The Secret to Happiness
"The Teachings of the Six Perfections"
by Donna Hunt
What is Happiness, really?
Happiness is a short-term emotion. It’s a “State of Mind”.
The Secret to Happiness is Appreciation through Wisdom.
Think about it. If you had appreciation for EVERYTHING, wouldn’t you be happy?
But how do we get from... my suffering NOW… to Wisdom….to Appreciation…and then Happiness?
Let me show you through the Six Perfections…
The Six Perfections is also called the Six Paramita
Paramita is a Sanskrit word for “crossing over”
Instead of crossing over, I like to use the word OVERCOMING…
As in overcoming your HARDSHIP…not running away, not avoiding it, not going around it…but overcoming your hardship, if you don’t overcome it,
Your problem will just get bigger, until you have no choice, but to face it.
So, it’s better to catch your hardship before it gets out of hand.
What is the importance of practicing the six perfections?
Reverend Idei explained it to me this way…
The Shravakas are only concerned with their own suffering.
The Pratyekabuddhas are only concerned with wisdom or learning for themselves.
The Boddhisattva, dedicates himself to learn AND share his knowledge with others.
The six perfections are THE PRACTICE of the Boddhisattva way.
The teaching of the Six Perfections are just six simple words.
DONATION (SHARING, COMPASSION )
PRECEPTS (practicing the teaching) TEACHINGS, HUMBLE
PERSERVERANCE (to not get angry, to continue) GENEROSITY, FORGIVENESS
ASSIDUITY (to hold firm, keep your promise, to be tireless ) REPETITION OF THE 1ST THREE
MEDITATION (to think about all that has happened)
WISDOM (learn something, always think deeper) GAIN BUDDHA’S WISDOM
But the trick is these simple words were placed in this very special order,
we can all learn how to overcome our hardship…whatever they may be.
There are three categories of “DONATION”…sometimes donation has a kind of negative feeling attached to it…so I like to use the word “SHARING”…sharing our money, sharing our time and sharing what we learned or share with others how we applied the teaching to our daily lives.
When we first begin to attend church…we are taught about monetary donation or sharing our money. Then we are asked to come for Church Monitor Duty (sharing our time), or Reverend will say to come clean the church, to cleanse our hearts, or to learn something—to share with others later…
Everything you learn at church, BEGINS with DONATION. Because of your COMPASSION, you are able to Share with others. Just the mere act of donation, puts you into the next step of “practicing the precepts” by practicing the precepts, you encounter obstacles, you get angry, you get discouraged, if you can forgive…you can continue your practice. If you continue or persevere, you will overcome obstacles.
Only by repeatedly practicing Donation, Precepts and Perseverance—Only then, can you begin to practice Assiduity…or to be tireless, and don’t give up. By continuing, assiduity…you will be able to think (meditate) about all that has happened…(practice the three treasures by asking yourself..What is the buddha trying to teach me?) And learn something(Buddha’s wisdom)…. Then SHARE what you learned.
This is the Boddhisattva’s practice, and we can make good on our Members Vow, to pledge ourselves to follow the Boddhisattva Way.
Reverend Idei said that you must have compassion & wisdom to truly help someone, and he explained it this way: in an old Chinese proverb, if you see someone who is starving by the river…because of your compassion you want to help him, so you share your lunch. But he will be hungry again tomorrow…because of Buddha’s wisdom…you will teach him how to fish, so that he will never have to worry about his next meal again.
I like to view the Six Perfections… as the Buddha’s meter reading of where your state of mind is at … at any given moment…
What stops us from being Happy?
The way we view our situation. How do we change our view?
By using The Eightfold Path…To see the situation through the Buddha’s eyes.
To change the way we see our hardship.
To see appreciation in our hardship is to turn our suffering into a treasure.
The way to OVERCOME our hardship is to practice the Six Perfections.
The only way to see the greatness of the Six Perfections,
is through your practice of the Three treasures, understanding the Four Noble truths, (truth of suffering, cause, path, extinction)
and practicing the Eightfold Path… if you can grasp this presentation,
it is only because you have a lot of experience to look back on.
I love this Teaching, for me, it answered so many questions I had wondered about
a. Purpose? To practice the three treasures, & to see that everything is the Buddha’s arrangement.
b. Why not private consultation? Share your experience with others, so they can see, what you see.
2. Church monitor duties
a. To practice all three donations at the same time
b. To write down what we learned, to remind us that everything is the Buddha’s arrangement.
