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Saturday, February 21, 2004

Is happiness to be gained ? - Part 2

Huh..tough indeed are the questions that we asked in the first part of this series. To recapitulate, the questions we faced are:
(1) Is happiness an object on the earth? (2) Is it an experience to be gained? (3) What exactly do we mean by happiness?
We saw through some examples that there is no object called happiness on the earth. Thus the first question as to whether happiness is an object is answered but negatively. The next question in the series is to analyze whether any experience will give me happiness.
I sleep. I feel happy when I am asleep. But if I am happy when I am sleeping, why am I not sleeping all the time? I definitely do not like that. Thus in spite of my being happy while I sleep, I do not want to sleep the entire day or life. Why ? It is because I simply cannot sleep all the time since I yearn for a change. Thus sleeping which is an external experience sought after by me, cannot be the constant source of happiness that I am seeking. Happiness that comes from any external medium cannot be with me all the time. Every time I am exposed to an experience which shows me happiness, I find that after a particular length of time, I yearn for a change.
Let us take the case of a sugar crystal once again. We know that the nature of the sugar crystal is sweetness. The crystal does not have to yearn for its nature because, it is all by itself, sweet. Let us rephrase the three questions that we put above in a slightly different fashion:
Is happiness to be gained or is it my nature?
We found by a logical reasoning that if it is gained in time, it vanishes with time. The example of not being able to sleep all the time vindicates the former statement. That which is a function of place and time, is bound to change. So what do I do now? I am in a fix. I clearly recognize that:
(1) Happiness is not an object on the earth (2) Anything that I try to gain in time, is time-bound (3) Anything that is a function of place and time is bound to change
So where is happiness? What is happiness? I am still clueless as to whether it is to be gained since I just concluded that anything gained in time is not permanent. Let us muse over the other dimension of the same problem.
We find everybody is struggling to attain something. What is that something? As it is easy to see, the constant search is definitely for a better, happier existence. If you ask the people why they are unhappy, each offers a reason of his own: health, wealth, family problems etc. Now let us consider this situation: logically speaking, if each person is unhappy because of a particular problem or a reason, they must be happy once that gets resolved. Suppose there is a person complaining that his only problem is the marriage of his daughter: once she gets married, if he is asked "Hello Sir, are you happy now"?, he would reply "No Sir, these days I don't get any letters from her. So I am unhappy".
Problems like the ones mentioned afore are called topical problems. A genuine researcher in the pursuit of clear answers would address the issue more fundamentally. Instead of addressing the problems which are corollary to the main problem, a researcher tries to identify the main problem and address it.
The main and fundamental problem which relates to these topical problems is easy to recognize. Why am I unhappy? Where and when do I start getting unhappy? An even more fundamental problem if recognized, would help dispel the cloud around the afore-mentioned questions. A fundamental analysis is necessary. By fundamental analysis I mean, we must analyze without any presuppositions. We started off the discussion in Part 1 of this series with a presupposition that everybody wants to be happy. Is this axiomatic approach right? Let us once again ask some questions:
(1) Why do I want to be happy? (2) Why do I not develop love for the state of being unhappy?

Happiness is my nature
All the questions put till now vanish without a trace when I recognize that happiness is my nature. The reason is evident from the observation that, I do not want to skip a happy moment anytime. A happy moment is what I like to be in, all the time. The very fact that I want to hold onto it, shows that it is my nature. Whenever there is unhappiness, I tend to escape. I try to find solutions to the problems that arise from the state of unhappiness. As we can easily recognize, the solutions to the problems that we face are the ways to attain happiness thus trying to get away from an unhappy situation all the time.
It is understandable that I feel at home when I am with my nature. Since I relax, revel and be completely comfortable with being happy, I infer that my nature is happiness. Wonderful, is it not?!!! When I am not with my nature, it affects me. A simple example is the telling of a lie. Anybody who tells a lie, clearly feels guilt in his mind. This sense of discomfort does not arise when you tell the truth. Thus the truth which is natural makes you feel at home, whereas the lie unsettles you An eye-bug that enters the eye makes you feel uncomfortable. Unless you get rid of it, you do not feel comfortable. Thus you have a tendency to escape a situation which does not make you feel at home. An unhappy situation does not make you feel at home and you want to escape it. Something that is not my nature, when it enters me, disturbs me.
What is natural will never disturb me. What is unnatural will always disturb me. A topical problem has a solution but just as we recognized, the topical problem itself is impermanent. Therefore, the solution to the topical problem also is impermanent. A deeper or a more fundamental problem is the reason why I hog on to happiness and escape unhappiness. This is a perennial problem that I face and a permanent solution which addresses this must be found. The solution to the problem is in the understanding that my nature is happiness.
Thus I conclude that not a person, not an object not a situation is the prime reason for my happiness. I clearly understood that the happiness has to be my nature. Now we come to the next logical question - is this happiness to be gained ? We must now make a distinction between gaining and recognizing. Gaining is action and recognizing is knowledge. I must recognize whether the happiness is external to me, within me or if it is my nature.
If happiness is my nature, why is there a problem in recognizing it? It is because I tend to associate and superimpose happiness with the objects or experiences of the universe. I do not see things as they are! At this juncture it seems like I am trying to confound you with profound sentences. Hence let us take an example: a rope in the dim light. I can mistakenly recognize it as a garland or snake or anything else. This happens in our life most of the times. Now try to read this sentence slowly:
We recognize things by what we think they are, rather than by what they really are.
A failure to recognize the reality associated with the things, leads us to a mistake. Thus the failure to see clearly the real source of happiness makes me mistakenly feel that something else is the source of happiness. The failure to see that I am the source of happiness makes me look around and claim mistakenly that the objects of world are the sources of happiness. Place, time and objects, I superimpose as the sources of happiness since I fail to recognize that I am the source of happiness.
So how do I go about recognizing that I am the source of happiness? To be contd..