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Interview with Vadivu Govind, on how to cultivate happiness - I

By Matthieu Ricard on October 07, 2012

From a series of private interviews with Matthieu Ricard conducted by Vadivu Govind in Singapore in September 2012, during which she assumed the role of a wealthy leader and posed some thoughts such a leader may have to Matthieu.

There are different definitions of happiness. Could you describe what it feels like to be truly happy?

Inner peace. Inner peace comes with inner freedom. What is inner freedom? It's not just doing whatever comes into your head. That is like being a slave of your thoughts. Inner freedom is to be free from constantly ruminating over the past or constantly anticipating the future with hopes and fears, expectations and doubts. It is to be able to remain in the present moment without being disturbed by craving, anger, jealousy, and so forth. It is a state of freedom from mental toxins. Hatred is toxic to happiness. Craving is toxic to happiness. Arrogance is toxic to happiness.

Contrary to what people might think, this is not a dull state. If you got rid of all those afflictive emotions, life will not become boring and colorless. This is the most vivid, luminous, aware state of peace and out of that comes loving kindness and compassion.

In short, genuine happiness is the inner peace of being free from disturbing thoughts and having with some understanding of reality (wisdom). It is pervaded with love and compassion.
It is very different than searching for an endless succession of pleasurable experiences. That is a recipe for exhaustion. That's what people try to do and then they collapse out of exhaustion. It does not bring happiness.

Interview conducted by: Vadivu Govind, Director, Joy Works (joyworks.sg) on 13 Sept. 2012, Poh Ming Tse Temple, Singapore. She blogs at happiness.sg.