I’ve got the above question from Goodreads. It’s quite an interesting question, especially for an author like me. Below is the answer.
I think my life is quite ordinary up till now. I’m different from a lot of people, and from the crowd. But I think that there is no mystery in that, in my life, that I would say it can be a plot for a book. However, I think there is the other “mystery” that can be for many plots of books. That’s the thing I’m on the journey to seek for. That’s my “own self”.
Till now, it’s quite a lot of mysterious for the thing I call “I” or “me”. And the more I find it out, the more I’ll write about it in my next several books. Those are the stories about my truth seeking journey which is equal to my happiness journey as well. It’ll address the most basic question of “Who am I?” Name, position, status, lifestyle, wishes, dreams, achievements, … are not enough. I am looking much more deep insight to see why I am being as I am now. That simple question is quite a big mystery worth many books’ content, I would think.
This is another dhamma talk from Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu that I would suggest anyone who are seriously pursuing happiness should refer to. Especially, if you’re Buddhist, this short talk addressing the question of ‘how to live one’s life?’ would give you a great view on the map to get there.
I’d like to express my deep thanks to Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu for the teaching. And I wish you all the best.
Please find below the Youtube video and the transcribed script is followed.
Good evening, everyone. Today’s talk is in response to a question about living one’s life. So the question had its own specifics, but the important point of it was about asking how to live one’s life, which is a difficult question to answer on the face of it. Because you often involves some assumptions about what’s important, just assumptions about life in general. When we talk about how to live our lives, it’s often in context. It’s in the context of what we see as essential or important, in the context of how we understand reality. It’s caught up in what we’re told about life, about the world. So it involves concepts like family, society, economy. Even the concept of life itself, which is really just a concept, like a life from birth to death. Because the birth of a being, of a human being, it’s a concept that’s in our mind. Something that we conceive of, based on observations. It’s quite different experientially from other experiences. And so we give it a name and we see it as a thing, as an entity. We do the same with death. One death’s is some event that is quite different from other events. But it’s mostly external, right? You look at someone else, you spend time with them and you experience them in a specific way. But when they die, when you’re experiencing them quite a different way and it appears that they have ceased to exist. Or an important part of them, the mental part and the physical life has ceased to exist. And so this gives rise to all sorts of ideas.
But important for this question is the idea of life. So when we talk about life, we have to understand that it’s in context. It’s in the context of our understanding of things. And so I can’t tell you how to live your life in that context. Because it’s not essential. It’s not something that has an answer. The questions that we ask about life, in other words, are not fundamentally real. Should I go to university? Should I get a job? Should I get this job or that job? We ask questions that are based on concepts and so the answers are elusive, are complicated and are unanswerable in an ultimate level. And so we develop theories and philosophies and ideas based around this, the work ethic idea, the family, filial piety idea, our religions play into this, our culture’s plays into this, even our partiality plays into this. I want to be a lawyer. Right. How many concepts are caught up in that and how how subjective is that? I want to become a lawyer. But does that mean becoming a lawyer is the right thing for some people? That’s not, for many people nowadays. I want to bang on a drum all day. For some people, that’s enough. This is a puzzle for us to solve, and it’s a puzzle that is deeply a part of Buddhist theory and practice.
I’ve got an email interview with AllAuthor.com recently, where I can share a few thoughts on my first book and my experience. Hope it can motivate you. The original interview was posted here: https://allauthor.com/interview/viethungnguyen/.
Do you have a simple childhood memory that you could never forget?
There are quite many however, if I can share one, it would be that I many times had a dream of becoming the cowboy in the West of America, long hair, riding big motorbike (Harley Davidson style) through the long, beautiful, un-ended road in the midst of a wide-open and wild meadow.
Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t remember exactly. But one of the early books that kinda awake me is the book named The Shadowless Lamp, written by Junichi Watanabe. I did spark a light of living and dying in me, triggering me to learn more about that inevitable phenomenon.
At what age did you start your career as a software application programmer?
After my graduation from the university, 1999. I was 22 at the time.
Since how long have you been living in Saigon, Vietnam?
I went to university in Saigon since 1994. And l’ve been there till now.
What are things about corporate life no one tells you about?
I learned one thing is that for the sake of our survival, we go to work. And corporate life is one option. And I was too focus on working that I don’t realize that there are other options. And it is a personal choice to pick a suitable one for one’s life. More importantly, if the choice can also steer you toward ultimate happiness, it’s the best. The biggest issue in one’s life always relates to people / relationship issues. And corporate life can’t exclude those. Fame, politics can add on into the picture of corporate life that they are just like too many ropes, trying to tie you and hang you up, if you’re not aware of where you’re heading for your life.
