Happy Spring

The Happy Spring
By Ven. Thich Trung Sy

We all know that a year with twelve months, a month with four weeks, a week with seven days and nights, a day and night with twenty-four hours, an hour with sixty minutes…has always passed in every moment of our daily life. Although time has passed passed, the Happy Spring is always present in you and in us, in the family and in the Buddhist pagoda, in every place and everywhere.

The Happy Spring, also known the Spring of Maitreya Buddha or the Peaceful Spring, is practically present in us whenever we are aware to keep control of our breath, speech, thought and actions mindfully and vigilantly right here and now in the present life.   

Based on the title of this writing, we encounter the word “Happiness,” we can learn about it through various and different angles, especially through Discourses, verses, through thoughts and the meanings of Buddhist Studies as follows:   

 Happy is the birth of the Buddha,
Happy is the noble Dhamma,
Happy is the harmonious Sangha,
Happy is the practice of the Four Assemblies in brotherhood and sisterhood.[1]

As you know happiness is felt through many different aspects and angles, but in the final, happiness, which is felt best, is happiness derived from “the body of peacefulness”and “mind of liberation” of each of us. That is the most precious gift that we can offer to our lovers and to us on the occasion of the new Spring. 
Relying on the above verse of Dhammapada, we encounter the word “happiness” to be present in every teaching of the Buddha, we, in turn, find out about the meanings of it below.

In Sanskrit or Pāli languages, happiness with its root is “Sukha.” According to Monier-Williams (1964), “Sukha” has two separate words “Su” and “Kha.” “Su” means “good” and “Kha” means “axle.” “Sukha” means “good axle.” For example, car that has good axle can run fast, run far and run durably. Of course, it must also depend on other factors such as wheels, petrol, engine oil, etc. Likewise, we have “True Happiness,” we can transform the unwholesome seeds into the wholesome seeds, we can cherish and foster our heart of love and understanding towards all living things and living beings, and we can go in the fields of secular life and spiritual life finely.       
Carrying out the doings, we must have the specific methods such as loving speech, deep listening, chanting Suttas, silently repeating the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ names, sitting meditation, walking meditation, breathing meditation in mindfulness, etc. in order that we can apply and train one of the aforesaid methods suitably for our everyday life. From here, we can enjoy the peaceful taste of training, we can bring flowers and fruits of peacefulness and happiness to the many, and we can contribute to building a realm of heaven or that of pureland right in this world.     
We know happiness, its opposite, is “unhappiness” and “suffering” (Sukkha). Cultivation is for us to achieve “happiness” and gradually transform unhappiness and suffering. In Buddhist term, the practical meaning of “Sukkha” is “True happiness.” In the “Sutta of True Happiness,”(Mangala Sutta), the second Discourse of the Sutta-Nipata, in the fifth position of Khuddaka Nikāya, refers to the values of “True Happiness” of Sutta that we can learn, understand, apply and enjoy its peaceful taste from the first Spring of the new year up to the last Spring of life. With our joyful and comfortable mind, let us together read the “Sutta of True Happiness”for joy!      

Thus have I heard, at one time World-Honoured One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s garden. When the night near ended, there was a certain deity with his surpassing radiance illuminated the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, approached and bowed down to World-Honoured One. After having bowed down to World-Honoured One, the deity stood at one side and addressed World-Honoured One in verse as follows:

“Many deities and human beings,
Who ponder on happiness,
Yearn happiness and ask World-Honoured One,
What is true happiness?

He replies with the verse:

Not avoiding the foolish,
Associating with the wise,
Paying homage to those who are worthy of homage,
This is true happiness.
Choosing a suitable place to reside,
Having made merits in past life,
Keeping one’s heart right and straight,
This is true happiness.

Understanding broadly and being skillful in handicraft,
Observing the Precepts perfectly,
Saying in harmonious speech,
This is true happiness.

