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A Monk's Guide to Happiness

Meditation in the 21st Century

By Gelong Thubten
15-minute read
Audio available
A Monk's Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st Century by Gelong Thubten

A Monk’s Guide to Happiness (2019) provides readers with a philosophically insightful and practically useful manual on how to break free of suffering and achieve inner peace. Drawing from the author’s 25 years of training at Buddhist monasteries and intensive meditation retreats, the book distills more than two decades of hard-won wisdom.

  • People who are sick and tired of the rat race
  • Social media users feeling exhausted by their Facebook and Instagram feeds 
  • Anyone wondering what the mindfulness fuss is all about

Gelong Thubten is a Buddhist monk and meditation teacher from the United Kingdom. After receiving an education at Oxford University, he became an actor in London and New York. He led a party-hard lifestyle until suffering burnout at the age of 21. At this point, he joined the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, where he became an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk. Thubten has practiced and taught mindfulness meditation ever since. This path included 25 years of training, six years of attending intensive meditation retreats and 20 years of teaching mindfulness in settings as diverse as schools, hospitals, prisons, addiction counseling centers and corporate offices.

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A Monk's Guide to Happiness

Meditation in the 21st Century

By Gelong Thubten
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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A Monk's Guide to Happiness: Meditation in the 21st Century by Gelong Thubten
Synopsis

A Monk’s Guide to Happiness (2019) provides readers with a philosophically insightful and practically useful manual on how to break free of suffering and achieve inner peace. Drawing from the author’s 25 years of training at Buddhist monasteries and intensive meditation retreats, the book distills more than two decades of hard-won wisdom.

Key idea 1 of 9

Happiness is a feeling of fullness and freedom in the present moment.

Before we dive into the details of how to be happy, let’s take a step back and begin with a more fundamental question: What is happiness in the first place? This might seem like a rather philosophical point of inquiry, but it has some very practical implications. After all, if we want to find something, we need to know what we’re looking for!

So, what does the feeling of happiness consist of? Well, we can break it down into three main components. The first is a sense of fullness. When we’re happy, we don’t feel that we lack anything in our experience of the present moment. Instead, we feel complete, just the way we are – right here, right now. 

In other words, we feel content. We don’t wish for anything we don’t already have – whether it’s a material object, experience or circumstance. For instance, we wouldn’t think, “If only I had that shiny new device or had a better job, then I’d be happy.” We’re already satisfied, so whatever is happening in the present moment is enough.

That brings us to the second component of happiness, which is feeling anchored to the present. This means we don’t drift away into thoughts about the past or future, where we tend to get caught up in painful memories and anxiety-provoking uncertainties. For example, “I wish I hadn’t made that comment to my friend” or, “I wonder what she’ll say when I see her next.” Instead, we focus on the moment we’re experiencing.

In conjunction with all of this, we also feel a sense of freedom. This is the third component of happiness. We don’t become captivated by the negative emotions and disquieting desires that come with dredging up the past, anticipating the future or wishing the present were different. Instead, we feel liberated from all of these sources of unhappiness.

The nature of this liberation will become clearer in the following blinks, where we’ll map out the mental prison from which we’re trying to break free. Then, with our map in hand, we’ll figure out an escape plan.

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