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  21/11/2023

Discovering Inner Peace for Ultimate Happiness

Bhikkhu Phan Minh Duc

Desiring eternal and perfect happiness, seeking everlasting peace and perfection in various aspects is something that never becomes a reality. We must learn to embrace impermanence and view it in a positive light.

Living conditions, the natural world, and social circumstances are constantly changing. Human beings also experience changes in their physical conditions: aging, illness, and death, as well as fluctuations in their mental lives—times of abundance, times of decline, moments of joy, moments of sorrow, love, hatred, happiness, and suffering—all continuously change. We witness the phenomena of birth and death (formation and cessation), transformation (alteration) happening all the time, everywhere; changes in the body, mind, circumstances, and in the myriad forms of all living beings.

There are minor changes at the micro-level, and major changes at the macro-level. Major changes can be clearly seen through phenomena such as extreme weather, climate change, natural disasters, epidemics, wars, economic crises, social crises, and more. And all of these, in the perception of both individuals and sentient beings in general, are impermanent, unsatisfactory (imperfections that cause discomfort and dissatisfaction, mental dissatisfaction, resentment).

We can tentatively divide peace into three parts: physical peace, mental peace, and circumstantial peace, although in reality, among the body, mind, and circumstances, there is a close relationship. In the dualistic world of sentient beings, where differentiation, attachment, and greed prevail, when the body is not at peace, circumstances are not peaceful, and the mind cannot be at peace. Conversely, when the mind is not at peace, it leads to instability in the body, making it impossible for the body to be at ease.

Living in Peace According to Buddhist Teachings

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An unsettled mind also creates an unsettled situation. Usually, human beings pay more attention to physical well-being and circumstantial well-being, and pay less attention to mental well-being. This is a significant shortcoming because sometimes the body and circumstances are stable, but the mind is unsettled due to worries and negative emotions (anxiety, fear, dissatisfaction, anger, jealousy, hatred, desires, and cravings) dominating.

Physical well-being means not being afflicted by illness, accidents, dangers that harm the body, health, life, and not being disturbed by incidents that disrupt life. Circumstantial well-being means stability in three aspects: family, society, the world, and the natural environment.

However, life is impermanent, so how can there be permanent peace, and how can everything be preserved? Human beings can only limit the conditions (factors) that lead to negative changes, causing suffering and instability, while creating more peaceful, happy factors.

Desiring eternal and perfect happiness, seeking everlasting peace and perfection in various aspects is something that never becomes a reality. We must learn to embrace impermanence and view it in a positive light.

The mind is truly at peace when it is undisturbed, able to control itself, unaffected, uncontrolled, not influenced by external circumstances, not dominated, not pulled, not led; not dominated by various disturbances (greed, resentment, delusion, jealousy, pride, arrogance, etc.), which cause mental discomfort, dissatisfaction, and resentment.

Mental peace is a state of self-control and freedom. In fact, mental peace is much more important than physical well-being. Usually, when the body is not at ease (due to accidents, illness, or circumstances of hunger, thirst, heat, cold, natural disasters), the mind feels uncomfortable, mentally suffering, and uneasy. Conversely, when the mind is troubled (anger, sadness, worry, fear…), the body also undergoes physical changes that cause tension, fatigue, discomfort, and even illness. However, with good awareness, positive thinking, and good emotional control, we can limit and minimize feelings of discomfort or suffering caused by the body or unstable circumstances.

image 162

Because of this, the Buddha’s path emphasizes the role and importance of practicing the mind and developing right view, wisdom. The main, ultimate, and ultimate goal of the path of Morality – Concentration – Wisdom or Eightfold Path is the achievement of wisdom of liberation (understanding clearly the Four Noble Truths, the true nature of all phenomena, breaking the ignorance, false views) and the liberation of the mind (self-liberation from attachment and greed, no longer controlled by mental disturbances and suffering). Apart from this goal, there is no other goal. Only when this goal is achieved is there the possibility of liberation from all mental suffering and tranquility in the face of impermanence.

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