A meaningful life

I’m going to step back from my list of topics today and share a great discovery. In an article published by Tricycle magazine in Fall 2005, B. Alan Wallace takes on the question “What is true happiness?”. In the following quote, the author gives some context to my purpose with this blog:

What makes for a meaningful life? I consider each day, not just the life as a whole. I look at four ingredients. First, was it a day of virtue? I’m talking about basic Buddhist ethics—avoiding harmful behavior of body, speech, and mind; devoting ourselves to wholesome behavior and to qualities like awareness and compassion. Second, I’d like to feel happy rather than miserable. The realized beings I’ve known exemplify extraordinary states of well-being, and it shows in their demeanor, their way of dealing with adversity, with life, with other people. And third, pursuit of the truth—seeking to understand the nature of life, of reality, of interpersonal relationships, or the nature of mind. But you could do all that sitting quietly in a room. None of us exists in isolation, however, so there is a fourth ingredient: a meaningful life must also answer the question, “What have I brought to the world?” If I can look at a day and see that virtue, happiness, truth, and living an altruistic life are prominent elements, I can say, “You know, I’m a happy camper.” Pursuing happiness does not depend on my checkbook, or the behavior of my spouse, or my job, or my salary. I can live a meaningful life even if I only have ten minutes left.

The full article is here:

To recap the ingredients of B. Alan Wallace’s meaningful day (life):
1. Was (is) today a day of virtue?
2. Was (am) I happy?
3. Was (am) I pursuing the truth today?
4. What did I bring to the world today?

I’ve never seen this put so clearly and succintly (I love pith!). By sharing the Buddha’s teaching on living a moral life, I’m supporting my own virtuous behavior, as well as (I hope) yours. It makes me happy to share what I know of the Buddha’s instructions. I believe I’m leaning towards the truth by relying on the Buddha as a source of wisdom. And by sharing this treasure with you all, I feel I’m bringing the best available wisdom to (at least some) light.

Of course, there are other things I do to make happiness, pursue truth, and bring positive energy to the world. But for me, starting with wholesome behavior is the key. The more I orient myself towards knowing what I’m doing and trying to make all my actions wholesome, abandoning unwholesome actions, the happier and freer I feel.

Would love to know if you find this analysis as uplifting as I do.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
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