Going Beyond Worldly Pleasures
Religious teachers always maintain that human happiness does not
depend upon the satisfaction of physical appetites and passions,
or upon the acquisition material wealth. This fact is also clear
from empirical human experience. Even if we have all the won pleasures,
we cannot still be happy and peaceful if our minds are constantly
obsessed with anxiety, hatred, arising from ignorance with regard
to the true nature'of existence.
Genuine happiness cannot be defined in terms of wealth, power,
children, fame or inventions. These are no doubt conducive to some
temporary physical comfort but not to happiness in the ultimate
sense. This is particularly so when possessions are unjustly obtained
or misappropriated. They become a source of pain, guilt and sorrow
rather than happiness to the possessors.
Fascinating sights, enchanting music, fragrant scents, delicious
tastes and enticing body contacts mislead and deceive us, only to
make us slaves of worldly pleasures. While no one will deny that
there is momentary happiness in the anticipation of as well as during
the gratification of the senses, such pleasures are fleeting. When
viewed in retrospection, a person can understand the fleeting and
unsatisfactory nature of such pleasures, paving the way to a better
understanding of this reality. If material possessions are the precondition
of happiness, then wealth and happiness would be synonymous. Is
this a fact? A poet disagrees with this belief thus:
Can wealth give happiness? Look round and see what gay distress!
What splendid misery! What fortune lavishly can pour, The mind annihilates,
and calls for more.
Wealth cannot quench the burning thirst of craving. We can never
be happy if we merely seek to satisfy our gross animal desires,
to satisfy our need for the pleasures of food and sex. If it were
so, then with the tremendous progress achieved in every field, the
world could well be on the road to complete happiness. But this
is obviously not the case. Worldly desires can never be entirely
satisfied because the moment we obtain something we want, we soon
become dissatisfied with it and crave for something else. When the
changes and decay occur in the many things we cling to, we experience
unhappiness. The enjoyment of sensual pleasure is not real happiness.
True happiness can only arise from the full freedom of the mind.
The source of happiness is not physical: it must be found in a mind
free from mental disturbances. Worldly treasures are impermanent
but transcendental treasures like confidence, morality, generosity,
honesty and wisdom are imperishable. Emotional attachment, hatred
and jealousy debase a person; but goodwill, sympathetic joy and
an unbiased attitude will make him noble, even divine in this life
Man can develop and maintain his inner peace only by turning his
thoughts inwards instead of outwards. Be aware of the dangers and
pitfalls of the destructive forces of greed, hatred and delusion.
Learn to cultivate and sustain the benevolent forces of kindness,
love and harmony. The battleground is within us, an" it is
within us that the greatest battle has to be fought and won. The
battle is not fought with weapons, but with mental awareness of
all the negative and positive forces within our minds. This awareness
is the key to unlock the door from which conflict and strife as
well as wholesome thoughts emerge.
The mind is the ultimate source of all happiness and misery. For
there to be happiness in the world, the mind of the individual must
first be at peace and happy. Individual happiness is conducive to
the happiness of the society, while the happiness of society means
happiness to the nation. It is on the happiness of nations that
the happiness of the world is built.
From the lessons of life, it is clear that real victory is never
gained by strife. Success is never achieved by conflict. Happiness
is never experienced through ill-feeling. Peace is never achieved
by accumulating more wealth or gaining worldly power. Peace is gained
by letting go of our selfishness and helping the world with acts
of love. Peace in the heart conquers all opposing forces. It also
helps us maintain a healthy mind and live a rich and fulfilling
life of happiness and contentment. <