Soonil Hwang | Dongguk University
Can we achieve sustainable happiness in this life? Can happy feeling last forever? Buddhists have been exploring the real meaning of happiness behind the simple feeling of joy. The feeling of happiness cannot last forever due to impermanence, one of the three marks of phenomenal world. Happy feeling, instead, causes pain to the person who has attached towards the object one felt extremely happy. In the early canon, we can frequently see a kind of dialogue between the Buddha and Māra, the evil demonic king, usually appeared as two contesting poems. One such poem in the Suttanipāta actually show Buddhist attitude towards the feeling of happiness.
‘One with sons rejoices because of sons’, said Māra the evil one. ‘Similarly the cattle-owner rejoices because of cows. For acquisitions (upadhi) are joy for a man. Whoever is without acquisitions does not rejoice.’
‘One with sons grieves because of sons’, said the blessed One. ‘Similarly the cattle-owner grieves because of cows. For acquisitions (upadhi) are grief for a man. Whoever is without acquisitions does not grieve’.
In this presentation, I will discuss Buddhist attitude towards the real meaning of happiness by clarifying a punning exchange of words applied in the poems and by examining different attitude towards joy and grief according to the Buddha and to Māra, in order to show you that the real happiness can be replaced by the state where there is no more unsatisfactoriness.