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The Beyond is Within

Human exertion is directed towards gaining lasting happiness. Yet few enjoy it. One looks for happiness by acquiring objects of the world, little realising that happiness is not inherent in those objects. If it were so, would not everyone who came in contact with the same object gain the same degree of happiness? Why then is it, that the object being the same, reactions to it are different? The same bitter gourd, karela, is enjoyed by one but is distasteful to another! If the pleasure were inherent in the karela, would not everyone who tasted it gain pleasure from the experience? If money, power and fame were key indicators of happiness, would not every rich, powerful and famous person be happy?

Where then does happiness lie?

The great German philosoher, Arthur Schopenhauer said, “It is difficult to find happiness within but it is impossible to find it anywhere else”. Our lives are a startling testament of this insightful statement. We may have experienced fleeting pleasures through sense contact and acquisition of objects. But the moments that have given us lasting happiness are times when we have ventured deep within our personality. Looking for happiness in the world is like trying to catch your own shadow – the closer you move towards it, the further it recedes. All one has to do is hold one’s own self and the shadow will be caught.

This simple guide to happiness was emphasised by all spiritual masters. Christ said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within”. Sri Krsna in the Bhagavad Gita has said, “One who pursues objects of the world and develops attachment to them is caught up in delusion. It is the one who turns within who attains true peace and happiness”. Yet in our vain attempts to fill the gnawing void within we spend most of our lives chasing the objects of the world. And we lose touch with our inner being. There must be a paradigm shift from looking outside to opening the inward eye. Only then can there be some hope of finding permanent happiness.

Inward thinking

So how do we practice inward thinking? By spending time with ourselves, contemplating. By questioning our thoughts. What are they? Why are they? Where do they come from? Through a gradual practice of watching our thoughts, determining, understanding their source and sifting, we will be able to deal with a large part of our insecurities, from which springs forth the quest for happiness outside.

Each one of us, consciously or unconsciously, is seeking permanent happiness in this changing, ephemeral world. What we need to do is to look for the fountainhead of happiness within us because nothing we seek in the world will be permanent. That infinite happiness that we chase outside lies within us. The source of happiness, the Self, is within, enveloped by our desires and our self-imposed limitations and can be rediscovered only by undertaking the journey to the Beyond that is within.

Sent by Prem Bhatia from Mumbai