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Table of Contents
PREFACE TO THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Part I - THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
Chapter 1 - THE RIGHT TO HAPPINESS
Chapter 2 - THE SOURCES OF HAPPINESS
Chapter 3 - TRAINING THE MIND FOR HAPPINESS
Chapter 4 - RECLAIMING OUR INNATE STATE OF HAPPINESS
Part II - HUMAN WARMTH AND COMPASSION
Chapter 5 - A NEW MODEL FOR INTIMACY
Chapter 6 - DEEPENING OUR CONNECTION TO OTHERS
Chapter 7 - THE VALUE AND BENEFITS OF COMPASSION
Part III - TRANSFORMING SUFFERING
Chapter 8 - FACING SUFFERING
Chapter 9 - SELF-CREATED SUFFERING
Chapter 10 - SHIFTING PERSPECTIVE
Chapter 11 - FINDING MEANING IN PAIN AND SUFFERING
Part IV - OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
Chapter 12 - BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE
Chapter 13 - DEALING WITH ANGER AND HATRED
Chapter 14 - DEALING WITH ANXIETY AND BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM
Part V - CLOSING REFLECTIONS ON LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
Chapter 15 - BASIC SPIRITUAL VALUES
THE ART OF HAPPINESS BOOK SERIES
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Published by the Penguin Group
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Preface to the 10th Anniversary Edition copyright © 2009 by HH Dalai Lama
Introduction to the 10th Anniversary Edition copyright © 2009
by Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the authors’ rights. Purchase only authorized editions. Published simultaneously in Canada
The excerpt from “Eight Verses of the Training of the Mind” by Geshe Langri Thangpa on page 182 is from the Four Essential Buddbist Commentaries by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. P.), India.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in- Publication Data
Bstan-dzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV, date.
The art of happiness.—10th anniversary ed.
With a new preface by the Dalai Lama and a new introduction by Howard C. Cutler.
1. Religious life—Buddhism. 2. Happiness—Religious aspects—Buddhism. 3. Buddhism—Doctrines.
1. Cutler, Howard C. 11. Title.
While the authors’ had made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the authors’ assume any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Dedicated to the Reader:
May you find happiness.
PREFACE TO THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I am very happy to learn that the publisher of The Art of Happiness—which I cowrote with my old friend, the American psychiatrist Howard Cutler—is bringing out a tenth anniversary edition of the book. Those who have read the book will know that it was the result of many hours of discussion, with Howard representing the current scientific perspective and me representing the Buddhist understanding of the issues pertaining to mental health and human well-being. So when the book was received well by the general public, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction since this indicated that our labor had made some contribution towards others’ happiness and well-being. Though each of us, the two authors, came from different perspectives, we always endeavored to bring our discussion to the basic human level, the level where distinctions between people—gender, race, religion, culture, and language—break down. At this fundamental level, we are all the same; each one of us aspires to happiness and each one of us does not wish to suffer. This is our most fundamental reality. And on this level, the problems that we each face as human beings remain the same. Given this belief, whenever I have the opportunity to engage with the general public, I always try to draw people’s attention to this fundamental sameness of the human family and the deeply interconnected nature of our existence and welfare. I also share my belief that as a species we need to ground our interaction with fellow human beings and the world around us on recognition of these profound yet simple truths.
Today, a decade after the publication of The Art of Happiness, I am heartened to see that the topic of human happiness is attracting increasing levels of interest and serious research, even from the scientific community. There is also a growing recognition within the wider community, as well as a growing body of scientific evidence, that confirms the close connection that exists between our own states of mind and our happiness. Many years ago I wrote: “If you want others to be happy practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy practice compassion.” The Buddhist tradition has, like many of the world’s great spiritual traditions, exhorted us to live our lives compassionately. These spiritual traditions teach us to feel connected with our fellow beings and with the world we live in. They celebrate service to others as one of the highest virtues. Today, growing scientific data confirm this insight. Researchers on human happiness identify compassionate service to others as one of the key characteristics shared by many of the world’s happiest people. To me this makes perfect sense. When we help others, the focus of our mind assumes a broader horizon within which we are able to see our own petty problems in a more realistic proportion. What previously appeared to be daunting and unbearable, which is what often makes our problems so overwhelming, tends to lose its intensity.