Serving mother and father,
Cherishing spouse and children,
Not being attached to trouble,
This is true happiness.  

Giving and living in rectitude,
Helping one’s relatives,
Deeds are blameless,
This is true happiness.    

Avoiding the evil,
Refraining from intoxicants,
Being assiduous in the right way,
This is true happiness.
Being respectful and humble,
Being contented and grateful,
Learning the Dhamma on timely occasions,
This is true happiness.
Being patient and obedient,
Visiting monks and nuns,
Discussing the Dhamma on timely occasions,
This is true happiness.

Being pure and diligent,
Undertanding the Noble Truths clearly,
Carrying them out and being happy with Nibbana
This is true happiness.  

Being in touch with the world,
Keeping one’s mind unshaken,
Sorrowless, dustless and unruffled,
This is true happiness.  

Those who train the aforesaid teachings like that,
Do anything easy to achieve,
 Live peacefully in any place.
This is true happiness.[2]

Through, “Sutta of True Happiness” we know happiness has the practical values, first of all, it is felt by our body of harmony and mind of deliberation, we can rewrite “happiness of the body” and “happiness of mind.
Happiness of the body” means we are very lucky to make the human body have enough hands, legs, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, etc. We can experience happiness when our hands and legs are still good enough to go in mindful meditation, sit in mindful meditation; our eyes are still bright enough to see our lovers and us existing and helping side by side; our ears are still clear enough to hear Dhamma talk and birdsong; our nose smells to know fragrance of flowers and fruits; our tongue tastes to know their flavours, etc.
Moreover, “happiness of the body”means we are aware to observe living things and living beings, to protect the assets of people, to lead our peaceful and happy life, to say useful, loving and pleasant words to every family and everyone; conscious of not using drugs, intoxicants, beer, and smoking; and conscious of consuming wholesome and good films, pictures, newspapers and magazines with education, morality and science. We can spare more time to work for charity, the release of animals; live our harmonious and helpful life between people and living beings, between people and living things; care about parents, spouses, teachers and pupils; and teach descendants to become good persons. 

Thus, “happiness of the body” is happiness of our practice, happiness of very reality, that of very practicality and that of very presence, we can train and enjoy it right here and now in this wonderful life.   

Besides, we know among us there are unfortunate persons who do not have enough one of precious conditions as we have, but they can also approach the Buddha’s teachings from guides of the Dhamma or listen to it in their ears, or speak and sing it in their mouths, or feel it in their mind, etc. However, they can taste the peaceful Dhamma and happiness in themselves.

Guider of the Dhamma, who can be a Forthgoing person, be an Unforthgoing person, be a man teacher, be woman teacher, be a person of good aspiration, etc. instructs unfortunate persons to the shore of freshness, to that of fragrance, that is, to that of peacefulness and happiness in their own body and mind. Among us, this person, who is a Maitreya Buddha, a Buddha of love and understanding, lives with one’s heart of joy, that of indiscrimination, that of loving people, lives out of the others and lives for the others. Each of us can be a practitioner of guiding the Dhamma to bring the benefits to the world and help the world add flowers and add fruits; flowers of compassion and fruits of wisdom are dedicated to life of joyfulness and happiness.       

Next to “happiness of mind,”“Happiness of mind” means we have enough good conditions to learn, understand, train and enjoy the peaceful taste of our body and mind. We can cultivate and transform the inactive seeds of our mind such as the seed of sorrow, anger, greed, envy, delusion, etc. and we can cultivate and water the good seeds of our mind such as the seed of loving-kindness, that of compassion, that of joy, that of equanimity or indiscrimination, etc.   

Over here, what has just been mentioned, the body and mind, which are divided like that are easy for us to understand, but in fact, human body and mind are a single entity inseparably as water with wave is oneness. Happiness of the body is mainly that of mind, happiness of mind is also mainly that of the body, and vice versa. Cultivation is for us to achieve peacefulness and happiness of our body and mind. The peaceful body is peaceful mind; peaceful mind is the peaceful body, and vice versa. Our body and mind are unpeaceful, however hard we try, we never obtain happiness.  

