The topic today is happiness, and the koan is: happiness is a warm puppy, as opposed to a cold duck. You are in the magical world of Zen, where anything can happen and it usually does, because it's your life.
And in your life just about everything happens all the time. So sit back, even if your mother is hitting you on the head, your wife left you, your kid just went to jail, the Russian missiles are on the way, you just made your first successful movie and everybody wants a part of the action which is you, your team just lost and you missed the shot, and the papers say it was your fault, and it was.
Happiness? How can you be happy in a world like this? You have to be crazy to attempt something like that. How can you be happy in the midst of delusion, where everyone around you doesn't know what they are doing? They are all trying to make each other miserable, and themselves miserable. Happiness? You have to be kidding. Happiness?
Happiness is a warm puppy. Happiness is simple. I am an expert in the world of the supremely happy, because I am happy. I'm probably the happiest being you'll ever meet. If you become as happy as I am, then you've done an amazing thing. I've never met anybody as happy as I am. That in itself should make you unhappy. What can be more miserable than somebody happier than you?
Sit back, be cool, let's talk a little bit about how to be happy from someone who really knows. Be happy. Happiness is a warm puppy, isn't it Charles Schulz? Happiness is your life when you let go of it a little more. Happiness is everything in the whole Universe. It's a state of mind, like everything is a state of mind. Your whole life is a state of mind, so be happy, why not?
How do you become happy? Oh God! There's got to be a way! There's got to be a way to be happy! I know there is a way; if I could find a way, I'd give anything. Who wants to be miserable? Why live? Why exist? Why be? Why? Why? Why? . . . Maybe if you stop asking "why?" all the time you might be happy. Leave it alone; life is happy. Go look at a tree. You look at the tree, and what do you see? You see leaves, it’s nice. Palm trees? Out here in California, we have palm trees. You may not live in California. Of course you are not happy if you don't live in California. We all know that beautiful people live in California. Because we have palm trees. They have them in Florida, but it is not the same.
Life is happy. Trees are happy. They don't have to do anything to be happy, except just be trees. Maybe if you were just you, you would be happy. But of course you don't know who or what you are. How can you possibly be happy? That's why you have to study Zen.
In Zen we have a secret, the secret of happiness . . . Happiness may be a warm puppy, as opposed to a cold duck, but the way you become happy is by realizing that their is no self. No, no self at all, not a half a self, not a quarter of a self, not an eighth, not a sixteenth, not a zillion millimeter of self. "No selfff whafff so ever," as Daffy Duck would say. No self, there is no self. When you'll know this you will be happy, like I'm happy. Happy in all states of mind, in all conditions, on all occasions, even on somebody else's birthday.
Happiness only comes when you let go of who you think you are, even if you think you are wonderful, if you think you are enlightened, if you think you are wealthy and powerful, noble and truthful, or horrible and demonic, whatever it might be. However you conceive of yourself, it is all a waste of time. Take it from the Zen Master, he knows. Because you are everything and everyone; you are in all things; you exist in all conditions; you are the Universe.
You just think of yourself as existing inside of a temporal body. You believe you were born at a certain time, and the experiences that you had from then until now have created the sum total of you, and you feel that you'll probably end at your death, unless you believe in an after life or reincarnation, in which case you just think that you are older; you've had more lives or you'll always stick around in the after life. But you can be miserable forever. Forever as you know is a very long time.
How do you become happy? How do you find that magic essence? It's a balance. It's inside your mind. Everything my friend is inside your mind. There is a whole crazy world around you that you are born into and you can't control it. Don't even try because the more you try to control your environment, the more it controls you. People think that they can tame the earth. How absurd! The vanity of human wishes is endless. It’s more fun to dance with life, and in all of your activities, no matter what they are: making love, making money, making friends, whatever you might be doing, you can be happy, once you learn how. Because you will realize that happiness is not dependent upon experience. That is to say what you experience shouldn't make you happy or unhappy, when you know how to be happy. Happiness is separate from daily experience. If picking the right door at the game show and winning all the money makes you happy, then you know you are going to be unhappy in the future because eventually you will pick the wrong door.
If your happiness is dependent upon what occurs to you – you get the job, you got the loan Charley, congratulations. You got the loan; now you got the payments. You think that is going to make you happy? You got the house, wonderful, now you've got all the bills stuck around your neck, right? I mean it depends on how you look at it. Now you are rich and famous and everybody wants a piece of the action – not because they like you – but they like what you have, because they think that that would make them happy. So the rich aren't happy, so they try to get richer thinking that it will make a difference, or they use their riches. And the poor aren't happy, so they try to get rich thinking that will make a difference.
