By Susan Kong

Translated by T.T. Kwan and H.F. Jang


I would like to discuss the topic of how to attain happiness by untangling the thousand knots in your heart.

  1. The Heart Has A Thousand Knots.

    Everybody lives in a unique environment. Some are luckier than others, but all can and do think; think hard, thick far, think good thoughts, think bad thoughts. However, if you, like many others, fail to guide your thoughts properly, your thoughts often lead you to a dead end. You simply create troubles from nothing - waves are aroused without wind. In other words, your heart has a thousand knots.

  2. What Makes It Knotty?

    The main cause of all these knots in your heart is over the phenomenal man and events. Among the people around you, some want to contribute to you and others to claim compensation from you. The relationships are difficult to comprehend. That is why in your mortal life you cannot understand. The emotions which exist between people or which control love and hate.

    The material world around us is not everlasting, nor does form remain changed. Value is assessed according to people's whims, and the function of an object depends on the way it is used by people. The human body is also a material object, which weakens with age. Materials are meant to serve humans, but instead we pursue materials and willingly become their servants or slaves. This gives rise to all our problems.

    You self-centered personality is shaped through heaping up a multitude of experiences from time immemorial in your heart and mind. Conditioned by your instinct and customs, your mind-set in turn conditions your good and bad deeds and your wise choices. Confronted by a variety of people and events, it is only natural that you will respond in one of several ways, with love, where you expect to possess it permanently, and hence your greed; with hate, where you want your dislike to disappear as soon as possible, and hence your anger; with pride, where you deem yourself more superior than others, and hence your arrogance; with rejection, where you are suspicious and distrustful, and hence your skepticism; or withholding your own views with subjectivity and prejudice, and hence your attachment.

    All these mental phenomena, which account for various foolish ways of thinking, are due to your failure to understand the real condition of people and events and their causality. When insatiable demands are made on limited opportunities, you are bound to be confronted by contradictions and conflicts, and find thins going against you.

  3. Untangling the Knots in Your Heart.

    To untangle the knots in your heart, you must first of all understand how causality works and understand that all phenomena are manifestations of the mind. At the same time, you must open your heart and mind for the benefit of yourself and your fellow beings, contemplating causality through time spanning three (past, present and future) lives, and extending your compassion to all sentient beings.

    After all, causality in Buddhism has nothing to do with predestination, which claims destiny cannot be changed, and renders the individual to passively await what one's fate has pre-arranged for him or her. Neither does causality mean one's past deeds always impact in the same way. Buddhist causality extends through three lives. That one is born rich or poor is due to the honest, kind deeds or unkind, mean conduct accumulated in his or her past lives. All aggressive individuals can go from rags to riches and an arrogant person from riches to rags. This is the causality you can see in your lifetime, and how you can change your environment. If, by any chance, you don't see any retribution you yourself or others in your or their lifetime for the good or bad you or they have done, the truth is that no one will go unpunished of unrewarded in the end. It is just that the time is not ripe yet. The chance of retribution remains. Just keep your eyes on the future. Causality answers the doubts about what may appear to be unjust on the surface in life, and motivates you to create your own future.

    All phenomena are manifestations of the mind. Your perception of the external world (comfort or discomfort), your resultant feelings (pleasure or displeasure) and emotional responses (love or hate) are all manifestations of your mind. Other people or events cannot change these. When you are in a pleasant mood, everything is unpleasant. On the other hand, when you are in an unpleasant mood, everything is unpleasant. If you are in a peaceful state of mind, you can adjust to all adversities, but if you are filled with greed and anger, you will find even smooth sailing unbearable. If your compassion prevails, you are lovable; in contrast, if your anger prevails, you become detestable.

    Mental knots have to be untangled in your heart and mind. Controlling your greed, you'll always have a sense of abundance; abstaining from anger, you'll be in happiness; abstaining from unreasoning passion, you'll be free from trouble; abstaining from arrogance, you will always be respected; abstaining from skepticism, you'll have easy access to good teachers; abstaining from subjectivity, you'll meet worthy friends. Only you yourself can master your own heart and mind. The Buddha teaches us to cultivate the mind so that we'll always find happiness in an imperturbable state of mind.

Understanding causality and being in control or your mind with help you to untangle your mental knots and advance you self-development. Like others, you are gregarious, you must put yourself in others' shoes so that you can cultivate a charitable heart to make others happy, a sympathetic heart to relieve others from suffering, a jubilant heart to share happiness with others, and a giving heart to facilitate giving. It is not until you open your heart and mind to others and make both yourself and others happy that you are completely happy.