Friday, 31 August 2012

From Happy - Less To Happiness

People want to conquer. They want to rule. They want to prove things to the world. They conquer lands, companies; try to conquer space, people and their hearts and so on. The present age mantras are,” Rise to the challenge! Prove to the world that you are a man of mettle! Go kiss the world! Conquer the whole world. It’s waiting for you. Life is about how much you can take and still carry on.” and so forth. So, basically in this world people are in frenzy. Competition is at its peak. People are fixed on being successful in life. ‘Success’ is the present age holy-grail.

Everyone is dragged into this rat race, so much so that even children are inextricably a part of this from very tender ages. People are pushing very hard. There seems to be nothing called limit these days.Children are trained, at school to prepare hard for the competitive exams. After that, in colleges or universities they are trained to become ‘professionals’. The first 20 years of a child’s life is spent in preparation for the next 20. Ironically, the next 20, after so much hard work, is not a phase of relaxation and enjoying the fruits of hard earned labor. On the contrary, it’s a phase of struggle. One has to tolerate cutting-edge competition and all that goes with it, and rise to the top of the hierarchy which takes another 20 years.
So 40 years of life are spent in preparation for the next phase. After so much of hard work, is there finally a reward for the hard work? Again, it’s a big no. People have to work hard to maintain the reputation and stature that they have pain-stakingly made for themselves. Of course, this example is more inclined in the corporate world. But even in the small scale empires, the example holds good. The point is, the whole life is spent for achieving success. Name, fame, wealth, glory, status, education in a reputed place etc are all considered to be the definitions of success and happiness.So in pursuit of happiness is the whole world moving. In this cutting edge competition, no one pauses to think for a second,” Hey! I am doing all this for happiness, but am I happy?”Ironically, people who are in the top-of-the-world in the success chart are the most unhappy. This can be justified by the following evidences. America, as the world knows in the heartthrob, the crux of the modern civilization. It is America that the world is looking at, for directions to move towards. Why? It is because they are supposedly very passionate and successful people. Following them will make every country healthy, wealthy and wise. But an astonishing 70-80% of the Americans seek psychiatric help! In a survey conducted by the London times, Bangladesh was found to be the happiest nation in the world! And they are one of the poorest.But people who seek happiness are as far away from it as they can ever be. They hardly get to spend time at home, children are left by themselves as both parents go for work, meeting round-the-clock, lots of work even during weekends and so on. In a man’s quest for happiness, most of his time is spent for acquiring wealth. This takes his most of his productive life. Which he sadly can’t even enjoy in his dying days. His children take over and cast him aside.

Some people, who are so much into this conception of life, never seem to realize the futility and unimportance of it all. To put it once more, people seem to think that the summon bonum of life is to be in a reputed school, get girl friends/ boyfriends, be popular, have a gang of friends, go to a good college, get a great job, get married to a very good looking partner get great kids and probably do some nice social service on the way. Parents too feel ‘proud’ when their kids grow to be like this. In fact it’s a social norm these days. Every Indian parent requires a degree from abroad or IIT’s and so on to have their daughter married. Everybody, in some scale is inevitably a part of this ‘prove yourself and rise to the challenge’ drama.

People are working so hard to get some fruits which they can hardly taste. The desire to get one fruit is being replaced by a desire for another and this is going on and on and on. People are simply satisfied by looking at whatever they had accomplished so far and want more and more. For the feel of euphoria, which is very brief and fleeting of course, they put in a lot of work and a lot of time indeed. They feel that since happiness and sorrow are inevitably bonded, it’s ok to endure pain on the way, and feeling some pain and sorrow is a part of life and that it is worth feeling all this for the happiness gained along the way.

