Sunirmalananda is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order. He lives in Ramakrishna
is happiness? Happiness is a pleasant feeling in the mind. I eat a sweet.
It brings a pleasant sensation to my mind. I hear good music that I like.
This brings a pleasant sensation in mind. I call all this happiness. When,
again, I eat the same sweet, and hear the same music when a tragedy has
occurred in my life, I don’t enjoy it. If my relative has passed away,
and if someone plays the same music that I like most, I will say: ‘Stop
it! I hate this!’ The same music fails to bring joy and happiness.
happiness is something which is personal—which is totally dependent on
the person concerned. That is, happiness is subjective and not objective.
The same person, place or thing that brought happiness at one time, may
bring misery at another. Why does this happen? This happens because we
are responsible for our happiness or sorrow, and not the external objects
of the world. We think that somebody brings joy,
this person brings misery, etc. All this is not true. The external
persons, places, and things are only stimuli. These stimuli affect the
brain and bring joy or sorrow in us, depending upon our state of mind.
Thus, all our so-called loves, hates, ambitions, dislikes, successes,
failures, and so on are for our own sake, created by us. When we say we
love or hate others, it is for our own sake. It is a truth according to
Hinduism that all that we do is for acquiring bliss for ourselves.
introduction brings us to the concept of happiness in Hinduism.
has these things to say about happiness:
we call happiness [sukha] and misery [duhkha]
are relative experiences. They are termed dvandvas—dualities.
We must rise
above these dualities in order to discover and experience real happiness.
Where do we find
this real happiness? It is inherent within each one of us. Where is it
located? It is not located as such: it is we ourselves. Ourselves? Oh,
yes, we are of the nature of bliss. What does this mean? We are bliss. Our
nature is one of immortal bliss. We have forgotten this simple truth.
Then, what is
this experience which we are calling happiness? This so-called happiness
is only a faint reflection, a little spark of the brilliant sun of bliss
which is hidden within. This is only a shadow of that eternal bliss that
is waiting to be exposed. Our so-called happiness and misery now, are
nothing but different states of mind. In the Bhagavad
Gita (5.21), it is said: ‘He who is
unattached to the external world and its objects, and is attached to the
inner Self, will attain supreme happiness, which is everlasting.’
called ānanda in Sanskrit, is the
goal of all beings. All are seeking that goal only—some ignorantly, some
according to all the different philosophies of Hinduism—Yoga, Vedanta, Samkhya,
dualists, non-dualists—our goal is to transcend dualities like happiness
and misery and reach the state of supreme Bliss. It is in that state that
we get real bliss. Until then, we are only passing through different
states of mind.
may restate the ideas in the form two or three simple laws:
Seek what is true and lasting.
The more you seek what is true and lasting, the more you go nearer to the
source of supreme, everlasting Bliss, which is within you.
THIS WORLD BRING HAPPINESS?
mentioned that the happiness we get in this life, in our day-to-day lives,
is very elementary. It is only a shadow, and the real one is elsewhere. It
is only a door, which leads us to misery and pain. This may appear
pessimistic, but unfortunately it is a truth. What we call pleasure,
happiness, etc in this world is only an introduction to the pain that will
follow. So, if we seek happiness here, we must be ready to receive the
pain the follows it.
are all in a vicious circle. There should be an end to moving about in
this vicious circle. That end comes when we understand that this world is
not everything. We must also understand that this world is a teacher,
teaching us to get what is true and real. This world is a showroom, which
gives us samples only. It says: ‘This is only a sample. Now, seek the
the world, with all its glitter and shine, is only a showroom which
stimulates sensations in our mind. And we think we are happy or sad.
Buddha, therefore, said that this world is misery, duhkha.
According to the Buddha, everything is duhkha,
misery. Birth is misery, living is misery, death is misery, world is
misery. Secondly, everything is momentary, kshanika.
When one attains Nibbana or
liberation according to Buddhism, one becomes extinct. Nibbana
means to become extinct, and to end our misery. But there is no
permanent entity according to Buddhism. Everything is a samgháta,
coming together, and everything will disintegrate in Nibbana.
the schools of Hinduism, on the other hand, say that life is not merely duhkha.
The external world no doubt brings sorrow according to various schools of
Hinduism, true. But according to the Vedas, the sources of Hinduism, life
is ánanda, bliss. The Vedas
say: ‘From bliss did things come into being. In bliss do they exist, and
to bliss do they return finally.’ Everything is bliss. There is a
wonderful mantra in the Vedas: ‘The air is filled with sweetness of
ambrosia, the oceans are filled with sweetness, the plants and trees are
filled with sweetness, and everything is filled
with sweetness of ambrosia.’
according to Hinduism, everything is bliss, and not sorrow.
how to reconcile the Buddha’s ideas and the ideas of the Vedas? The
Buddha was speaking about the world as it is now, and the Vedas speak of
the ideal we are to attain. In the ordinary sense, in the world we are
living in, it is all misery. It appears to be glittering, and
shining. We appear to be in a paradise. But we see that we are chasing a
mirage here. Ask those who are 70 or 80 years old if they are happy. They
will not say from their heart that they are happy. Nobody is happy. In
spite of all our dancing, drinking, and enjoying the world, ultimately we
see that nothing has been achieved.
is what the Buddha also said. In order to overcome sorrow and suffering,
and enjoy everlasting bliss, we must look elsewhere. Here comes the
teaching of the Vedas. Hinduism firmly asserts that there is something
permanent behind this entire changing world. There is something permanent
behind the changing us. Our bodies keep on changing, our minds keep on
changing, but behind and beyond these two, there is something shining.
