The Quest for Happiness

Things which men, to judge by their actions, deem the highest good are Riches, Fame or Sensual pleasure. Of these the last is followed by satiety and repentance, the other two are never satiated; the more we have, the more we want; while the love of fame compels us to order our lives by the opinions of others. But if a thing is not loved, no quarrels will arise concerning it, no sadness will be felt if it perishes, no envy if another has it, in short no disturbances of the mind. All these spring from the love of that which passes away. But the love of a thing eternal and infinite fills the mind wholly with joy, and is unmingled with sadness. Therefore it is greatly to be desired, and to be sought with all our strength.


Is there anyone in this world who does not desire to be happy? All of us are in search of happiness. But happiness ever eludes us. When we look around can we say life is an unalloyed bliss? Most of us are always dissatisfied with ourselves and with others. When our desires are not fulfilled we are unhappy. We blame our parents, circumstances, etc. Some of us even try to change our circumstances. We think money will bring us happiness. Is the rich man happy? He ever tries to conceal his income and is all the time worried about tax-raid. A rich man, who is not interested in making more money, wants status, fame, name, position and power and that, too, leaves him unhappy. Right from childhood we have been taught to be selfish, competitive and therefore ambitious—study well, get a good job with good income, etc.

Man often confuses fulfilment of his desires/wants as happiness. Desire is common to animals and man. Animals kill and eat only when they are hungry and will never overeat. On the other hand, man overeats to satisfy his desire and then rushes to the doctor with an upset stomach. Even when we get what we want, we want to have more. The appetite grows on what it feeds. There is no limit for our desire unless we control it consciously. A little reflection will enable us to realize that we have been pursuing pleasures instead of happiness, which is followed by pain. For pain and pleasure, like light and darkness, night and day, are the world's eternal ways. Joy of childbirth is preceded by pangs of labour. H.P.B. writes:

Woe to those who live without suffering. Stagnation and death is the future of all that vegetates without a change. And how can there be any change for the better without proportionate suffering during the preceding stage? Is it not those only who have learnt the deceptive value of earthly hopes and the illusive allurements of external nature who are destined to solve the great problems of life, pain, and death? (S.D., II, 475)

"The Enlightened One," the Buddha, 2500 years ago, taught four noble truths: Sorrow is, the cause of sorrow, the cure of sorrow and the Noble Eightfold Path. It is this knowledge that can bring solace and comfort to humanity today, and help us reach the state of Ananda—Eternal Bliss.

Mr. Crosbie points out that one must have right knowledge regarding Deity, Nature and Man, for right conduct in life. It will lead us to the recognition that Deity is the Law that moves to righteousness. It is inherent in us—the law of Karma. It is the Karmic causes created in past lives—consciously or unconsciously—that have brought us here. It is we who have chosen the parents, the environment, etc., and we need blame nobody else for what we are. Patanjali points out that we come here with certain "mental deposits" that can come to fructification in a certain environment. Mr. Judge explains that the soul's environment covers our physical, psychic, mental and moral planes. He writes:

The want of money is not the cause of trouble, but the desire for money is. We may sympathize with others who have no money, not because they are deficient in that means; it should be on account of their failure to see that within themselves is the realization of happiness, and that in fact, they should not depend upon anything outside for true enjoyment. (Forum Answers, p. 76)

What is true happiness? It is a spontaneous feeling of inner peace, joy and contentment which is the result of introspection when we turn within and contact our inner nature. This means, instead of focusing our consciousness on our personality and personal self we must detach our mind from the lower self and focus it on our Immortal Self. We have to seek the universal, impersonal Seif in us. This results in Ananda or everlasting bliss. Ananda has been described as the highest attribute of Deity. Our life itself is called a song.

Real happiness, then, is an inherent quality of the soul, a quality we can use only when we have a true perception of our soul nature. We are so immersed in sense-life that we have lost that power of inner peace, harmony or contentment. We must realize and recognize that we are governed by our Karma. While we are liquidating past debts, we are often sowing seeds for future harvest, thus increasing our debts. We should not seek Ananda from earthly pleasures. Ananda is entirely different from evanescent, fleeting pleasures that come and go. We should try to attain to "the right perception of existing things" by acquiring right knowledge. Then we will be able to distinguish the permanent and everlasting from the impermanent and evanescent.

Manu explains the nature of desire thus: "Desire is never satisfied by the enjoyment of the objects of desire; it grows more and more as does the fire to which fuel is added." (Manu, II, 94)

There is a story in the Mahabharata of an enchanted pool, which was guarded by a Yaksha. Before he could drink water from the pool, Yudhisthira had to answer several questions posed by this Yaksha. One of the questions was: "What is happiness?" to which Yudhisthira answered, "Happiness is the result of good conduct."

