THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS : Why are we not happy?



In the sacred text, Tripura Rahasya, the great Sage Parashurama, after self- introspection, remarks to Guru Dattatryea, “O Guru, Misery is not the absence of happiness, but limited happiness. For as happiness recedes, misery pours.”

Vedanta says that the biggest delusion that affects a man is the placement of happiness in objects. The delight that we get in owning objects is temporary and misplaced, and that is the reason people often complain that they are ‘not happy’ in life or ‘something is missing’ in spite of accumulating ‘stuff’ .The cosmic illusion or Maya smiles at a person who becomes happy with the hoarding of wealth or accumulating objects.

Maya smiles at this person’s happiness because she knows that it is like telling a man or woman who has been bitten by a poisonous cobra minutes ago, to be happy in anticipation of a sumptuous feast in the evening. The feast represents the short lived euphoria that is felt when we own a new object, and the slow acting poison represents the hollowness that will follow the euphoria and leave us dissatisfied and not happy again.

Men and Women in this age of Kali, are deluded and keep on performing actions in an attempt to hoard objects that will give them happiness. They keep on performing the same actions obsessively in their pursuit of happiness which is externalized. While they chase people and objects to be happy, the inexorable noose of death is dancing on their neck the entire time. Maya knows this and hence smiles at that person.

The scriptures claim that Happiness lies only in discernment of the real from the  unreal- Viveka and Vairagya. The gods become gods because they are able to discern the truth and they realize the true nature of their self.

 Based on what a person desires and the deeds performed, he or she will achieve a certain state of life. If someone wishes to pursue happiness while living in ignorance, they will remain in a state of ignorance. If someone wishes to know the real from the unreal, they will achieve the state of discernment.

Most people keep on running after the transient nature of happiness, just like a donkey pursues a she-donkey, even if he is kicked a hundred times in the process.  People confuse the placement of their happiness in the achievment of their transient desires, and keep on running after material pleasures. Maya makes the bond of delusion greater in such people.

The ignorant think that to have a spirit of self-inquiry is misery; the wise know that a spirit of investigation is the first step to enlightenment.

An affluent man is blessed with beautiful houses, a loving family, all material comforts and is yet worried about protecting and increasing his wealth; his happiness is in the surety of preserving and growing his riches.
A beggar without any material possessions, is worried about getting the next meal. His happiness is in the surety of the next meal.

The wise know that it is the nature of creation to sportingly, make the affluent man and the beggar experience each other’s birth in different lifetimes, until one of them gets the spirit of investigation and begins his journey into self-inquiry.

Suggested Reading

What is Karma? The Story of the Bowman

Who am I? Ancient story that explains the truth about creation

Why am I trapped? The story of the 2 birds

What is the self? Ancient story that explains the concept of Atman

The story of the caged elephant: How to break Free


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