Monday, May 10, 2010

Happiness - Whence?

It is often said from the teachings of Vedanta, happiness is not something that is "out there". rather it is something inside the self. The world as we know it, does not contain happiness producing agents or objects. But it is the mind due to ignorance that thinks the world, its objects and events to be the source of happiness.

It is often said that the source of suffering is due to the ignorance. The ignorance of the fact that we are not a limited being in time and space. and the ignorance of the true self, as to who we really are. The knowledge that will liberate us from suffering and result in absolute happiness is very simple and straight forward. That secret knowledge is that, "You Are That".

In simpler terms, I am the all pervading Single reality, and all that I observe and experience is an illusion. It is often shown that the world that we experience is similar to the dream that we have while asleep. various events, objects and people etc., are encountered in our dream, we also have an existence and participate in it as a individual. and it is very realistic and we go through all the emotions as if it was a reality. But once we wake up from the dream, we realize the illusory nature of the events in our dream and do not attach any importance.

The difference however is that , our current reality is similar to dream but that we know it to be a dream. Since we know this to be a dream, from "within the dream", we can encounter the world with this knowledge and hence we can enjoy the experience irrespective of what happens.
This fact that the world is an illusion is to be learn t, reflected and internally converted into doubtless knowledge, for us to actually make use of it.

But in practice even after understanding this truth without an iota of doubt, this does not result in removal of suffering. this does not result in enjoying every minute, in-spite of this knowledge.
We continue to be happy at times, based on certain events and conditions, and we continue to be unhappy at times. There seems to be no escape from the negative emotions of regret, guilt, anxiety, worry, fear, missing things etc.

Illusion or not, these emotions seems to be real, and they don't seem to go away any time soon.
Even if the world is an illusion, I still want to see certain things happen in the dream , and certain things not to happen in the dream, much like in a movie, even though I know it is just a movie, I do like and want certain events to occur and certain others not to occur.

What 'happens' seem to impact my happiness, no matter if the experience is an illusion, a dream or a movie.

So.. whats happening? what are we missing here ?

Let us analyze.

First stop is to understand happiness.

Vedanta says, happiness in my fundamental nature. In fact I "am" happiness.

I do agree that "at times" I am happy. There are certain conditions that seem to provide this happiness. I do also understand after sufficient study that these conditions don't 'always' produce happiness. But the common agreement is that I do experience happiness at times.

Now, I need to analyze such conditions and past experiences to further know about happiness.
If we inquire, we can see that the conditions that bring about happiness are subjective. what brings happiness may not bring it to you. so it is clear that it is based on our likes and dislikes. or in other words our preferences play a role in us interpreting any event or object as source of happiness. Our preferences, along with the three modes of nature, which changes in time and also the dominance which varies from person to person, causes various interpretations of the world, for happiness or the lack of it.

This is the reason why we feel suddenly unhappy, immediately after being happy. For instance when we buy a house and do the house warming, it might be the culmination of a life time of effort, and source for great happiness. While we relish that moment, the very next moment a unhappy thought arises. We might be missing some dear one, who might have also enjoyed this event had they be alive. etc.

So, it becomes clear that the interpretation of the world is the key to happiness.
Let us look further.

It is very common to hear and say that I had a sound sleep, and I was feeling very happy as I woke up. A sound sleep is one where we did not have any dream. It was a total sleep, where the thoughts were simply absent. No thoughts, good or bad.

The moment we wake up, thoughts start to stream past. the plan for the day, the anxieties at work, etc flow in, breaking our happy experience.

So, it appears that any thought can break the happiness experience. the happiness itself is a state where there are no thoughts. When we say we felt happy due to an event or object, what has happened is in fact a total absence of the cognizance of the world. we have forgotten everything including this world and hence felt happy.

There can be a thousand reasons for our happiness. But the experiencing of happiness is nothing but having a moment of thoughtless bliss. All these reasons, are nothing but channels that take us to that state.

Winning a million bucks in a lottery
Winning the Nobel prize
Making your parent mad by using a prank
Soaking wet in the rain
Three large scoops of ice cream with nuts, and honey and syrup

The trouble with these are that they do not get us into that state all the time, and also, other thoughts rise immediately, disturbing and destroying our happiness. Immediately after winning the lottery, the mind starts to worry about safe keep, investment, sufficiency etc.. the same holds for all kinds of such reason that seem to bring us to the state of happiness.

Also, when we are in a state of delusion with all thoughts making our mind dull and unhappy, we tend to think or recall other instances when we were happy. We might think of a person who we miss badly at this time. This is because we think the presence of that person was the result of our earlier happiness experience. and we wrongly think that person will bring us happiness again. and hence we "miss" that person. It is important to note that we miss them only when we are NOT happy now. As long as we are absolutely happy we do not miss anything or anybody or any place. The same applies for the past as well as future. We are anxious about the future only when we are NOT happy now.

We have identified what happiness is. It is the blissful state of no thoughts, where we do not cognize the external world, but experience our Self alone. and there are various apparent reasons that help us get in touch with our selves, and we wrongly attribute or equate happiness with such events or objects.

So, let us clarify one more time. All our troubles, source of suffering are only in thinking about the "glorious" past, regretting the past, guilty of the past etc, and the anxiety and fear and worry associated with a "uncertain" future. and as long as we are happy NOW we will not worry about these.

Now, having a clear picture of dealing with the past and the future, we come to the NOW.
NOW is the instant. It means the current. It is not an average of the few hours, or the average of the day. NOW is continuous. As long as I am happy in the NOW, there is no issue whatsoever.

So the solution is simply to ensure I am happy NOW, always.

Being happy simply means being in the Self. An experience of the self, with the absence of the cognizance of the world is happiness and bliss.

It is at this point that the illusory nature of the world and the absolute and only reality of myself comes into the picture.

A constant projection of the thought that this is an illusion, or rather, whenever the thought of the world arises, if we can be continuously aware of this truth, and it becomes second nature, then we always stay in the knowledge of the Self. When we are established in the knowledge of the Self, and constantly know that we are the only reality, then the NOW is filled with bliss. With the NOW in bliss always, we stay in absolute happiness in all of space and time.

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