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Most of people these days will define Happiness as euphoria: A big party with friends, dancing, singing all night (sometimes drinking). From a Buddhist's perspective this is not even close to the true happiness, so how would Buddhism classify this kind of Euphoria? Something good, neutral or bad? Is it an addiction? Ignorance?

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4 Answers 4

Euphoria may result in happiness but this is temporary. Reason being is you have not absolute to maintain the world to your liking. Every good movie or party eventually does come to an end. The base of this happiness is creating temporary pleasant sensation. In the case of a movie it is looking at the story line and playing the concept of the story. In the case of food it is taste from the tongue. All these sensations arise to pass away. Also when the stimulus is not there it does not arise any more.

The best way to have lasting happiness if in different to the arising and passing away of sensations and achieving an unconditioned state where you do not need an external stimulus to create pleasantness.

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Partying, singing, dancing, and drinking do produce a certain kind of happiness, but it is a happiness based on sensuality, and so it is a fairly limited kind of happiness. Sensual happiness is always at least unwholesome, meaning that in terms of karma it doesn't lead towards future happiness and can impede spiritual progress. Some kinds of sensual pleasure (like drinking, drug use, sexual misconduct, etc...) furthermore produce evil karma which will lead to suffering.

Buddhism teaches that people should totally avoid those things which produce evil karma, but permits actions which are merely unwholesome for laypeople, encouraging moderation, but always praising wholesome happiness and pleasure (e.g. the happiness of generosity, virtue, wisdom, meditation, etc...) as being superior. In otherwords, it's ok for Buddhists to attend parties (although they shouldn't drink or take drugs, and they probably shouldn't go if these are the main reason people are going) but one shouldn't base their happiness off of a social life by just partying. Happiness needs a firmer foundation than that.

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The euphoria you describe (a big party with friends / dancing / singing / drinking) is a form of suffering experienced by samsaric mind. If we look very carefully deep into ourselves we can see how even within so-called pleasant experience there is a seed of unsatisfactoriness. There is always this anticipation of hangover, or feeling that we're missing even bigger fun, or timidity and up-tightness etc. This is due to an element of confusion inevitably present in a non-enlightened mind.

In Buddhism, happiness (sukha) is different. There are two kinds of happiness: worldly happiness and happiness of sugatas.

Worldly happiness is a quiet feeling of ease and comfort we experience when our existence is not burdened by troubles and emergencies. This is achieved by following common guidelines for good living, first and foremost the five precepts.

Happiness of sugatas is suchness (tathata) rooted in Final Knowledge, transcending all dualities such as desirable/undesirable. This is achieved by following preliminary guidelines for taming the mind, the special guidelines for gradually reducing the clinging, and the secret guidelines for attaining the view of spontaneously self-existing great natural perfection.

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Interesting question! I like it!

I feel it is not ignorance, quite the opposite in fact. If anything, you experience life more so -- your sensations and emotions are almost 10 fold compared to what they would be usually, except you are slightly better at not being overcome by them. For example, neuroscientists recently discovered a hormone released by our brains that gets stronger and stronger the more we meditate. In turn, this hormone opens up our pathways of being able to empathise more with other sentient beings, or watching a film, or listening to music, or general life experience. From my own experience, I find that when I am practising and also spending a lot of time with my teacher, I am so excited about life that I can't sleep. As my friend calls it, 'joy induced insomnia'. I wouldn't say it means everything is positive and great and happy, because like anyone's life, there is always an element of suffering or sadness. It just means I am able to deal with those things better, and it also means that my senses are heightened and I am able to tune in or pick up these subtle things much quicker and almost feel them myself, quite deeply. Sometimes sadness sits with me after a meditation and I'm not sure why, and by karmic coincidence, something will happen and it all falls into place and I totally understand it. That in itself, is what stems the happiness. When you realise that everything is connected and that there is so much more to explore with this. Especially when you begin to see and meet others who are somehow going through something very similar. That then boosts your happiness!

I'd say it's nothing like an epic party, it's more a whole never-ending burst of love. That keeps coming. And awe in absolutely everything.

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Hi thanks for the answer, do you have more details (or the source) about the hormones linked to meditation that you mentioned? –  konrad01 Sep 4 '14 at 12:56
Yep, this is a very long lecture given recently at the Mind and Life Institute: youtu.be/Tvuvw9uupH0 –  Xiao Long Sep 6 '14 at 12:35

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