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Home >> Spiritual Leaders  >> Compassion is the source of happiness: What is happiness?
Compassion as the source of happiness

Compassion is the source of happiness: What is happiness?

Since our goal and the purpose of life is happiness, what is happiness? Sometimes physical suffering can even bring a deeper sense of satisfaction like with an athlete after a gruelling workout. So “happiness” means mainly a sense of deep satisfaction. The object of life or our goal, then, is satisfaction.

Happiness, sadness, or suffering—for these, there are two levels: a sensorial level and a mental level. The sensorial level is common with tiny mammals, even insects—a fly. In a cold climate, when the sun comes out, a fly shows a happy aspect: it flies around nicely. In a cold room, it slows down: it shows a sign of sadness. But, if there is a sophisticated brain, then there is even a stronger sense of sensorial pleasure. In addition, though, our sophisticated brain is the largest in size and, therefore, we also have intelligence.

Consider the case of humans who feel no physical threats. They have a happy, comfortable life, good friends, salary, and name. But, even then, we notice that some millionaires, for example—they feel that they are an important part of society, but often these people as persons are very unhappy persons. On a few occasions I have met very rich, influential people who showed a very troubled sense that, deep inside, they had a feeling of loneliness, stress and worry. So, on the mental level, they have suffering.

Physical pain can be minimised or subdued by it. As a small example, some time ago I developed a serious illness.

We have a marvellous intelligence, so the mental level of our experience is more dominant than is the physical level. Physical pain can be minimised or subdued by it. As a small example, some time ago I developed a serious illness. It was very painful in my intestines. At that time, I was in Bihar, the poorest state of India and I passed through Bodh Gaya and Nalanda. There, I saw many very poor children. They were collecting cow dung. They had no education facilities and I felt very sad. Then, near Patna, the capital of the state, I had a lot of pain and sweating. I noticed one old sick person, one sick man, wearing white cloth, very, very dirty. No one was taking care of that person; it was really very sad. That night in my hotel room, my physical pain was very severe, but my mind was thinking of those children and that old man. That concern greatly reduced my physical pain.

Take for example those who train for the Olympic Games. They do very vigorous training, and no matter how much pain and hardship they experience, on the mental level they have happiness. Therefore, the mental level is more important than physical experience. Therefore, what is really important in life is happiness and satisfaction.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is the spiritual leader of Tibet. Since taking asylum in India in 1959, His Holiness has become a global advocator of peace, compassion and happiness. He is the first Nobel Laureate to be recognised for his concern for global environmental problems.


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