Friday, 26 May 2017

Gita on Happiness

Happiness is a feeling in our mind. The happiness we normally experience is happiness derived from objects, relationships and incidents and they are temporary.  The mind is composed of thoughts. The ever-present Athma, whose nature is pure happiness, Aananda, illumines the mind.  In the instant a desire is fulfilled the mind relaxes, and Athma’s reflection in the calm mind is experienced as happiness.  This is only a momentary pleasure lasting until the mind is calm and peaceful. For the next instant when another thought or desire arises, reflected Aananda of the Athma is replaced.  Rather than recognizing the Athma as the actual source of happiness, the source of happiness is projected out onto the changing world of objects, and we try to gain happiness from them, an activity the scriptures compare to trying to drink water from a mirage.

Duration of happiness and intensity of happiness may vary but they are not permanent and all these are classified as Vishayananda.  Pure happiness, Aananda, is not a property of the mind, nor is it an ingredient of any other object, but it is the Swarupa of Brahman, who enlivens all living beings as Athma and this pure happiness is called Athmananda to differentiate it from Vishayananda.  Acquiring Self-knowledge, one discovers that his Real self is Brahman and established in this knowledge, is in a state of perennial Bliss as a Jivan Muktha.  This happiness that comes from Self-knowledge, Lord Krishna classifies as Satvic happiness, contrasting it with other types of happiness that are classified into Rajasic and Tamasic happiness.  Satvic happiness is defined as ( Gita 18-37):
यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम्। (Yattadagre vishamiva parinaame’mritopamam)
तत्सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम्।। (Tatsukham satvikam proktam athmabuddhiprasaadajam)              
Satvic happiness is said to be that which is like poison in the beginning, and is like nectar in the end, and which is born out of the tranquillity of mind as a result of Athma Jnanam (Self-knowledge).

Acquiring Self-knowledge is an arduous process and the spiritual path for acquiring Self-knowledge involves various Sadhanas; i.e. purifying mind through KarmaYoga, attaining single-pointed concentration through Upasana Yoga, rendering the mind subtle through Sadhana Chathushtaya Sampathi and gaining Jnanam through Jnana Yoga.  As it involves lot of self-discipline to pursue the path one tends to avoid it like poison.  So Lord Krishna terms it is like poison in the beginning. But when one pursues and gains Athma Jnanam, the mind becomes calm and peaceful at all times and in this tranquil mind Athma’s reflection is ever present as permanent bliss and he enjoys this inner bliss like nectar, whatever be the external conditions and personal circumstances.  So Lord Krishna describes it as nectar in the end.  Describing such a happy person Lord Krishna says (5-21):
बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत्सुखम्। (Baahyasparsheshwasaktaatmaa vindatyaatmani yat sukham)
स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते।। (Sa brahma yoga yuktaatmaa sukham akshayam ashnute)
With his heart unattached to external objects, he gets the bliss that is in the Self. With his heart absorbed in meditation on Brahman, he acquires permanent Bliss.  

Athma Jnani is one with no attachment to the objects and happenings of the external world, and is internally absorbed with Brahman in all circumstances, adverse and favourable. So the internal bliss he enjoys is not affected by external circumstances or internal inconveniences.  The happiness that arises out of contact of senses with sense-objects in the external world is described as Rajasic happiness by Lord in verse (18-38):
विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगाद्यत्तदग्रेऽमृतोपमम्। (Vishayendriya samyogaad yattadagre’mritopamam)
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम्।। (Parinaame vishamiva tatsukham raajasam smritam)
Rajasic happiness is said to be that which is like nectar in the beginning, but is like the poison in the end, and which is born out of the contact between sense-objects and sense organs.

As contrasted with Satvic happiness that is derived from internal contact with Athma, Rajasic happiness arises from external contact with anathma.   Anathma being impermanent the happiness derived from this contact is also not permanent.  This happiness arises out of contact and contact involves senses and sense-objects.  The sense-objects are not under one’s control and that may cause pain.  Further the sense objects are liable to change causing one sorrow when they change. Again as the happiness arises from the activities of sense-organs, there is more and more sorrow and less and less happiness from these contacts as the sense organs decay with age. Also the joy arising from first contact diminishes with subsequent contacts with the same object, as in the case of second and third helpings of ice-cream.  Really this happiness also is not from the external object but only from one’s inner Self mistakenly attributed to the external object.  Vedanta texts give the example of a dog with the bone to illustrate this.  A dog chewing a hard bone hurts its jaw and the blood oozing from it, the dog mistakes as coming from the bone and chews still harder and hurts itself more.  In the same way the happiness we think as coming from external object is only the internal happiness that is felt in a mind that has become temporarily calm with satisfaction and this happiness lasts only as long as the calmness of the mind lasts. So though initially these contacts of sense-organs with sense objects give happiness like nectar, they turn painful like poison in the long run because they are temporary, diminish with age, not as satisfying with repetition and are not fully under one’s control.

Tamasic happiness is defined as (18-39):
यदग्रे चानुबन्धे च सुखं मोहनमात्मनः। (Yadagre chaanubandhe cha sukham mohanamaatmanah)
निद्रालस्यप्रमादोत्थं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम्।। (Nidraalasyapramaadottham tattaamasamudaahrita)
That happiness which in the beginning and in the end is self-deluding and born of sleep, laziness and indifference is called Tamasic happiness.
No doubt sleep gives one happiness but one cannot experience that happiness at that time, being asleep. One only remembers on waking up that he was happily asleep.  In laziness where there is a physical inertia to act and in indifference where there is inertia of intellect to focus attention, the supposed happiness is only a temporary happiness that arises from the postponement of pain or hardship, which may come to affect with a vengeance later.  So this happiness is a self-deluding one and it is the happiness of the dull-witted, weak-willed one.

If one cannot attain Satvic happiness, one can indulge in Rajasic happiness taking the sting out of it by cultivating detachment and equanimity, while discouraging Tamasic happiness and keeping Satvic happiness as the goal.

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