Everyone is dependent upon external circumstances, because people don't know the secret of life. It’s sad! I do. I know a lot of secrets. But I think that's because I've been around a very long time, a lot longer than you. And you learn a few things in those tens of thousands of millions of lifetimes, and I'd like to pass a few onto you. One of those secrets is how to be happy. It requires a certain spirit, more than anything. Enthusiasm is the key word.
How can you be happy? Well, as I said before, you've got to realize that there is no self, there is nobody home, no forwarding address, no zip code, address unknown. Because the reason that you are not happy is that you tied yourself to an identity. You identify with yourself, with your life, with your being, with all kinds of things. You have a personal history; you have commitments, things that you like, things that you don't like, things that you want to experience, things that you want to avoid. In other words, you are a mess! Let's face it, you don't know where reality is, where it begins, where it ends, or how the Universe works. You can just get through the day, through the lifetime, because you are too busy my friend, looking around you, and not inside. I mean everything is inside, gosh! Didn't your mom and dad tell you? Everything is inside you. It’s true, the whole Universe, everything. How did they fit it? Microtechnology! We had it a long time ago, when we first created the Universe. How to take a whole Universe and put it inside someone's mind. It's one of our better tricks. Systems design from the higher locus to you.
The way that you become happy, first of all, is by not trying, not trying to get happy, not wanting to be happy, but by doing something quite different: that's Zen practice. In Zen practice we don't try to directly do or achieve anything, because we know that all doing, and all achieving only binds us to an idea of ourselves. In other words, you are such and such a person, who likes football, basketball, young cute women or men. You don't like Ferraris, you like Lamborginis; you don't like the cities, you like the tranquillity of the country. So, whenever you are in a city you are unhappy, or you'll be unhappy in a Ferrari, or if you are with an older woman or older man you'll be unhappy. You can only be happy in the situations and circumstances that you've set up for yourself. Of course, you won't be very happy in those, because while you are sitting inside of the Lamborgini you are still inside of your mind. If you haven't worked it out, then you are just not going to be having a very good time, are you?
There are no problems: there is only confusion. And when confusion passes away there is only happiness. Happiness is a warm puppy. Happiness is not complicated at all, and you don't need a lot of things for it. You just have to go get yourself a warm puppy, right? And there it is.
Happiness consists of just being in a lovely, clear state of mind. Because if you are in a clear state of mind, a mind that isn't tormented with doubts, worries, and anxieties, then, naturally you will be happy. Happiness is not dependent on outer circumstances. Happiness is falling in love with everything around you, and everything inside you. You can be locked away in a prison, and still be free if your mind is not a prison. Or you can be out walking around with lots of credit cards, and be in a prison – the prison of your own mind, the prison of your illusions.
Today we are going to let you out. We are going to get you a pardon in here. "Warden, warden, I want to get out warden. What did the parole board say?" "Sorry Johnny, they shout you down you know. Johnny you are bad boy. We are never going to let you out of here. Ah Johnny, you are never going to be happy. You are just going to rot!" It can happen, I guess . . .
Happiness, happiness comes from living in the moment. This moment now, right here, "number five is alive," right? Just to be, to be clear in a clear state of mind is to see what this moment is. Naturally, if you are in obscure states of mind, you won't see what this moment is, and you won't be happy in it. You won't realize its beauty. I'm suggesting that you don't have to do anything to be happy, nor do you have to avoid anything. You can do things and be happy; you can do nothing and be happy. Happiness comes from within. Within what? Within your mind, it's already there. That's the thing you need to see my friend. Happiness already exists, you don't have to go out and get it. I can't give you happiness, I can show you where it is, but I can't give it to you. How can I give you what you already have? You have to get it yourself – inside your mind.
Your whole life is inside your mind. Your mind is the prism that reflects all of the Universe. Everything around you and within you comes from your mind. Mind is not simply the collection of aggregate cells inside of your brain. If you are only the gray matter, so to speak, then when that dies you won't exist anymore. But is not that easy.
You exist forever. You've always existed and you'll always exist. You move in and out of bodies like some people in Los Angeles move in and out of houses, every other week, every other lifetime. Happiness is in the mind, and the mind is the Universe. Your mind is the Universe, not just the physical Universe which you are perceiving through your senses – seeing, smelling, touching, feeling, hearing, kissing. Life is love, it is. It may look objectively cruel. You see people suffer. How can you be happy when someone you love is suffering? Well, why not? You think that by not being happy that's going to make it better for them? They could be happy if they are suffering too.
We all experience pain and pleasure; we all die; we are all the same. But we are not what we appear to be. Ah! There is the truth, and the truth is a good truth for us. We are not what we appear to be . . . We are not simply beings in bodies that live in houses, that drive cars, that have social security numbers, and pay taxes. We are something else. We are something other than what we appear to be. This is what makes life fun. If it was just the way it looked, it would be pretty dull.
