Are we ‘really’ happy?


Second in the series, author Geetha Balsara says happiness is an inner phenomenon, and it is futile to seek it externally

Happiness or a state of bliss is something every living being is constantly seeking. Swami Chinmayananda has expounded the essence of this eternal truth by saying that man is propelled into action for 2 reasons:

  1. To get happiness
  2. To protect oneself from sorrow

Thus concluding that every thought, every action is employed in seeking happiness alone.

Now let us ask ourselves, ‘what kind of happiness am I seeking – Permanent or Temporary?’

In all our waking hours we wish to be happy all the time. Not even for a moment do we want to be sorrowful. We want the source of our joy – be it people or things, beside us all the time.

This alone concludes that we are seeking happiness of a permanent nature. But then, where are we seeking it? In the external world of objects and relationships, which are by themselves temporary in nature. What do we get then? Temporary happiness? Come, let us reflect.

Imagine a platter of different pastries in front of you. If you like pastries, pop in the first one and you experience tremendous joy. Pick the next and have it. The joy is there but slightly diminished. By the time you reach for the 10th pastry, you feel nauseated. In fact, you might even develop a hatred for pastries. So what happened? 3 observations come out of this experiment:

  1. The pastry does not give happiness to everyone.
  2. It cannot guarantee happiness each time it is had or any place it is had in… for example, how many people would enjoy a pastry early in the morning, or outside an intensive care unit while a dear one lies within?
  3. The same pastry when consumed again and again does not give the same amount of happiness.

To understand this, let us take the scenario of fire and compare them.

  1. Anyone who comes in contact with fire has the same experience of heat.
  2. Each time or any place one touches fire, one will experience heat alone.
  3. Continue touching the fire, and every time the experience of heat stays unchanged.

Why does this happen?
Because heat is the inherent property or nature of fire, while ‘happiness’ is not the inherent property or nature of the pastry, but sweetness is! So, the 10th pastry will still give you sweetness but not ‘happiness’!

Here, the pastry represents the entire world of objects and relationships, which are inert and inanimate. They are not capable of giving us happiness or sorrow. Despite this, when we still come in contact with the objects of our desire, we experience ‘happiness’. Thus we can safely conclude that happiness is an inner phenomenon… And it is futile to seek it externally.

In fact, a deeper reflection will help us realise that ultimately ‘happiness doesn’t lie within us, but we are happiness itself’ – Sat Chit Ananda.

Geetha Balsara

(Geetha Balsara is a spiritual seeker with a keen interest in Indian Culture and Performing Arts. Currently she is also the Festival Ambassador at the SAJDA FESTIVAL UK. She can be reached at | )

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