Finding true happiness

68 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Hindrances for practice and how to approach the dharma
  • Three types of laziness
  • Contemplating impermanence and death, defects of samsara
  • Thinking deeply about the first two noble truths
  • Contemplating on the opposite of four distortions
  • Antidotes to discouragement
  • Origin, disappearance, gratification, danger and escape of sensual pleasure
  • Relinquishing craving for sensual pleasures
  • Analogy of seeking samsaric pleasures to leper looking for relief and happiness

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 68: Finding True Happiness (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Consider the factors that contribute to not progressing in our spiritual practice the way we may like: having unrealistic expectations of quick attainments, being very self-critical, lacking sufficient study, living far away from a teacher and supportive Dharma community, and the three types of laziness. Which of these do you struggle with most? What remedies does His Holiness prescribe? How do these help develop a strong determination to get out of samsara?
  2. We have expectations that things will go the way we want: the stock market will always go up, we’ll always have needed supplies available to us, Europe will always be peaceful, school shootings should not happen, etc. What are the four distorted perceptions and how do they play a role in how we view samsara? How does this lead to our own suffering? What does the Dharma teach is a more realistic and beneficial view?
  3. What practices help reduce clinging to the body? Which do you find most beneficial to counter the way you see your own body? Set a determination to apply those antidotes to help you have a more realistic view of your body.
  4. How does society, family, and friends define success? What do YOU think success is when you examine how things are in the world? What does the Dharma say?
  5. Do you struggle with low self-esteem? If so, why do you think that is and how can you work to overcome this destructive view using Dharma antidotes?
  6. Contemplate the example of a leper seeking happiness. Then reflect that uninstructed worldly people live in a similar manner. Apply this example to yourself. Generate the determination to be free from cyclic existence and cultivate compassion for all other sentient beings.
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.