'Be' with Swami Venkatesananda

Quest of Happiness

In man’s heart, there is an unceasing, but paradoxically urgent urge for pleasure and happiness. In fact, this is the urge to immortality; and, it is this urge that has led him up the ladder of evolution to his present human birth. But, it is not correctly understood. When there is the cry of restlessness in the heart of man, he does not always discern the right cause.

No living being is satisfied with merely living. If we merely had to exist, life would be easy. There is this continuous quest for happiness. That is the meaning of life. That is the nature of our self.

Happiness is within your own self. You fail to get it, only because you are searching for it where it does not exist. The common and universal experience of deep sleep is proof that this happiness is within us. This sleep is the only period of the day when we are really happy, free from worry and anxiety. Moreover, in sleep we ‘rest within ourselves’, and get new energy.

What is it that prevents us from enjoying this happiness constantly? Because of ignorance, the little ‘I’ is unable to find its way consciously to this inner source; and therefore it endeavors to find that happiness in the external objects of the world, which it can see, grasp, and experience.

Man has scaled the highest peak, and delved deep into the bowels of the earth. But man does not know what is within himself. And within him is God, the fountain of joy and bliss, the goal of his quest.

It is through a deliberate turning away from the objects of pleasure in this world, and by the practice of meditation, that the seeker after truth enters the inner realm, consciously, and with full awareness. But this ‘turning away’ should not be construed to mean ‘running away’. It is like averting our gaze from a glaring object; it hurts the eye, until we put on sunglasses, when we can enjoy that very sight which previously hurt us. We turn our gaze away from the objects of the world for a little while, until we are able to adjust our inner vision, and look at the world through the eyes of god. Then the world is no longer a painful process of birth and death. Then the world is a charming field of divine activity. The very same world, seen through God’s eyes, appears as it is – the body of God, which is good.

In the synthesis of activity and idealism, of dynamism and divinity, lies the secret of yoga. Yoga is contemplative dynamism. It implies neither running away, nor even turning permanently away from the world, but looking through it, and perceiving god who is the reality underlying the world.