Man, in his pilgrimage from the womb to the tomb, is incessantly motivated and propelled by two inevitable impulses: repulsion from sorrow and a craving from joy. He avoids and discards undesireable objects and disagreeable environments and runs after the enjoyable and agreeable. Thus man engages himself in an endless chase after happiness among objects and environments that keep continuously changing. The methods employed by different individuals in procuring happiness may be distinct, but the goal is common to all. It should, therefore, be important to analyze and discover exactly where happiness is located.
Our firm belief today is that the joys we experience through our senses lie in the respective objects of the world. Consistent with this belief, we are constantly engaged in acquiring and possessing more and more wealth. But a little reflection reveals to us that the acquisition and possession of wealth is no measure of one's happiness. We are all familiar with the striking contradictions in life between a millionaire lamenting his loneliness in his palatial penthouse and a peasant happily singing a song of joy beside his thatched but.
In addition, it can be reasoned that if the joy is inherent in the sense-object itself, then all those who come in contact with the same object would experience the same measure of joy. Obviously, this is far from the truth. For instance, a cigarette fills one with joy and satisfaction, while it drives another mad with annoyance. What is the cause from the satisfaction of the one and the annoyance of the other? This leads to the fundamental question: What is happiness?
On a careful analysis we find that man's happiness is entirely a subjective phenomenon. There seems to be a distinct and clear relationship between the state of mind and the joy or sorrow that is experienced. When the mind is agitated, sorrow is experienced; when the mind is tranquil, joy is experienced. Happiness, therefore, must be dependent on the condition of one's own mind.
Flickers of joy are, no doubt, experienced, but they are followed by sorrow. Only the human being, the roof and crown of creation, has the capacity to control and regulate his reactions to events and thereby avoid getting adversely affected by them. Although this unique ability lies dormant in everyone of us, we are unaware of it. Because of this ignorance, we foolishly try to procure happiness through the objects of the world which have only a false glitter of a temporary joy. What we crave today has no value tomorrow; life ends up a empty pursuit of transient joys.
The Vedic sages have declared that we can never find the peace and harmony of a permanent happiness in the realm of the changing world. Happiness is a mental condition in the subject, lived by him, and recognized as a peaceful silence in his own within. Therefore, an inquiry into happiness can be conducted only by a person who has learned to observe and regulate the happenings in his own mental environment.
Both philosophers and spiritual masters have concluded Man is mind; as the mind so the individual. The Vedanic master Adi Sankaracarya asserts in Vivekchudamani. "For all beings, mind alone is the cause for bondage and for freedom." Mind muddied with agitations binds man to his passion for experiences, while the dame mind freed from passions is the instrument to liberate man.
In order to intelligently respond to the situations in the world, one must first understand his own mental makeup with which he has to face the incessant challenges of the world. It is an inner guerilla warfare. The enemy is never out in the open. It ducks and hides, comes out and attacks, then runs to hide again. We have to be alert to catch it in the act of subversion, to counter all its unexpected moves, and surprise it in its own hideouts. Only constant vigilance can promise the final victory.
In short, self-analysis and introspection are the very beginnings of all philosophical inquiries. They are the perfect means of achieving a true, vital, blissful life. Man is in essence divine. The spiritual practices are the means for the journey through the mental misconceptions back to this divinity, which is of the nature of bliss. You do not have to go searching outside yourself, for the happiness you seek is right under your very nose-within you. The creator had the intelligence to put it in a spot where you would never lose it.
The following essays give ideas to inspire you and information so that you may evaluate and regulate your mental life. With careful understanding and use of these concepts, you can learn to live beyond the demands of the mind in whatever environment you find yourself.
Be silent and come to know the perfect happiness of your true nature.
Back of the Book
The authors of the U. S. Declaration of independence declared that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain rights. Including "the pursuit of happiness." However, they gave no hints as to where this elusive happiness might be found. Over 3,000 years earlier in the serene atmosphere of the Himalayan ranges the Vedic sages drew the same conclusion, then proceeded to investigate into the nature of happiness. They wanted to know where happiness was located and how to find it. In their careful observations they noted three facts.
Man's search for happiness is a universal tendency.
Everyone is searching for a lasting happiness in a world of change.
A permanent happiness must be independent of a changing environment.
Arriving at these conclusions, the sages turned their inquiry inward to discover a substratum of permanence on which the changing phenomena rose and fell. In the short essays in The Pursuit of Happiness. Swami Chinmayananda Lucidly communicates the conclusions drawn by these subjective scientists who realized their own divine nature, then proposed a way of life so that others might follow them on the inner journey to the true source of happiness.
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