Humble salutations to the Supreme Creator, The Advaitha Guru Parampara (lineage teaching non-Duality) and my own Acharya (Preceptor) for the content that I put forth in this blog !
What is there to write specifically about happiness you may wonder, after all, who doesn’t know or hasn’t experienced happiness! The happiness that we are all familiar with is the experiential happiness which comes and goes from time to time. But have we ever looked into when and why this happiness comes and more importantly, when and why it goes? After all, aren’t all of us in the unending quest for unending happiness all the time? Let’s explore.
In one of my earlier blogs, after thorough discussion, the conclusion was that “I” am far more than just my body, mind and intellect. I am of the nature of Consciousness which makes me aware of everything!
Without my being aware of it, nothing exists!!
(That’s one powerful statement that needs lots of contemplating over!)
Vedantha goes one step further and adds,
I am not merely Consciousness but am also Infinite in nature.
We know Infinite as anything that is big, vast ,unending, etc. We should also learn to include the terms whole, complete, limitless and unlimited as synonyms for the infinite . Redefining Consciousness in the light of these terns, we can say,
I as Consciousness am limitless/whole/complete/infinite
( I will be using these words interchangeably throughout this blog!)
Consciousness may be limitless but our experience of it certainly seems limited i.e. available only in living beings and not spread out everywhere. We do have to remember that truth/reality can certainly be totally opposed to experience as in the case of the rising and setting sun. Who doesn’t know that the sun is absolutely stationary even while we perceive its apparent rising and setting every single day! The Perceptor explains this thus: it is similar to electricity running through wires in the walls. That imperceptible,”wire-pervading” electricity is perceptible to us only in certain locations like plug points, light sockets, etc. Similarly, that all-pervading/infinite Consciousness becomes perceptible only at certain outlets,i.e mind of living beings!!
Completeness expressing through a calm mind of an individual is experiential happiness.
Completeness (Consciousness) is present permanently in the mind because it is infinite of course and obviously has nowhere to go!! Why then aren’t we happy all the time? Why does happiness seem like it comes and goes? There are certain obstructions!
First things first, hopefully we can all concur on the fact that
Happiness is nothing but the state of the mind!
Happiness is nothing more than a mere though, “I am happy!” It obviously isn’t a tangible substance! The answer then is quite simple isn’t it, it all lies in the “state of mind“. To explain this Vedantha gives a beautiful example:
The sun shines equally over a number of pots filled with water. The best reflection of the sun is acquired in that pot where the water is clean, clear and still. Compare our body to the pots and mind to water. The cleaner, clearer and more still our mind is, the better it is able to reflect that completeness which directly translates to greater experiential happiness. However, the mind is known for its mischief. It is constantly driven by various thoughts, infact, that is it’s very nature.
There is no mind without thoughts !! (subtle point!)
What are these thoughts? Anger, jealousy, greed, pride, hate, lust and the list goes on. All these are just thoughts (like happiness itself) and act like ripples and waves continuously causing turbulence in the mind and thus do not allow a clear reflection(of the infinite in it). A wanting mind is agitated continuously, driven by thoughts of how to acquire, possess and enjoy an object of desire. Once the object has been acquired, the mind calms down very slightly and thus a small amount of happiness is experienced owing to the capacity of the slightly calmer mind to produce a slightly better reflection. But at this point the mind is still being agitated by thoughts on how to experience the object. Once the object in possession is finally experienced, the mind calms down totally with the agitations of the wanting now all gone, at least briefly, and thus in that calm mind the infinite expresses briefly as a clear reflection i.e. experiential happiness. But the story doesn’t end there, does it!! It is only a matter of time before the next want/desire arises in the mind and the whole agitation process starts all over again. As long as the agitation and turbulence in the form of various thoughts persist, the mind can produce but a very poor reflection of the original! This is the simple mechanics to experienced happiness.
The Seers of the Yore saw a basic flaw in this mechanics though and help us see it too. Here the happiness is experienced in bouts owing to the presence and absence of desired objects. “What if a person doesn’t run after objects of desire at all?”, they contemplated. That would naturally not cause turbulence in the mind through the various thoughts. Vedantha says,
Desire is at the core of everything!
Most other emotions can be connected to desire in some way or the other.
Desire fulfilled = happiness
but it doesn’t stop there but invariably leads to greed, jealousy and associated emotions.
Desire obstructed/unfulfilled = anger, pride,envy and associated emotions
Now, having no desires doesn’t mean all objects drop out of our sight and use. That is not what the Seers intend for us. It is purely from an attitudinal standpoint and not a physical standpoint. We will have and continue to use and enjoy everything that we have access to but don’t hanker after objects. Desire itself is of 2 types:
- Binding Desires
- Non-binding Desires
The Rishis/Seers are not suggesting that we give up all desires all together. After all, what would such a life be which is not driven by any desires. The greatest Philosophers would never have given out their Philosophies in the form of books and teachings if they didn’t have a desire to do so. What markedly differentiates the two types of desires is totally in attitude alone, desire being desire! If we can accept the result of the desire driven action with maturity, equanimity and calmness irrespective of the outcome, (this constitutes a non-binding desire) the mind will be still and at peace capable of reflecting that completeness to perfection, always!
It is very important to understand and assimilate that
I as a Conscious Being am of the nature of completeness not at any given time but always!
Unfortunately, through strong conditioning right from the mother’s lap onwards I have learned to life my life seeking happiness only from objects outside and therefore have forgotten to tap into my real nature or even look into it as a possibility. It is like a dog chewing on a dry bone! He attributes the taste of blood from his own gums to the bone and hankers after it henceforth. We are doing quite the same says Vedantha !! Vedantha also says, the reason why man is strongly opposed to unhappiness is because that is not our true nature. Anything that is not my true nature, I am strongly opposed to it and do everything to revert back to my natural state of being, happiness in this case!
So the choice is ours, we can choose to live this beautiful life in reflection of our true nature which is completeness or, continue to hanker after objects for the bouts of limited experiential happiness here and there which the teacher mockingly calls ‘a poor Xerox copy of the infinite’. After all, only where there is happiness, love abundantly flows. Where there is love, there is peace, calm and quiet. The world is in dire need of all this today and until we discover our true nature, each individual one by one, collective peace will remain only a distant possibility!
Anytime “object” is mentioned anywhere, it includes person, place, situation, actual object, emotional state.