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5 of History’s Greatest Buddhist Masters Reveal the Secret to Happiness

To many people who don’t believe in religion, Buddhism is seen as a “good” religion. It doesn’t promote hate and offers the individual more freedom to find their own way.

But can it really help you find meaning, fulfilment and happiness in life?

Many say that it can, and after studying Buddhist philosophy for a few years now, I have to agree.

It offers a different way of looking at meaning, attachment and happiness compared to the west. It teaches us that material objects won’t bring you happiness and that it’s what’s inside that counts.

Below, I’ve collated some of the top Buddhist thinkers and their opinions on happiness and how to find it. Enjoy!

1) Gautama Buddha

We must take responsibility for our happiness:

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Your purpose is key:

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”

The journey is what matters:

“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.”

The present moment is all that exists:

“The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment”

Do good:

“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.”

“Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to others.”

Remove attachments:

“A man asked Gautama Buddha, “I want happiness.”
Buddha said, “First remove “I,” that’s Ego, then remove “want,” that’s Desire.
See now you are left with only “Happiness.”

2) Bodhidharma

Seek nothing:

“To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.”

“People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring.”

Understand the mind:

“The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It’s like the root of a tree. All a tree’s fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort.”

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.”

You might need a mentor:

“Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.”


“The essence of the Way is detachment.”

It’s what’s inside that matters:

“But deluded people don’t realize that their own mind is the Buddha. They keep searching outside.”

Reason and practice: 

“Many roads lead to the path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice.”

3) The Dalai Lama

Help others:

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“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

“To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us and treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether by following it you can find greater happiness.”

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

We need relationships:

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.”

Inner peace is key:

“Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility…without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed, or unhappy because of circumstances.”

What others do doesn’t matter:

“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”

4) Buddhadasa

Remove “I”:

“True happiness consists in eliminating the false idea of ‘I’.”

Try not to cling:

“What is the world full of? It is full of things that arise, persist, and cease. Grasp and cling to them, and they produce suffering. Don’t grasp and cling to them, and they do not produce suffering.”

No desire:

“Happiness is when there is no hunger or want at all, when we’re completely free of all hunger, desire, and want.”

The truth of life:

“The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees and soil. Our bodily parts function as a cooperative. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise, that human beings are all mutual friends in the process of birth, old age, suffering and death, then we can build a noble, even heavenly environment. If our lives are not based in this truth, then we shall all perish.”

It takes practice:

“Those who read books cannot understand the teachings and, what’s more, may even go astray. But those who try to observe the things going on in the mind, and always take that which is true in their own minds as their standard, never get muddled. They are able to comprehend suffering, and ultimately will understand Dharma. Then, they will understand the books they read.”

5) D.T Suzuki

The moment is what matters:

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

Catch life as it flows:

“The idea of Zen is to catch life as it flows. There is nothing extraordinary or mysterious about Zen. I raise my hand ; I take a book from the other side of the desk ; I hear the boys playing ball outside my window; I see the clouds blown away beyond the neighbouring wood: — in all these I am practising Zen, I am living Zen. No wordy discussions is necessary, nor any explanation. I do not know why — and there is no need of explaining, but when the sun rises the whole world dances with joy and everybody’s heart is filled with bliss. If Zen is at all conceivable, it must be taken hold of here.”

You won’t be able to explain your happiness:

“No amount of wordy explanations will ever lead us into the nature of our own selves. The more you explain, the further it runs away from you. It is like trying to get hold of your own shadow. You run after it and it runs with you at the identical rate of speed.”

“As far as the content goes, there is none in either *satori* or Zen that can be described or presented or demonstrated for your intellectual appreciation. For Zen has no business with ideas, and *satori* is a sort of inner perception — not the perception, indeed, of a single individual object but the perception of Reality itself, so to speak.”

Compassion is essential:

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.”





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