That is the eternal Principle, the Atman.
this world is ever-changing is known to all of us—those who were there
before are not there now. We ourselves keep on changing our focus of love
and hate. In childhood, we loved some people. Now we love others. So
everything is changing. Our bodies keep on changing, the world outside
keep on changing, everything changes. But still there
is something unchanging, which we do not know. That
something is the Self or Atman. That is the real we and not the
seems there was a woodcutter. He used to cut wood in the forest, sell it,
and earn money. One day, he met a monk on the way. The monk told him:
‘Go forward.’ That’s all. This woodcutter did not understand the
teaching. He went to the forest, and began cutting wood. Suddenly he
remembered the monk’s words. “Go forward? Let me go forward then.”
He went a little forward. There, to his surprise, he saw sandalwood. He
was astonished. “Ah! All these days I was only selling ordinary wood. If
I had known this place, I could have made much money,” he thought. Then
he began cutting wood there. Some time later, he again remembered the
monk’s words, and went further into the forest. He was surprised to see
a mine of gold!
is positive in approach to life and its various aspects. It does not say
this world is miserable, etc. It says that what we are enjoying is
happiness, all right, but there are higher and higher forms of happiness.
Go for them. Don’t stop where you are. Go forward. Go forward. There are
higher and higher aspects of happiness. Get them.
to the Vedas, there is a gradual increase in happiness as we evolve in
life: worldly happiness, mental happiness, spiritual happiness. In this
world, we sing, dance, drink, enjoy, eat, and do
everything we can. All these joys put together can be called one type of
one: In this
world, however much we may try however much
wealth we may have, however much enjoyments we may have—all our
enjoyments will be only to some extent. Not much. Let us say it is to be
equal to 1. If a person lives in this world without diseases, having a
perfect body, and enjoying everything every moment, his joy can be
compared to one.
two: We all
believe in heaven. What is the type of heavenly pleasure? In the higher
worlds, the happiness will be equal to 100 times more than in this world.
If the joy we get here is one, that which we
get in heaven is 100.
both these joys are temporary. We have sufficient experience in this world
of such temporary joy to understand this truth. Even in the case of
heaven, according to Hinduism, after our good karma is exhausted, we shall
have to return. In fact, we shall have to lead more miserable lives here
after coming back. So we must seek something still higher. This leads us
to stage three.
Spiritual happiness is when we want to know God, or when we want to know
who we are, or when we want to know the Self. When we are striving for
knowing it, our happiness increases proportionately, but when we attain
God, or the Atman, our happiness can be equalled to a thousand billion. We
can imagine: 1::100::100000000000….
TO ATTAIN LASTING HAPPINESS?
we want to go forward. This leads, naturally, to the next question: how to
attain this everlasting bliss? In order to seek higher happiness, we must
try to seek God, or try to know ourselves. By following any of the methods
prescribed by the saints and scriptures of the world, if we silently
practise, we can attain that bliss. According to Hinduism, no one is
condemned. No one is bad. No one is a sinner. All sins are mistakes. All
are heirs to immortal bliss. All can attain it. This is because, all are
bliss. Misery, sorrow, etc, are only outer coverings.
may now say: “I have understood that what I am enjoying now is not real
happiness. I have also understood that I must seek higher happiness. But,
what is the proof that there is higher happiness? Can I get a taste of it
here?’ Of course you can! There is a simple technique for getting this
happiness. It is this: Give up desires, and you will be happy. This
moment, you decide. I shall give up all desires. I shall not want
anything. All tension will go, all problems will go, and you will be in
peace. Desires make us go round and round, achieving nothing. Let us give
up desires, and we shall be instantly in peace.
passing, we may mention some wonderful and simple rules of life. Please
keep them in mind, if you want to lead meaningful
and peaceful lives here:
seek anything. If you seek anything, you will be in misery.
we deserve, we get, always. What we don’t deserve, we don’t. So
there is no point in worrying unnecessarily, because it will bring
misery and not joy.
us leave everything to God. That is the best way to achieve happiness.
us remember these simple principles. “I am miserable because this man
did not love me. I am suffering because I did not get this. I am in
pain because this man did not thank me.” All this is wrong. Give up such
ideas, and you will be in peace. Then you can use your energies for higher
TO TAP THE JOY WITHIN?
are some practical steps of attaining bliss and peace of mind. Hinduism
says to us:
have a hundred desires in mind. Decide now: From this moment, I shall not
have desire for anything. Whatever comes, let
it come. This will instantly bring peace. This is the initial stage of
worry that you are a sinner. This is one of the worst obstacles to
joy. Give up worry. What is past is past. God is not a historian and a
petty judge to judge you for what you did. Sins are mistakes done.