As the Awakened One’s disciples, we learn and apply his practical teachings in our daily life in order that we can practice conscious in-and-out breaths, talking, doing and thinking the good to bring peacefulness and happiness to our body and mind. Understanding and training so, we can offer the “Happy Spring” to the others and to ourselves right in this life.   

To describe the meanings of the body and mind, through the poem of Happiness of a Forthgoing Nun who praises fortunate for making human body happy, please invite you together to enjoy the poem below for joy!

“How high wonderful World-Honoured One is!
His loving-kindness and compassion
          spreading all over everywhere,
Granting humankind joy of life,
Giving us happiness to make people.
Listening to the Dhamma to reduce grievousness,
Destroying ignorance to let one’s mind
                          be illuminated bywisdom,
Happiness in a myriad of happiness,
Making people be the happiest in the world”! [3]

Next, we practice seeing and understanding “happiness” through verse of the above-mentioned Dhammapada. In this verse, we find out the word “happiness” to be present in the whole of verse. First of all, the first verse of Dhammapada is “Happy is the birth of the Buddha.”We know the purpose of a Buddha’s birth is to bring peacefulness and happiness to gods and human beings. Buddha means an Awakened One, an Enlightened One of love, a Messenger of love and peace. The Buddha’s birth here can be understood Sakyamuni Buddha and also be understood Maitreya Buddha.    

In the context of the Spring, we can understand Maitreya Buddha, happy Buddha, who appears in the first day of the new year to bring peacefulness and happiness to everyone and every family. Training the Buddhadhamma diligently, each of us can be each Maitreya Buddha to grant the Happy Spring to our lovers and us.   

The Buddha, the Teacher, showing the peaceful way,
Being fully-Awakened One,
Whose good, correct and decent signs,
Whose perfect lovind-kindness and compassion.[4]

The second verse of Dhammapada is “Happy is the Noble Dhamma.” The Noble Dhamma means the Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkha-Ariya-Sacca), the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering (Dukkha-Samudaya-Ariya-Sacca), the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Dukkha-Nirodha-Ariya-Sacca) and the Path leading to the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Dukkha-Nirodha-Gāminī-Paipadā-Ariya-Sacca).[5]

The Dhamma has the ability to lead us to the Spring of authentical Happiness for the others and for us. If we apply and train the Dhamma practically in our daily life, we can bring peacefulness and happiness to the many. Therefore, the Buddhadhamma is called “beyond the time, the visible present, the avoidance of troubleness, come and see, come and hear, come and understand, come and train, and come and enjoy the peaceful taste of the Dhamma.[6]     

Indeed, “the Noble Dhamma” also means whenever we apply and train it assiduously in our daily life, we can reap fruits and flowers of practical peacefulness and happiness in present life.   

The Dhamma, which is the bright way,
Leads people to escape from the ignorant world,
Leads one to coming back one’s spiritual homeland,
In orde to live one’s awakened life.[7]

The third verse of Dhammapada is “Happy is the harmonious Sangha.”The Sangha that are World-Honoured One’s disciples, spiritual Practitioners vow to lead their peaceful and awakening life, vow to go on the path of attainment and liberation of Him, and vow to look after and nourish brotherhood, love and aflection of teachers and pupils. “The harmonious Sangha” means the Community of the Monastic Buddhists with cultivating, understanding, training the Buddha’s Dhamma, tasting the enjoyable Dhamma in themselves, and bringing peacefulness and happiness to many people.    

