“The Other Shore” to Happiness and Enlightenment
Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Other Shore: A New Translation of The Heart Sutra…Berkeley, CA: Palm Leaves Press brings us on an inner journey toward a happier, more peaceful and enlightened life. Wisdom implies that we understand that life is made up of mental formations, no-self (more clarifications later), no birth, no death, no being, and no non-being. In general our journey is about recognition of no separate self, The Four Noble Truths – and suffering. The Truths note there is suffering; suffering has causes and conditions; craving and consumption feed our suffering; cessation of suffering includes happiness – which is available to us by skillful means and such practice will lead to the end of suffering and greater fulfillment.
Avoiding numerous desire and craving traps will help the process along. Note exactly what your happiness is right now in this president moment. Let go of greed, distant goals, and practice for now. Be fully aware of all the things you do have right now that may help you experience happiness. The key practices are: regular daily meditation, concentration, compassion, and shifting our mindset. Take charge of what your mind is doing; recognize what thoughts lead to suffering and what thoughts lead to happiness. Choose happiness! Once you are skilled enough to decide what you will be thinking, you are on the journey to a better life, especially emotionally. Focus on what you do have, including your “precious human life” (The Dalai Lama). We must never forget about our “exquisite human nature” (Thich Nhat Hanh). Non-attainment is part of the process; grasping, desire, and the never-ending treadmill of “I will be happy when I have ….” are in your way. Then you realize very quickly that you have it and you are still desiring and grasping for the next, and the next thing you want. We do cause some of our own suffering by the way we think and then act. Focus NOT on suffering; focus more on being present and happiness.
Enlightenment, nirvana, happiness and peace are our options. These do require daily practice and skill. Just be with what is (unless dangerous), and allow all experiences to simply arise and fall. Be with it all – the joys as well as the catastrophes. Begin now with this very short meditation and mantra.
- Relax and breathe calmly – recite the following statements.
- May I be content with what I have. May I be willing to allow what comes – good and bad. May I be patient with myself and the world. May I recognize that non-craving, non-attachment, regular meditation, deep concentration, and finding the happiness that exists without great effort are all possible. May I be in peace.
Practice! At some point inquire within as to your level of happiness and suffering, and what you can do to improve your experiences. No gain without daily regular practice.
For more information refer to Thich Nhat Hanh (2017). The Other Shore: A New Translation of The Heart Sutra…Berkely, CA: Palm Leaves Press, pp. 86-95, 98-101, 108-109 etc.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness