* Think of a person in this world whom you most like or dislike. Describe the trait that makes you like or dislike him or her and find reasons for this trait. State both the trait and the reason for it.
Example: The truck in the right lane ahead of me began to drift into the left lane, leaving the three cars ahead of me little choice but to brake. If they had not done so, they would have had no alternative but to swerve into the oncoming traffic, and the resulting accident would have been quite a mess. As it happened, the first car stopped rather abruptly; reacting to the first car's brake lights, the alert drivers in the second, third and fourth cars in the line jammed on their brakes. Unfortunately, the driver of the fifth car wasn't paying much attention to anything beyond the car immediately in front of him. As a result, he failed to anticipate the impending crash and was slow to brake, putting the fourth car (mine) in the unwelcome position of 'helping' his car stop. In the above example, some of the causal relationships are signalled using causal linking constructions, and some are indicated implicitly through other constructions. Make a list of the relationships, identifying causes/reasons in one column and effects/results in a second column, and indicating in a third column which relationships are explicitly signalled and which are implicit. What is the purpose of life? It is to become happy. Whatever country or society people live in, they all have the same deep desire: to become happy.
Yet, there are few ideals as difficult to grasp as that of happiness. In our daily life we constantly experience happiness and unhappiness, but we are still quite ignorant as to what happiness really is.
A young friend of mine once spent a long time trying to work out what happiness was, particularly happiness for women. When she first thought about happiness she saw it as a matter of becoming financially secure or getting married. (The view in Japanese society then was that happiness for a woman was only to be found in marriage.) But looking at friends who were married, she realized that marriage didn't necessarily guarantee happiness.
She saw couples who had been passionately in love suffering from discord soon after their wedding. She saw women who had married men with money or status but who fought constantly with their husbands.
Gradually, she realized that the secret of happiness lay in building a strong inner self that no trial or hardship could ruin. She saw that happiness for anyone - man or woman - does not come simply from having a formal education, from wealth or from marriage. It begins with having the strength to confront and conquer one's own weaknesses. Only then does it become possible to lead a truly happy life and enjoy a successful marriage.
She finally told me, "Now I can say with confidence that happiness doesn't exist in the past or in the future. It only exists within our state of life right now, here in the present, as we face the challenges of daily life."
I agree entirely. You yourself know best whether you are feeling joy or struggling with suffering. These things are not known to other people. Even a man who has great wealth, social recognition and many awards may still be shadowed by indescribable suffering deep in his heart. On the other hand, an elderly woman who is not fortunate financially, leading a simple life alone, may feel the sun of joy and happiness rising in her heart each day.
Happiness is not a life without problems, but rather the strength to overcome the problems that come our way. There is no such thing as a problem-free life; difficulties are unavoidable. But how we experience and react to our problems depends on us. Buddhism teaches that we are each responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness. Our vitality - the amount of energy or "life-force" we have - is in fact the single most important factor in determining whether or not we are happy....
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