Green Koans Case 59: The Happy Buddhist

Clark Strand

CASE #59:    The Happy Buddhist

A university student once asked Nobuo Haneda: “Could you give me a Buddhist
definition of happiness?”
     Haneda replied, “If you can forget your individual happiness, that is the happiness defined in Buddhism.”
     “But how can I forget my individual happiness?” insisted the student.
     “If you encounter something more powerful than yourself, something more important than your happiness,” replied Haneda, “then you will be able to forget yourself and your happiness.”

Nobuo Haneda    
A Japanese-born Buddhist scholar, translator, and teacher, Dr. Nobuo Haneda is the Director of the Maida Institute for Buddhism in Berkeley, California, which was founded to promote the teachings of Shūichi Maida (1906-1967), one of the most influential Shin Buddhist teachers of the 20th century.

 Individual happiness     The subject of countless studies and books published over the past two decades, individual happiness has been called “the hottest topic in American psychology and psychiatry.” Most studies suggest, however, that people’s strategies for attaining individual happiness seldom meet with success.


How happy can a human being be if he or she is out of harmony with Nature? It’s like asking a frog to fly, or a falcon to live in water.

Turn to any station, read any advertisement, listen to any political speech—your happiness is the main topic of discussion. There’s only one problem: the speakers are insane.


Happy Chinaman,
Walking village to village
With his giant sack!
By day it dispenses gifts,
At night it makes a pillow.


 Find all the Green Koans here.


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anthony_gutierrezjr's picture

I forget my individual happiness for one thought moment. There is freedom. But ignorance is so easy to give into, so I dive back in.