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Monday, February 23, 2004

Is happiness to be gained ? - Part 4

In part-3, we raised two questions:
(1) If my nature is happiness, why do I get unhappy?
(2) What takes me away from my nature?
We also inferred that answering (2) answers (1). Let us take the example of sun. When sun shines, I say it is bright. When a cloud shields the light from the sun, I say it is dark. But the point here to note is that brightness and darkness are my perceptions. My perceiving the darkness does NOT make the sun disappear or stop from glowing. The sun shines as ever but I do not get to see the sun in full expression. Or in other words, the full potential of the sun is not available to me, the cause of which could be the cloud.
Same argument is applied to happiness by the great masters. What is, is all happiness. But my becoming unhappy is ONLY because I fail to recognize the full expression of happiness. Since it may be a little difficult to accept this argument as is, let us dig a little deeper.
Masters have ruled that Aham aananda swaroopaha. This means, I am of the nature of happiness. I find it difficult to believe since I find that all the people in the world I see are seemingly unhappy and unsatisfied, seeking happiness in one form or the other. If an overwhelming number of people seem to be unhappy, how can I be convinced that the real nature of any person is happiness? The masters have presented a clear analysis on this.

Desire and relentless action
In any scientific experiment there are three parts:
(1) Observation of the phenomenon
(2) Collection of data
(3) Study
A good example is the story of Newton who got inspired by a falling apple. He observed that an apple fell from the tree. It struck to his mind that everything falls if there is no support. He collected data, studied and concluded that gravity - a force - is responsible for attracting the objects towards the earth?s surface. How is this example relevant to our discussion?
Everybody in this world acts relentlessly. The Part-1 of this series starts with that observation. Action is a phenomenon. And that everybody acts is an observation. We find that everybody acts differently but acts for sure. This constitutes the collection of data. When we try to understand or study why this happens, why everybody acts incessantly, we find that everybody has a desire instigating their action. Desires themselves are mutually different and so are the actions instigated by them and the people performing them, but, that the desire is the cause for the action, is undeniable. That the desire exists and people in a thirst to quench the desire, perform an action is undeniable. A desire creates a drive to be happy. It stems from an urge to be happy. Everybody has a pressure to make themselves happy. But, as in any science it is understandable that the presence of a pressure (or a gradient in engineering terms) in a system implies a distance from the equilibrium or the natural state. For example, a temperature gradient drives the flow of heat to nullify the differences in temperatures between the hot and cold bodies to attain thermal equilibrium. Similarly a compressed spring retreats to its natural state when the pressure is released. At the time of pressure, there is a great urge in the spring to go to the natural state since it is far away from it.
The people that we see performing an action have a strong urge to dispel the desire and acquire happiness. Or in other words, they want to relieve themselves off the pressure that the desire creates in them so that they can be happy. Thus, there is a natural urge to be happy in everybody performing an action. Even a person who attempts suicide seeks happiness through death since he finds his life unhappy. Thus everybody in this world has a constant urge to seek happiness. Or in other words, since happiness is the nature that they are, they seek their natural state where they can feel home at. The unhappiness that I experience is because of the partial expression of the happiness due to a cover that masks its full expression. Every time I want to break that cover. What kind of a cover is this? It is the ignorance about my self.
Ufff! pressures, covers.. we went for quite a ride. Let us summarize:
(1) The full expression of happiness is masked an this leads to unhappiness
(2) The cover of ignorance about my real nature or full expression of happiness makes me feel pressured
Thus since I seek happiness all the time, it is my natural state. But since something is hindering me from experiencing its full expression, some sort of ignorance, I have a DESIRE to become happy. When this desire steps in my mind, I seek ways to become happy. I try to find all possible answers without addressing the question properly. I feel I can become happy by buying a house. I feel I can become happy eating good food.
But, what is next? Another desire! Thus there is a constant background music going in our life "I want.. I want"J. How many ever desires I satiate, I am still left with more to come and the basic thing that is common to all these desires is the background music "I want.. I want". This music goes on and on in my life. This background music can be compared to the traditional Indian drone (tanpura) which offers a two note scale background support for a performing artist. Whatever happens with artist or the crowd or with the music, the background is unperturbed and goes on and on unchanged J
By acting to satiate my desires I am clearly trying to remove the "wanting person" in me who is creating a pressure on me all the time. "I want" is common and "what I want" is different. Or in other words, everybody has desires for sure though in various colors and flavors. The wanting person is there in everybody and the natural urge to become happy is there in all.

