Self-Discovery >>> Spiritual Growth >>> Happiness


Happiness It's All In Our Own Hands

Parables and teachings by Rinjai, Thai Buddhist Guru


Here are three little anecdotes that I'd like to share with you. They concern three sisters: Arom, Aporn, and Arpa.

You'll get used to it

One day, Arom went to see a fortune-teller who told her that she would encounter many difficulties over the following five years.

"Will my situation got better after that?" she asked.

"No, but you'll get used to it," answered the fortune-teller.

It's we who put our ears under this wooden shoes

Aporn attended a religious ceremony at a friend's house. It was presided over by a meditation master named Luang Pu Boodda, a very old man. Afterwards, while the monk was taking a rest prior to returning to his temple in Sing Buri, loud noises were heard coming from the shophouse next door; a man wearing  Chinese-style clogs was walking up the stairs. Irritated, Aporn complained to a friend of hers: "Why does he have to make so much noise?"

Although he had his eyes closed, Luang Pu Boodda was still totally aware of everything going on around him. "He's just walking. It's we who put our ears under this wooden shoes," the monk gently cautioned.

Dealing with the treacherous section of path

The third story goes back to the time when the three siblings were children.

One day, their mother sent Arom to the shop to buy some fish sauce. On the way back, she tripped and lost her grip on the bottle. "Too bad! I spilled half the fish sauce," she told her mother regretfully.

A week later, Aport was sent to buy a bottle of cooking oil. She tripped and spilled half of it. Despite the loss she was in an upbeat mood when she reported back to her mother: "Luckily, I was able to catch it before it broke so we still have a bottle left."

A few weeks later, it was Arpa's turn to go to the shop. She bought a bottle of vinegar but tripped on the way home with it. This is what she told her mother: "I was lucky, Mum, we still have half a bottle left. And I promise to be more careful next time."

Then Arpa took it upon herself to go back and repair the treacherous section of path. She dug out the protruding rocks and filled in the pot holes to prevent anybody else tripping over.

The Lessons

Taken together, the trio of anecdotes tells us how to cope with problems, how to turn the negative into the positive.

Exercise Patience

One way to do this is to exercise patience.

Don't fume. We can adapt ourselves to almost anything over time. No matter how tormented we feel, the mind has the resilience to adjust itself if given enough time as long as thoughts of suicide don't take over.

Two Mantras

Here is a pair of mantras that we can use to strengthen our endurance. As you inhale, think of the word, "endurable" and as you let the breath out, say to yourself, "very easy".

The second method is to better handle how your senses not only your eyes and ears but also your tongue, body and mind perceive and react to things around you.. For, more often than not, we suffer because our troublesome mind orders our eyes and ears to pick up the kind of things that annoy us. A noise may be laud, for example, but it won't annoy us if we don't let it. No matter what people say about us, it won't bother us if we don't take an interest in it.

Guard Your Mind

The rule of thumb is to guard your mind: Don't let it stray. To prevent it happening we need to cultivate mindfulness. Alternatively, we can concentrate on something that calms the mind, such as a piece of beautiful music or the very act of breathing.

Positive Thinking

The third way is to think in a positive way. When you encounter a problem, try to look for the good points. Everything has at least one good point. Even sickness has its positive side. You get some extra rest or have more time to spend with your family or you use the period of recuperation as an opportunity to turn to dharma. Should the illness not get worse ... well, that's a good thing already, surely? Loosing 1,000 baht is certainly better that losing 10,000 baht, isn't it? People may be saying bad things about us behind our back but at least they're not harming us in any worse ways than that.

Taking Action

Positive thinking is not enough on its own, however. We also need to fix the problem or prevent it from happening again. Arpa's positive attitude might have prevented her from getting upset about the loss of that vinegar. But she didn't stop there. She took it upon herself to fix the path so that nobody have a similar accident.

Positive thinking might ease our suffering while we are sick, but we need prevent ourselves from getting sick again; we may need to exercise more, perhaps, or eat more healthily.

We can turn suffering into non-suffering. We can even turn in into happiness. Whether we suffer or not depends solely upon us. It doesn't depend on what happens to us.

Everyone wants to bring nothing but good. But things will be even better if we can train ourselves to be more patient and mindful and to think in a positive way. If we can do that, then we'll have a definite guarantee that, regardless of what we encounter, we won't suffer as much or as easily as we did before.

That is our true guarantee of happiness.




Guard Your Mind

The rule of thumb is to guard your mind: Don't let it stray. To prevent it happening we need to cultivate mindfulness. Alternatively, we can concentrate on something that calms the mind, such as a piece of beautiful music or the very act of breathing.



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