What most people call power, Buddhists call cravings. They are wealth, fame, sex, fancy food and lots of sleep. In Buddhism, five true powers are faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. These five powers are the foundation of real happiness.
THICH NHAT HANH
When I ask you to instantly picture “the good life,” what is the first image that pops into your brain?
If you are true to yourself, you can learn a lot from what your honest first image that came to mind is. If you answer publicly, you may be inclined to change that answer. But if you are truthful with yourself, you will get a quick impression of your cultural imprint.
What do you aspire to achieve?
In the Western world, we mostly crave the first set of options above… wealth, fame, sex, fancy food and lots of sleep. It is bread into our conditioning over the course of literature, media, and cultural reinforcement. Do these things bring us happiness?
Of course they do!
But are they, in and of themselves, the recipe for true happiness or is it possible that they are placebos that are keeping us in just enough comfort as to obfuscate the truth of life’s deeper meaning?
I do not mean to presume that enjoying life’s comforts and trappings is a bad thing. To the contrary, it is those little things that add such great flavor to life. But they are only on one layer and to Dr. Hanh’s point, true power stems from qualities much deeper than the superficial comforts, regardless of how enjoyable or tempting or alluring they may present themselves as being.
Take faith for example. Faith comes in many flavors, depending upon where that faith is placed. It can manifest in a religious belief, a personal relationship, in an institution or team, in a nation, or in oneself. Faith drives core efforts and prolongs belief far past where it would normally last without said faith.
Diligence is the essence of functionality that performs on any level. If diligence were out of the equation, nothing would happen per schedule, reliability would be a thing of the past and entire operations, nations and species would perish.
Mindfulness, or the ability to be fully aware of who and what you are and where your brain is spending its time is a key quality that enables any person to sort the positive from the negative and to empower oneself to operate with peak functionality in every category of our existence. If we are not mindful, we are far more likely to be overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Concentration enables focus and focus enables the deepest of thoughts, the ones that generate the most spectacular art, give birth to new inventions and innovations, and catapult humanity to our highest potentials.
Insight is clarity, the capability of focusing on any topic of interest and leveraging previous knowledge, instincts, and intuition as resources that provide greater opportunity to make wise decisions which allow us to accelerate in our aspirations and our personal lives with greater likelihood of success.
The next time you picture the “good life,” you will most probably conjure the same kind of image as you did before today’s musing… but as you contemplate what we have discussed today, your faith in yourself combined with the diligence and mindfulness required to go beyond that first tempting image and concentrate on what really matters will give you the prerequisite insight to make the foundation of real happiness in your life.