Why did you decide to write “The Happiness Journal: Your daily inspirational sips toward reaching happiness”?
As I shared in the book, I learned that my advice and my life have a great influence on one of my ex-colleagues. And he was able to have a financially-independent and freedom life. I realized that those advices and such are ready on my personal web site (www.viethungnguyen.com) through my blogs in the last 10+ years. So, I tried to assemble them and rearrange them a bit and I have enough content for the book. And I hope it can “convey” the same message and have positive influences to readers like what influences I have had on my friend.
What does “happiness” mean to you?
It’s quite simple for me. It’s a calm, peaceful state of mind that I have been continuously cultivating from within my daily activities of thinking, acting, and talking.
Once researching on Mahasatipatthana Sutta, I got to know some of dhamma talks from Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu. And here is one of the ones that I think it’s very useful for people who are in the workforce, bearing too many responsibilities, stress, worries, confusion, tiredness, … each and everyday. And that’s how I sat down and transcribed the talk, so that people can refer to the content more conveniently.
What I love the most from this talk is that the teaching is so simple that it’s very easy to apply it in our daily life for busy people, yet it’s so deep to the core of Buddhism meditation practice. I even started to ask my daughter to listen to the talk and find ways to apply it in her daily life. You know, kids nowadays are so distracted with too much of information available from the Internet, technology and so.
Though I have tried my best in the transcribing, I was not able to get all of the words 100%, especially some Pali words that Bhikkhu mentioned during the talk. I will revise the script, whenever I learn more. But I believe more than 90% of the content should be in the text for your reference. Feel free to use the content in an appropriate way.
I’d like to express my deep thanks to Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu for the teaching. And I wish you all the best.
I’m in progress to convert my book,The Happiness Journal (https://a.co/fb4RjRA), to audio book. One of the steps is to find a real-person, professional narrator for the book (as all of the audio book stores would not accept computer generated audio). And that’s when I really feel the power of the Internet, the globalization or the like.
Once I post my project to one of the platforms for freelancer narrators, I got 36 offers. So cool. My requirement is something like this: “An energetic, warm, inspiring, trustworthy as well as calm and peaceful voice. As throughout the book, it does imply meditation / mindfulness at the core to pursue happiness. I’m 44 now and I’d love to find a voice suitable with my age. US English voice.”
Oh yeah… Just a simple click on the browser, I can hire people in the US to do the job, while sitting far far away in Vietnam. It’s so wonderful to experience it. So thrilled…
I happened to know this book, Snow in the Summer, nearly 15 years ago, once I started my journey to learn and practise Buddhism. At that time, I read the Vietnamese version of it. Then, I got to know about Sayadaw U Jotika and his teachings. Till now, I always considered that I was so fortunate reading the book in time, during my Buddhism journey — the happiness journey. Books are many. Yet many times, you don’t need that many. You only need to read the right one. And for me, this is it.
Since I have started meditating, I re-read Snow in the Summer every year. Each time, it continues “exposing” the deeper layers of meaning that Sayadaw has “implanted” inside the book. How powerful and wonderful it is! For me, the book is like the bible for meditation. And much beyond that, it is like the code of living this life to the most of it, happier and more meaningful. I believe it is the same for whoever really pursue happiness, the ultimate goal of anyone of us.
I can’t express enough how thankful and how respectful I am for this ever great book from Sayadaw U Jotika. And that is my main driver to make it more accessible to people, whoever are suitable with its content and in need of it, which I believe many. While the content of the book is so available via the Internet in PDF format these days (you can Google it for “snow in the summer”), it’s almost not available in printing format on Amazon or other e-format like Kindle and audio book. What I’m trying to do here is to fill in those blanks. The other reason for me to promote e-format of the book is what I’d love to borrow from Sayadaw U Jotika: “Paper is made from trees. If you love trees don’t waste paper.” In addition, it is easier to highlight, and take notes in e-reader applications.
I understand that Sayadaw U Jotika wanted that this book is a gift of Dhamma and must not be sold, commercialized or the like. Therefore, what I’d try to do is to make the content completely free to readers in e-format and audio format. By doing that, I hope it is able to reach a bigger audience base.
You can listen to the audio version of the book below. Or you can get it free on Google Play Store from the link below.
Should there be any questions, issues, feedback, … regarding these e-format versions, or the audio book version, email me at: email@example.com.
May all the peace and mindfulness be with you.
P.S. The audio was generated by Natural Reader, a text-to-speech software.
