In the Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison, Shan gives advice to Yeshe that demonstrates the general essence of happiness and could possibly explain the Dalai Lama’s perpetual happy state. He tells Yeshe that “it is a mistake to think of courage as something you show to others. True courage is only something you show to yourself” (271). While Shan is referring solely to courage, the concept applies to any feeling. The keyword in his statement is “think” because it truly is a mistake to think of emotions as having a sense of obligation. Others may sense and see your emotions, but there is no need or desire to show it; it simply happens and you just are. Still, many wonder what is the source of happiness and if it is possible to attain this state.
I remember, once, sitting back trying to give happiness a definition. I laughed. My reasoning, I realized, was defective because I was trying to constrain an abstract concept, a feeling that we label as happiness but never had a label for before words existed. And for that matter, I could invent as many words as I believed needed to fully explain it. Likewise, any definition I thus applied would be fitting. So happiness is amtacularlous. Amtacularous: An amazing, spectacular feeling akin to a miracle and found in the reatastical gorium. I feel free to pronounce it how ever I feel; whether I sound French or Spanish or Arabic matters not since I invented the word. All the thoughts coursing through my mind were nothing but obstructions leading me to construct happiness. Happiness, as with all feelings, is best understood and felt without the lock imposed upon us by finite thoughts.
Whether it exists depends heavily on your perception of what happiness is; everyone, being different and sharing a plethora of varying views, will perceive it in a diversity of ways. For example, if many see perfection as the key to happiness then it is undeniable that they will feel a great deal of daily dissatisfaction, unless they have a unique definition of perfection that defers from the norm. As for me, while I was sick, I realized where a portion of my happiness stems.When ill, I lose clarity of thought and the freedom to function properly; therefore, I found that the key, for me, was freedom in many forms. If one cannot think, eat, sleep and breathe, then it seems that the purpose of living becomes null and void. Nevertheless, there remains an approach through which, even in the most despicable state (there are exceptions, always), peacefulness and happiness can be found.
If happiness is based on how one perceives a situation, then some situations can bring about, if not happiness, peace. In order to do so, one must be willing to see the positive side of any situation and willing to make the most of the worst possible scenario. In other words, one must rise above the many obstacles in life. In Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery, Eugen, when discussing the art of the swordsman, mentions that “the swordmaster is fearless….He no longer knows what fear of life and terror of death are. He lives….happily enough in the world’ (78). Furthermore, the master’s counsel, in Zen in the Art of Archery, reveals the way to happiness when he says that “you must free yourself from the buffetings of pleasure and pain, and learn to rise above them in easy equanimity” (60). Happiness is not only a choice, it might be the freedom from fear, worry, and ignorance which is the cause of suffering.
For the most part, it is you who are in charge and you who affect your state of being. Your perception dictates how you feel and therefore influences how you approach life. The Dalai Lama enjoys the present moment, accepts that bad and good things happen, but most importantly he detaches himself from the negative feelings that may arise. He acknowledges that certain episodes may cause sadness but I feel that he sees a beauty in life, that through his own happiness he can make others happy, and in turn become happier himself. It seems he has a greater purpose, one for the greater good. There is no doubt that that must be extremely fulfilling.