Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

by Dhanya

flower picture

Recently I was talking with some friends about happiness. What is happiness? What is its nature? Who are we in relationship to it?

Here is an examination of the mechanics of happiness, and a description of what could be called, �the happiness equation.�

Oftentimes the gain of happiness goes like this. It usually begins with a desire in the form of, 'I want something.' I have a desire, for a certain situation or, a certain object, or something. Something I don't have now.

So then, usually I will make some effort to fulfill that desire, and if I do manage to fulfill the desire, then what?

In the moment of the fulfillment of the desire, the mind relaxes, and in that moment the mind no longer has the 'tension' which having an unfulfilled desire produces.

In that moment (and it might just be for a few seconds) the mind relaxes utterly. It doesn't want anything in that moment. �Ahhhhhhhh,� it says, �all is well with me.�

In that moment, of relaxation, what is called 'the self,' or one's true nature, which is whole and complete, and devoid of sorrow, shines in the relaxed mind, which for that brief time has no other competing content.

And what is the effect of that? The effect of that is the feeling of happiness, because for that instant the self, which lacks for nothing, which is full and complete, whose nature is love and limitless well-being, that self shines in the relaxed mind, and that mind has the experience of happiness.

But then in the next instant, we may want something else, or we may fear we will lose what we have gained. Then that fear or worry (which is based on the experience that things don't last) competes with the happiness shining in the mind, and that sorrow, tension, or worry comes to the forefront, while happiness seems to have vanished.

The happiness experience can also take place unexpectedly, not necessarily through the fulfillment of a desire, but also when one experiences something, be it pleasing music, a sunset, the smile of a child, the scent of a rose, the sight of a rainbow, which just for an instant, stops the mind's discontent, and for that instant, the fullness of the self again shines with no competition, and for that instant again, �I feel happy.�

So those are the mechanics of happiness. The happiness equation generally goes like this, 'I want that person, thing, or situation so that I can be happy.'

And it is because of wanting to experience happiness again and again that we seek out experiences which will produce it. We are happiness addicts, because it just feels so good. We can't get enough of it, and the only way we know how to achieve it is to manipulate the world of objects in order to achieve that effect. This requires a lot of effort, and it doesn�t always work.

At other times happiness may just come upon us unexpectedly, like a gift. But however it arrives; one thing is for certain, it will never stay.

All we really know about the experience of happiness is that we love it, it doesn't last, and we want it back. So it's kind of duality's trick.

This self, one�s true nature, which is experienced in the moment when the mind is desireless, is actually ever present, and always available, but it is 'as though' hidden by our wants, our sense of lack, by grief, by sorrow, by identification with changing and often negative emotions, by identification as a body/mind/sense organs person who will always be limited, and lacking in some way.

If a person has recognized this self as existing separately from those things, and yet ever present to those things, then that person doesn't need to manipulate the world of objects in order to bring about the experience of happiness in the mind.

One can just go straight to the source, which is actually one's true nature, ever present, full, and complete, not subject to change, not subject to lack or sorrow.

There is a line from the scriptures of Vedanta which says, 'The one who has recognized the self crosses sorrow,' not because sorrowful experiences will never take place again for that person, but because he or she has recognized what the actual source of happiness is, and the source of happiness is never sorrowful.

So even if a sorrowful event takes place and as though overwhelms the mind for some time, having recognized the self as ever present, the source of happiness and never sorrowful, one has found one�s true home.

Once that recognition has taken place, one doesn't lose sight of it again, and one's mind can rest in that. It is awareness, which is existence, which is full and complete. It is also known as sat/chit/ananda.

Return to Dhanya main menu

Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012