Thursday, February 14, 2008

In search of happiness

by KParthasarathi Thursday, February 14, 2008
When I dropped in one afternoon, I saw my cousin happily reclined in a sofa before a wide TV with one arm around his wife and enjoying a serial. He had a nice flat and a lucrative job with his charming wife also earning as much. They looked a perfect picture of contentment and happiness. After the initial pleasantries, I asked him the hal of everything on his side. His wife had gone inside to make some tea. He pulled a long face and said that he wished God had been kind to him. It was five years since he was married and his wife wanted a baby very much. This set me thinking happiness is not in good earnings or an attractive wife or in owning a posh house or enjoying the comforts of life. It is something more. It varied from individual to individual.
I asked our maid servant one day when she was crying what would make her happy and free from all worries. I was expecting her to tell a big increase in her salary, a one roomed tenement with toilet inside and with an exclusive water tap or some such mundane things. Instead she said she would be happiest if her husband returned from work without taking alcohol and talked to her affectionately instead of the daily beatings from the inebriated man.
My elderly neighbour, a kindly and timid soul was being tortured mentally by a shrew and termagant for wife. She broke his confidence and made him a diffident blundering nervous wreck. The irony is he held high official position before retirement and was regarded well in his circle. He was one day confiding that he would be happiest if the God were to give him deliverance from her by taking him.
What is happiness? Will ten crore rupees give one permanent joy? Are material comforts to be equated to happiness? Possibly none of these. Is the quest for happiness always successful? Happiness is just an emotion like anger, sorrow or depression. It keeps changing from time to time. A small child is happy with a new toy for a few minutes. It soon gets tired of it, throws away and starts crying. Adults too are no different. Happiness is like a mirage always within your sight but never realized permanently.
Happiness again is not related to the character of the individuals. We see wicked men seemingly happy and good men passing though pangs of pain and suffering. I have no explanation for this strange fact except trusting in the law of karma.
Spiritual people talk of divine happiness that realized souls enjoy. I have no experience of it. I think instead of looking for happiness, we should look for contentment. It does not mean we should not attempt to improve our lives. While making an honest endeavour, we should learn to be content with what we have and not aspire for a distant rainbow only to lose the present peace of mind. Real happiness would appear as being satisfied with the results of our efforts without craving for more. It is a state of mind to be cultivated where one would be thankful to the god for his blessings and accepting the difficulties with equanimity wherever it is not possible to remove them. Otherwise how would you explain the restlessness of the very rich to acquire more and the contentment writ large on the face of a cobbler under a shaded tree? Happiness is not elsewhere. It is in your mind.
A sage found a man on hands and knees. He asked him what he was searching for. The man said he was searching for his keys. So the sage too got on his knees to search. After a while the sage asked whether he was sure he lost it there. The man replied that he lost it at home. When asked why he was searching there, he replied he was searching because there was more light there. The lesson in this story is for us to search for happiness where we lost it.

1 comment:

  1. another outstanding post from you.
    how right you are when you say that happiness varies from person to person, and it is mostly in the mind.