Random conversation in a yoga center far, far away,
Monk: At the end of the day, you should be happy
Me: *looks unconvinced*
Monk: isn’t it?
Me: Really? Is happiness the most important thing?
Monk: I don’t know
I also didn’t know then. At least I couldn’t articulate at the time my problem with making ‘Happiness’ the main motto of life.
Now I do. And here I will try to articulate.
Ideally, I would want to start with a deeper look at what we mean by the word ‘Happy’, ‘Anand’, ‘Sukh and other variant words that attempt to cover the myriad happy qualities in existence. We need to be clear firstly – what we mean when we say ‘Happy’ & also what the word itself means. (My earlier post will help you understand what I am rambling on about)
However, in this blog post I am not going into the meaning of Happiness because it is enough content for another full blog post and I don’t have that much time right now. You will see however, that later in this post it becomes necessary to have clarity about the meaning of ‘Happiness’.
Firstly, let’s look at the problems with “Happiness”. Yes, I just said that! There are problems with ‘Happy’ … serious problems!
The Problems with “Happiness”
- Short Term: It is event based. It get’s over. Then you are unhappy. Then again something happens (outside or as an experience) and you experience the feeling of “happy”.
It makes me feel like you are running after a leaking water truck, to lap up the trickle of water. It is a sad life. Better to have water from your home faucet. 24 hours. 🙂
A constant feeling of ‘Happiness’ irrespective of external/internal situations could be the proverbial “True Happiness” which is very well into the realm of spirituality. So you see when we look at the deeper meaning of “Happy” we would need to very clearly differentiate between our day to day feeling of Happiness versus True Happiness.
2. It Could Be Utterly Meaningless: I could be grinning and feeling ‘happy’ like an idiot even when I am indulging in some really big mistake of my life. Or I could be happy in this room, while in the next room some utter nightmare is going on. Doesn’t this happen often? What is the meaning of that happiness? Better I would not be grinning like a fool instead relax-fully evaluate whether what I am doing is right? Or better just be attentive about my surroundings!
Remember the Troy people pulling the trojan horse into their town so happily. Later it killed them, not so happy then are you? Wouldn’t it be better to just be attentive that time rather than start partying and indulging in the ‘happy’.
3. It Could Be Harmful To Others! On top of the above two problems, the third one is that it could actually be Harmful to someone else – either knowingly or in ignorance. Take the simple act of having a leisurely bath to soothe my tired body. Makes me really happy! But there are people dying just a few 100 kilometres away for that water. Of what value is such happiness? Often we rich & not-so-rich people are feeling so happy when around us in visible sight there are others who are dying of the most basic needs!
So, there maybe more reasons I could add to this list, but these 3 reasons are important enough to make me wary of that “Happiness”. That which will not help me see through my mistakes, not necessarily make the world a better place & on top of that it is fleeting. Nopes, I will not run behind such a thing.
Does It Mean I Don’t Want To Be Happy?
Hahahah, no of course not. I love a jolly good laugh 😀
So now what? I do like being happy, but I refuse to pursue it?
Yes, that exactly. It is okay to like something but does it mean that it becomes THE goal of life or even A goal of life?
I like eating ice cream. Is eating ice cream a goal of my life?
So, after this I was flummoxed. But once when I was randomly reading Sadhguru’s stuff, I got the answer.
That which is ALWAYS There. It is Eternal.
See this solves the point number 1. It is not short term. This is ETERNAL. 😉
Yes, I know what you are thinking – what is this “Eternal” stuffs. Well, that my friend is a whole damn blog post to write & evaluate.
Wait, don’t stop reading. I know you have lost me in what I am saying.
Here is something else.
We mentioned True Happiness earlier. The answer also comes from evaluating True Happiness.
I want True Happiness. Whatever it may be. It is the only Happiness that is worth having. And the route to it is not via the short moments of happiness.
The Finite can never add up to the Infinite. (Oh yea, I am Maths students). 😉
The nature of True Happiness (something to ponder on) is vastly different from the nature of daily, common ‘happiness’ and the two don’t really go hand in hand. So the pursuit of the short term & common happiness is completely pointless.
So are all the various activities that make me happy on a day to day basis useless?
The Happiness That Comes From Going Deeper In Life
We need to ponder on the activities that make us happy. We need to start differentiating between the more common and pointless ‘happy’ activities in life like alcohol & fatty foods & so on. Versus the more deeper pursuits of happiness like mountain climbing or being with nature or doing yoga.
And this is something we must always keep looking at. Why does something make you happy? Are there some pointless indulgences taking place? Is this towards true happiness? What is true happiness? How can we move towards it?
Note: I am not saying don’t indulge. I am just elaborating on the pointlessness of it. Evaluate and put some thought to it. Take out a bit of time in your life to just think about these things.
Now, The Thing with “True Happiness” is that,
If you think deeply you will realize that the line blurs between True Happiness & Universal Compassion & even Enlightenment. So that’s why I said earlier that when we think about True Happiness – we are talking hard core spirituality. Whatever path one follows – whether it is of mountain climbing or solo travel or nurturing your children or advaita or sufism…..
A lot of times in life I tried to be happy so that I fit in with people around me. The fake-and-shallow wala ‘be happy’. But the effort truly tortured me. It was “True Torture” 😀
Now I just follow my spiritual path (& this is where ‘The Eternal’ comes in) however it goes…. and I find myself happier anyways.