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