What Is Happiness?
Everyone wants a happy life, so the question is, what is happiness? What is really long lasting, reliable happiness? We need to look at this quite deeply. Happiness or joyfulness that mainly comes through our sensorial organs – experiences such as seeing something nice, hearing something nice, good tastes or smells – does provide some satisfaction. But the pleasure that is based upon these sensorial experiences is very superficial. As soon as certain facilities are there, you gain some kind of joyfulness or happiness or pleasure, but as soon as some sort of big disturbing sound comes, there is no more pleasure. Or then you have people seeking some kind of pleasure in watching television, and then without television they feel bored after just an hour. Some people are very fond of having fun and traveling to different parts of the world, and constantly experiencing new places, cultures, music and tastes. I think this comes from a lack of ability to create inner peace through mental training.
But those people, who really live a hermit lifestyle for years and years, they really do experience the happiest life. One time in Barcelona I met a Catholic monk, whose English was similar to mine and so I had more courage to talk with him! The organizer told me that the monk had spent five years in the mountains living a hermit life. I asked him what he’d done in the mountains, and he told me that he thought about or meditated upon love. When he mentioned this, there was a really special expression in his eyes, indicating that he really enjoyed peace of mind. So this is one example of peace of mind not relying on sensorial experiences, but through the cultivation of certain deeper values. Through constantly thinking about love, it really created genuine tranquility.
So now when I give talks, I always stress that material development is very essential for physical comfort, but that material value never really provides mental comfort. Sometimes when people become wealthier, they become greedier, and become more stressed. The result is an unhappy person. Therefore, in order to achieve a happy life, do not trust only material value. Material values are necessary, but beside that we need to look more seriously at our inner values. Irrespective of whether we are religious believers or not, as long as we are human beings, inner peace is essential.
Peace of Mind and Good Health
Some scientists say that according to their findings, too much stress creates problems for blood pressure and many other things. And some medical scientists say that constant fear, anger and hatred actually eat away at our immune system. So one of the most important factors in good health is peace of mind, because a healthy body and healthy mind are very closely linked. From my own experience, two years ago in some sort of press meeting, a media person asked me about my reincarnation. I jokingly looked at him, took off my glasses and asked him, “Judging from my face, is my reincarnation urgent or not?!” And he said that there was no hurry!
Recently I was in Europe and some long-time friends compared my pictures taken twenty, thirty, even forty years ago, and everybody says my face still looks young. In my life, I think you can see I’ve actually passed through difficult periods with lots of problems, and there have been sufficient factors to create anxiety, depression and loneliness. But I think my mind is comparatively peaceful. Occasionally I have lost my temper, but basically my mental state is quite calm.
I also like to tease those young ladies who spend a lot of money on cosmetics. Firstly, your husbands might complain that it’s too expensive! In any way, external beauty is important, but more important is inner beauty. You can have a beautiful face, but an ugly face is nice even without makeup if there is a genuine smile and affection. This is real beauty; the real value is within ourselves. External facilities need a lot of money – always bigger shops and bigger supermarkets. But inner peace needs no expense! Think about these inner values and familiarize yourselves with them, and gradually destructive emotions will reduce. This brings inner peace.
A more compassionate attitude or sense of concern for the well-being of others creates self-confidence. When you have self-confidence, you can carry out all of your actions transparently, truthfully and honestly. This creates trust with others, and trust is the basis of friendship. We humans are social animals who need friends. Friends do not come necessarily from power or money, or even education or knowledge, but the key factor for friendship is trust. So a sense of concern and respect for the lives and well-being of other people is the basis of dialogue.