Forms of Happiness from Buddhist Psychology
Given the season “to be jolly” I plan to write several posts on the topic of happiness. The following information notes five stages or levels of happiness. Read them over and see what stage/level may be appropriate for you at this time in your practice. Note that some meditation leaders do their best to separate out happiness from the goals of Buddhist meditation; in fact, some imply you should simply give up trying to become a happier person. Others imply that eventual progress in meditation practice applied to life will allow us to experience more happiness via various changes and practices. Some indicators include generosity, gratitude, compassionate practices, impermanence, no-self, dependent origination, and ultimate emptiness. Here are the levels – or stages as some people prefer.
- Minor Happiness – This may be a slight sense of awe in the present moment of experience. It arises and falls quickly, but you know you have experienced it. You may perceive a subtle sense of lightness and inner joy.
- Momentary Happiness – This experience comes into consciousness in a flash; it may be quite intense and short-lived. You again experience lightness and joy but with a bit more awareness.
- Showering Happiness – This is a stronger experience via sensation and emotion. You perceive it as being longer in duration. You may feel happiness flowing inside and outside of your body. This is the form of happiness that we learn to crave and desire. We want more and more of this in our emotions and sensations. If we are not careful, our too strong pursuit may end up in dissatisfaction, thus more suffering. “You can’t alway get what you want.”
- Uplifting Happiness – This experience may be so strong that we may perceive our body being lifted up. It is energetic and longer lasting. This may be a form of higher consciousness, experienced as “happiness consciousness.” We tend to like this experience a great deal.
- Pervading Happiness – This is an experience of deep inner serenity and calmness, and is registered as sublime happiness. This form of happiness is an experience on stable tranquility and joy. Such experiences support our long path toward liberation from Samsara. This experience implies we have learned and practiced Buddhist Meditation and Wisdom well.
For more information refer to Fryba, M. (1989). The Art of Happiness. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, pp. 77-110.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
New Edition of Mindful Happiness in Production…Coming soon!