Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Joy and Happiness

Happiness is more than joy. According to the teachings of the Buddha, joy is less pure because there is desire and excitement in it. When we anticipate a special occasion, we are often filled with excitement and joy - "I can't wait!" We should, however, be mindful of the fact that if we are too excited about something in the future, we tend to forget about the what is happening in the present moment. Joy is not the same as happiness. In the beginning, we need joy. But as we develop our happiness, the excitement that is present in joy disappears.

The example given in the sutra is of a man dying of thirst in the desert, who sees an oasis, a fountain of water, in the midst of a grove of trees. He feels joy and excitement. His body and mind race towards the pool, and he bends down, puts his hands in the water and brings the water to his mouth. Until the very last moment before he drinks the water, he feels joy.

But, when he finally drinks the water, he tastes real happiness, and his excitement has completely disappeared.

True happiness is the emptiness of desire.

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