It is very simple to be happy: you just have to practice zazen --- meditation. To meditate is to be free, to meditate is to be happy. There are two kinds of meditation practice. One is formal meditation when you sit each day and meditate a couple of times a day: Stop the body, sit up straight, and practice a meditation and concentration exercise. Clear your mind from all the garbage that runs through it, and enter into a higher level of perception, and in the higher level of perception you will see life as it really is. When you do that, you will automatically be happy. You will find that spot within yourself that you call happiness. Then when you are not formally sitting and practicing zazen, then you can do what in Zen we call mindfulness. Which means that the rest of the time there is more of a passive meditation practice. It's passive when you are active. When you are shopping, talking to someone, you can be meditating – that's passive meditation when you are active.
Happiness gets you through the day and through the night. You don't have to take drugs to be happy. You don't have to drink to be happy. You don't have to have people around to love you to be happy. You don't need anything, except your own mind – the integrity and clarity of your own mind. That's all it requires, and you've got the mind part. You just need the integrity and clarity, meaning you have to become a master or mistress of your mind. As you study your mind or explore as you meditate, as you gain control of it, and sometimes lose control completely, and just swim in it and dissolve in it, then you'll become happy.
Happiness is something that you can definitely achieve. At first it will just come for a moment or two, then it will come for longer periods of time. Hours, days, months, lifetimes, and eventually you will be happy all the time. Which is not such a bad thing to do, because it is your expression or your statement of being. It's your way of celebrating life.
The key to happiness is being able to disconnect your life from perceptions, from the way you see things now. There are only states of mind, and you need to develop the discipline and the clarity of mind to see things as they really are. If you are not happy, it is because you are in what I call illusion. Illusion means that you are not really seeing things as they really are. If you saw things as they really were, you would be happy automatically. You don't have to do anything to be happy. Happiness is a warm puppy; just to see that puppy is to be happy. You don't have to do anything; you don't have to add anything. But if you don't see that, and you walk by that warm puppy, and you want to kick him, you are not happy. You are in a state of delusion, like most human beings are. Your job is to raise your self out of that state of delusion, which is done by practicing meditation and concentration, becoming sensitive to life and strong and powerful and, at the same time, learning about your mind.
Happiness comes from self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is not an arbitrary phrase or series of words. It’s something real. Self-knowledge means that you have understood your mind, which is not just a series of thoughts that you experience: there are dimensions and dimensions within your mind. Your mind is the whole Universe. Your understanding of your mind will come about step by step. You will unfold like a flower unfolds. But only when you begin to practice meditation and detach your self from thoughts and experiences.
I'd like to suggest some simple exercises that I think will greatly improve your happiness. One is passive zazen and one is active zazen. Let's do the active one first. Sit down to meditate, and concentrate or focus on something: a visualization, a candle flame. Try to stop your thoughts, so you can move beyond the level of mind that you are in now, into other states of mind. This is why you meditate: you are trying to unglue the glue that binds you to a particular perceptual mode, or way of seeing life, and the world which is an illusory one. Sit there and smile. It is a very simple practice but it works. Sit there with your eyes closed or open, as you are sitting in meditation. Stop meditating for a minute. Stop trying to meditate. That's good to do, but just smile. Let your smile get bigger and bigger. You are unhappy, you are miserable – it doesn't matter, just smile anyway, and practice smiling for five minutes. And feel grateful, feel grateful for the fact that you are alive, that you can sit and feel grateful just to be, to be happy. Sounds simple? So is a warm puppy, so is life.
At some point during your zazen practice, your meditation practice, take five minutes and smile for five minutes continuously. While you are smiling it is not just a physical smile, but you are focusing on the feeling of the smile of happiness. Then you will become much happier, and the whole world around you will glow. You are invoking a certain state of mind which you have experienced. You have experienced happiness at one time or another in your life. You don't need to focus on the moments, just on the essence of happiness. Because what you focus on, you become. We become what we focus on: this is how the mind works.
If you just focus on unhappy things all day long, then you will become unhappy. But if you spend time focusing on happy states of mind, hopeful states of mind, then it will grow on you. We aren't anything in particular, there is no self. There are only ideas and states of mind. You can generate any states of mind or ideas you would like, and that's where you'll live in, my friend, that's the quality of your life, what's inside of your mind. Most people don't generate it. They take whatever happens to be laying around. But in Zen you are going to begin to gain control of whatever you experience, not necessarily externally, but internally, your reaction to things.
