When it comes to happiness, the natural question would be: If it can’t be found outside oneself, can it be found within oneself?
Is there some intrinsic happiness within us that can be tapped? Is there a happiness that is independent of anything external? Is there a way to remain deeply happy, fully satisfied and yet continue to live in this world and do the right thing?
The great scriptures from India—the Upanishads and the Vedas—suggest that there is indeed a way to find lasting happiness within oneself, independently of all external things. The great sages who have experienced this joy and happiness have gone on record to say that – ‘That’ happiness is an ecstasy, which is so beautiful and all embracing that one feels like sharing it with the entire humanity.
Once, having experienced this happiness, life becomes joyful. Then, every little thing is full of joy. The dewdrop in the morning, the breeze that gently blows replete with the scent of jasmines, the fragrance of the earth after the first rain, the snow-clad peak of a distant mountain, the laughter of a child, the song of the peasant. All of this, though previously unnoticed, begins to impart a superior joy.
Everything becomes a festival of joy and the root of this lies within oneself. It is when the inner being becomes happy, that the world becomes full of joy for us. We have all heard about Kabir Das—weaver, singer and saint—who lived in Benaras. In one of his evocative songs, he gives the example of the musk deer to illustrate humankind’s pursuit of happiness. Usually found in the Himalayal regions, the deer has the musk gland underneath its skin. In the breeding season, this musk gland exudes a substance with a lovely perfume to attract the female deer. Kabir says, the poor male deer goes around searching for the source of this perfume in the forest, poking its nose amongst thorns and not finding it. The deer with the bloodied nose doesn’t realise the perfume was coming from its own body all the while. So there we are!
This is the most perfect example for our search for happiness. We search all over the world, forgetting that happiness is resident within us and, only when it is found within us, that we derive the complete satisfaction.
There is a beautiful word in Sanskrit for completeness – ‘Poorna’. It means fulfillment, fullness, or completeness. The Upanishads say Poorna is the essential characteristic of one’s fundamental being, the ‘Atman’ – which is one’s own pure consciousness that is free of all distractions.
When this ‘Atman’ or the real Self is found, one reaches the state of perfect happiness. Along with this, one also realises that this state exists within every living being, although untapped. This center and core of our consciousness is not exclusive to anybody. Everyone possesses it; it is only that they do not know it yet. The process of finding it is called Sādhanā. If there is something, there must be a way to find it. It is futile to say that there is no way to something, because if there is no way, it doesn’t matter if it exists or it doesn’t exist. Makes no sense.
The Rishis of yore have thankfully, fortunately for us, discovered that there is a way to find this inner happiness and it can be taught and shared with other human beings.
– Sri M