Finding Inner Peace
Developing inner peace, on which lasting meaningful happiness is dependent, is like any other task in life: we have to identify its causes and conditions and then diligently set about cultivating them.
The two predominant sources of inner peace, the Dalai Lama says, are:
Our basic attitude
The Dalai Lama likes to relate the observation of the great Indian scholar-practitioner Shantideva, who observed that while we have no hope of finding enough leather to cover the earth so that we never prick our feet on a thorn, covering the soles of our feet will suffice.
While we cannot always change our external situation to suit us, we can change our attitude.
Can you see why the Dalai Lama gives attitude such significance?
When we look investigate how we pursue happiness, we can distinguish between:
The Dalai Lama isn't telling us it's wrong to want an ice cream cone or a new jacket:
An appetite for the concrete is part of human nature. We want to see, we want to touch, we want to possess.
But when we don't recognize the transient nature of these things we seek, we in fact invite — unwittingly — dissatisfaction. Our actions are ultimately linked to our attitudes, our intentions. And it is our intention that differentiates action that brings lasting happiness from that which offers only a ephemeral sense of well-being.
More importantly, when we act from the place of seeking pleasure for ourselves, we lose sight of the effect of our actions on others.
The Dalai Lama offers example of how our actions are ultimately tied to our intentions:
For example, our pursuit of material gain may bring us great joy when success comes. But if we have acted without consideration of potentially negative consequences, we can if end up causing suffering: the environment is polluted, our unscrupulous methods drive others out of business, the bombs we manufacture cause death and injury. When our intentions are not clear we may gain temporary happiness but bring long-term trouble.
When we analyze activities of this sort, we find they involve discernment. They entail weighing different factors, including both the likely and the possible consequences for ourselves and for others.