Regardless of who we are, the main purpose of our life is to be happy.
In this video, the Tibetan meditation teacher Sogyal Rinpoche offers advice on how to find inner peace and contentment, and explains why meditation has such an important role to play.
Inner peace and contentment
All of us share the same wish, and the same right, to seek happiness and avoid suffering.
We spend nearly all our time and energy trying to find happiness, peace and satisfaction.
But do we ever stop to ask ourselves where the real source of happiness and well-being lies? Is it in the ever-changing conditions of the outside world, or within our own mind?
Our society offers an endless array of seductive messages that advertise happiness in money, possessions, fame and good looks.
The trouble is that none of them seems to lead to lasting happiness.
At the same time, we only need to look around us to see how prevalent anxiety, depression, stress and loneliness have become, as well as how our constant hunger for more and more things is threatening the very survival of our planet.
Outer or inner wealth?
If we look closely, we can see that there are two kinds of happiness: one that is based more on physical comfort, and another that comes from a deeper, mental contentment.
Many of us spend so much effort trying to accumulate and maintain material or ‘outer wealth’.
This leaves us very little opportunity to cultivate ’inner wealth’, qualities such as compassion and patience.
But if we have this deeper, inner peace and contentment—this inner wealth—then even when we go through suffering, our minds can still be happy.
This explains how some people can have every material advantage, and still remain dissatisfied and discontent; and others are always satisfied and content, even when faced with the most difficult circumstances.
What do we really need?
Of course, basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, health and education are crucial for all of us to live healthy and happy lives.
Beyond these, however, we need to ask ourselves honestly: how many things really deserve our precious time and energy?
There is a saying that ‘Only the foolish go looking for happiness outside of themselves’—because when we do that, then we have no control.
The wise and learned, the saying continues, know that happiness and the causes of happiness are all present within us.
You could say that the principal characteristic of genuine happiness is inner peace and contentment.
If you have contentment and inner peace as your basis, your mind will be relaxed and at ease.
If your mind is relaxed and at ease, then no matter what difficulties or crises you encounter, you will not be disturbed. Your basic sense of well-being will not be undermined.
As a result, you will be able to carry on your everyday life, your work and your responsibilities more efficiently, and you will have the wisdom to discern what to do and what not to do.
Your life will become happier, and when difficulties arise, you will even be able to turn them to your advantage.
So, for our own inner peace and stability, taking care of our mind and heart is crucial.
Once our mind is more at peace, then both inner and outer harmony will automatically follow.
That is why we meditate.