Dualism and Happiness

This week I started reading “Everyday Suchness” by Rev. Gyomay M. Kubose. Gyomay Kubose is the founder of Bright Dawn, the organization I’m taking my ministry course through. His goal was to help create a distinctly American Buddhism. He wanted Americans to hear Buddhism in a way that resonates with us. This goal is very much accomplished from what I’ve read so far. I know several classic Buddhist analogies, and can see how he’s taken those concepts and modernized them. Its a breath of fresh air but still retains a classic Buddhist feel, which is something I feel Stephen Bachelor failed to do.

The concept of happiness being highlighted by sadness is something I’ve loved for years. I first encountered it when reading the Book of Mormon. In 2nd Nephi 2:11 it says:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Much of the rest of 2nd Nephi 2 goes on to show that things are contrasted by other things.

On the one hand, this dualistic thinking is what creates differences. Its what creates art, personalities, and music. On the other hand, this dualistic thinking prevents us from seeing similarities. It can be especially harmful when taken to an extreme. All hate, violence, genocide, and evil in the world has stemmed from the belief of dualism.

I feel the healthiest interpretation of dualism is best expressed by Matt Stones’s character Leopold “Butters” Stotch:

I’m sad, but at the same time I’m really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel human. The only way I can feel this sad now is because I felt something really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good.

So I guess what I’m feeling is like a beautiful sadness.

Instead of being victimized, he instead has taken control of the situation. He recognizes that its ok to be in a state of sadness. It is impermanent and will pass as all things do.

But what about happiness? Is it something that is worthy to seek after? Yes and no.

Many perceive happiness as something that they gain after using one of the 3 Poisons (delusion, aversion, attachment). Of course, we see this as a pitfall. Using this method for happiness you will find nothing but suffering, as it is impermanent and could be gone in the blink of an eye.

For true happiness, seek inward. Much like dancing or music, happiness is found in the middle, not at the end. There is no goal to obtain, no destination to reach. The journey is the destination. Find work you enjoy doing and do it, regardless of the financial reward. Write a story because you like telling it, regardless of any publishing deals. Go snowboarding because its fun, regardless of Olympic medals.

These things aren’t just found on the wayside, we make them. Put forth the effort to apply this thinking in all situations of your life and you will begin to enjoy it in a more full way.