So to start, I'd like you to practice smiling five minutes a day. When you practice meditation, take five minutes of that meditation and concentration practice, and devote it to smiling. Focus on happiness while you are smiling. Take five minutes of your day and practice being happy while you are sitting in meditation, which is a very powerful time. Everything you do in meditation is amplified. You meditate for five minutes totally with your complete mind focused on happiness, and that's like focusing on happiness for several hours as you are walking around. Everything is so intensified, and then happiness will carry over into the rest of your life.
Passive zazen, when you are not formally meditating and sitting, is just to see beauty. Beauty is happiness, and as you walk around through your day, look at things, feel things, touch things, taste things, either through your senses or through your mind. Unhook from your thoughts, from all the busy things that you are doing, and all the things you are feeling, and all the emotions that are shooting through you, and just to start to look at life. This is mindfulness, just look at beauty. Not just physical beauty, or the beauty of things you see with your eyes, but beauty, beautiful feelings, beautiful awareness. Remember again there is not such thing as reality. Reality is what you make it.
In Zen, you are learning how to make new reality, to build things inside your mind. You need to start to focus on beauty more, all day long, and just realize how incredibly beautiful life is – how incredibly beautiful it is to feel, to look around, to be, to experience all of these wonders. And even when you are in a painful situation, look at it. If you look deep enough, and not get freaked out by it, you'll see that there is beauty in everything. You'll see there is a beauty in you. The beauty you see is just your own mind. There is no external anything. There is only the mind. The mind is endless reality, endless perfection.
If you'd like to be happy for now and forever, do these two things: focus on happiness more and more in your daily meditation, and focus on beauty and happiness in just the simple things around you.
The koan is: "happiness is a warm puppy." Happiness is just being you where you are right now. Allow your self to be you. Shut off all the silly thoughts and desires and crazy emotions. Forget that you are anybody, and just perform the activities around you that you need to, but look at them. Watch what you are doing. My God, life is in front of you! And it's great! But you have to take the time to see it. So slow down, relax, be cool, says the Zen Master. Look at the beauty right now, in front of you. Look how incredible life is, and just keep looking until you see it. You won't see it right away. You have developed some bad habits.
Stop taking life for granted and experience it completely. You don't experience it completely because you allow your mind and your thoughts to wander all over the place; and you don't see what's in front of you because you are so distracted by your thoughts. Think about what's in front of you, if you must think. Look at the chair; look at the people; look at your hands, feel your body when you run. When you make that business decision enter in it completely and see that it has a power of its own. When you are running in that athletic field, it feels good. It feels good just to be alive. Life is just a state of mind, different states of mind. Choose a happy one.
In summation, happiness comes not from external things, as we are really taught as children. It doesn't come from Santa Claus bringing you a good present. Nor is happiness lost in unfortunate circumstances. Happiness is not dependent upon circumstance. Happiness comes from within your mind, just realizing that in itself will change your whole life, if you just meditate on that and ponder what I just said. Happiness doesn't not come from external circumstances. It comes from within your own mind. Then you will stop trying to do things to make yourself happy, and you'll start to see that happiness is a state of mind. Because otherwise you are just a slave to circumstances.
The mind is not just a brain. Your mind is endless. You just haven't discovered it yet. You are just living in small sections of it, and in the practice of Zen you can discover the rest of it. Meditation is essential for that, because meditation opens the mind to itself. You need to practice meditation everyday and become very good at it. Then you'll be in clarified states of mind in which you will see life as it really is, which is happy. Then during the day practice being happy. It's a new role for you – conceiving of your self as a person who is happy. Redefine you. Life is so beautiful. Don't let it pass you by. Don't miss it. Dance with yourself inside your mind. Focus on beauty all around you. Look at things; feel things; stop worrying about tomorrow, or thinking about yesterday.
Mindfulness is to be here right now in the moment. Hold your hand and feel what it feels like. Go look at some grass. Talk to a palm tree. Outrun a Ferrari! Experience life. Keep your mind on what you are doing and look at it. Keep looking until you see clearly. See the beauty of all things which will make you happy. So for five minutes a day, practice being happy while you do meditation, when you are practicing zazen. Smile, physically smile for five minutes and focus on happiness. If you do all of these things you'll get started. Let go a little bit, relax, get excited, and just see the incredible beauty of who you are. You are beautiful; your mind is beautiful; your mind is made up of light – we call it the Dharma-kaya, the clear light of reality.
Underneath the surface of that mind, and all those thoughts, emotions, and feelings, there is light. The transcendental eternal light is everywhere. It is the light of God, or whatever you want to call it. You are that; you just have to get to that, and you'll be happy all the time. Your life is better than you know. Just take the time to explore your mind. Practice being happy: work at that. It's a new role I realize, but you'll get it. The auditions will be coming up very soon. So get on top of it, I'm sure you'll get the part. A happy being in a strange, crazy, and mysteriously beautiful world, and only here for a while . . .