Tuesday May 22, 2018
Home India How to be hap...

How to be happy-learn from the happiest man on earth

0
//
140

Meet the happiest man in the world Matthieu Ricard. This 69-year-old is a Tibetan Buddhist monk originally from France. He came to be known as the “world’s happiest man” when he participated in a 12-year brain study on meditation and compassion led by a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson. Davidson hooked up Ricard’s head to 256 sensors and found that when Ricard was meditating on compassion, his mind was unusually light. Ricard – who says he sometimes meditates for entire days without getting bored – admits he’s a generally happy person although he feels his “happiest man” title is a media-driven overstatement.

He spoke with an international daily at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Here’s his advice for how to be happy. To Ricard, the answer comes down to altruism. The reason is because thinking about yourself, and how to make things better for yourself all the time, is exhausting, stressful, and ultimately leads to unhappiness. “It’s not the moral ground,” Ricard explained. “It’s simply that me, me, me all day long is very stuffy. And it’s quite miserable because you instrumentalize the whole world as a threat, or as a potential sort of interest [to yourself].”

If you want to be happy, Ricard says you should strive to be “benevolent,” which will not only make you feel better, but it will also make others like you better. (That’s not to say you should let other people take advantage of you, Ricard warns, but you should generally strive to be kind within reason.) “If your mind is filled with benevolence, you know – the passion and solidarity.

This is a very healthy state of mind that is conducive to flourishing,” Ricard says. “So you, yourself, are in a much better mental state. Your body will be healthier, so [it] has been shown. And also, people will perceive it as something nice.” That all sounds great in theory, but how does a person actually become altruistic and benevolent and not let selfish thoughts creep in? But, like a marathon runner who needs to train before he or she can run 42 km, people who want to be happier need to train their minds.

Ricard’s preferred way of training his is meditation. “With mental training, we can always bring [our level of happiness] to a different level,” Ricard explains. “It’s like running. If I train, I might run a marathon. I might not become an Olympic champion, but there is a huge difference between training and not training. So why should that not apply to the mind? . There is a view that benevolence, attention, emotional balance and resilience are skills that can be trained. So if you put them all together, you could say that happiness is a skill that can be trained.”

Ok, so how does one train their mind to be happier? Start by thinking happy thoughts for 10 to 15 minutes per day, Ricard says. Typically when we experience feelings of happiness and love, it’s fleeting and then something else happens, and we move on to the next thought. But Ricard says instead, concentrate on not letting your mind get distracted and keep focused on the positive emotions for the next stretch of time.

And if you do that training every day, even just two weeks later you can feel positive mental results. And if you practice that for 50 years like Ricard has, you can become a happiness pro too. That’s backed up by neuroscientists, by the way. Davidson found from his study that even 20 minutes of daily meditation can make people much happier overall.

This article was first published at dailyhunt.in. Image- matthieuricard.org

Next Story

Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

0
//
6
Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

Cats And The Goddess: Cats And The Goddess: Mapping Pagan Iconography Of The Divine Feminine

Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)