Desire is will-based and urge is not
There is a distinct difference between urge and desire. We saw in the last section that:
(1) When the nature is covered there is an urge to break the cover and come back to the nature
(2) To come back to the natural state I employ a desire
Or in other words, the urge to become happy is different from a desire. I may desire to eat a doughnut, fly a plane or watch a movie and these desires are clearly different. What runs as an undercurrent in these desires is the URGE to become happy. Thus the urge to become happy is natural whereas the desire I cultivate to appease my urge is will-based. My nature, the happiness is covered and there is a push from inside and this push is the urge. The desire that I implant as a vehicle to appease my urge, is will-based.
Hmm.. why such a rough discussion ? Why must I understand that the urge to become happy is NOT will-based but only the desire is? Let us look at the spring example. When the spring is compressed, it has an urge to retreat. Can the urge in the spring be called unnatural? No. Why? It is important to make a clear distinction here. When the spring is pushed away from its equilibrium, it has an urge to retreat. This urge it displays to retreat is natural whereas the state that the spring is in (compressed) is unnatural. The same logic is applied here. The urge I have, to get out of my natural state is natural, whereas the state that I am in (unhappiness) is unnatural.
What is natural needs to be attained and what is cultivated can be expunged. To be more precise, what is natural cannot be stopped from being attained by a will-based thought or action and that which is will-based can always be repealed (by will of course). Thus the desire can always be rationalized and cancelled whereas it is impossible to stop one from getting urged to become happy. For example, the desire to drink a potion which is poisonous could be nullified by the knowledge that it is deleterious to life whereas the urge to drink potable water when one is thirsty cannot be rationalized and cancelled.

How to satiate the urge?
Next question is how to fulfill this urge to become happy. The urge can be satisfied only when I understand through what source I can be happy about. Getting that source of happiness, I will be able to satisfy my urge. What is that object which by the acquirement of which I become uncompromisingly happy? Chocolate? Children? house? What is it?
Recall our earlier discussions. There is NO such object which can bring me uncompromising eternal happiness which is my nature. The idea that something "other than me" will "help me take my self to my natural state" itself sounds absurd. The natural state is one which I will tend to be in irrespective of whether there is a "helper object" or not. This situation can be likened to a catalyst which helps in the attainment of chemical equilibrium faster but the absence of which will still propel the reaction to equilibrium. The irony though in that example is that, I find no such object that is a "helper" for attaining eternal happiness.
Thus I am in a conflict. My nature is happiness - as established, I do not experience it fully - as observed and I do not find any "helper" object or situation or experience which would lead me into it - as inferred. How will I be able to tackle this question? This can be tackled only by realizing that the source of happiness is NOT outside me. That which is natural to me cannot be external to me. The happiness that I seek which is also my nature, cannot be external to me.
Let us first give the benefit of doubt to those great masters who have experienced the truth about selves and had passed the knowledge down the generations. They stated that my nature is happiness and also gave me an analysis to understand that I am always on the look out for being happy. Since I am always searching for happiness and since masters ascertain that it is my nature, I am clear that, I can NEVER miss it. Since my nature is happiness which is total and full, I cannot withstand anything less than its maximum degree of expression. Or conversely, a lesser degree of happiness which we may call unhappiness, is a state I cannot be comfortable in. Or in other words, since happiness is my nature, I cannot stand unhappiness and I always tend to progress towards the fullest form of happiness. Any sense of lack becomes unacceptable to me and this creates an urge in me to revert back to my natural state. I am presently tied down by my self-judgment that I lack happiness and I need to gain it. This wrong judgment is clearly from the ignorance which has to be removed to experience the complete and uncompromised expression of total happiness.
Whenever I cultivate a desire, I allow a foreign element through my will which since not being off my nature, disturbs me. When I acquire an object in the world, I temporarily relieve my self from the music of "I want". This "wanting" tendency which is nothing but desire, is removed temporarily and I am introduced to my nature that is happiness. It can be likened to the sun coming bright after the cloud is gone. The fulfillment of the desire is the removal of the cloud. Once the cloud is removed I am exposed to the sun and this is the real nature of brightness. The object of desire after acquirement introduces me to my real nature temporarily and I am completely comfortable then. But since this object that I acquire is not an eternal source of happiness, my interest in it dies down and I seek happiness through other objects.
Thus such a seeking cannot clearly be a solution for satiating the urge that I nurture. The only solution is to realize through the knowledge expounded by the masters that I need not seek to be happy but realize that I am of the nature of happiness. So, the only way to satiate this urge completely and uncompromisingly is to seek a guru who will help me dispel the various notions that I have about happiness and reveal to me the clear truth. Knowledge alone can bring the change in my attitude.

Thus my nature is happiness. It is not limited by my body, mind and senses. This happiness is experienced by me every moment. Happiness being my nature is the reason why I seek to be in that all the time. But ignorance about my nature curtails it from my being able to experience it in its fullest expression. The ignorance comes from my own judgment of my being a person with inadequacy. Knowledge dispensed through a Guru only can bring in me the change in the attitude and dispel my notions about my nature. The knowledge revealed by the masters through the scriptures clearly establishes the inability of any object other than my own self being able to make me happy eternally. Once I realize this great teaching of the masters, I will find that the problems that I see in my life are clearly and properly addressed.