Do you know there are 2 types of happiness, relative or mundane happiness and ultimate happiness?
Relative happiness or mundane happiness is relative or subjective. For example, the joy of watching your favourite movie.
The same movie, watched in a different environment, with different people, or under a different mood, will produce different experience. It may even be torturous instead of being entertaining. Imagine watching your movie in an air-tight container filled with buzzing mosquitoes and you have to watch it 100 times! Although a rather skewed example, it highlighted the fact that mundane happiness is relative to various factors. Since these factors are ever changing, mundane happinesses are short-lived and become a source of dissatisfaction.
I experienced this, first hand recently on my vacation. Having watched various travel program on youtube, I was convinced that eating wagyu beef in Japan, is an extremely blissful experience. You can’t blame me for being easily influenced. I mean who can resist being influenced by shows that featured tantalising beef sizzling on hot plate, followed by exaggerated expression of bliss on the food vblogger right?
Anyway, the opportunity presented itself near dinner time on the 10th day of my trip. While walking past a row of posters, the delicious looking picture of marbled beef on grill captured my attention. The Japanese word 放题 in bold, made my heart skipped a beat. All You Can Eat dinning! Yeah!
Alas, mundane happiness is really short-lived. The food tasted fantastic when I was on an empty stomach. However, that same taste of marbled beef became torturous when you have unlimited servings, and you had greedily ordered 2 servings of EVERYTHING!
With that dissatisfaction, others followed. Unpleasant environment that was oblivious became unbearable. The restaurant was filled with barbeque fumes, the table behind me was too noisy, the seat is too cushy….. I forced myself to eat all the food and leave the smoke filled, noisy restaurant as fast as I could; swearing never to eat in an “All you can eat” restaurant again.
The problem is, it happened before…….
Last time, it was an “All you can eat” snow crab restaurant in Osaka! We forgot our unpleasant experience with mundane happiness, we make the same mistake to pursue mundane happiness again and again. No matter how many times we are disappointed by them. Now, that is habitual ignorance. Isn’t it? SIGH…..
The ultimate happiness in Buddhism is different. It is simple and not dependent on external factors. It is not relative and subjective. It is forever. And it is cheap too because it is within us! That is the goal of Buddhism, achieving ultimate happiness. REAL HAPPINESS.
To experience that, we need to practice the various methods taught by Buddha. Those mind practices will reveal a new type of happiness as we progress in our practice.
I guess, I’ll need to invest more time pursuing ultimate happiness instead of mundane happiness. May all be well and happy.