The Happiest Year Ever
By Venerable Sayadaw U Silananda

The Year 2000 has a special significance for both TBSA and Dhammananda Vihara, because it is the 20th Anniversary Year of the founding of both in the US. Through these 20 years, TBSA and Dhammananda Vihara have served their devotees, both Burmese and non-Burmese, very well.

Twenty years ago Burmese immigrants were just beginning their lives in an alien country with no opportnity to follow their religion as they did in their native country. Things have changed greatly now; Burmese immigrants are now enjoying the full opportunities regarding their religion. They can go to the monasteries whenever they feel like doing so; they can have soon-kyways whenever they want; they can have their sons ordained as koyins (sameneras) and monks with every facility; and best of all they can get religious knowledge at the basic and advanced levels, and practice meditation under the guidance of competent Sayadaws.

Non-Burmese people also benefit from the presence of TBSA and Dhammananda Vihara. If they want reliable information about Buddha's Teachings and guidance in the practice of Vipassana meditation, Dhammananda Vihara is always ready to help them. All this is possible because TBSA and Dhammananda Vihara are here to serve devotees as well as people interested in Theravada Buddhism and vipassana meditation. TBSA and Dhammananda Vihara are grateful to the devotees for their generous support and donations without which the existence of both would be impossible. We think we are fortunate that we can do something for the happiness of the devotees in return.

The word happiness is perhaps the most beautiful word in any language. Everybody wants happiness and tries to get it by any means. Some think that happiness comes from wealth, others believe that it comes from beauty, and still there are others who think that power and position can create happiness. But experience has shown us that true happiness does not come from these things, because they are fraught with dangers like worry and anxiety. So, if we cannot find happiness in wealth, beauty, power and others, we must find it somewhere else.

We do not need to be rich or beautiful or powerful to be happy. When we give or practice dana, we find that we feel happy; when we help others, we feel happy; when we are peaceful, we feel happy. So, true happiness lies not in wealth and others, but in giving or dana, helping others and being peaceful. In short, happiness lies, according to Buddha's Teachings, in doing merit, in keeping our minds clear of mental defilements and having our minds imbued with loving-kindness, compassion and good will. Buddha once said, "Do not be afraid of merit; he who is afraid of merit is afraid of happiness."

Every time we are ushered into a year, we wish ‘a Happy New Year’. But it is not enough just to make wishes; we must make the year a happy one by staying happy. One way to stay happy is to keep our minds happy. In order to keep our minds happy we need to practice something which conduces to happiness. One of
the practices which is most conducive to happiness is loving-kindness; by it we can easily and inexpensively make the year a HAPPY ONE. After all, in this time of wide-spread violence and hate, only the practice of loving-kindness can diminish the suffering of all beings. So, let us fill this year with loving-kindness and make it THE HAPPIEST YEAR EVER in our lives.