The very first verse of Isavasya Upanishad says: "All this, whatsoever moves in this moving world, is pervaded by God. Through such renunciation you may enjoy. Do not covet; for whose, indeed, is wealth?" Mr. Judge explains this in Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita as an allusion to the identity of all spiritual beings, and Resignation. He writes:

And by "Spiritual Beings" is meant all life above the inorganic, for Man is not admitted to be material. There is only one life, one consciousness. It masquerades under all the different forms of sentient beings, and those varying forms with their intelligences mirror a portion of the One Life, thus producing in each a false idea of egoism. A continuance of belief in that false ego produces a continuance of ignorance, thus delaying salvation. The beginning of the effort to dissipate this false belief is the beginning of the Path; the total dissipation of it is the perfection of Yoga, or union with God. The entry upon that Path cannot be made until resignation is consummated. (p. 44)

Katha Upanishad speaks of a young boy, Nachiketas, who spends three days and three nights at the house of Death. Then Yama, God of death, gives him three boons. As his third wish, Nachiketas wants to know, "What is immortality?" Death evades the question and tells him: "If thou thinkest this an equal wish, choose wealth and length of days. Be thou mighty in the world, O Nachiketas; I make thee an enjoyer of thy desires. Whatsoever desires are difficult in the mortal world, ask all desires according to thy will. These beauties, with their chariots and lutes—not such as these are to be won by men—be waited on by them, my gifts. Ask me not of death, Nachiketas." The dialogue continues thus:

Nachiketas speaks:

"Tomorrow these fleeting things wear out the vigour of a mortal's powers. Even the whole of life is short; thine are chariots and dance and song. Not by wealth can a man be satisfied."

Death speaks:

"The better is one thing, the dearer is another thing; these two bind a man in opposite ways. Of these two, it is well for him who takes the better; he fails of his object, who chooses the dearer.

"The better and the dearer approach a man; going round them, the sage discerns between them. The sage chooses the better rather than the dearer; the fool chooses the dearer, through lust of possession." (Selections from the Upanishads, pp. 36-38)

Sri Krishna in the Gita points out what happens to a man when his mind is attached to an object. Thus:

The hungry man loseth sight of every other object but the gratification of his appetite, and when he is become acquainted with the Supreme, he loseth all taste for objects of whatever kind. (II, 59)

He who attendeth to the inclinations of the senses, in them hath a concern; from this concern is created passion, from passion anger, from anger is produced delusion, from delusion a loss of the memory, from the loss of memory loss of discrimination, and from loss of discrimination loss of all! (II, 62-63)

The following verses in the Gita show how a man of doubtful mind or one without calm can never obtain happiness and where true happiness lies. Thus:

The man whose heart and mind are not at rest is without wisdom or the power of contemplation; who doth not practice reflection, hath no calm; and how can a man without calm obtain happiness? (II, 66)

But for those who, thinking of me as identical with all, constantly worship me, I bear the burden of the responsibility of their happiness. (IX, 67)

In the chapter on "The Pleasant" in the Dhammapada we are told that the root cause of our suffering lies in attachment, indulgence, affection and craving. Thus:

No fetters exist for him who neither likes nor dislikes.
From attachment arises grief; from attachment arises fear.
There is no grief for one who is free from attachment.
Whence, then, can there come fear? (Verses 211-12)

Further, it is foolish to get attached to the pleasures of the world that cannot bring any everlasting good. Buddha's warnings relate to the dangers of attachment to objects of sense. The state of mind that ensures happiness in this sorrowful world is the one that is free from longing, anxiety and hatred. Thus:

Let us, then, free from anxiety, live happily among those who are careworn; among the anxious, let us dwell free from anxiety.

Let us, then, live happily, we who possess nothing. Let us live like the Shining Ones nourished on joy. (The Dhammapada, Verses 199-200)

If by surrendering a pleasure of little worth one sees a joy worth having, the wise man will give up the pleasure of little worth and look to securing the deep joy. (The Dhammapada, Verse 290)

In Yoga-Vashista, sage Vashista narrates various stories to Rama relating to acquirement of spiritual knowledge. In the story of Lila—ancients looked upon evolution as a Lila—Lila asks goddess Saraswati as to the efforts that should be made to realize the state of Bliss or Ananda. Saraswati replies: "Those only can cognize...the higher states who have developed in themselves the processes of Sravana (hearing and study of spiritual books), Manana (contemplation) and Nidhityasana (reflection), uninterrupted bliss arising through concentration upon that ancient (one) principle, renunciation of all, non-desires, and the intense reasoning practice followed through the path of Vedas, that this great world is not ever-existent." Those only are on that path of Brahman who through the knowledge of the One Reality, are ever in the state of Bliss.

No one was ever converted into Theosophy. Each one who really comes into it does so because it is only "an extension of previous beliefs." This will show you that Karma is a true thing. For no idea we get is any more than an extension of previous ones. That is, they are cause and effect in endless succession. Each one is the producer of the next and inheres in that successor. Thus we are all different, and some similar.

—W. Q. Judge

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