Imagine sipping your favourite drink by a crystal blue lake on a sunny day, enjoying peace of mind . . . sounds wonderful doesn’t it?
Why do we all want inner peace? This is because peace itself is happiness. And, we all want to be happy.
Spirituality tells us that true happiness lies within us. But we don’t really believe it, do we? After all, how can happiness be inside us when it looks like all the fun and good things are on the outside? —Wonderful new sights to take in, new places to visit, people to meet, tasty food to eat, adventures to be had, and so on.
At one of the Vedanta study groups I facilitate, a member of the group noted, “I never look for happiness inside of me. It’s so boring in there! I’d rather go out and enjoy myself, rather than sit and search for happiness inside.”
Vedanta, the spiritual science of life, gives us proof that happiness is inside of us and not outside. It asks:
What kind of happiness do you want?
- Do you want to be happy now or in the future?
- Do you want a little happiness or a lot?
- Do you want to be happy sometimes or all the time?
I’m pretty sure you want the maximum amount of happiness now and forever more.
Isn’t it strange that we never get tired of being happy? Happiness never becomes a burden to us. It makes us feel light, and well . . . happy!
Happiness is our own true nature
Vedanta tells us that being happy makes us happy because happiness is our own true nature.
It supports this fact by explaining that things always move toward their natural state.
For instance, water is naturally cool and fluid. When it is subject to extremely cold conditions or boiled, it changes and becomes ice or steam. But as soon as the outer conditions are removed, water reverts to its original state.
Applying this principle to us, we know that we always move toward happiness. Fear, anxiety, grief, pain, sorrow, worry and other negative emotions are a burden to us and weigh us down. We cannot tolerate them and are eager to shake them off. When they are removed, we quickly regain our natural happy state that was already lying underneath.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are caught in a traffic pile-up on the highway as you are driving to the airport. You are terribly worried and anxious as you may miss your flight.
When you finally arrive at the airport, you find out that your flight has been delayed by two hours, and so you are not late at all! You heave a huge sigh of relief, and are happy you can still get on your flight.
Now, you didn’t become happy by bringing in happiness from the outside. You became happy as soon as the cause of your anxiety was removed. Your peaceful, happy state was only obscured by the worry and tension that you had been experiencing.
Outer things do not bring us true happiness
In the imaginary scene by the beautiful lake that I described at the beginning, would you be happy just because you were there? Or, would you be happy only if the cause of your worries was not there?
If you were worried and tense, you couldn’t enjoy yourself in spite of being in pleasant surroundings. I’m sure you have experienced similar situations.
Taking vacations, buying desirable things, being with people whom we enjoy, fixing and rearranging outer situations—these do make us happy. But, the happiness is only temporary.
They do not bring us the true and enduring happiness we are all searching for. Remember, we want the maximum amount of happiness now and forever more. Favorable things, people and circumstances certainly do not live up this high standard. My article, Why Objects Cannot Make us Happy explains this better.
Start from the inside first
Happiness is right here, within as our own true nature. In our search for happiness we keep rearranging our lives on the outside, when the real rearranging needs to be done on the inside.
Here is a YouTube video entitled: “A truth about being happy.” Through the humorous story of a drunkard who bungles at his attempts to hide his nocturnal activities from his wife, spiritual master Sadhguru highlights our tendency to seek outside instead of inside.
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