Recorded once driving through the city of Saigon from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to the heart of District 7. Crowded with too many people, cars and bikes in a cloudy morning of the rainy season. That’s Saigon. I LOVE SAIGON 2020!
Hình ảnh được ghi lại trong đoạn đường từ sân bay Tân Sơn Nhất đi xuyên ngang thành phố về tới Q7. Thật đông đúc với thật nhiều người và xe trong một buổi sáng mù mây của mùa mưa. Saigon là thế! I LOVE SAIGON 2020!
Anyone who is using email surely know about auto-response email. That’s the email one has to use, once being away from office, from work, taking vacation or some days off. Basically, the content should read like “Thanks for reaching out to me. I’m not here right now. And would be back by… Should there be any urgent matter about …, please contact this number…” It’s usually going like that. Then, whenever a person tries to contact him or her through email, the system would automatically send back the auto-response content right away, without any second of thought. Once you receive the auto-response email, it means that the receiver is not there. He or she is absent.
It clicked me one day, once I got one of those auto-response emails like that. It reminds me that this auto-response is not just happening in email, it’s happening many times in our mind.
We auto-respond a lot, without even a second of thought. Once we see a bike, our feeling is immediately right there, instantly: whether we like the shape or not, whether we like the color or not, whether we like the sound of the exhaust or not, or even whether we like the biker who rides the bike or not. Certainly, we miss the whole process of data processing, step by step, about how the shape, the color, the sound,… are received by our body’s senses and how it is interpreted (based on what we have known, experienced, been biased, …) to the point it yields the feeling of love or hatred. We only know the very end result: the feeling. That process is too automatically happening. It seems like we have very less influence on this auto-response system, inside our body. How powerless is that, don’t you see?
It’s similar to the auto-response email that we are not there, if the response is auto. We’re there, but we are really not there. As we don’t even know the whole process.
Yeah, most of the time we’re not there with our body and our mind. Our body and our mind run many auto-processes without any awareness of us. That’s how it also runs our life. And that’s why mindfulness, the awareness, can help us to “win” back our life. As we would know more into these auto-processes. And that’s when we can have more options to respond, instead of just the option of auto-response, while we’re not there.
Entrepreneurship is like a way to express freedom… While not all the times, entrepreneurs can enjoy the “fruit”, the journey is worth much beyond that. That’s the journey to grow. That’s those lessons and experiences throughout the journey. In this talk, I had a chance to share my own lessons learned through my entrepreneur journey of starting and growing a software company from 0 to 1000 people, 12 years ago. I hope you, entrepreneurs, can find it useful with many suggestions to have a wonderful entrepreneur journey of yourself, full of energy, full of motivation, and full of inspiration. Gud luck!
As an indie author, I am working on keyword research to promote my book, The Happiness Journal, on Amazon. And during the process, I’ve observed an interesting fact that I’m going to share with you here, based on the data I have. Thanks to Publisher Rocket for helping pulling all these data. And the data itself is powerful. See below.
Basically, my first English book, The Happiness Journal, is to “serve” readers with daily sips of cafe for inspiration and motivation toward happiness. So, I started keyword research with the set of keywords above, addressing both sides of happiness, which the other side is suffering represented by the 8 first keywords in the list. I added three more very prime keywords for happiness as in the last 3. The result is a big surprise for me. While people make a lot of search for these keywords on Google per month, it’s not the same with what happens once people search for ebook on Amazon, the largest ebook store on earth. The numbers between the columns are too contrast. What is going on here? Can you tell?
“Flexibility” is always the critical keyword in any situation, especially in the event of crisis or so…
I believe that “flexible” is the must-have-quality for building your sustainable business, success, and happiness.
I have observed that the more “flexible” one can be, the more mature that one is.
“Flexibility” itself doesn’t imply knowledge. And many times, too much of knowledge can prevent people from it. “Flexibility” certainly implies or requires wisdom. That’s you know the right thing to do under a given context. And that has to be harmless to anyone, including yourself. It’s not easy. Life is never easy, I believe. That’s how we have our lifetime to practise, experience and learn from it.
Talking about business, flexibility at work, flexibility in the business model, strategy, operations, crisis responses are proven far more critical than ever, given the current Covid storm.
How do we attain that “flexibility”? Minimalism, lean, fully “listening” or enhancing observation, … are a few things to start. And at the end, you’ll get to simpleness, know what the core is for your business and your life. Stick to those cores. As that’s where contains all the answers.
This is the quick summary of what I shared with a group of MBA students from McDonough School of Business | Georgetown University visiting Vietnam early this week. This is more or less what I have experienced throughout my entrepreneur journey to establish KMS Technology Vietnam and grow it up to nearly 1000 people company, before I resigned from the top position early in 2018, to pursue my new journey of spiritual development. Scroll down to read below.