The question is: Can we cultivate ourselves to be more compassionate? If so, how do we do it? Again, here I believe that profound recognition of the fundamental sameness of the human family and the deeply interconnected nature of our well-being are crucially important. When you feel connected with others you are able to open your heart, which I often call our “inner door,” and reach out to others. In doing so, you acquire a deep sense of security and trust and a true sense of freedom. A key element of this process entails cultivating some degree of greater awareness with respect to one’s own mental states, especially one’s emotions and moods. With these practices you can lay a strong foundation within you, a kind of anchor that provides a true inner home. This is the basis of true inner happiness, a genuine wellspring of joy. Researchers often wonder about the causal sequence between compassion and happiness. They ask: Is it the case that compassionate people are happier or are happy people more compassionate? On a practical level, I suppose, which comes first does not really matter. What matters is that we can cultivate both. In my own Buddhist tradition, numerous mental trainings are offered to systematically cultivate greater compassion and well-being. Today, with new insights from the field of neuroscience, especially with the discovery of brain plasticity, we know that the human brain is highly amenable to change and adaptation, even at advanced ages, as in one’s seventies, as I am now. The revered thirteenth-century Tibetan master Sakya Pandita once said, “Seek learning even if you were to die tomorrow.”
In The Art of Happiness, we attempted to present to the reader a systematic approach to achieving greater happiness and overcoming life’s inevitable adversities and suffering. Our approach combines and integrates the best of East and West—that is, Western science and psychology on the one hand and Buddhist principles and practices on the other. Our aim has been to share with others the conviction that there is a lot each of us can do to achieve greater happiness in our lives and, more important, to draw attention to the tremendous inner resources that are at the disposal of each of us. Given these central aims, the main approach in this book has been to explore ways and means towards greater happiness and joy in life from the perspective of an individual human being.
Over the last ten years, Howard and I have continued our conversations, taking the discussion to the level of wider society and how the external environment impacts our happiness. In the course of these conversations we have explored a number of the key principles and practices that can play an important role in one’s personal quest for happiness. And more important, we have explored some of the challenging questions pertaining to how one can best apply these principles and practices in the context of the wider society. How can one maintain happiness in today’s troubled and challenging world? How can one apply the principles of The Art of Happiness in dealing with problems and suffering in the world? What are the roots of violence, on both the individual level and the societal level? How can one learn to undo these sources of violence? How can one sustain hope in humanity in the face of human violence and suffering? These are a few of the questions we strove to address in our discussions. During this decade, I have also continued with my ongoing dialogues with scientists, especially from the fields of cognitive and affective neuroscience as well as psychology, so that a greater convergence could be brought between the age-old insights of my own Buddhist tradition and modern science. I hope the fruits of this exploration as well as my ongoing conversations with Howard will evolve into a new book so that others can share in these exchanges, which I have personally found deeply enriching.
INTRODUCTION TO THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
The Art of Happiness: Looking Back and Looking Forward
by Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
A full decade has now passed since The Art of Happiness was first published. As I reflect on the course of events leading to the book’s publication, I think back to the beginning of the nineties, when I first conceived of collaborating with the Dalai Lama on a book about happiness. The Dalai Lama’s name was familiar to most Americans by that time, but beyond the Buddhist community, few had any sense of him as a real human being. The general public’s image of him was often little more than a vague sketchy caricature, marred by misconceptions: the jolly giggling Buddha, “the Pope of Buddhism,” “the god-king of Tibet.” In fact, if you mentioned the Dalai Lama’s name at that time, the most likely image to surface in the mind of an average American was probably Carl Spackler, the disheveled golf course groundskeeper in the film Caddysback, describing his brief stint as the Dalai Lama’s caddy: “... So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me! And I say, ‘Hey, Lama! Hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort.’ And be says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin for me—which is nice.”
Of course, there were some whose mental portrait of the Dalai Lama was more finely drawn, those who recognized him as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a tireless advocate for human rights, one who remained committed to nonviolence despite living fifty years in exile as a result of the brutal invasion of Tibet by Chinese forces. But even among the more knowledgeable, perception of him was often one-dimensional-some people saw him as essentially a political figure, for example, unaware of his stature as one of the world’s leading Buddhist scholars, a teacher with profound spiritual depth and wisdom. And many people at that time would have been surprised to learn that far from considering himself to be a great world leader, the Dalai Lama’s personal identity was most closely tied to his role as a simple Buddhist monk—one who rose each morning at 3:30 to spend four or five hours in prayer and meditation.
So by the early 1990s, I began to think about a book that would dispel these misconceptions and add some human flesh to the cartoonlike image of him in the popular imagination. But that was not the main purpose of the book. The far more important objective was to present his ideas about how to find happiness.
I vividly recall the meeting when I first proposed the idea of the book to the Dalai Lama. I was feeling far from confident. Over the years I had noted his skill at deflecting such proposals—so, fully expecting that he would turn down my request, I had come prepared, ready to argue my case.
“Your Holiness, I know that you have already written two dozen books,” I began, “but this book will be quite different. The objective is to distill the essential principles that you live by, which have enabled you to achieve a happy life. And even though these underlying principles may be based on Buddhism, I hope to present your beliefs in a way that can be applied by individuals from any background or tradition, showing how to apply these principles in their daily lives to cultivate greater happiness....”
