The idea of happiness is a kind of ignorance. If your understanding is healthy, then you will never give too much importance to happiness; we do so because of our ignorance. Happiness is not the idea, purpose or aim of life; happiness is a consequence, a fruit.
Happiness is a subject of the senses; it is felt by the senses, it is an idea of the senses; it is information got from the senses. The scope of the senses is limited and the senses are completely unaware of the greatness of life. So if you are thinking for happiness or working for happiness you are just following your senses, you are indulging them. You are just living with your senses.
Understand the game of the senses, and then go beyond them. Discover that portion of life, that part of life that can give us something permanent, the highest knowledge of life, the highest clarity in life.
Nobody enters the path with full clarity, so even if you are ignorant or you lack the aspiration, somehow you will get connected. For instance you have a certain understanding of life and what you want. On the basis of what you know, your highest goal is to find happiness. As you undergo experiences in the course of life, your understanding grows wider and deeper. As your understanding develops you begin to see that happiness is not everything, that there is something beyond, that happiness comes and goes. You begin to think that perhaps satisfaction and being content is more important, no matter the kind of circumstances you are faced with. You could be content if you wished to be so.
Earlier your level of understanding prompted you to say: “How can I be content when I don’t have this, or I don’t have that?” Now your level of understanding has changed, and with that understanding you don’t miss anything, you are fully content. So it is just that in the level of our understanding something happens; if the understanding is high then you will not give too much importance to happiness, or sadness. When you aspire for something higher you will give more importance to your clarity, to your higher understanding, you will live for that; you will not give importance to whether the path is long or not, you will not give importance to the path at all, you will give importance to the target, the target is higher, aspiration is higher.
When you climb a mountain with the aim of reaching the top you have clarity. You know that you have to reach the top. That clarity helps you. The path will be very difficult, and maybe you will not be happy on the way, but when you reach the top that will give you much more than happiness, it will give you contentment. If we are only looking for happiness then we will never be able to climb high, aim high, or aspire for anything that can help us to evolve further.
What we understand by happiness lies on the surface. When you live at a deeper level, you give importance to clarity of consciousness which gives you information on the purpose of your existence; it gives you purpose. Once this is clear, everything will come to you including contentment and balance.
(As told to Sudhamahi Regunathan)
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