Buddhist Teachings and Prayers

H.E. Khenchen Lama Rinpoche Teaching on Genuine Happiness

(Notes to accompany teaching in Kettering on14 July 2014)

The foundation teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni relate to the truth that everyone experiences unhappiness and no one is happy for a long time. Unhappiness is experienced by everyone regardless of their education; whether they are a man or a woman; regardless of age; whether they are rich or poor; and regardless of country, culture, race, ethnic background or religion. In Buddhism, this experience of unhappiness is called Samsara.

The Buddha equated this unhappiness with suffering. Through his meditation practice, he realized why everyone experiences unhappiness and that there is a way out of suffering. In Buddhism the focus is on understanding the cause of unhappiness and living a life that reduces and eventually ends unhappiness. When unhappiness ends, we experience genuine happiness.

The Buddha’s teachings point out that unhappiness is due to our mind being focused on very small problems; our ongoing judging about things we like, things we don’t like, things we want, things we don’t want. We experience strong emotions as a result of this. We then act on these thoughts and emotions. We may experience a short period of happiness, but it doesn’t last long. Buddha also taught that genuine happiness is possible.

The Buddha taught that although everyone wants to be happy, we are looking for happines in the wrong place and so we can never achieve long term genuine happiness. Because people don’t know this they keep trying the same things over and over hoping “this time, I’ll be happy”. The misunderstanding is that we look outside of ourselves for happiness. When we live with this Samsara mind of judging, wanting and not wanting, we can never have inner, genuine happiness.

We can, however, develop inner happiness — this is genuine happiness. When we do, our day to day lives are more peaceful; we experience joy and we are not powerless in our life. There are many ways we can begin to increase happiness in our life. To begin, we can understand that everyone experiences unhappiness. As I said earlier, a good heart is the seed of happiness. We can learn how to be kinder to ourselves and to others. We can begin to be more helpful rather than helpless in our lives and reduce the harm we cause ourselves and others. We can increase our generosity and patience. We can begin to understand that we are all interconnected. That our thoughts and actions either help or harm people and we have a choice. If we choose to harm others, because we are interconnected, we also harm ourselves. We can begin to think beyond our small problems to consider our neighbourhood, our country and our planet. This journey of developing genuine happiness is a process that we can develop more and more each day.

In addition to learning new ways of thinking, experiencing and behaving, we can help ourselves develop genuine happiness through Tibetan Yoga, mudras and mantras. Mudras are hand movements that are done for different purposes. Today I will teach you mudras to develop genuine happiness through increasing your inner peace, joy and power of happiness. I will talk about each finger first and then we will put them together in a specific order and add a mantra.

We have 10 fingers. One thumb is linked to Wisdom, the other to Compassion. Even in our modern culture around the world, we give a thumbs up sign, it means something is good and we are happy.

Now, touching your thumb and your index finger together. This is the “OK” sign. When things are OK, we experience inner peace.

We now have inner happiness and peace. When we join our thumbs and middle finger together, it is the sign of joy. So now we have inner happiness, peace and joy.

Now we join our thumb and ring finger together. This is the mudra of power. When we do this mudra, we can remember that we can always do better. As we do this each day, our practice is more powerful and we grow in genuine happiness.

When we join the thumb and baby finger together, there are three fingers up. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are many groups of 3. This mudra is about wishing that all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness and be liberated, that is, to experience genuine happiness. In Tibetan Buddhism we call this Enlightenment. This mudra helps to develop the power to fulfil this wish.

Now we will do the finger positions in a specific order. This is the order:

1 thumb and middle finger

2 thumb and baby finger

3 thumb and index finger

4 thumb and ring finger

In this last part, we will add a mantra. Many religions use mantras and some prayers are also like mantras. Mantras use sacred sounds to help accomplish specific effects. In this case, we use this mantra to increase our happiness, peacefulness, joy and power to accomplish genuine happiness for ourselves and others.

1 thumb and middle finger OM

2 thumb and baby finger AH

3 thumb and index finger HUNG

4 thumb and ring finger HRI

Copyright 2014 Khenchen Lama Rinpoche