Every living being wants to be happy. All people seek happiness. Animals seek happiness, even at the plant world; the plants seek happiness. All living beings want to find happiness, but what gives them happiness varies depending upon their needs, the time, the place and the situation. What brings you happiness has varied across your lifetime. For a young child happiness is the love of the mother, some good food, some kind words, some simple activity. But as a child grows, so does their need. As you grew, so did your needs and what brought you happiness changed, perhaps a boyfriend, a girlfriend, being popular with the other children, having friends, doing well in school.
These external circumstances began to define and inform your sense of well- being, your experience of happiness. Then as life goes on, the source of happiness changes, perhaps a spouse, a mate whom you really love (and who loves you), children, a career, material success, being admired by others. At different points in different peoples lives, different experiences bring happiness. And there is always the hope that that happiness will last, will not change. And there’s always the struggle, the fight against anything that may interfere with that happiness, that will make it seem that your life is not as joyous, as successful; that your sense of well being is not complete.
Physical ailments, losses of loved ones, marriages and relationships that fall apart, jobs that you feel a failure at, that become mundane and oppressive or that you lose to some unjust reason, financial difficulty, losses of various types, all form a continual threat. To most people they are a threat to the sense of happiness and well being and so human life, as in animal life, consists of fearing and avoiding as much as possible those situations and circumstances which threaten your happiness or diminish your happiness and striving always to acquire those circumstances and situations which enhance your happiness, which make you feel that you are on top of the world.
Your situation is not so different than that of other living beings. The deer lives in continual fear of predators and is always watching to make certain the predator will not get them – but to have abundant lush grasses to feed upon a fine herd to be with, to have an offspring, a fawn to love and to care for. All these things bring happiness. So in a similar way, your life consists of those joys and happinesses which you find most rewarding and the fears and struggles to avoid those situations and circumstances that may disrupt your happiness. This is the human condition and from ancient times people have seen that this struggle goes on and on throughout a persons life.
And in the end bodies become ill, loved ones pass away and all of those things you have built in your life to secure happiness fail you. And, ultimately your body fails you. The greatest fear for most people is of death; the yogis say even the wise fear death and struggle to maintain life, grasping for life. And the fear of death is the ultimate struggle of human life. So what to do when your life is bound in this struggle of avoidance and grasping? Where is real happiness? In such a situation all the happiness that is achieved through your struggle is always threatened by those things which you fear, those circumstances which might befall you and take away all the sources of your happiness. This human condition is what it means to live in an animal body, be it a human body, the deer, the wolf, even the fish in the sea. This is what it means to incarnate and struggle with life in the world.
So yogis of ancient times began to wonder: “what is the solution to this problem?” How can I find a way to begin to unravel this quandary of life and find a happiness that is lasting that can’t be washed away by the changing circumstance of life and the difficulties that are always just impinging on your well made plans to secure yourself?” Yogis realized all happiness based in external circumstances is based in temporal experience and all of those sources of happiness are changeable. And that which is your happiness today will be your source of suffering tomorrow, as that to which you are attached fades away and is lost to you knowing that this is the circumstance the yogis realized.
There is one solution that in inner contemplation if you look beneath this struggle of grasping, attachment, fear, avoidance and look. If you look beneath all of this, you find the entire structure of it is based in a foundation. And that foundation is your individual “I” feeling, your ego; it originates in your body, in your belief that you are your body. And your mental process, and that you being that consciousness, which inhabits the body and the mind, are a part and separate from everything around you. So from this sense of “I” and “other,” from this sense of duality and separation comes a feeling of individuality, which requires you to grasp, to secure yourself and to fear all those things which will threaten that security. But when this sense of duality, this “I amness,” this ego self is deconstructed, you realize that beneath that ego lies only an integrated whole -- a level of being, a level of consciousness which is unified, in which there is no I and other.
There is one living conscious existence, one divine essence manifesting in thousands, millions of forms. But all forms have their base in one essential being. When this realization comes, this sense of ego, the sense of “I ness,” which is separate from all else diminishes and you feel: “I am connected to everything. That which is in all life is in me. And I am in all life.” When this realization comes: “that you are part of a larger integrated whole,” this sense of duality, this assumption of “I amness” is in fact a false construct, based in consciousness, having awareness of a body. A false sense of duality is set up and out of that stems the human condition and the fears and struggles of human life.
When, through deep contemplation and meditation, you begin to return to the integrated wholeness of being out of which you, small identity, has emerged then in the larger context all of the fear and need and the attachment and grasping begins to soften, begins to loosen. You become connected to a larger whole, you find dharma, you find the way, the true law of the universe, the wholeness of all beingness, the integrated nature of all life and you find you are not a apart from that integrated nature. You are not separate, and in that realization comes the awareness that you are always surrounded by love. You are always in a position of wholeness -- that the loss and acquisition occur in the ever-changing fabric of creation. They occur within one substantive whole of being. And in that substantive whole there is no loss, there can never be loss. For the Self of all beings is one self.
The love is everywhere. Forms change endlessly like a flickering candle flame, but the light of the Self is a constant. The love, which is your essential being is all around you, within you. In countless forms, you will meet the beloved. In birth, in the joys of your accomplishments, in the sorrows of your disappointments and in death itself you meet the beloved face to face. That divinity is in all forms, in all beings. It is your essential nature and has been before your body existed, before you came to know yourself as you and will be when the form you inhabit fades from existence -- when you awaken to this deeper stratum of your existence.
Then in the wholeness of being, you are one and there is nothing to fear in life for the love is eternal, immortal and unchanging. All that changes is only appearance upon the body of wholeness, so let yourself sink into that deeper sense of being and find your shelter in the storm, find your home in the ever-changing patterns of your life, find that which is constant, eternal and sustaining.