And not miss our lesson or our treasure.
3. Donation & learning
a . Why did the reverend tell me, if you don’t pay your own way- you cannot retain all the great things you learned.
Even if the church pays your airfare, you should try your best to make a donation. To practice what you learned, and share your knowledge with others.
4. Beginning to End
a. Why is it important to attend to your duty from beginning to end? You might skip a step and miss the “wisdom” or miss the lesson that the Buddha wanted you to see.
5. Accept all duties
a. the more you do, or the more you donate your time, the more you will practice, and the more you will understand. The more you understand, the more you have to share with others.
How do we know what practice?
You’ve got to come to church, to the place of practice.
Then you’ve got to study and practice what you’ve learned…
Then share what you learned in Hoza.
Then go home and share what you learned with your family
Then go to work or call your friend, while you are still excited and share with them.
If we are unhappy then we have to change the way we currently see things.
We need to practice the Eightfold Path.
Once we see our hardship as a treasure (through compassion, wisdom, appreciation), we will SEE happiness.
And then we just have to work on the next hardship. Because we already studied “The Four Noble Truths", and it states that EVERYBODY has a hardship.
Let me SHARE with you my hardship turned to happiness through the Six Perfections
Coming to church was a hardship for me. I cringed everytime my mother said, time to get up- gotta go to church. I would just roll over, cover the blanket over my head, and hope that my mom never noticed.
Something in my head would say—make her happy…just go. So I picked myself up and dragged myself to church. And grumbled the whole day. But I went and helped her open the church for our youth group toban and stayed with her the whole day until we closed the church in the afternoon. Without me even knowing it, she had helped me begin my practice of donation—
Practicing the Precepts
While at church I read the prayer book, I helped with the alter cleaning, and I listened in on Hoza. I never liked to say anything in Hoza
And I socialized with the other youth group members.
This continued for many years.
I wanted to go to the beach instead of going to church on my one Sunday a month.
Then, I was invited to a party on my Toban day.
Somehow, after I made up my mind to keep my promise to the Buddha, that I would continue my Toban, everything fell into place and I was able to do both toban and go to the beach or party. I felt good.
Today, looking at everything that has happened during the period before I was an “active” member –
I can see how my mom was instrumental in guiding me toward my own practice of the Buddha’s teachings.
I wondered what was the Buddha trying to teach me?
In the beginning I had the mind of a Shravaka, consumed by my own hardship. The more I did (or SHARED), the more I learned - the more I learned, the more I WANTED to learn. But I wanted to learn for my own self, with no intention of helping others understand. This is the mind of a Pratyekabuddha. All the merits my mother tried to earn, - was for me, my dad and my sisters. Her whole life was spent trying to encourage us and others to understand and share the teachings, so that that our families could find happiness too. That’s why the three of us can be here today.
And now it’s my job to encourage and teach my family and share my knowledge and experience with others, so that I can begin my practice of following the Boddhisattva way
Thank you for this opportunity to practice donation with you today.
On a final note: Reverend Idei called me from the airport to ask me to include what I personally learned from my preparation of this presentation…He asked me to add it on the end of my report.
For me, It always bothered me why I couldn’t understand what Reverend Idei once said to me.
I was in his office as the Matsuri Chairperson and we were discussing who to ask to be in charge of one the duties.
He asked me for suggestions, and I said, “well, we have to ask so and so, because she is the only one who can do it”.
But, Reverend Idei said to me, “that’s not the point”, and explained no further. It frustrated me and I couldn’t understand what I did wrong.
So I thought about it. And I wondered why did I want someone GOOD? And it came to me, I wanted someone who I knew could do the job and would make me look GOOD. I wasn’t thinking about the Buddha or the Teaching. I wasn’t thinking about sharing the TEACHING with anyone else. I just wanted everything to be flawless.
If I was thinking about helping someone learn the teaching through their DUTY, then I would have acted with compassion and have the Buddha’s wisdom. I would have selected someone who was in need of a duty, rather than select someone for their skills.
I was looking for the easy way. I wasn’t looking to help and encourage someone else to practice donation or learn the precepts.
Reverend Idei was trying to train me to see things at a higher level. To train me to put my ego aside and to think about helping others, through the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Though my presentation of the Six Perfections, I can see the importance of sharing with others what I learned. And spreading duties around so that everyone can get a chance to practice the teachings together.
Testimony of Faith
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