Discourse on Happiness

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was living in the vicinity of Shravasti at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a deva appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After paying respects to the Buddha, the deva asked him a question in the form of a verse:

 “Many gods and men are eager to know
what are the greatest blessings
which bring about a peaceful and happy life.
Please, Tathagata, will you teach us?”

(This is the Buddha’s answer):

“Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring—
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in a good environment,
to have planted wholesome seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path—
this is the greatest happiness.

“To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing precepts and loving speech—
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish and love your family and
to have a vocation which brings you joy—
this is the greatest happiness.

 “To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct—
this is the greatest happiness.

 “To clearly avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
to diligently walk on the path of good—
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be humble and polite in manner,
grateful, content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma—
this is the greatest happiness.

“To persevere and be open to change,
make regular contact with monks and nuns,
and fully participate in Dharma discussions—
this is the greatest happiness.

 “To live diligently and attentively,
to learn about what is wonderfully true,
and to be free of wrong perceptions—
this is the greatest happiness.

 “To live together in the world
with mind and heart undisturbed,
all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace—
this is the greatest happiness.

 “For he or she who accomplishes this
peaceful and safe in every place,
stable and free at any time—
Happiness lives within oneself.” [Bell, Bell]

Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta, 1

Note: This translation has been prepared by Thích Nhất Hạnh. It appears in Chanting From The Heart (Parallax Press, Rev. Ed., 2006). It is recited regularly at Plum Village practice centres around the world, as part of our daily sitting and chanting sessions.

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