Dharma Offers More Than Just Happiness


A familiar promise often made by teachers of Buddhism is one of happiness. This is true, but the problem with happiness is that it relies on circumstances to experience this much desired emotion. In truth all circumstances are in the grip of impermanence, so when the circumstances that bring happiness go into change so does your happiness.
As well as happiness the practice of Buddha-dharma also promises contentment, which is of a far greater order and importance. Contentment is much more subtle and more difficult to bring into your life, but once established takes you beyond the need to chase ever-changing circumstances that you hope will bring the emotion of happiness. With contentment established you will be happy anyway, because you will no longer be pulled around by life’s vicissitudes but have an equanimity and stability in all situations, this we call the middle way, and so go beyond the stress of continually chasing after the uncertainty of happiness, that proves in the end to be just a temporary shield from the human malaise.




The distinction that Aloka makes between worldly happiness and true contentment is fundamental to what first drew me–and continues to draw me–to the Dharma.

Karen Piggin:

As a teenager I struggled with feelings of unhappiness, uncertainty, and a sense that something was not quite right, even though I had everything I needed. Hearing this talk and looking back, it is clear that we have to work on our relationship with ourselves to discover true contentment.

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