“Ah, very good!” he said with enthusiasm.
“And then from my perspective as a psychiatrist,” I continued, “I’d like to examine your views on happiness, on what makes life worthwhile, within the context of Western psychology, even looking for scientific evidence that might support your views.”
“Yes. Okay!” the Dalai Lama said decisively, nodding his head in agreement to my proposal.
Without taking a breath, I pressed on, driven by my preconceived belief that he would not readily agree. My mind was so focused on convincing him, so intent on dazzling him with my arguments, that I had no attention left over to actually attend to what he was saying or to register his response.
Looking a bit perplexed, the Dalai Lama suddenly interrupted me.
“Howard,” he said, starting to laugh, “I already agreed. Why are you still arguing the case?”
Finally grasping that he had agreed to my proposal, I felt a surge of elation—among my objectives and reasons for proposing this book, there was a more selfish motive that I had conveniently forgotten to mention: I wanted to learn from him how I myself could become happier.
We began work on the book in 1993, during the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Arizona, my home state. That week he had an intensive teaching schedule, delivering a brilliant commentary on a classic text by Shantideva, the great eighth-century Indian Buddhist scholar. Despite his long daily teaching sessions, we managed to carve out some time to meet, aided by the fact that he was staying at the same place where his public teachings were being given, a resort hotel in the Sonoran Desert, outside Tucson. So every morning after breakfast, and in some late afternoons as well, we met in his suite, as I posed question after question, soliciting his views about life, about the things that truly make life worthwhile, the vital questions related to human happiness and suffering.
Over the months prior to our conversations, I had spent a great deal of time preparing a list of questions, carefully arranging their sequence according to a tightly organized outline that filled a thick three-ring binder. So when I showed up for our first meeting, I was ready. And it took only minutes for the Dalai Lama to relieve me of any illusions I might have had about controlling the direction of the discussion. I had planned on sticking with my set agenda in an orderly fashion, breezing through the questions one by one like knocking down a row of dominoes. But I quickly discovered that he apparently felt no compulsion to follow my agenda. His answers to my questions were often unanticipated, suddenly turning the conversation in a completely new direction. I might be following a certain train of thought, when suddenly that train would become derailed as he went off on an unexpected tangent. So I found our discussions to be challenging at times. At the same time, the Dalai Lama’s quick mind and robust sense of humor kept the conversations lively, and riveted my attention throughout.
Those conversations, supplemented with material from his public talks, provided the core material for the book, which was later expanded by additional discussions at his home in India. Quickly becoming absorbed in the project, I decided to temporarily give up practicing psychiatry in order to devote my full attention to exploring human happiness, seeking an approach that bridged East and West. I estimated that it would take perhaps six months to complete the book, and with the Dalai Lama as a coauthor, I figured that finding a publisher would be easy.
As it turned out, I was wrong. Five years later, I was still working on the book. And the thick stack of rejection letters accumulating on my desk from literary agents and publishers was a growing testament to the prevailing wisdom in the publishing industry at that time: the belief that books by the Dalai Lama held no appeal to a mainstream audience. In addition, they claimed, the public simply didn’t seem to be interested in the topic of human happiness.
By 1998, after years of continual rejections, and with my financial resources finally depleted, it seemed I had few options left. Still, determined to see that at least a few new readers could benefit from the Dalai Lama’s wisdom, I planned to use the last of my retirement savings to self-publish a small number of copies. Strangely, however, it was right at that point that the mother of a close friend happened to make an offhand remark to a stranger on a New York subway—a stranger who turned out to be in the publishing industry—which initiated a series of connections that finally led to agreements with both a literary agent and a good mainstream publisher. And so, with a small first printing and modest expectations, the book was at last released.
That was ten years ago. And the Dalai Lama, the publisher, and I could never have imagined the subsequent course of events. Awareness of the book grew rapidly, spreading more by word of mouth than by advertising or publicity. Not expecting such an overwhelmingly positive response, I watched with wonder as the book soon appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list, where it remained for the next two years. It wasn’t long before we started to see evidence that the book was truly becoming part of the cultural milieu in America, spontaneously showing up on TV sitcoms, game shows, even MTV—the very icons of popular culture in America at the time: Friends, Sex and the City, Jeopardy!, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, MTV Cribs—and even the season’s opening game on Monday Night Football, when one of the quarterbacks attributed his preseason success, in part at least, to The Art of Happiness.