 The Sangha that are the beautiful Community,
Go together on the joyful path,
Cultivate and be free of defilements
To make life peaceful.”[8]

The fourth verse of Dhammapada is “Happy is the practice of the Four Assemblies in brotherhood and sisterhood.”The Four Assemblies consist of the Assembly of Monastic Monks, that of Monastic Nuns, that of lay Buddhist men and that of lay Buddhist women. Both the Four Assemblies are the World-Honoured One’s disciples, who go together on the path of awakening, attainment and freedom, and cultivate His teachings together to purify the body and mind and to bring peacefulness and happiness to the others and to themselves right in this world.     

Disciple, taking refuge in the Triple Gems,[9]
Knowing the Triple Gems of one’s own mind,
Vowing to train the Buddha’s teachings diligently
To make mind be illuminated by the Triple Gems.”[10]

Thus, we see the “the Happy Spring” also means the “Spring of Transmission of the lamp.” “Transmission of the lamp” means we pass the light of love, that of happiness and that of peacefulness to all living things and living beings together. We light up the lamp of the Dhamma, light up the lamp of peace to bring peacefulness and happiness to the many together. We each are kinds of the lights and torchs to be grant to the many. Understanding and practicing so, we can contribute to building everyone of happiness and every family of joyfulness in the spirit of loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom of Buddhism, and in the spirit of self-cultivation, self-assistance, self-attainment and self-deliverance.

To show their heart to love and esteem the Triple Gems, please invite readers respectfully to enjoy the poem of the Happy Spring below for joy!

 The Happy Spring is gentle gentle clear green,
The wind that moves cloud drifts fast fast,
Each flock of birds races against each other surroundingly,
Celebration of the Spring coming to be joyfully
                                welcome to the festival.
Kneeling sincerely in this solemn place,
One’s heart being respected and directed
         towards the Triple Gems,
Praying for the noble Sanghakaya,
Living in harmony, the spread of the Dhamma Path.
Wishing for all joyous places,
Escaping from ignorance, searching for deliberation,
And praying for families and relatives today,
The full health, the happy reunion of the Dhamma,
Together aspiring to ancestors and parents in
                                                many  past lives,
Penetration of the Path, the avoidance of the evil path. 

The Spring that comes resounds resounds,
Joyful feelings of how eager,
Life is joyful as one’s heart blooms,
Feelings of bliss are full of the Buddha,
Who leads us to the Dhamma,
Boundless love of all sounds of singing.
Despite tomorrow, when year and month pass,
One still steps on the path of the Buddha,
Whose love is forever eternal,
The Buddha in one is the source of warm sunshine.

Celebration of the Spring coming, we sing songs,
Welcome the new year and are happy with every family.[11]

On the threshold of the new year, directing our sincere mind towards beloved Việt Nam homeland, we respectfully wish Monastic Buddhists, lay Buddhists, the Guests of honour, abroad-learning Monks Nuns and overseas students in India in the new Spring of their plentiful health, their body and mind in the pleasurable Dhamma, their fully worldly life-span and their eternally unworldly longevity. 

Celebration of the Happy Spring in the present,
Every person in prosperousness and every family in peaceful joy.”[12]

(Please click to watch movie)

[1]  Dhammapada, Verse No. 194.
[2]  See Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipatta II. 4 in Khuddaka Nikāya.
[3]  Monastic Nun Thích Nữ Tắc Phú’s Happy Poem.
[4]    Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Meditative poem.
[5]    M. I. 185; MLD. I. 278.
[6] See The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga). Bhikkhu       Ñāamoli translated Pāli into English. Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 5th Edition 1991, Reprinted 1999, Chapter VII, 68-88: 209-215.
[7]   Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Meditative poem.
[8]  Ibid.
[9]  The Triple Gems: The Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.
[10]   Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Meditative Poem.
[11]  Ullambana 2007, Poem of “Respectfully Presenting Mother,” of the author Nguyễn Nguyệt. In this poem, writer changes some words, respectfully wish the author to be happy and  sympathize. Lovingly wish the  author to be happy with the Spring.
[12]  Writer, practicing making a sentence poem  for joy for joy, harmonizing with life happily with the Dhamma together.