THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS : Why are we not happy?

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 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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I feel Trapped: The 2 birds on the tree of Life

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i feel trapped
Why do we feel trapped?

I FEEL TRAPPED: The story of the 2 birds 

      “I feel trapped” – In this superficial and fast paced life, people place their happiness in material objects, especially during their early phase of life and career. They keep themselves busy in various professional and social distractions; the result of this ‘busyness’ is that they become numb to finding a purpose or meaning in their lives.

It is only when people are middle aged and the passions have ebbed a little, that they feel trapped in a bad job, a tiring relationship or feel intimidated by the monotony of life. It is then that people feel suffocated and remark I feel trapped.

Also Read: The Caged Elephant: What stops YOU from being free? 

Hamsa Gita (also referred to Uddhava Gita) is Lord Krishna’s final discourse to Uddhava before his departure from earth. The entire Hamsa Gita contains delighful statements from Lord Krishna and the full text can be found in the Bhagavata Purana.

In one of the statements in the Hamsa Gita, Lord Krishna mentions the two birds that reside in all of us. These 2 birds reflect the states of freedom and bondage that we get to choose in life.

Lord Krishna tells Uddhava, “O Uddhava, two birds live on a peepul tree. They have built their nests on the tree. One of them has its nest on the topmost branch of the tree and he is happily viewing the sky around him. This bird enjoys the freedom around it, basking in the cool air that blows around and is always joyful.

“The other bird has built its nest much lower down in the tree. This bird hunts for his food all day long and after working all day long, comes back and sits on a branch that is always dark due to the shadow cast by the tree.

“O Uddhava, The two birds have been greatly attached to each other. They have been like twins, each being the alter ego of each other. But the difference between the two has now sprung up because of the involvement of one with its surroundings. The bird at the topmost branch will not come down because it  has experienced the free state. The bird at the bottom branch does not want to leave its branch but feels trapped by its circumstances.

   The Vedantins compare the free bird to the emancipated soul and the other bird, to the man caught in the web of Maya. The bird on the topmost branch does not find any difference between himself and other birds but the other bird considers himself to be unhappy: that he is suffering and that he is different from his one-time friend.

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PEACE OF MIND: Story of Brihaspati, Hindu philosophy

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What is peace of mind? Kacha wants to get peace of mind and his father Brihaspati instructs him- Ancient Story in Hinduism.

 

need some peace
How to attain peace of mind?

There is an ancient Hindu story in which Brihaspati instructs his son Kacha how to attain peace of mind.  Brihaspati (symbolized by the planet Jupiter in astrology) is a vedic deity in Hinduism and is the teacher of Gods (Devas). Brihaspati grants wisdom and calmness of mind to a person.

Kacha NEEDS peace of MIND and comes to his father, Brihaspati.

Once Kacha, the son of Brhaspati, went to his father and asked, “Father, I am eager to attain enlightenment. It is said that to achieve the state of enlightenment my mind must be totally at peace and in a state of bliss. Please tell me how can I always have peace of mind and be free from worries?

Brihaspati said to his son, “Peace of mind can only come from total renunciation son.”

Kacha thought about his father’s words and interpreted that his father meant for him to totally renounce his material belongings. Kacha left his house, his family and went to the forest believing that he had renounced everything. He sat in the forest alone and tried to attain peace of mind.

Brihaspati knew that his son had not been able to understand his words. However, the knowledgeable Brihaspati did not resist his son’s actions, as wise men remain unaffected by separation and union.

Kacha lived for in the forest for eight years. He ate roots and fruits and practiced meditation. Once Brihaspati was passing near the forest and Kacha approached his father.

Kacha asked, “Father, I have renounced everything just as you had told me. I have left my house and severed my family ties but I still haven’t achieved peace of mind. Why?”

Brihaspati looked at the thin, wasted body of his son, and merely repeated his previous instruction, “Renounce everything for peace of mind!”

Brihaspati left after saying this. Kacha pondered on his father’s instruction, and interpreted that he had to renounce even the clothes he was wearing.  Kacha tore his clothes and became a naked ascetic. Kacha continued intense austerities for three more years in the forest. But Kacha was still restless. One day, he decided to approach his father and went to the city.

He asked his father, “Father I have renounced even the clothes I was wearing. I still haven’t attained peace of mind. Why?”

Brihaspati knew that his son was not understanding the import of his words and then explained to him, “Son, renunciation is never about the objects. You may live in a forest or in a palace. It doesnt’t matter for achieving peace of mind. All you have to do is to renounce the mind. Total renunciation is in the renunciation of the mind. You haven’t renounced the mind.”

Kacha went back to the forest determined to achieve peace of mind this time. He just had to renounce his mind. Kacha sat in the forest and made an effort to find his mind so that he could renounce it.

He contemplated and meditated for a long time but he could not find his mind! The more frantically he tried to find his mind in order to renounce it, the more clueless he became.

Finally, Kacha thought, “The body was never my identity. Why am I punishing the innocent body by these austerities if I have to renounce this mind to achieve peace? I will return home and resume my life.”

He returned home and his father welcomed him heartily.

Kacha asked Brhaspati, “Father, please tell me what is the mind so that I may renounce it. It is extremely difficult to renounce the mind.”

Brihaspati smiled and responded, “On the contrary, renouncing the mind is easier than crushing a flower in your hands; in fact it is easier than closing your eyes. I will tell you how one can renounce the mind. Some people are deluded that the mind is the ‘I’. They confuse ego as the mind and hence believe that the physical body is their entire existence. They are the ones who never find peace.”

“In truth there is no ego; what is this ego or this ‘I’ that people talk about? How did the ego arise? These are mere words. If you have to renounce the mind, you have to contemplate only on one truth. That truth is this my son, ‘In all things, in all times, in all places, in everyone there is the one pure consciousness! If you are able to realize this truth, then you are free from all self-limitations and will not be a victim to this delusion that binds you.

Kacha absorbed the meaning of these words and Brihaspati added, “Son, you are the unconditioned, liberated, cause of all things, never been conditioned by time and space, reflection of the pure consciousness. Realize this and attain peace.”

Kacha stayed at home and meditated on these words. Finally he was able to realize the truth about renunciation and attained the elusive state of peace of mind.

SUGGESTED READING

HAPPINESS: Why is Maya Smiling at you?

SAMSARA: The secret of the Boat Ride

Nasadiya Suktam: The Hymn of Creation (Rig Veda)

Shani Dev: Spiritual significance of Planet Saturn

Brihaspati: Planet Jupiter

Why Does Ganesha have an elephant Head?

 

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