Key to Happiness
Although everyone has a mind, most of us have only a vague understanding of its nature and functions.
For example, if we have not trained in Dharma we shall probably know very little about the different types of mind, how they are generated, and what effect they have on our lives. We shall not be able to distinguish virtuous minds from non-virtuous minds, and we shall not know how to cultivate the former and abandon the latter.
Why is it necessary to understand all this? The reason is that all happiness and suffering depend upon the mind, and so if we want to avoid suffering and find true happiness we need to understand how the mind works and use that understanding to bring our mind under control. Only in this way can we improve the quality of our life, both now and in the future.
In recent years our understanding and control of the external world have increased considerably and as a result we have witnessed remarkable material progress; but there has not been a corresponding increase in human happiness.
There is no less suffering in the world today, and there are no fewer problems. Indeed, it might be said that there are now more problems and greater unhappiness than ever before. This shows that the cause of happiness and the solution to our problems do not lie in knowledge or control of the external world.
Happiness and suffering are states of mind and so their main causes are not to be found outside the mind. If we want to be truly happy and free from suffering we must improve our understanding of the mind.
When things go wrong in our life and we encounter difficult situations we tend to regard the situation itself as the problem, but in reality whatever problems we experience come from the side of the mind.
If we were to respond to difficult situations with a positive or peaceful mind they would not be problems for us; indeed we may even come to regard them as challenges or opportunities for growth and development.
Problems arise only if we respond to difficulties with a negative state of mind. Therefore, if we want to be free from problems we must learn to control our mind.