# Happiness vs. Euphoria from a Buddhist's point of view

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?

## 6 Answers

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.

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.

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.

I have to say that it is like a feeling of deep joy inside. Coming from our heart. Almost like when one falls in love. but then we let that feeling close up again. The key is to have that feeling always. A feeling of love with everything always.Partying and such just clouds the mind and takes us farther away fro this true hapiness. It is the wrong direction to go in.

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From the Niramisa Sutta:

"There is, O monks, worldly joy (piti) there is unworldly joy, and there is a still greater unworldly joy. There is worldly happiness, (sukha) there is unworldly happiness, and there is a still greater unworldly happiness. There is worldly equanimity, there is unworldly equanimity, and there a still greater unworldly equanimity. There is worldly freedom, there is unworldly freedom, and there is a still greater unworldly freedom.

"Now, O monks, what is worldly joy? There are these five cords of sense desire: forms cognizable by the eye that are wished for and desired, agreeable and endearing, associated with sense-desire and tempting to lust. Sounds cognizable by the ear... odors cognizable by the nose... flavors cognizable by the tongue... tangibles cognizable by the body, wished for and desired, agreeable and endearing, associated with sense-desire and tempting to lust. It is the joy that arises dependent on these five cords of sense desire which is called 'worldly joy.'

"Now what is unworldly joy? Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, a monk enters upon and abides in the first meditative absorption (jhana), which is accompanied by thought-conception and discursive thinking, and has joy and happiness born of seclusion. With the stilling of thought-conception and discursive thinking, he enters upon and abides in the second meditative absorption which has internal confidence and singleness of mind without thought conception and discursive thinking, and has joy and happiness born of concentration. This is called 'unworldly joy.'

"And what is the still greater unworldly joy? When a taint-free monk looks upon his mind that is freed of greed, freed of hatred, freed of delusion, then there arises joy. This called a 'still greater unworldly joy.'

"Now, O monks, what is worldly happiness? There are these five cords of sense desire: forms cognizable by the eye... sounds cognizable by the ear... odors cognizable by the nose... flavors cognizable by the tongue... tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for and desired, agreeable and endearing, associated with sense desire and alluring. It is the happiness and gladness that arises dependent on these five cords of sense desire which are called 'worldly happiness.'

"Now what is unworldly happiness? Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, a monk enters upon and abides in the first meditative absorption... With the stilling of thought-conception and discursive thinking, he enters upon and abides in the second meditative absorption... With the fading away of joy as well, he dwells in equanimity, mindfully and fully aware he feels happiness within, and enters upon and abides in the third meditative absorption of which the Noble Ones announce: 'He dwells in happiness who has equanimity and is mindful.' This is called 'unworldly happiness.'

"And what is the still greater unworldly happiness? When a taint-free monk looks upon his mind that is freed of greed, freed of hatred, freed of delusion, then there arises happiness. This is called a 'still greater unworldly happiness.'

"Now, O monks, what is worldly equanimity? There are these five cords of sensual desire: forms cognizable by the eye... tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for and desired, agreeable and endearing, associated with sense desire and alluring. It is the equanimity that arises with regard to these five cords of sense desire which is called 'worldly equanimity.'

"Now, what is unworldy equanimity? With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of gladness and sadness, a monk enters upon and abides in the fourth meditative absorption, which has neither pain-nor-pleasure and has purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. This is called 'unworldly equanimity.'

"And what is the still greater unworldly equanimity? When a taint-free monk looks upon his mind that is freed of greed, freed of hatred and freed of delusion, then there arises equanimity. This is called a 'still greater unworldly equanimity.'

"Now, O monks, what is worldly freedom? The freedom connected with the material. What is unworldly freedom? The freedom connected with the immaterial. And what is the still greater unworldly freedom? When a taint-free monk looks upon his mind that is freed of greed, freed of hatred, and freed of delusion, then there arises freedom."

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.

• 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