December 2015

What is happiness?

Question:

What is happiness?

Nukunu:

I watched a TV program the other day, where this question was asked to different people. Most people associated happiness with things like good food, sex, love and good health. So it seems like many of us cannot go deeper than to the world of the senses. And even if we get happy when the senses are stimulated, this happiness is not really coming from the perception. No, it comes from you!

Happiness is a byproduct of desirelessness. When we enjoy a good meal we are here and now – we are totally present enjoying the smell of the food and the sensations from the taste buds. When we are here now the mind becomes silent, and a byproduct of this silence is happiness. The happiness is not coming from the food! No the food is just an excuse for realizing the happiness that is already present in us. We can also say that happiness and desirelessness are identical. When we are totally present there are no thoughts and the state of no thoughts is the same as desirelessness.

So actually we don’t need things from outside to be happy, we just need to be still and “be as we are.” But our society knows almost nothing about this. It is also not interested in these kinds of insights that could make us less interested in buying things in the same mad way we are doing today. Our world is based on consuming things, no matter whether we need all these things or not. So happiness means consuming what the senses like. A Danish comedian made fun of this madness of consuming when he said: “Now they have even placed some trash cans outside the shopping mall so people don’t have to carry all their stuff they have bought home.”

When we love we also become happy! Again it is the same mechanism, because love is a feeling of contentment. Now, when we have what we desired and the desiring mind stops, we are here now. There are no thoughts and therefore no past or future. We say to our partner “You make me so happy”, but this is not the whole truth. Actually, it would be more correct to say “You mirror my happiness”. I know that this does not sound so romantic, but it is closer to the truth.

In the ancient Indian tradition of Advaita Vedanta they say that a good description of who we really are is “Sat Chit Ananda”. The word “Sat” means the truth; the real. Some may ask what is real and Advaita will answer “That which is not changing”. This is something we will find in the innermost of the heart when the mind is silent. “Chit” is consciousness or presence and “Ananda” is bliss – a happiness that has no cause.

When we know this secret, we can always connect with happiness because it arises when we are quiet and still. We can also say that it becomes alive when we take the elevator from the brain down to the heart.

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