Everyone wants to find deep and lasting happiness -- happiness which will not fade with the sands of time, happiness that fulfills the deepest part of the human heart. Everyone wants to be truly, truly happy, isn’t it? Can anyone here say they do not want to be happy? No. Everyone wants to be happy.
So the question comes, how can one attain happiness? In the search for happiness and well-being, people get involved in so many different activities, so many different engagements, feeling that you can give something to the world, that you can express yourself and in that expression find approval, reward, feel successful. That often brings happiness and so many people look for happiness in the work that they do in the world. Many people also look for happiness in the relationships that they have to other people, to their parents, to their families, to their friends, to their children. These relationships become a source of happiness in their life, isn’t it? And for some, seeking happiness in what can be acquired is also significant. If one has sufficient money; if one has sufficient wealth – but the problem with some of these forms of happiness that are sought in the material world is that once you have a certain amount, you find you are still restless. You need more but there is only a limited quantity.
So while one acquires a great deal of wealth, because of the limited quantity of wealth, another may have very little and be frustrated in their efforts to secure their well-being and happiness. And so, the acquisition of greater and greater wealth not only leads to a need for more, but it also leads to the depletion of the resources of others. But when you seek your happiness in love between people, this is an abundant resource and does not deplete anyone. When you seek your happiness in your accomplishments and achievements of the world it may indeed benefit many people should they be kind and selfless work.
There are many ways to do karma yoga. Your work in the world can indeed be service if it is done with an attitude of service, with a kindness and caring for living beings or it may be done to fulfil your desires for control and power when those desires feel as if they will bring you the happiness you desire. But those tendencies often lead down destructive roads in the end. All of these tendencies, all of these ways in which human beings strive to find happiness, to secure their lives, to have a sense of well-being, they are all limited because they are within the scope of time and place and person. And so, as time passes, all things change. There is no way to hold it still. In the world of form there is always change and as time passes and change occurs, all those ways in which you have secured yourself in the world and found safety and happiness, they begin to degrade over time. Things change. Loved ones pass from this world. Situations in which you have been an expert and looked to for your knowledge or your ability, in which you have been respected by others, those situations change too. None of these things are permanent; none will last. And so the yogis say that when we strive to achieve our happiness solely through our worldly associations, our striving, though they appear to be bringing joy and happiness really bring us suffering because the very situations, relationships, things that are your joy today are your loss tomorrow, when all things change. Even the body that you have, you cannot secure yourself for eternity thinking that it will last forever for it too will age and not sustain.
So how can a human being secure themselves to find a lasting happiness in a world that is ever-changing where all that you do, all that you strive for, all the relationships of love in which you attach yourself are all transitory and all your accomplishments, all that you have acquired is fleeting? This knowledge of the transitory and fleeting nature of this human world, this external life for those who have thought deeply and inquired deeply within they realize that this transitory life will not bring them lasting happiness and so the yogis realized that in order to find this lasting happiness, it is necessary to look within oneself, to look deeply inside, to see within oneself what is this restlessness, what is this unhappiness that makes one always strive to achieve, to acquire, to grasp, to hold? What is this emptiness within, this churning restlessness? What is its source?
Looking within, rather than to the world around, the yogis realized there is the key to finding the source of happiness. Within every human being there is a restlessness, a yearning, a desire. It propels people to all that they do expressed in so many ways in the world. But the very source of this restlessness is the sense of separation, of “I” and “Thou,” this sense that you are alone, separate. This comes from identity with the physical body and with the mind associated with the body. There is a sense of “I-amness,” a sense of ego that separates you from all else and you feel, “I am alone. I am vulnerable. I am in need.” And therefore, your life is to strive and to achieve and to accomplish and acquire those things which will satisfy this need which will quell this fear and to avoid all of those threatening situations which will increase the fear which will make you vulnerable. So it is the bodymind existence, the ego which is both afraid and in need to achieve this happiness in the world. But beneath that there is a deeper sense of self, a deeper existence in which you are beyond the limitations of “I” and “Mine.” So this egoistic self is not your true Self. It is an identification with your vehicle, with the body, with the mind and with the reactions of mind to past experiences, your samskaras. Your awareness, your sense of self becomes merged in these and then you feel “This is me! This is who I am,” and in that you are engaged in pleasure-seeking and avoiding this pain, avoidance of suffering and, most of all, avoidance of dying. Definitely it is not in the agenda of the body-mind.
The eternal Self is the witness of this “I-feeling,” the witnessing consciousness which knows that you exist, the knower of your existence, the Atman. The Atman is conscious, aware, but when that knower begins to know itself, the realization comes that there is no separation between this knower of your whole existence, this witnessing, intelligent consciousness that is you and all of creation, that there is a unitary wholeness.
There is in each and every human heart a yearning, a deep yearning for this wholeness, sought in so many ways in the world, ways which bring suffering because in the end everything that is clung to passes but it is not the yearning which is the cause of suffering but the separation, the duality, the identity with the small self. When the deeper Self is known, the identity with the small self merges into the Great. The real happiness lies within you, lies in the wholeness of being, to be found in your direct experience. When you look into the eyes of another, whom do you meet but the eternal Self, your eternal Self? When you find love divine, the love that you share with every living being isn’t it a reflection of that divine love? Does not the very love exist not only within you but all around you in every living being?
There is no inner and outer. There is no “I” and Thou.” There is only the one infinite flow of divine love both in the unmanifest and the manifest. There is but one eternal flow, one infinite being, one consciousness, one whole. Every person that you meet is that divine being-- every blade of grass, every cloud in the sky, every drop of rain. You are never alone and you are never separate. It is the illusion of separateness; it is the illusion of duality which brings the sense of isolation, the sense of pain from which you struggle to achieve, to accomplish, to acquire in order to ease your pain.
But you seek to struggle, to achieve, to acquire what you already have, what is already yours for that love, that divinity is your own nature and the nature of all around you. It is only due to ignorance, due to confusion that there appears to be a separate individual that you know as your body-mind personality that is apart from others. But that is not the truth of you. It is not the truth of your existence. The real happiness comes in knowing the Self, in knowing that there is no separation, in feeling the love unconditional, around you, through you, permeating you, permeating your existence. Then every word is a word of love. Every thought is but the flow of endless forms and colors within the infinite display of creation.
For one who knows the truth, there is no separation. There is no duality. There is no inner and outer. There is nothing to be achieved. There is nothing that is lost. In the endless feelings, thoughts, forms of existence, the one eternal unconditioned infinite Self abides. Though appearing to be diverse, never changing in nature, thought appearing to be many even resplendent and whole, this eternal Self is your true friend, your bhanu, your true friend, the one who will be with you for your whole life and never desert you. And if you know that true friend really well, you will find that one is ever by your side, never leaving you, speaking to you through so many voices, caring for you. You will look into the eyes of those you love and you will see that eternal friend. You will look into the eyes of strangers and see that One. When one has found that eternal friend then real happiness comes in the life and fear goes down.
Change is inevitable in this physical world but beneath the stormy seas of life are the deep waters that are ever calm and changeless. Find your home there and you will always find peace and happiness and shelter in the storm.