Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What we think is happiness

(Teachings from Gita) We've desires and when any of our desires get fulfilled we "feel" happy. Most of our desires are about procuring something; getting a new job, car, house, so on and so forth. This is what we perceive as happiness; but such happiness is short-lived. A new job doesn't remain new after a year, same for a car or a house, then the happiness fades away and we desire for other things that we feel would make us happy. Such desires are in fact harbingers of anger and jealousy. Have we ever thought about why we get angry? It's mostly when we realize that there is a stumbling block in our path to the fulfillment of a desire. It's because of these desires that we tend to compare ourselves with out friends/neighbors/peers/etc. with regard to various possessions and hence give birth to the feeling of jealousy. We should seek everlasting happiness and not such ephemeral happiness.

Happiness experienced as a result of appeasing your senses is ranked the lowest as it gives rise to various vices and is not even the "real" happiness. The next level of happiness is for the one who's detached himself from all worldly things (vairagya). Once you detach yourself you don't experience the feelings of attraction or repulsion and with that you've successfully repelled the vices of temptation and anger. On a still higher level is the happiness which comes to those who desist from sensual enjoyment and have an absence of desires (uparati) and the ultimate state of happiness is achieved by the one whose soul is in unison with the Supreme One.

3 comments:

Shashwati said...

I sometimes wonder if it is even worthwhile to look for "Happiness". Sometimes, peace or tranquility seems more worthwhile. Do you know anything about perhaps the origins of the concept of happiness? I amn't aware of it, though I wonder if our texts prescribe seeking peace as compared to happiness for it is simply a state of mind, and why should it be any different than sadness, or a euphoric mind on ecstasy? Physiologically it does have different effects on the brain, and perennially depressed brains *have* shown cellular atrophy, but so have brains treated perennially with euphoric drugs, and it leads to the classical decadence.
I know for sure with classical/meditative music, that is what all composition aim for - peace, or to achieve the anahat naad state.

Shashwati said...

By the way, do you like Arthur C. Clarke? :-)

Smriti said...

@Shashwati, there you go with your biological implications and I can't argue with you there :). Your question reminds me of Will Smith's dilemma in "Pursuit of Happyness" where when he reads the phrase "Pursuit of Happyness" he thinks to himself that is it so-called because it is something you have to pursue?

Here happiness is a translation of the hindi word sukh and even when I was writing this I wasn't satisfied with this translation but that was the best I could do. I'm glad that you raised this question and that gives me an opportunity to elaborate on it. When I think of sukh, I think of a person who's content, at peace with him and has no grudges in life. So it encompasses your ideas of peace of tranquility. Sukh is more profound than happiness.

That guy does ring a bell in my mind. Hmm...can't think of any reason why a sci-fi author would be related to this post but then who would've thought that Will Smith's name would figure in this conversation :). Care to elaborate?