According to Richardson Davidson from University of Wisconsin, after years of meditation, the prefrontal lobes of Buddhist monks light up even when they were not meditating.
Buddhism says happiness lasts for those who see things as they really are. Vipassana meditation helps with this, as we’ve already seen, because it literally means Vi (through) + Passana (see) — to see through.
Think about it: Why do people get unhappy? Most often, it is because of the two-fold reason where we exaggerate the truth and bring in destructive emotions of anger, greed, jealousy, attachment etc.
What does this mean? If you want to be happy, see things for the way they are. Do you know how when you’re in love with someone, time seems to pass quickly? In reality, time is ticking away uniformly.
And if you’re arguing with the same person, it feels as if the clock has stopped ticking!
Einstein called this the theory of relativity. At the core level, we’re exaggerating happiness and positive emotions when we’re with a loved one. Similarly, we’re also exaggerating and attaching negative emotions to situations the “feel” unhappy to us.
In reality, both the times this person is the same. You have attached a different meaning to the person (also known as object in Buddhism).
In short, happiness and unhappiness can be found within you. You decide whether you want to feel happy or not.
According to Buddhist philosophy, lasting happiness can be achieved by staying away from destructive emotions in your word, deed or thoughts.
Practicing Vipassana meditation helps you to see things as they are, and you start to remove yourself from pain and suffering.
One thing to note during Vipassana is to not get too carried away when you experience deep sensations of bliss during meditation. Many novice meditators will experience bliss during Vipassana and mistake it for enlightenment.
The blissful feeling that is happening in the now is very much real just like other “objects” of meditation, such as like your pain, thought or sensation in your body. Your job is to observe bliss like a body scanner and move on. Don’t get too carried away because this will lead to attachment and temporary happiness.
Similarly, don’t crave the bliss state when you’re meditating the next time. Because if your goal is to achieve that state, you’re not in the present moment but in the past and future.
Observe bliss and make a mental note of it without trying too hard to avoid it either.
The fleeting bouts of happiness most of us experience every day by cracking a deal, making more money, achieving goals are futile efforts in finding true happiness. Lasting happiness, according to Buddhists, comes when you have emptied your cup of negativity.
All that stock of destructive and deep-rooted negativities (anger, attachment, guilt etc) will keep you from touching permanent happiness.
Empty your cup first, so you’re ready to start the work from scratch. Vipassana will help you do this and observe everything objectively, as things really are.
Image by Celestine Chua