Taking inspiration from the Mangala sutta, here’s one of the verses.
To be respectful, humble, contented and grateful; and to listen to the Dhamma on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.
How will this make us feel blessed or create blessings in life?
To respect somebody, we have to believe that person is worthy of respect. It means that we regard that person as possessing certain noble qualities. Qualities that will benefit us and the society.
Imagine ourselves being surrounded by people of noble qualities. Isn’t that a very blissful situation? On the other hand, if we are surrounded by people of bad qualities, our life will be miserable.
In this stanza of the sutta, Buddha did not advise us to seek noble and respected individuals. Instead, the verse simply said, be respectful.
Put more simply, it is advising us to adopt a respectful attitude / mentality.
To do that, we need to change our mindset and learn to look at the positive sides of people and situations. Instead of adopting a negative outlook, we focus on the positive aspect. That way, we can be sincerely respectful of new people and situations. We have to be less judgemental and critical to achieve that.
Naturally, Buddha is not asking us to be dumb and naive. Just adopt a more positive approach in life. If we are willing to be respectful, we will be training our mind to be positive. That way, our life will be brighter and we will feel more blessed.
– To be humble, we have to believe that others (people, situation, nature etc) are better than us. When we have that kind of mentality, we can look at old situations in new perspectives.
Our life takes on the fresh perspective of a child. The joy of learning something new is limitless. You’ll be amazed by how you can look at everyday mundane situations with a new perspectives everytime. That is provided you train your mind to do so.
If we have a “know that, seen that, so what is next?” mentality. Our life will become a drab. No matter where we travel in search of new excitement, life will be bleak. That will make our life so gray and boring.
On the other hand, if we train our mind to be humble and receptive to learning new things, then we are forever a child that is curious and looking at the world with excitement. Isn’t that blissful?
We probably heard “contentment is the highest happiness”. It is really so.
This is a message that business owners do not wish you to have. The mass media is always trying to influence you into thinking that you need something new to be happy. The society and school teach us to crave for more.
A mind that is constantly craving for more is suffering. It is restless. It wanders around looking for something new and when we obtain that something, we immediately start to look for something new again. It is a hungry ghost mentality.
A hungry ghost (preta) is potrayed as a roaming spirit that roams about looking for food. When it finds food, the food burns it’s throat and it wander on searching for food all over again.
Thus a mind that is constantly craving is liken to a preta. We search and crave for something we do not possess. When we obtained what we were searching for, we immediately crave for something “better”. That item we were previously craving for become a source of discontentment burning our mind.
Contentment is a state of mind that can be trained and developed. If we have contentment in our life, simple things in life will provide us happiness.
Otherwise, there is no end to discontentment and suffering.
How much is sufficient is up to us to decide.
We feel grateful when something positive happens to us. We feel grateful when we receive love and care from others.
Isn’t it great to always have things and situations that we are grateful for?
There are numerous things that we can be grateful for everyday. As long as we do not take them for granted!
From the moment we wake up from our sleep, we should be grateful that we can live another day.
Being grateful for the food on our table because numerous beings and people had made it possible. If we start our meal by being grateful, it will condition our mind towards happiness. The mentality of thankfulness brings joy.
Again, it is about training ourselves to look at the positive side of life.
At the end of the day, we are the one that will feel happiness before our head touches the pillow.
Do not worry that people will perceive you as meek and weak. This is because only the wise and strong minded people know how to tame their mind, and make it learn how to be happy. Thus becoming owners of happiness.
The teachings of Buddha is called Dhamma. It is through his teachings such as this Mangala Sutta, that we learn how to develop happiness and joy in life.
Therefore, to listen to Dhamma and put it into practice will lead us towards a blissful existence.
May all be happy and blissful.