony, and one thinks about it
, one might say they are happy. If one is in an aware state of disharmony, and one thinks about it
, one might say they are unhappy. At that point, one can choose to continue to be unhappy or not, within a broad range of latitude, and depending on whether one has learned the capability. I do not say it is easy; I confess that I have known only a handful of people who can do it with strong consistency.
Be aware, especially of your own mental activity (with the same detached awareness you might have watching a flock of birds flying), and realize the power of your own mind to think harmony/disharmony into happiness/unhappiness.
Regarding so-called “enlightenment”, one might raise the counter-questions: could seeking after “enlightenment”—as some sort of special way of being—imply some kind of veil of illusion. What exactly is one seeking, if one says they are seeking after "enlightenment"? And with what does one seek?
The everyday mind—unencumbered by entangled thinking!—is the Buddha mind. What you’re looking for is what you’re looking with.
Perhaps the question is at what point does this desire stop influencing one's perception of reality?
I think you know the answer to this yourself—with regard to any
And, as it relates to happiness/unhappiness as mental states, I think you know the Buddha’s answer (and we could just reduce everything I said above to that). And if that is what you were getting at in your opening post, we’re in accord.
All of this talk depends crucially (as someone else pointed out) on how we are using words such as “happiness” or “enlightenment”. In the clear-aware state, where one is not adding any thinking/concepts, there is no thought “I” to think “happy” or “unhappy”. I would not call that a neutral state, however (which is itself another concept).
One can say that in such a state there is neither happiness nor unhappiness, or one can say that one is in a state of harmony, or one can say that that is happiness, or . . . I would say that in that state one experiences harmony and thus happiness—but now I am talking conceptually about what is prior to concepts. Perhaps I should have made that clear up front. I just don’t want anyone to think that harmony and/or happiness must be sacrificed for either disharmony/unhappiness—or some sort of in-between blank-state blandness. That is not what it’s about.