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Searching for happiness
It does not lie in anything in this world and can only be found within. If we seek it in the world, we will be continually disappointed, writes Sant Rajinder Singh
All of us today are searching for peace and happiness. This quest is universal. After all, no one aspires to be unhappy. People try to find joy in numerous ways. Some search for it in wealth and possessions. Others try to find it in name and fame. Some look for it in worldly relationships. Many pursue amusements such as going to the movies, listening to music, attending cultural performances, watching television, and engaging in sensual enjoyments. There are those who enjoy participating in or watching sports. Then there are people who seek excitement through drugs and alcohol.
If we analyse all these pursuits, we find that they do not bring the happiness they have promised. We may derive happiness from them for some time, but the loss of any our possessions or relations brings untold pain and suffering. If our car is damaged, we bemoan our fate. If our house is destroyed by fire, we feel as if we have lost everything important in life. If we are millionaires and suddenly become bankrupt, we become so dejected we even contemplate suicide. If we become ill and cannot do what we normally do, we are frustrated and discontented. If we lose our jobs, depression sets in. And if one of our loved ones passes away, we are drowned in grief. The happiness we had during the time we had our money, belongings, and near and dear ones turns into deep misery from their loss. At some point in life, we discover that happiness in the outer world is a transitory illusion. Everything in this world must perish. Ultimately, we too must face our physical end and must leave behind all that we cherished.
This is the way of the world. Looking at the realities of life, we begin to wonder if there is any hope for finding real happiness in the world! If it exists, then how can we find it?
First, we need to analyse what is happiness. It can be defined as a state of joy, of peace, and of love. Others look at it as an absence of sorrow, pain, and suffering. If we look at the many ways people try to attain happiness, we realise that everything in life that gives us joy has potential suffering in it. When worldly joys are removed, we undergo pain and torment.
Throughout the ages, the great teachers, sages, saints, and philosophers of the world have been telling us that true happiness does exist. But it does not lie in anything in this world. It can only be found within. If we seek it in the world, we will be continually disappointed. If we look for perfection in this world, we will not find it. Every diamond has a defect, every beauty a blemish. This is the reason that we find that people who attain the object of their desires move on to new desires. They buy one object, gadget and soon want another. In many countries, people even move from one marriage to another once, twice, thrice, and maybe more. We move from one activity to another thinking it will bring us the fulfilment we crave. As long as we are intrigued with the flashy jewels of the outer world, we will continue in this wheel of disappointment. We have forgotten that the true jewel awaits us inside. True happiness does not lie outside; true happiness lies within.
There is only one source of happiness that is lasting, that cannot be destroyed by wind, fire, water, or earth. It cannot be taken from us either in this lifetime or at the time of death. The only true happiness is God. Some mystics of the East refer to God as sat-chit-ananda. These words translate respectively as truth, consciousness, and bliss. Most of us would correlate God with eternal truth. And we would also think of the divine Creator as being all-conscious, all-knowing, and omnipotent. But in the West, we seldom think of Him as divine bliss. Yet mystics of all religions who describe their experiences of God touch upon this very aspect. More than their experience of divine wisdom, they are consumed with the transcendental ecstasy they experience when their soul merges in the Creator. In Christianity, we find that the writings of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross overflow with references to rapture and divine ecstasy. Muslim and Sufi mystics repeatedly express in their poetry the bliss of union of the soul with God. This experience of ineffable happiness is not confined only to the saints and mystics of the past. What they tasted, we can also savour. The secret is to find the sweetness within ourselves.
As long as we seek happiness in the world, we will be disappointed, for all matter is subject to decay and destruction. Only God is lasting. All the scriptures tell us that God is within us. The question before us is how to find Him.
Saints and mystics have been able to realise God within themselves, and have shared their knowledge with humanity. They describe to us what God is and how He can be contacted. They tell us that God is an ocean of all light, all love, and all consciousness. He is the alpha and omega of all existence. He was neither created nor can He be destroyed. He is all that is.
The soul is a drop of His essence. Thus, the soul’s real nature is also sat-chit-ananda — truth, consciousness, and bliss. Each of us is actually a drop of this blissful awareness. It is only when we identify with our real self that we become moving drops of bliss on earth. We are moving about on the desert of the earth becoming more and more parched, looking for the ocean. We need to realise that a reservoir of refreshing waters is lying within us. If we can identify ourselves with our true essence, we will begin to live in a sublime state of happiness. Meditation is focusing one’s attention at the seat of the soul, located between and behind the eyebrows. If we can stop putting our attention on our outer eyes and ears for a while and concentrate at the seat of the soul, we will tap into the source of happiness and bliss awaiting us.
The writer is a spiritual leader
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