4

Once I asked a wise man "Why should I be happy?" He said "Because there are people more miserable than you. Thank God that at least you are better than them." There are couple of depressed kids living in my neighborhood(people call them mad). Sometimes I feel happy that at least I am not depressed or mad. I use their depression as a reason for my happiness.

My question is (from the Buddhist point of view): Should my happiness be dependent upon the suffering of others? In other words should my happiness be dependent upon my ability to find an example of new low in the human suffering?

4

For the question, "Why should I be happy?", if the answer is, "Because there are people more miserable than you. Thank God that at least you are better than them," I think this is not an answer appropriate for Buddhism.

The reason is that today there are other people worse off than you, but in the future, it is also possible that you are worse off than them. That's anicca - nothing is permanent. This answer also shows a lack of compassion and loving-kindness.

Instead, you can generate happiness through the Brahmavihara of loving-kindness (metta), to wish that both you and them would be happy, safe and at ease.

The other Brahmavihara is compassion (karuna). If you can't alleviate the sufferings of others, at the very least, you can contribute towards not increasing their suffering.

From the Karaniya Metta Sutta:

Think: Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large, middling, short,
subtle, blatant, seen & unseen,
near & far, born & seeking birth:
May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.

As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.

With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around, unobstructed,
without enmity or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.

  • 1
    Excellent !! I think it would be appropriate for all us to repeat this metta sutta everyday. (This comment doesn't intend to add superficial content to the answer above. Instead it guides further to become happier.) – Dheeraj Verma Feb 25 '18 at 7:18
2

If today you feel happy/grateful because somebody's kids are mad and you are better, then if tomorrow I come and fight you or take away your belongings, you will be a very sad/depressed person. If 2 retarded kids decide your emotions or if I decide your emotions, then this is a very bad thing for you, because in any situation in life, you will feel all kinds of emotions. Your mood will be a slave to the world outside because anything can happen.

Whatever you feel as emotions is internal (inside you), be it happiness, sadness, anger etc., These are not external, please see this.

How do you want your emotions to be? Sweet all the time? Pleasant all the time? If your own emotions are controlled by you yourself, the owner, then there will be no need to think about some retarded kids to feel better/grateful.

1

A reason to be happy is because you have been able to meet the Dharma, and want to practice it.

If the Dharma is anti-suffering, you suffer less (or not at all) with the Dharma compared to without it.

So your happiness may depend on (or be contrasted with, you can be happy because you're better off than) the theoretical, miserable you-without-Dharma.


But I'm not sure that the mind can attend to so many different things at once, i.e. ...

  • Dharma
  • Theoretical absence of Dharma
  • Theoretical suffering in the absence of Dharma
  • Happiness that the suffering is only theoretical

... so it may be more straightforward and effective to simplify that, to just ...

  • Remembrance of Dharma
  • Happiness as a consequence of that

Perhaps the above still fits with, "Sometimes I feel happy that at least I am not depressed or mad."

But it doesn't imply you want other people to continue to suffer, for your own happiness to continue.

Instead perhaps you only need to be aware of your own suffering (if it arises), and its cessation.


Although, furthermore, beware that self-views (conceptualising a theoretical "me" that is suffering or not-suffering) are themselves not skillful (i.e. they're "a thicket of views" and cause of suffering).

  • It doesn't imply that I want other people to suffer but it develops a habit of looking for some example of suffering in the world in order to escape my suffering. – Dheeraj Verma Feb 25 '18 at 9:06
1

Theravada Buddhist Answer.

Should my happiness be dependent upon the suffering of others? In other words should my happiness be dependent upon my ability to find an example of new low in the human suffering?

Samsara is impermanent meaning that people's suffering changes too. If one bases happiness on an impermanent phenomena, one will unavoidably suffer too. That particular type of Dukkha is called "Viparinama-dukkha", the dukkha of the changing nature of all things.

The solution would be to practice the Noble Eightfold Path and work towards Nibbana.

Happiness comes from a pure mind, a stable and non-fragmented mind, thats able to see the true nature of reality.

0

A well trained mind leads to happiness and is not dependent on others. We should wish for all beings to be happy. It is a worthy dedication of merit. Bedsides life is more enjoyable when we are surrounded by happy people.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.