Pleasure. Happiness and Joy: three words often used interchangeably, still a lot different. Pleasure pertains to the body, happiness relates to the mind, joy flourishes in the domain of the soul and beyond joy lives bliss. The master creator has designed human beings in such a way that happiness comes naturally to us. Look at a child, he laughs with abandon, but an adult is content with a smile. We are the only specie in the world that unlearns its intrinsic nature. Unlike animal kingdom, where no one bothers about another moment, human beings dwell a lot in the future that is distant and hidden in time. Don’t we often say, “He has earned enough wealth to last for seven generations.’ This undue emphasis on unseen future makes us drift from our natural behaviour i.e, happiness.
To begin with, when and where does this malady of worrying come from. It’s in the mind and starts right from the beginning. We acquire this trait from our family, society and in a way our education is also responsible for it. Since the day we are born, we begin to feel the family’s pressure to perform. As the pressure increases, joy (the basic nature) diminishes and the beauty of life begins to fade. The rush ensues to stay at the top amidst cut throat competition and our education system makes it no better. Such is the pattern that everyone is judged by the same yardstick, primarily monetary success, as long as we are able to show off a lavish lifestyle, the parents, friends and relatives feel proud of us. We too are happy that we have not let down our near and dear ones. In fact, absence of money acts as a leveller and the more of it creates hierarchy. By the way, who wants to remain at the bottom? Everyone is interested to scale the top. How did this rat race begin? Right from the school…wasn’t there the pressure to score well, all the time.
Think about it, if an elephant, monkey and bird’s capability was to be measured by their ability to fly, you know who would stand as a winner. The other two who couldn’t perform would be stressed to the core, which would grow with each passing day. Though we know that the best outcome happens when we work on something that we enjoy and satisfy our creative ability, still how many of us do that? Very few and those people have less stress.
The point to ponder is that when did we lose the track of happiness and who is responsible for it. Like our true nature, let’s find the blame outside. The easiest suspects are parents, family, society, job and desires. In nutshell, except us everyone else is responsible and we are unhappy most of the times. The fleeting shades of happiness come in our lives when we achieve something, but by and large we are in the state of misery. Mostly, the root cause of misery lies in the feeling of deprivation, jealousy, shame, anger, competition and at times, we feel that we have failed. The feeling intensifies as we grow in the age.
What happened to the most beautiful creation of the God that we separated our way from happiness? What transpired in the way of happiness? Has maturity come in the way of happiness?
The reason is that we do not live in the moment. We either dwell in the past or worry about the unknown future. Present is a gift and that’s the reason it is called present. There is a beautiful story that explains our happiness bankruptcy
A beggar had been sitting on the sidewalk of a road and asking for spare change in his worn out hat. Passersby who cared for him would throw a few coins in his ragged hat. A stranger passed. He said, ‘I don’t have anything to offer, but why are you begging for coins.’
‘Because I don’t have any,’ answered the beggar.
‘What are you sitting at?’ asked the stranger.
‘I don’t know, have been sitting on it all the while, may be an old box,’ answered the beggar.
‘Let’s peek inside,’ suggested the stranger.
Voila, the box was filled with gold coins.
We are the beggars who are sitting on the mound of happiness and the stranger in this story is the Guru who guides us to peek inside ourselves.
The kingdom of happiness intersects with the seat of our soul. We have glimpses of it while meditating. However, the point here is if meditation is a cure or is it the natural state of the soul?
BE HAPPY FEEL JOY
Like the natural state of health is wellness, similarly the soul and the joy are inseparable. Meditation quietens the mind, the culprit of many ills and helps us attain the state of joy, though briefly. Those flashes of brilliance when we enter the kingdom of joy in the state of deep meditation startle us because we are instantly connected to the nature, a feeling of contentment dawns and we look forward to the next session.
The point to reiterate is that the joy is the nature of the soul. The God has created us to be happy. However, in some way our education system is to blame, where we are coerced to learn by the system of rote and shun imagination. Our creativity dies a silent death, then and there, as we stop to imagine.
There is Brazilian anecdote that highlights how education wanders your soul away from happiness.
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
WHERE IS THE JOY
Joy lies in our heart and it is aligned with the nature. Think about it, why Bhagwat Gita, is addressed as Gita in short, why not anything else? Because Bhagwat Gita has originated right from the mouth of the God and it is the guiding light of lives of all of us. Since life is a song which is to be sung at the right note of the violin, neither too tight nor too loose, the manual of life is called Bhagwat Gita to echo the fundamental principle of living, which is to remain happy. The Lord Krishna intended to remind us time and again that in life we need to exercise attachment with detachment, by finding the fine balance where happiness and sadness disappear and equanimity reigns.
However, as we grow in age our passion for accumulation multiplies. Happiness is postponed till the next conquest, then one more, and one more till it becomes a chain reaction, where possessions multiply and joy dwindles. We go to temples, visit the Guru, perform pujas and sadhanas, but the ulterior motive remains the same, the desire for a better life so that happiness can touch our soul. Somehow, happiness becomes a commodity, a milestone, a conquest, an agenda that has to be achieved. We are not in it, rather away from it and the three lettered word successfully manages to elude us. It comes briefly and disappears swiftly. Once again endeavours are sought, hobbies are pursued, possessions are multiplied with fervor and with the motive of experiencing joy. However, the fleeting nature of joy wins hands down, yet the pursuit continues, relentlessly. This has been the story since the beginning of the time and will remain till the end of the time.
OH GURU! YOU ARE INSIDE
The pause in this story comes when the Guru takes us in his fold and enables us to deep dive into ourselves. We realise that the tribulations of life are not there to torment us rather they are an opportunity to help our soul transcend the frailties of human nature. It is easy for us to fall prey to anger, jealousy, hatred and revenge, but the purpose of life is to move beyond the human frailties and learn the virtues of patience, love and compassion. Even, when the gods incarnate as human beings, they have to undergo immense trials to establish themselves as the forbearers of principles. Don’t we all know the fate of Sita, Rama, Krishna, Radha? Then, why wilt at the touch of sorrow and bloom in the presence of happiness? The true nature of the life is to attain the domain of equanimity: where good and bad cease to affect because neither we are the doer, nor we are the deed. The life is to be viewed from the perspective of a looker and not a doer. Try it, the unnecessary baggage that we have been carrying for eons (s/he did this to me, why me?) disappear. The wisdom of lightning strikes in our hearts and joy flowers far from the territory of education and knowledge. Suddenly, we are at peace and this can happen only when the benevolent Guru shows his mercy on us.