Will the dancer go on weeping because she fell ten times when she was
practising dancing? She will go on dancing. And will succeed. So in
life, we fall a hundred times. Let us not worry about it.
worry if someone hates or someone dislikes you. Let them hate you. Let
them not like you. The world is broad. There are millions of people
here. Let everyone go their own way. Be free. Shake off everything,
and you will be free and happy. Whenever anyone deserts you, or begins
to dislike you, just say to your mind: ‘O my mind! This world is
impermanent. Let us seek something permanent: God.’
Never imagine you are a big person. You are a little creature. You
don’t know what is in store the next moment. So hold on to God. This
will bring peace.
yourself. This itself is a big peace-giving
your love only to God, and to none else. That will bring you immense
some problem comes in your life, don’t start worrying. Worry will
make things worse. Imagine that you are taking that problem in your
hand like a fruit, and offer it to God. And pray. When worry comes,
brush it aside and pray. This will help you immensely in every way.
STRIVING FOR TRUE HAPPINESS?
The goal of life is to know God. We are born again, and
suffer again and again, only because we don’t know God or
Truth. This is the fundamental principle of Hinduism. Hinduism
says that we are not here in this world to enjoy it and suffer.
We are here to know God.
Why should we know God? We should know God for the simple
reason that we are God. We are Divine. To know God, we must
practice self-control, and perform spiritual practices.
When we are in the world, seeking worldly joys, we get very
limited bliss, but extreme pain.
When we seek God, we get immense peace and bliss, which is our
We need not beg or borrow it. It is our real nature. Since we
think we are limited, we are suffering. When we give up
limitations, we know the Bliss.
ATTAIN REAL BLISS?
Today, this moment, let us decide what we want. Do we
want the world only, or do we want God? If we seek God, we get
everything. “Love God, and everything else shall be added
unto you,” said Jesus Christ. Let us love God, and everything
The Practical Steps are as follows:
We need not do
much. All that we have to do is this: let us have a small corner in our
room where we shall place the picture of the form of God we like. Let us
offer flowers, incense etc every day. Let us sit before this small altar
every day. Let us love God. This is most important. We have loved this
world too much. We have seen how Tsunamis affect the world. In one moment,
everything is gone. So let us love God. Then we shall begin to know what
true bliss is.
Let us serve
others as if they are gods. In our free time, let us mix with some good
organization, and try to serve others. This is the eternal truth of
Vedanta that every living being is God. We cannot help anyone, we can only
serve. Service to others will bring immense peace and bliss to us. And
this is one of the ways to knowing God.
Let us meditate.
Meditation means trying to concentrate the mind. Our minds are naturally
restless. By meditating every day for some time, we can exercise the mind,
bring it under control, and tap immense energy.
When we are in
our workplace, when we are traveling, and when we are doing other things,
let us try to discriminate: ‘Is this real? What am I doing?’
At the beginning
of every work, let us pray to God and begin the work. At the end of the
work, let us offer everything to God.
Through all these means, we rise higher and higher. We
come nearer and nearer to the Truth. Thus, we begin to enjoy
immense peace and bliss, which surpasses all understanding.
When we continue further, we attain the highest bliss. This has
no comparison in this world. Thousands of saints have attained
to that bliss.
According to Hinduism, there are several stages of bliss:
bliss born of sensuality. This is extremely ordinary. It is, in
fact, pain, but confused as bliss.
The bliss born of self-control. We think if we let loose our passions
we are great. No! When we control our passions, we are great. Passions
are not powers, but our expressions of weakness.
The bliss born of spiritual practice. The name of God is extremely
sweet. By repeating it, we will attain bliss. Initially it is not
possible. But as we go forward, there will be immense bliss.
The bliss born of supreme Attainment of Truth. There can be no
comparison with this bliss. Because all coverings are removed, and we
know ourselves as beings of bliss.
There are several synonyms for bliss in Sanskrit. ánanda,
sukha, and santosha
are all synonyms. They can be used for any type of bliss. Yet,
we may distinguish them as follows: The spiritual bliss
attained when we know the Truth or God is ánanda
or supreme bliss. Sukha also
is supreme bliss, but let us say it is the joy experienced in
ordinary life. Mudita is the
pleasant state of mind mentioned in yoga which we should have
to practice spirituality. Maitri,
Karuna, and Mudita
are mentioned as qualities necessary for the mind to practice
is a lower form
Swami Vivekananda says: ‘In this little life of ours,
if we can bring even a moment’s joy in another heart,
that alone is true religion. Everything else is
moonshine. This I have learnt suffering all my life.’ Bring
joy to others, and you shall attain joy. Because
the others and us are not different. We are one and the
same. To bring joy to others, we must serve them. This is one
of the best ways of being in bliss.
We shall conclude with the message of Holy Mother Sri Sarada
Devi: ‘If you want peace, do not
find faults with others. On the contrary, find your own faults.
Nobody is a stranger, my child, the
whole world is your own.’