Everyone does have less or more of qualities for leadership. As I pointed out in my article (7 core qualities of a sustainable leader), those 7 qualities are common for anyone. It’s just that who practice it well for those 7 would naturally earn trust and respect from others. And that’s how they can advance their leadership level.
The great thing doesn’t stop there. Anyone possessing those 7 would have a great life at the same time. “Great” doesn’t necessarily mean to be a top position or wealthy. “Great” means that they have a lot of great relationships with people around them and that can serve as the base for their great life and happiness. #beHATT.
On the other note, I believe personal success (either at work and in life) should be more or less personal responsibility, rather than our manager’s responsibility :). If your current manager doesn’t help you, either work with him or her to sort it out or just to find another manager. Or at best, you become the great manager of your own.
Tự nhắc nhở câu “thần chú” được truyền lại từ Thầy: “Đó là một phần tất yếu của cuộc sống.” Mỗi khi khó khăn, khủng hoảng ập đến, nhớ đọc câu này 10, à không, 100 lần là tỉnh lại 🙂.
Sush a great reminder taught by my master: “That’s a necessary part of life.” Every time difficulty or crisis knocks on your door of life, wishper this in your head 10, if not 100 times, you would be awaken 🙂.
Last week, my very first English book calledThe Happiness Journal, was published on Thanksgiving Day 2019, through Amazon. It’s now available in Kindle format only. The paperback would be out in 1-2 months. I think it would be a great gift to everyone on this occasion of the year, the moments of emotions, the moments of celebration, the moments of family, the moments of wishes, the moments of praying, the moments of planning, and yes, the moments of happiness. Ultimately, we are all seeking for happiness. Yet, are we steering on the right path? I wish we all are.
The more I grow up during the course of my happiness journey, the more I realize that on the theory / concept side, happiness is very simple. Yet it’s so hard to “implement” it into our life. I think that it’s not just me struggling in finding and realizing it… But many of us out there would share with me those challenges on your own happiness journey.
Well, I’m not native English speaker. Much of the content in this book is translated from Vietnamese blog posts, all by myself. I am using a very simple English, as I don’t want it to be complicated with too many complex vocabularies. Sometimes, you would find a few common, simple and repeated grammar issues, usually made by foreigners. I hope you understand why it is so.
I think being my authentic voice is important. I hope it would be like I am having a direct conversation with you, telling you the stories of my life and my happiness. I am a big fan of a book named Mindfulness in plain English, a great book for any meditators. From that book, I have learned the idea that if you can’t use simple and plain English to explain things you know, you fail. As you may not have an in-depth understanding of things. That’s how I would challenge myself to be simple once using vocabularies and wording in this book.
With all of the stories in this book that I’ve written in the past 10 years, sharing about my own life, I hope you would get a lot of inspiration, a lot of suggestions, a lot of energy from reading through the stories of my life and so. All are to be more energetic, more courage, more patient, more discipline, more open, more compassion to move forward with your happiness journey. Thanksgiving time is the great time for you to pause and to think what would make you happy and how you get closer to your happiness, agreed?
“Society, family, and company, they all really need people who can contribute – contributors. Also, it’s only them, the contributors, who can blow the air of energy and success along with meaningful achievements for society, family, and company that they are with.”
Be a contributor, fully. Then, success and happiness would follow…
I never thought that I would become an author one day. Surprisingly, the more I sit down and write, the more I find myself very into that career of a writer. The excerpt above is from my very first English book called “The Happiness Journal” which is the English version of Tản mạn về Hạnh phúc, my first ever published book!
I hope I can release “The Happiness Journal” around Thanksgiving time, a meaningful and emotional time of the year… You can find more about the book from this link. #beHATT
Got this meaningful lyrics once listening on the way to a cafe appointment this morning.
The myth is stronger than the truth, and the truth can sometimes lie
To see it all for what it was, you need an uncorrupted eye
Was the journey worth it, only time will tell
The Beat Hotel | Allan Taylor
What would you say? Yes, we are usually overwhelmed by those myths. They seem much stronger and bigger than the truth. And there comes the fear, deriving from the myth – the unknown. Although, most of the time, it is unreal fear.
It’s like a trap for all of us in this world. Fear comes from what we don’t know, from the truth we haven’t known. And because of the lack of known, it keeps haunting us and building more fear in us. Paradoxically, at the same time, we’re kinda addicted to mysteriousness. Then, it would help to strengthen the trap more and more.