The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Contentment (santuṭṭhi) is the ability to be happy and fulfilled in one’s present state. The Buddha said: ‘Contentment is the highest wealth.’ (Dhp.204), meaning that when we are content we do not need to get anything, go anywhere or be anything to be happy because we already are, and thus, contentment is more valuable than any possession or accomplishment. The Buddha describes the monk’s contentment like this: ‘He is satisfied with a robe to cover his body and alms food to satisfy his stomach and having accepted no more than is sufficient he goes his way, just as a bird flies here and there taking with it no more than its wings.’(D.I,71).
Contentment is the state of mind that allows us to be quietly happy in any situation, and to be at peace with who we are.
Contentment is freedom from anxiety, want or need. Contentment is the goal behind all goals because —once achieved— there is nothing to seek.
In samsaric existence, a sentient being cannot maintain “contentment” (actually, pleasure or satisfaction) for very long, as the three sufferings quickly end the momentary experience of satisfaction:
] The Suffering of Suffering refers to direct physical and emotional pain and discomfort.
] The Suffering of Change refers to the inevitable alternation between pleasure and pain.
] All-Pervasive Suffering is the basis of the first two, being the fundamental nature of samsaric existence: birth, disease, aging, and death.
The Causes of Suffering:
Ignorance: imputing reality to the false self and phenomena
Selfishness: relating all persons and phenomena to the false self
Attachment: wanting to possess and guard what is pleasant
Aversion: wanting to avoid and destroy what is unpleasant
Grasping at the 5 Heaps: clinging to the manifestations of false self
Mechanics of Delusion:
Perception of a person, object, or situation
Pleasant or unpleasant feeling associated with the perception
Isolation of the positive or negative qualities eliciting the feeling
Exaggeration of the positive or negative qualities
Generating and fixating the disturbing emotion
Contentment rests on humility
Others treat us as we deserve to be treated
We have as much or as little as we can utilize properly
Our situation is appropriate to our stage of spiritual cultivation
Contentment rests on patience
Our relationships with others are determined by our past deeds
We have as much or as little as we merit
Our present situation is necessary for our spiritual cultivation
Contentment rests on wisdom
Dependent origination and impermanence define relative reality
Emptiness of false self and phenomena define provisional reality
Great Natural Perfection defines ultimate reality