Discourse on Happiness

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This translation of the Discourse on Happiness has been prepared by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Mahamangala Sutta (Sutta Nipata 1) in Pali.

It appears in Thich Nhat Hanh, Chanting From The Heart (Parallax Press, Rev.Ed., 2006), and is recited regularly at Plum Village practice centers around the world as part of our daily sitting and chanting sessions.

For the complete text and commentary, see Thich Nhat Hanh, Two Treasures: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening and True Happiness (Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2006).


 

Discourse on Happiness

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was living in the vicinity of Savatthi at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a deva appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After paying respects to the Buddha, the deva asked him a question in the form of a verse:

“Many gods and men are eager to know
what are the greatest blessings
which bring about a peaceful and happy life.
Please, Tathagata, will you teach us?”

(This is the Buddha’s answer):

“Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in a good environment,
to have planted good seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing the precepts and loving speech —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish your own family,
to have a vocation that brings you joy —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
and to be diligent in doing good things —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be humble and polite in manner,
to be grateful and content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To persevere and be open to change,
to have regular contact with monks and nuns,
and to fully participate in Dharma discussions —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live diligently and attentively,
to perceive the Noble Truths,
and to realize Nirvana —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.

“For he or she who accomplishes this,
unvanquished wherever she goes,
always he is safe and happy —
happiness lives within oneself.”

Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipata 1


 

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Two Treasures

Buddhist Teachings on Awakening and True Happiness

Thich Nhat Hanh

This beautiful volume contains two of the Buddha’s most important teachings: Sutra on the Eight Realization of Great Beings and the Discourse on Happiness. They provide an opportunity to study the Buddha’s teachings directly. Read together, they inspire us toward a life of simplicity, generosity and compassion. Thich Nhat Hanh offers practical and contemporary commentary on the sutras, revealing how these ancient words offer nourishment for everyday life.

 

Just a simple monk!

2 comments on “Discourse on Happiness
  1. Hi
    I have read quite few books written by Thich Nhat Hanh, not this one, well not yet, and I have loved all of them. They have helped me and inspired me a lot, I am so grateful for that. Thank you, Thich Nhat Hanh.

  2. Ankush says:

    Happiness and unhappiness are not in the field of Bliss. It is everyone’s desire to be happy and contented. To be truly blissful is to go beyond happiness and unhappiness.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Much Respect to you!