Clearly, there was a kind of universal appeal to the Dalai Lama’s basic message: Yes, happiness is possible—in fact, we can train in happiness in much the same way that we train in any other skill,
directly cultivating it through effort and practice. Explaining how happiness can be achieved by reshaping our attitudes and outlook, the Dalai Lama shows us how the key to happiness is in our own hands. No longer do we need to rely on luck or chance to achieve happiness, waiting for the day when all the outer conditions of our lives finally fall into place—the day we finally lose weight, get rich, get married (or divorced!), or get that coveted promotion.
His fundamental message of hope seemed to strike a chord in people, resonating deep in the hearts of individuals not only in America but throughout the world—people from diverse backgrounds, perhaps, but who all shared the fundamental human aspiration for happiness, a yearning for something better in life. Ultimately, the book went on to be translated into fifty languages and was read by millions around the world.
A HAPPINESS REVOLUTION
The concept of happiness as an achievable goal, something we can deliberately cultivate through practice and effort, is fundamental to the Buddhist view of happiness. In fact, the idea of training the mind has been the cornerstone of Buddhist practice for millennia. Coincidentally, shortly after the publication of The Art of Happiness, this same idea began to take root in society from another direction—as a “new” scientific discovery—leading to a fundamental shift in many people’s perception of happiness.
When I first began work on The Art of Happiness in the early 1990s, I discovered that there were relatively few scientific studies on happiness and positive emotions. These were not popular subjects for research. Although at the time there were a handful of researchers studying human happiness and positive emotions, they were the mavericks. But then, suddenly, human happiness started to become a subject of intense interest to the scientific community and the general public alike, as people began to abandon their previous notions of happiness as elusive, mysterious, and unpredictable, replacing that view with the perception of happiness as something that could be scientifically investigated. And over the past decade, as more and more people have rejected the idea of happiness as something that is merely a by-product of our external circumstances, in favor of seeing happiness as something that can be systematically developed, we have witnessed the exponential growth of a new movement—a Happiness Revolution.
The watershed event for this new movement was the formal establishment of a new field of psychology involving the study of human happiness. The formal birth of this new branch of psychology took place in 1998, when a highly influential psychologist, Dr. Martin Seligman, the newly elected president of the American Psychological Association, decided to dedicate his term as president to the establishment of this new field, which he dubbed “positive psychology.” Pointing out that for the past half century clinical psychology had focused exclusively on mental illness, human weakness, and dysfunction, he called on his colleagues to expand the scope of psychology to include the study of positive emotions, human strengths, and “what makes life worth living.”
Seligman teamed up with another brilliant researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, to lay the groundwork for this new field. They were soon joined by a core group of top researchers from universities in America and Europe, and positive psychology took off with tremendous momentum. For the first time in human history, happiness had finally become a legitimate field of scientific inquiry.
Since that time, the Happiness Revolution has had a growing impact on all levels of society. Feature stories on happiness have inundated the popular media, while academic courses on positive psychology have been cropping up on college campuses across the United States and throughout the world. At Harvard University, for instance, “The Happiness Course” has now replaced Introductory Economics as the most popular undergraduate course, with enrollment quickly soaring to well over 1,400 students each semester. The impact is even being seen on the governmental level in nations around the world, with the country of Bhutan, for instance, replacing GDP with GNH (Gross National Happiness) as its most important measure of success as a nation. Policymakers in many nations are now even exploring the idea of shaping public policy based on happiness research. As one government official in Scotland exuberantly asserted, “If we can embrace this new science of positive psychology, we have the opportunity to create a new Enlightenment.”
THE BENEFITS OF HAPPINESS
One of the factors fueling the Happiness Revolution has been the startling research in the past decade revealing the many benefits of happiness, benefits extending far beyond merely “feeling good.” In fact, cultivating greater happiness can be seen as “one-stop shopping” for those seeking greater success in every major life domain. Scientific studies have shown that happy people are more likely to attract a mate, enjoy stronger and more satisfying marriages, and are better parents. Happy people are also healthier, with better immune function and less cardiovascular disease. There is even evidence that happy individuals live up to ten years longer than their less happy peers! In addition, happiness leads to better mental health, greater resilience, and an increased capacity to deal with adversity and trauma.
There are some who believe that happy people tend to be shallow and a bit stupid, a notion shared by the French novelist Gustave Flaubert, who once wrote: “To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.” Recent research, however, has proven this idea to be nothing but a myth, finding that happiness leads to greater creativity and improved mental functioning.
The benefits of happiness extend to the workplace, as well, with happy individuals performing better and enjoying greater personal success on every level, including higher income. In fact, studies show that higher income is more directly related to one’s level of happiness than to one’s level of education. Extensive research has also shown that organizations with happy employees are more successful, consistently demonstrating greater profitability; this isn’t surprising considering that happy workers are more productive, more loyal to the company, take fewer sick days, show up to work more consistently, have fewer conflicts with coworkers, quit their jobs less frequently, and generate greater customer satisfaction.