Zen Tapes


Zen Tapes - Happiness

(Zazen music plays in the background.)

Zen Master Rama here. Today our topic is, guess what? Happiness! A warm puppy, right? Could be! We'll find out!

Happiness is a warm puppy. Happiness is simple.

Our subject today is happiness. And the koan is, happiness is a warm puppy. As opposed to a cold duck? You're in the magical world of Zen, where anything can happen and usually does because it's your life! And in your life, just about everything happens all the time.

So sit back if you're driving in your car, or your car's driving you, or your mother's hitting you on your head, or, just about anything could be happening, I mean it usually is. Your wife left you, your kid just went to jail, you went to jail, they smuggled you in a Zen Tape. The Russian missiles are on the way and you haven't finished dinner. You're lying in the hospital and you've got two days to live. You've just made your first successful movie and everybody wants a part of the action, which is you. Your team just lost, and you missed the shot and the papers said it was your fault - and it was.

Happiness. How can you be happy in a world like this? I mean you've got to be crazy to even attempt something like that. How can you be happy in the midst of delusion, when everyone around you doesn't know what they're doing? They're all trying to make each other miserable and themselves miserable. Happiness? You've got to be kidding. Happiness? Happiness is a warm puppy. Happiness is simple.

I am an expert in the world of the supremely happy because I am happy. I'm probably the happiest being you'll ever meet. You become as happy as I am, and you've done an amazing thing. I've never met anybody as happy as I am. That in itself should make you unhappy. I mean what can be more miserable than someone who's happier than you?

So sit back and be cool. Let's talk a little bit about how to be happy from someone who really knows. Enjoy the music. Be happy! In the background is the rad sound of the music group, Zazen. And happiness is a warm puppy, isn't it, Charles Schulz?

Happiness is your life, when you let go of it a little bit more. Happiness is everything in the whole universe. It's a state of mind. Like everything is a state of mind. Your whole life is a state of mind. So be happy. Why not?

Now, how do you become happy? I just feel like leaving the music on for a while, if you don't mind today. How do you become happy? "Oh, God! There's got to be a way! There's gonna be a way to be happy! I know there's a way! If I could find a way, I'd give anything! I'd sell my soul to the devil, anything!" Because who wants to be miserable? Why live, why exist, why be? Why, why?

Maybe if you stopped asking why all the time, you might be happy. Leave it alone, you know? I mean life is happy! Go look at a tree. You look at a tree, what do you see? You see leaves. It's nice. Palm trees out here in California, we have palm trees. You may not live in California. Of course you're not happy if you don't live in California! We all know the beautiful people live in California because we have palm trees. They have them in Florida - it's not the same.

Life is happy. Trees are happy. They don't have to do anything to be happy, except just be trees. And maybe if you were just you, you'd be happy. But of course, you don't know who or what you are. So how can you possibly be happy? That's why you've got to study Zen. Or something. I mean call it what you want to, but it has to be a way in which you can discover you, so you cannot distinguish yourself from anything or anyone else. Because you, as we both know, think you're somebody, and that's where the problem begins - because you're really not somebody, you're everybody. And because you're somebody, you objectify yourself into thinking that you are a particular state of being or mind with a past history, a future identity, things you want, need, plans.

"Oh God! Things that you can get! Experiences to have!" You think that you're all that. Well, no wonder you're not happy. What an awesome responsibility to carry around all the time. You. Yuck. I mean, how could you possibly be happy if you think you're a person? Because we all know, just by definition, that people are definitely not happy because they take everything so seriously. I mean, I don't know if they take everything seriously, but they take themselves seriously.

Ah! But in Zen we have a secret. The secret to happiness. Happiness may be a warm puppy, as opposed to a cold duck, but the way you become happy is by realizing that there is no self. Nope. No self at all. Not a half of self, not a quarter of a self, not an eighth, not a sixteenth, not a silly millimeter of self. "No thelf whathsoever," as Daffy Duck would say. No self. There is no self. You don't exist. And when you know this, you'll be happy. Like I'm happy. Happy in all states of mind, in all conditions, on all occasions, even somebody else's birthday. Happy at the Mad Hatter's tea party, happy in the office, happy under pressure, happy when you create pressure for others, happy when there's no pressure. Happy. Because life is beautiful all of the time. And just to be alive and to perceive that beauty of life all around you and within you is just the best that there is.

Rama smiling with his arms crossed wearing a designer suit
Seeing is the ability to tell what really is.

The works of Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz are reprinted or included here with permission from

The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism.