We all desire happiness. And not just temporary, superficial happiness, but happiness that lasts, that is so deeply fulfilling and all-encompassing that we can completely rest our hearts and minds in it. This desire of the living being for happiness is completely natural.
So why our attempts to satisfy this desire for happiness & peace do seem to bring us so much distress and relatively little happiness? We are constantly searching for happiness in this thing and that thing, this place and that – in material activities, in enjoying the senses, physical sensations, in thoughts and emotions, in accumulating wealth, beauty, power, fame, respect, admiration, and countless other material objects and situations. We are always trying to manipulate our physical and mental environments for happiness. And although we may experience temporary and superficial pleasure from all of our hard efforts, the state of deep and lasting peace and happiness that we long for remains aloof. All this searching and struggling for happiness does not generally result in increased happiness. Instead, it is our anxiety about happiness that tends to increase.
Realizing this, we might conclude that the only happiness is perhaps in trying to rid ourselves of the desire to be happy. But this is an erroneous conclusion. The problem is not with the desire for happiness, but rather the misguided ways in which we are trying to fulfill this desire.
If our search for happiness is based on the material concept of life, we will not find what we are looking for because the happiness we are longing for cannot be had through material means. Although material things and situations can stimulate fleeting and superficial pleasure sensations in the mind and body, they can never actually touch us – the spiritual being temporarily wearing these material coverings.
According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bonafide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.
So it is not that our suffering is caused by our desire for happiness – rather our suffering is caused by our misdirected attempts to fulfill this desire in terms of our material “clothes.” Our desire for happiness does not originate in the material mind – it is an innate longing, a spiritual longing, which can never be filled through material means because we are not made of material energy. We are spiritual beings, so only that which is also spiritual in nature can actually nourish us and fulfill our desire for meaningful connection and happiness. To be truly happy, we need to be linked up with our spiritual Source.
In the yoga scriptures, the recommended method for linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus puts themselves in the direct presence of the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.
Through mantra meditation, we begin to taste the sweetness of spiritual happiness. And with daily practice, we come to understand first-hand the immense, deep joy and satisfaction to be found in spiritual connection. As we become increasingly fulfilled through realization of our spiritual nature – and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it – we no longer look for happiness in superficial material pleasure. Instead, we spend our valuable time and energy looking for happiness where it can actually be found and in doing so, the seed of spiritual love and happiness in our heart grows and flourishes. Eventually, we come to realize that we can rest in this happiness because it replaces the emptiness in our heart of hearts with fullness.
When we try to fulfill our desire for happiness through material means, we are constantly disappointed, frustrated and bewildered. It may even feel to us like a burden. But, when our consciousness is purified through meditation on the sacred sound, this same desire for happiness naturally, spontaneously propels us forward into the happiness we seek – happiness that is completely fulfilling, eternal, and ever increasing.