One may argue that there is a lot in life, a mixture of joy and sorrow and ultimately both are wonderful and they shape a person. There is so much to see like Beaches, movies, hang-outs, parties, trips, relationships and so on. But all these, are they real happiness? If they are real happiness, then we should be behind it 24x7, because that is what life is ultimately about- be happy! We get tired so easily, we keep searching. Bored of movies, songs, and so on. We always want something new. Nothing in this world can be tasted for very long. We keep tiring out. We want to be the masters. We want to be leaders. We want to lead. We want to prove and show. Leave footprints in the sands of time. Anything that we can grope, we would want to lord over it. That is the ultimatum of life. Success and happiness to put in a nut shell is to be able to be on the top.There seems to be nothing here. Just hard work hard work and more hard work. For some results that is barely perceived and full of problems that comes with it. It is a fact that rich people are anxious about the welfare of their wealth. Despite enjoying some luxuries, they are worried about the safety of the wealth, how to invest it properly, etc. Famous people too have a lot of problems. Let’s look at celebs. In order to look good on screen, they need undergo a process which does exactly the opposite! Spoil their skin and make them look old! They are always targeted by paparazzi. Their life is never private and they always tend to have a lot of personal and marital problems. Despite being famous, they don’t seem to relish life, it’s a stereotyped life with lots of practice and parties and drinks and things like that. Most famous people resort to addictives for some personal solace. Big shots in companies also get to face a lot of heat. Consider people like the presidents of countries. They may get to go in bulletproof cars, have the best facilities in the world. But most of their time is spent in managing the affairs of a country. Full-fledged, deep sleep is a rare luxury. Or their children might be said to be happy. But they have the responsibility of being the children of someone really important and the weight of the responsibility may weigh them down. They don’t even get to spend quality father-children time at home.So the point is, this world is full of problems. Is wealth is happiness then why are the wealthy people having so many anxieties? If sex was happiness, then one must know that prostitutes are one of the most unhappy people one can ever hope to find. Their private lives are full of dark secrets and problems. If good education is happiness, then why is America producing hippies? Why teen suicide in IIT is’s a very common thing? Why is fame, wealth, glory, popularity, talents, genius, beauty, sex etc. never a substitute for happiness? Why then are people behind something that gives results that are contrary to what they actually perceive as a result? What then, is happiness? How to get it? Why is happiness always followed by misery?There is simple no escape from this cycle of pleasure and joy n this world. People are simply dragged into this duality of life. It is accepted as an axiom that,” life is full of problems, but face it and then enjoy it.” People are all doing the same thing! Despite failures of happiness all around, people still march on bravely in the same path- fight with life and try to be on the top.

But it is proving to be so futile in so many circumstances. Fate seems to a cruel mother. A rich man is robbed of his riches some day, a poor man suddenly becomes a millionaire by winning a lottery, a billionaire is suddenly diagnosed of cancer, a man loses his girlfriend to someone else and so on. It seems to take fate just a second to crash down what we have taken years to build. It all seems to be like sand castles. People are acting like mechanized robots. Slogging hard like asses for 6days a week, looking forward to a nice weekend and back to the same cycle.

When a person begins, suddenly, amidst all the chaos that is currently in place, he begins to wonder, “Who am I?” and “What exactly am I doing here?” , he seeks a way out of this cruel cycle of life where one puts his life into something but there just is no satisfaction. Of course it has been said, “There is enough to satisfy man’s needs but never man’s wants”. The more we get, the more we want.

It strikes a lone few people that this game is a check mate anyway. Not getting what one wants is suffering. Getting what one wants given him euphoria, and it is fleeting. It loses taste and he again wants more. So it is suffering anyway! Some learn it the hard way, or some people who are curious enough to poke and prod their intellect happen to find out the truth.

I am no exception. I too was a part of this big drama. But I knew that something was not in place. Something did not fit. Where was the last piece of the jigsaw? Probable answers came and went but some made sense and some didn’t. It was in this little quest of mine, that some terrific truths unfolded. So my quest, in search for truth gave me something most unexpected, something everybody is pushing very hard to realize, something that very few have managed to perceive and comprehend- the real purpose of life. I had stumbled upon the ultimate supreme truth.

The answer to my first question, who am I, shocked me. I, as I was told, am not the body but an eternal, conscious fragment of the supreme. If I am not the body, then the whole material civilization is based on an illusion! That we are the body. Everything here runs on this principle.

In a nutshell, the purpose of life, is to not have a sense of enjoyment, but to have a sense of being enjoyed by the supreme! The raison d’être, is then not to love ourselves, but the supreme!

