...these silver lines, travel from my thoughts to yours, wavering, floating like spirits dancing...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On the nature of happiness...

For hundreds of years, man has questioned what has made him truly happy. Where does this happiness come from? Where does it lead to? How long does it last, if at all? And how often does it last? The quintessential nature of happiness has eluded and mystified man in all ages, of all times. And yet, it is for this very thing that man has been in pursuit of ever since he understood himself and the world around him.

While it may be true, that man often finds some level of happiness in something or the other, in whatever he does, whatever he achieves, obtains, enjoys, relishes and relives, a classification of happiness becomes necessary in order to better understand this mysterious thing called human happiness. For indeed, has human happiness evolved over time? Was the happiness that the early philosophers, such as Aristotle and Epicurious, talked about different from what the modern man conceives of as happiness? Or are the teachings and lessons advocated by Buddha and the early Sufis still being practiced and observed today? To answer this question, we need to find out what makes people happy.

While the answers may vary or coincide in some cases, it may be found that people do tend to find happiness in one way or another. Are they satisfied with their level of happiness or their life in general, that is another question. For once the happiness wears off, it changes into a kind of satisfaction, a contentment if you will, and often that changes into fear of losing that source of satisfaction or happiness. It is for this very reason that the early philosophers said: ‘that which is a source of happiness, becomes a source of unhappiness for you’. That unhappiness may be interlinked with a sense of fear of losing the source of that happiness, an insecurity, or anxiety giving birth to a whole other set of negative emotions, such as anger, jealousy, hatred, envy etc.

When we are talking about the classification of happiness into types, we may broadly divide them as such: that which people derive from objects, things, materials around them, even people and events and that which the early philosophers and Sufis called the true happiness, a state in which man is free from every want, every need. Man may grow attached to certain things, certain people, and this sense of attachment becomes a source of worry for him too; the danger of losing, the danger of harm, the danger of corruption of that which he holds dear. When man is not attached to anything in particular, he may find a kind of peacefulness or bliss which the early sages talked about.

To be happy in every state, in every kind of situation, may be the idealist utopian mantra of the new age, but why is it that people are finding it so hard to believe and achieve? Some people think it is because man has not reconciled himself with the present. He ties himself very strongly to the past or holds a lot of fear for the future, never living in the present. When in reality, he carries both with him at the same time, wherever he goes. For what is the past and what is future, if it is not in the mind? And if it is in the mind, then that means, man always carries his past and his future with him. But when man truly lives in the present, he realizes the beauty of the moment, he can realize his potential, be anything, become anything, be at peace with himself, and understand the nature of his happiness, which the early mystics and philosophers talked about; that which you seek, is inside you.

On that note, I leave you with a little Rumi.

Do not look back,
No one knows how the world ever began.
Do not fear the future, Nothing lasts forever.
If you dwell on the past or future,
You will miss the moment.

~ Rumi