If you’ve been following along with this series on the Discourse On Happiness, you know that we’ve created a blog category where you can find commentary on all the answers the Buddha gave on how to be happy, here.
Today we’re at number six:
“To avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
and to be diligent in doing good things;
This is the greatest happiness.”
Here, the Buddha first tells us what not to do: stay away from unwholesome actions and don’t get caught up in alcohol and/or drugs. That’s pretty direct. Let’s look at the word unwholesome. It’s not a word we use every day. When we’re talking about unwholesome behavior, we’re talking about behavior that is not helpful to our physical, mental, or ethical well-being. As I’ve said before though, the Buddha always gives a road map. Here the road map he leaves us is this: “be diligent in doing good things.”
What do you hear in the word “diligent?” For me, what comes up are words like, steadfast, consistent, being attentive to, and most of all, mindful. How do we stay steadfast, consistent, attentive, and mindful? Places to start are the Buddhist Precepts, the Paramitas, and the Noble Eightfold Path. But we can start right where we are, even if we know nothing about Buddhism. We start by doing the next right thing.
The Next Right Thing can point the way to clarity and it can pull us out of a downward spiraling path. What we first have to do is Stop and Awaken to what we’re doing and what’s going on around us. Doing the Next Right Thing can only lead to a happier, more peaceful life.
On the episode of the podcast, The Way Out Is In, No Way To Happiness, Happiness Is The Way, Joe Confino and Brother Phap Hu discuss a Plum Village tradition of practicing “watering seeds”. This practice is about what we put our energy into. Do we water seeds of happiness, positive growth, and peace? Do we put our energy into things that bring us joy? Do we help others place energy in positive places as well? If we do this for ourselves and help others along the way to do the same, even in hard times, seeds of peace and clarity will prevail
Alcohol and drug abuse are at epidemic proportions in the West and in other parts of the world as well. Both are heart-breaking diseases that claim the lives of hundreds of thousands annually. We are not here to judge. Below are links to resources other than AA. Although I cannot personally recommend any of these, they provide a place to turn and a place to get information and help.
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May we each be a blessing,