The truth is that this material world is full of suffering. “duùkhälayam açäçvatam”, is how Lord Krishna describes this world. Temporary and full of miseries. But there is another world that is full of eternal bliss and knowledge- the spiritual world. Where everyone are in a platform of unlimited love and happiness. But who is the recipient of those peoples unlimited love? Its Krishna. He is the ultimate truth. The supreme.“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (B.G 15.7)

We, as souls are the eternal parts and parcels of Krishna- the supreme. We have arrived at this hellish place due to our envy of the Lord being the master. So here, we are allowed to have the feeling of being the master, which is however an illusion. The reason we are suffering so much in life, is due to the forgetfulness of our real identity. We are suffering because we are like fish out of the water. It is illusion to think that fish can be happy if it is on a golden plate. But no, it will never be happy till it returns to its home- the water. Likewise, it is illusion to look for happiness here. We belong with Krishna. Till we realize that there is only suffering and nothing more. We are suffocating like fish out of water. But our sense of lordship and envy of the lord is so great that this obvious truth- we are suffering is evading us. We forget that we are part and parcel of Krishna and are struggling hard with the mind. We want to lord over his material energy. But the very goal of our happiness is the cause for our suffering! That is why this material world devoid of our understanding of truth is but an illusion.Prahalad Maharaj, a great devotee of the Lord, says, “Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Kåñëa are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (SB 7.5.30)

He described these material efforts as ‘chewing the chewed’. Everyone are hankering after the same sense of proprietorship and success despite being repeatedly based by cruel fate. And despite having no respite, parents gladly submit their children to the same fate.There have been great people, acharyas and pure devotees, a rare few who have understood the world to be what it is- a platform to rise to the stage of love of God.“O son of Påthä, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (BG 9.13)
People who are out of this illusion are the ones who know that the supreme lord is the master of all. They engage in serving the lord with all their hearts and souls. They seek pleasure, not for themselves, but for the lord. Here is where the irony lies. Happiness in it’s absolute state lies not in pleasing ones on senses(sense gratification) but in pleasing the senses of the lord.

Only such people who care about the satisfaction of Krishna, are the ones who are completely out of delusion and the duality of material life. That Krishna is supreme is acknowledged by all these great souls. All acharyas understand Krishna to to be the supreme truth. This is acknowledged by Arjuna as follows“You are the supreme primal objective. You are the ultimate resting place of all this universe. You are inexhaustible, and You are the oldest. You are the maintainer of the eternal religion, the Personality of Godhead. This is my opinion.

You are without origin, middle or end. Your glory is unlimited. You have numberless arms, and the sun and moon are Your eyes. I see You with blazing fire coming forth from Your mouth, burning this entire universe by Your own radiance.

Although You are one, You spread throughout the sky and the planets and all space between. O great one, seeing this wondrous and terrible form, all the planetary systems are perturbed. BG 11.18-20You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Närada, Asita, Devala and Vyäsa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.” BG 10.12-13When one seeks to appease his greed to lord it over the material nature, he as to struggle hard against a lot of variables and finally is never satisfied. This can be explained with the example of the camel. The camel is a kind of animal that takes pleasure in eating thorns. A person who wants to enjoy family life or the worldly life of so-called enjoyment is compared to the camel. Materialistic life is full of thorns, and so one should live only by the prescribed method of Vedic regulations just to make the best use of a bad bargain. Life in the material world is maintained by sucking one's own blood. The central point of attraction for material enjoyment is sex life. To enjoy sex life is to suck one's own blood, and there is not much more to be explained in this connection. The camel also sucks its own blood while chewing thorny twigs. The thorns the camel eats cut the tongue of the camel, and so blood begins to flow within the camel's mouth. The thorns, mixed with fresh blood, create a taste for the foolish camel, and so he enjoys the thorn-eating business with false pleasure. Similarly, the great business magnates, industrialists who work very hard to earn money by different ways and questionable means, eat the thorny results of their actions mixed with their own blood. Therefore the Bhägavatam has situated these diseased fellows along with the camels.

But one who is seeking only to please the lord is in a platform of divine intelligence. To be a part of this material saga is detrimental to the actual objective of life- to return back home back to godhead. This material life is full of danger.

“For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Muräri, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoof-print. Their goal is paraà padam, Vaikuëöha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step.” (SB- 10.14.58)The eternal truths of life can be understood precisely by this verse.What is the goal of life? To develop love of Krishna and go back home.What is this world? A place where there is danger everywhere with no respite. Being a part of this world is simply detrimental to our actual cause.Who is the person we have to surrender to? Krishna.Why? He is supreme and the origin of all.“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (BG 10.8) We are his eternal servants. “Jévera svarüpa haya nitya-kåñëa-däsa” (C.C Madhya 108-109).To a person who understands the truths of life as exemplified by wise men, the pure devotees of Krishna and follow them, instead of people who say,” I am powerful, you can do it” and so on  are the only ones who are saved. The others fall, as they are blind led by the blind.

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