When you think about your life and the choices you make, and you really deeply examine them, you’ll probably agree that most of what we do is seek happiness. We all want to live a happier, more fulfilled life and feel like we’ve accomplished something of value to both us and the world.
Last November, while I was in Japan, Tanaka Sensei shared with me his 5 secrets to happiness. He was preparing them as a speech he was going to give that weekend to a large crowd and I was fortunate to receive his teaching over tea while he was preparing. If you follow them faithfully, you will find your life bringing you not only a permanent and unwavering happiness, but also incredible abundance. I am so thankful to be able to share Sensei’s secrets.
These 5 keys are profound in their simplicity and incredibly effective in their truth. The first three deal with the physical body/mind and the last two address the spiritual. I hope these five notions can benefit you as much as they have me.
Good Food: (Shokuyo) Our bodies are our vehicle in the human realm. They encapsulate all that it means to be human and provide us the capacity and capability to live. Consequently, how we nourish and treat them is directly related to how we feel. By making healthy choices about what we consume, we are making more enlightened choices about how we choose to live. In addition to consuming healthy foods, regular exercise is also extremely important.
Respect: (Koyo) In Japan, respect permeates every aspect of the culture. American society, in contrast, is characterized by a sense of entitlement. We want everyone to respect and acknowledge us. Sensei’s teaching on Koyo underpins one of the most important keys to materializing abundance: Gratitude. Respect for parents and elders and an attitude of gratitude for all that you already have will increase your emotional vibration. By emotional vibration, I mean such lower emotions as jealousy and greed will be replaced by better feeling, peace, harmony, love, and appreciation. Since like attracts like, such emotions will attract more abundance into your life. So, give it a try – offer respect and gratitude and see what happens.
Knowledge: (Kyoyo) Just as the physical body needs nourishment and exercise, so does the mind. Regular reading and cultural activities will broaden your horizons and open the mind. Have you ever met an uptight person who is narrow minded? How did you feel around such a person? Did they strike you as being truly happy? Keeping an open and fresh outlook is another super important key to maintaining positive emotions. So, read something mind expanding…go to a play…try a different ethnic cuisine.
Spiritual Practice: (Shuyo) Get on a regular schedule that allows you a daily period of meditation time…time to connect with the core of who you are. This could be a daily period of meditation, tai chi, yoga, etc. The most important element is that everyday you take some time out for yourself to relax and connect to and with yourself in the here and now…in this moment.
Offering: (Kuyo) In addition to taking care of yourself, it is very important to maintain a connection with the divine. We are spiritual beings living a human existence and having a connection to the divine keeps us on our path and in touch with what’s really important and truly real. It also provides a source of life energy (chi) that is far more powerful than what is available to us when we draw from only ourselves. Find time everyday to offer to the divine, whatever that is for you. This could be a period of daily prayer and thanksgiving or actual food offerings as is common in the eastern traditions such as Shingon, Shinto,Taoism, and Hinduism. There are realms beyond the physical everyday reality that we see, hear, feel, and choose to acknowledge. And, we all have our own unique spirit guides. It’s not important which tradition most calls to you or whether you choose a personal religious path, but it is critical that you do have a connection to forces higher than yourself. This is so important because it allows you, on a daily basis, to step outside the pressures and stresses of worldly life and tap into higher potentials that will enable you to fully actualize your spirituality and your purpose for being here.
May your life be filled with endless abundance and boundless happiness and may faithfully following Sensei’s advice benefit you as it has benefited me.