The Buddha spoke of the “Four Noble Truths:”
• First Noble Truth: suffering exists
• Second Noble Truth: suffering has causes
• Third Noble Truth: happiness is possible
• Fourth Noble Truth: there is a path that leads to happiness
We need to understand that happiness is found not by seeking to quench our desires and cravings, but by living life mindfully.
To be truly happy, we must be aware of the four lures that control or drive our lives. Developing an inner observer assists us to notice when we are living on autopilot in pursuit of power, wealth, fame, and sex.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Art of Power highlights 5 mindfulness trainings/practices that teach us how to engage in a life filled with love, kindness and compassion.
• Protection of life
• Practice of generosity
• Protection of individuals and families
• Mindful speaking
• Mindful consumption
These mindfulness trainings/practices have applicability in business, daily life, and traditional monastic practices and they can reduce suffering for us all.
Protection of Life teaches us that all lives are precious, not just human lives, but the lives of all species and forms animate and non-animate. In order to protect humanity we must be willing to protect all forms of life. We are ONE being and to harm any aspect of life on this planet affects us all. How are you choosing to protect our resources on this planet? Can you be mindful of the choices that guide your use of our resources?
Practice of generosity reminds us that poverty is all around us. Inequality is a fact and it causes suffering. Are you aware of the suffering around you? Can you choose to use your resources (time, energy and money) to assist those in need? Are you aware of the suffering in your own family and world? When one suffers, we all suffer.
Protection of individuals and families is a practice of true love. Respect is required for true love to be present; it is necessary to demonstrate respect for the mind and body of our loved ones. Knowing these truths reminds us that it is important to engage in sexual activity that is based on love and caring. Sexual abuse and sexual misconduct creates suffering. How do you love?
Mindful Speaking is about how we communicate with one another. 80% of our communication is non-verbal and a good deal of our communication occurs electronically. How can you ensure right speaking in these communications? Remember that speech can be constructive or destructive and therefore a mindfulness practice can assist with less pain and suffering. It is important to speak to the listening of the individual or group with whom you are communicating to. How do you listen?
Mindful Consumption is necessary for us if we are to nourish our minds and bodies with healthy things. We must pay attention to what we eat, read, watch, buy … we become what we “feed” ourselves. You might ask, what am I putting into my body, heart and mind today? Are there toxic items in your consumption that you can release?
This may sound like a lot of hard work and it is! Most important to the work is showing up with a compassionate heart and to being fully present in each moment. A community is instrumental in supporting our efforts for transformation and healing. Joy and happiness can be found in each and every moment if we are present and mindful.
May your journey be filled with loving kindness, peace and joy!
Dr. Deborah Ooten is the founder and director of the Conscious Living Center.