FACED with misery and death, journalist-editor Norman Cousins famously laughed his way out of the hospital, and healed himself of a life-threatening illness.
His groundbreaking book Anatomy of an Illness, about the the healing effects of laughter and positive emotions, jump-started an era of mind-body medicine that continues today.
That was more than 30 years ago. But Gautama Buddha had preached the same power of healing and happiness through positive thinking over 2,500 years earlier.
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, Buddha is quoted as teaching, but the flame will not be diminished. The world’s greatest spiritual coach enthusiastically assured his followers:
“Happiness never decreases
by being shared.”
Western cognitive sciences are only just beginning to understand the subtle yet overarching power of the psycho-physiological power of thought, of intention and feeling, the importance of it being understood and taught by all ancient sages down the ages.
“Respect life as those do who desire it,” declares the ancient spiritual psychology of Light on the Path, challenging the student to remain unselfish, and yet to
“…be happy as those are
who live for happiness.”
Happy for No Reason
The single most important thing you can do to increase your level of health, wealth, and success in your life is to increase your level of happiness claims self-help author Marci Shimoff. Happy people are more fulfilled, relaxed, and peaceful — and they live longer she says.
The Ox Cart
In her newest book Love for No Reason, Marci offers a breakthrough approach to experiencing a lasting state of unconditional love. It’s the kind of love that Buddha would have taught, in her words: “that doesn’t depend on another person, situation, or romantic partner, and that you can access at any time and in any circumstance . . . turn off your body’s stress response and turn on your body’s love response for better health and well-being.”
“This is the deepest and truest form of love and is the key to lasting joy and fulfillment in life.”
But purely personal joys and pleasures “teach us nothing,” Blavatsky cautions: “They are evanescent, and can only bring in the long run satiety.” Moreover she warned, “our constant failure to find any permanent satisfaction in life which would meet the wants of our higher nature, shows us plainly that those wants can be met only on their own plane, to wit — the spiritual.” Final emancipation and freedom in life she wrote in The Key to Theosophy (Sect. 12), “cannot be reached in any way but through life experiences.”
“And because the bulk of these consist in pain and suffering, it is really only through suffering that we learn.”
Buddha, the Master of soul psychology, built his practical teaching on two deceptively simple precepts. These positive attitudes and states of mind he describes are now found by modern science to have powerful biochemical effects on the human body.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought,” Buddha taught in The Dhammapada, assuring us that whatever our life manifests is in really under our own control — based on one profoundly simple and powerful truth:
“All that we are is founded on our thoughts, is made up of our thoughts.”
“If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought,” Buddha declares, “pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws it.”
But if a person speaks or acts with a pure thought, then
“happiness follows him like
a shadow that never leaves him.”
When H. P. Blavatsky wrote in The Key to Theosophy “the final goal cannot be reached in any way but through life experiences, and the bulk of these consist in pain and suffering,” she affirmed the first of Buddha’s emancipating truths: “it is only through suffering that we learn.”
And most of our suffering “is self-created,” Eckhart Tolle also says. “It is created out of resistance to what is. Suffering is a wonderful teacher — suffering is most people’s only spiritual teacher.”
“Woe to those who live without suffering.
Stagnation and death is the future of all that
vegetates without a change. And how can there
be any change for the better without proportionate
suffering during the preceding stage?”
– H. P. Blavatsky
The Secret Doctrine 2:475.
“I, Buddh, who wept with all my brothers’ tears,
Whose heart was broken by a whole world’s woe,
Laugh and am glad, for there is Liberty!
Ho! ye who suffer! know
“Ye suffer from yourselves. None else compels,
None other holds you that ye live and die,
And whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss
Its spokes of agony.
“If ye lay bound upon the wheel of change,
And no way were of breaking from the chain,
The Heart of boundless Being is a curse,
The Soul of Things fell Pain.
“Ye are not bound! the Soul of Things is sweet,
The Heart of Being is celestial rest;
Stronger than woe is will: that which was Good
Doth pass to Better — Best.
– Sir Edwin Arnold
The Light of Asia
Once an individual has achieved true self-mastery in life, The Voice of the Silence insists, life everywhere is uplifted by the positive energy: “All Nature thrills with joyous awe and feels subdued.”
“Scent-laden breezes sing it to the vales, and stately pines mysteriously whisper: ‘A Master has arisen, a Master of the Day.'”
“The silver star now twinkles out the news to the night-blossoms, the streamlet to the pebbles ripples out the tale — dark ocean-waves will roar it to the rocks surf-bound…”
Thubten Chodron is an American Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition. A student of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan masters, she became a nun in 1977.
“She has been resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore, and at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle.
Taming the Mind
“Active in interfaith dialogue,” notes Snow Lion Publications, “she also does Dharma outreach in prisons and teaches the Dharma worldwide.”
“Thubten Chodron’s down-to-earth language and examples invite us to not only engage the material, but to implement it in our own lives. The author’s open-minded approach makes this book suitable for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike” a review says.
“This book helps to overcome misconceptions, showing how to find peace and contentment through a practical application of the teachings of the compassionate Buddha.”
“H. P. Blavatsky was once asked, writes David Pratt, ‘what is the most important thing necessary in the study of Theosophy?’
Her answer was: ‘Common sense’ – something scientists could also make good use of.”
“When asked what she would place second, Blavatsky answered it is something “which is also useful when studying the latest scientific theories,” namely: