Transforming Suffering and Happiness into Enlightenment
by Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima
How To Use Happiness as the Path to Enlightenment
每當快樂和能帶來快樂的各種事物出現時，如果我們受到它們的影響，就會變得更加驕傲、沾沾自喜和懶惰懈怠，而這些會障礙我們的修行與進步。 事實上，不被快樂所牽引是有困難的，就像帕當巴‧桑傑（Padampa Sangye）指出的：
Whenever happiness and the various things that cause happiness appear, if we slip under their power, then we will grow increasingly conceited, smug and lazy, which will block our spiritual path and progress. In fact it’s difficult not to be carried away by happiness, as Padampa Sangye pointed out:
We human beings can cope with a lot of suffering,
But very little happiness.
That’s why we need to open our eyes, in whatever ways we can, to the fact that happiness and the things that cause happiness are all actually impermanent, and are by nature suffering.⁷So try as best you can to arouse a deep sense of disillusionment, and to stop your mind indulging in its usual apathy and negligence. Say to yourself: “Look: all the happiness and material wealth of this world is trifling and insignificant, and brings with it all kinds of problems and difficulties. Still, in a certain sense, it does have its good side.
Buddha said that someone whose freedom is impaired by suffering will have great difficulty attaining enlightenment, but for someone who is happy, it is easier to attain. “What good fortune then to be able to practise the Dharma in a state of happiness like this! So, from now on, in whatever way I can, I must convert this happiness into Dharma, and then from the Dharma, happiness and well-being will continuously arise. That’s how I can train in making Dharma and happiness support one another. Otherwise, I’ll always end up where I started—like trying to boil water in a wooden saucepan.”
The main point to get here is that whatever happiness, whatever well-being, comes our way, we must unite it with Dharma practice. This is the whole vision behind Nāgārjuna’s Garland of Jewels.⁸Even though we may be happy, if we don’t recognize it, we will never be able to make use of that happiness as an opportunity for practising the Dharma. Instead we’ll be forever hoping that some extra happiness will come our way, and we’ll waste our lives on countless projects and actions. The antidote to this is to apply the practice wherever it is appropriate, and, above all, to savour the nectar of contentment.
There are other ways of turning happiness into the path, especially those based on recalling the kindness of the Buddha, Dharma and Saṅgha, and on the instructions for training in bodhicitta, but this will do for now. As with using suffering as the path, so with happiness too, you need to go to a solitary retreat environment and combine this with practices of purification and accumulating merit and wisdom.
This is the same as for turning suffering into the path.
What this Training Brings
If we cannot practise when we’re suffering because of all the anxiety we go through, and we cannot practise when we’re happy because of our attachment to happiness, then that rules out any chance of our practising Dharma at all. That is why there is nothing more crucial for a practitioner than this training in turning happiness and suffering into the path. And if you do have this training, no matter where you live, in a solitary place or in the middle of a city; whatever the people around you are like, good or bad; whether you’re rich or poor, happy or distressed; whatever you have to listen to, praise or condemnation, good words or bad; you’ll never feel the slightest fear that it could bring you down in any way. No wonder this training is called the ‘Lion-Like Yoga’. Whatever you do, your mind will be happy, peaceful, spacious and relaxed. Your whole attitude will be pure, and everything will turn out excellently. Your body might be living in this impure world of ours, but your mind will experience the splendour of an unimaginable bliss, like the bodhisattvas in their pure realms. It’ll be just as the precious Kadampa masters used to say:
Keep happiness under control;
Put an end to suffering.
With happiness under control
And suffering brought to an end:
When you’re all alone,
This training will be your true friend;
When you are sick,
It will be your nurse.
Goldsmiths first remove the impurities from gold by melting it in fire, and then make it malleable by rinsing it over and over again in water. It is just the same with the mind. If by using happiness as the path, you become weary and disgusted with it, and by taking suffering as the path, you make your mind clear and cheerful, then you will easily attain the extraordinary samādhi which makes mind and body capable of doing anything you wish.
This instruction, I feel, is the most profound of all, for it perfects discipline, the source of everything positive and wholesome. This is because not being attached to happiness creates the basis of the extraordinary discipline of renunciation, and not being afraid of suffering makes this discipline completely pure. As they say:
Generosity forms the basis for discipline;
And patience is what purifies it.
By training in this practice now, then when you attain the higher stages of the path, this is what it will be like:
You will realize that all phenomena are like an illusion, and
To be born again is just like walking into a lovely garden.
Whether you face prosperity or ruin,
You’ll have no fear of negative emotions or suffering.⁹
Here are some illustrations from the life of the Buddha. Before he attained enlightenment, he abandoned the kingdom of a universal monarch as if it were straw and lived by the river Nairañjanā without a care for the harshness of the austerities he was practising. What he showed was that in order to accomplish our own ultimate benefit, the nectar of realization, we must have mastered the one taste of happiness and suffering.
Then after he attained enlightenment, the chiefs of humans and gods, as far as the highest realms, showed him the greatest reverence, placing his feet on the crown of their heads, and offering to serve and honour him with all manner of delights. However, a brahmin called Bhāradvāja abused him and criticized him a hundred times; he was accused of sexual misconduct with the impudent daughter of another brahmin; he lived off rotten horse fodder for three months in the land of King Agnidatta, and so on. But he remained without the slightest fluctuation in his mind, neither elated nor downcast, like Mount Meru unshaken by the wind. He showed that in order to accomplish the benefit of sentient beings, again we have to have mastered that equal taste of happiness and suffering.
A teaching like this should really be taught by the Kadampa masters, whose very lives enacted their saying:
“No complaints when there’s suffering,
Great renunciation when there’s happiness.”
But if it’s someone like me who explains it, then I’m sure that even my own tongue is going to get fed up and cringe with embarrassment. Still, with the sole aim of making one taste of all the worldly preoccupations ¹⁰ my second nature, I, the old beggar Tenpe Nyima, have written this, here in the forest of many birds.
This edition was prepared especially for Lotsawa House by Adam Pearcey, 2006, based on earlier versions by Rigpa Translations.
This is a reference to the ‘suffering of change’. When a pleasant situation changes, it becomes a source of suffering. Consider, for example, the sorrow caused by the death of a child. It is because we were so happy when the child was alive that his or her death causes us such pain.
Nāgārjuna wrote the Garland of Jewels (Ratnāvalī) as advice for his friend who was a king living in great luxury, so he suggested how to use his situation and turn it into the path of Dharma.
Maitreya, Ornament of Mahāyāna Sūtras (Mahāyānasūtrālaṅkāra). The first line is connected with wisdom, the second with compassion.
The ‘eight worldly concerns’ of happiness and suffering, praise and blame, gain and loss, fame and insignificance.
Chinese Translation Source: Lotsawa House
English Translation Source: Lotsawa House