How to Achieve Real Happiness

How to Achieve Real Happiness

Date of Advice:
August 2018
Date Posted:
August 2020

Rinpoche sent this letter to a prisoner who asked for advice on how to think while incarcerated.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much for your kind letter expressing yourself. I am sorry for the long delay in replying.

First I want to introduce this to you. Right now you have received just this time a perfect human rebirth which allows you to develop your mind in wisdom and compassion, as a human being. Generally every insect, every worm, every spider, and even the tiniest insects that even human beings can’t see, like those under the earth, all have mind and all their minds have the power of buddha nature. There is no mind existing from its own side, even though it appears that way and we believe in that with ignorance. The emptiness of that is buddha nature. That’s why everyone can be free from the suffering of samsara, everyone can achieve buddhahood, the total cessation of obscurations and the completion of realizations—this is the meaning of Buddha.

In particular, human beings have so much potential. We can have education, much deeper and more subtle, a greater education than animals and other beings. So in this life, while we have a perfect human rebirth we can become free from the lower realms after this life and we can receive a higher rebirth, as a human being, a deva or even in the pure land of Buddha.

[We can achieve this by] relying on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and by practicing positive thoughts, virtuous thoughts, and by abandoning negative actions, harming ourselves and harming others. Practicing virtue is that which brings happiness to ourselves and others; this is what is called protecting karma.

Even higher than that, we can achieve peerless happiness—not just ordinary happiness, but the cessation of the oceans of samsaric suffering, the blissful state of peace for oneself. This is achieved through the practice of the three higher trainings—the higher training of morality, the higher training of concentration and the higher training of wisdom. Then even higher than that, we can achieve the peerless happiness, the total cessation not only of gross obscurations but also subtle obscurations, and the completion of realizations, buddhahood.

We can achieve that forever and after that we become the perfect guide, a buddha, then we can free the numberless hell beings, the numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless sura and numberless asura beings, in the numberless universes. We can free everyone from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to buddhahood. So it’s unbelievable what we can do with the mind and especially with a human mind, which has the special capacity to learn all this, to learn and to not only bring us ultimate benefit, to free us from the oceans of samsaric sufferings forever, but also to ultimately bring benefit to the numberless sentient beings.

All that is achieved by developing compassion, bodhicitta, the precious thought of enlightenment, toward all the sentient beings. So it is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable, the benefit that we can achieve with our human life and mind.

I want to request you to please do the practice The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment) every morning.

Then day and night, whenever, if you can recite the Compassion Buddha mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM. This condenses the entire holy Dharma that the Buddha has taught. This includes the Lesser Vehicle teachings, which contain the four noble truths: true suffering, the true cause of suffering, the true cessation of suffering and the true path. The true path is in particular the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, ultimate reality, but then of course that depends on concentration and that depends on morality.  

It also contains the Mahayana sutra path, through the practice of compassion, bodhicitta, toward sentient beings, the practice of the six paramitas and then to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Then there is an even higher practice that the Buddha has taught—secret mantra, Vajrayana, which has four types: Kriya (Action), Charya (Performance), Yoga and Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra (Highest Yoga Tantra).

By practicing the Mahayana sutra path we can achieve enlightenment, but we have to collect the merit of wisdom and merit of virtue, which creates a buddha’s holy body and holy mind for three countless great eons. Then because we feel that is too long we generate great compassion, we feel great compassion that sentient beings need to be enlightened by us quickly. Therefore, that is the reason for practicing tantra, so that we can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. This is the quick path to enlightenment. The quickest path is the fourth one, Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra, where we can achieve enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate time.

The Mahayana sutra teachings have a greater method then the Lesser Vehicle path, however, Mahayana tantra has even greater methods than Mahayana sutra, because we can achieve enlightenment in one life. Here now with Highest Yoga Tantra, this has the greatest skill, the greatest method as well as wisdom, so that we can achieve enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate time.

All the Buddhadharma subjects that the Buddha has taught—more than 100 volumes called the Kangyur in Tibetan language and more than 200 volumes of the Tengyur, the commentaries that the most learned, highly attained pandits from Nalanda taught—all these, the Kangyur and Tengyur, are contained in OM MANI PADME HUM. So just this much I am going to say now, so you can start to recite this mantra right away.

It’s very good if you read my book Teachings from the Mani Retreat. I will post this to you.

To study, to open up your mind, to become more enlightened, to become a buddha, to become omniscient, you should read Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Can you get this in prison, or do you have a way to get this book? You should study this book from beginning to end while in prison. Whatever you don’t understand then maybe Venerable Drolkar could help you with that.

Study it at least four times from beginning to end.

I am also sending you advice about other practices for you to do for your life.

The lamrim, however many months to meditate on each section and so forth, this is so important, the most important one in your life.

As I explained in the beginning, the three stages, how your life can be developed, so this is a commentary on how to do that. This is how to make your life most meaningful, most fruitful, happiest, most meaningful and beneficial to every single sentient being, to bring them to enlightenment. This is the way to make the life happiest.

Ordinary people in the world, what they think happiness is, it is not pure happiness, it is suffering, but it is called happiness. So as you read through the lamrim you will learn about the different levels of happiness and what is real happiness.

Please look at the advice I have given to others in prison, to help you and inspire you.

Here I am giving you your main practice and what to study. The main practice for you is OM MANI PADME HUM and lamrim, to really meditate on that and to actualize that. There are more practices I can give you later, but at this stage this is the basic thing, so at the moment do this much. This is enough for a while. Later if you want to you can ask for more practices.

With much love and prayers ...