“What do we want?” If you ask this question, and analyze what we are all seeking, it will become very Clear that each one of us is seeking Isvara, the Lord.
Suppose someone asks, “What do you want?” The answer would be, ”Happiness.” If he asks, “How long do you want to be happy? One hour a day? Two hours a day?,” then I would say, “If I had my way, I want to be happy 24 hours a day.” If he qualifies it, “As long as you are in this place you can be happy, but if you go out you’ll be miserable,” I would answer, “No! That is also not acceptable. I want to be happy in all places. Even in my workplace I want to be happy, and at home also I want to be happy -wherever I am.” If he further qualifies it, “You will be happy only in the company of certain people,” I would say, “No! I want to be happy with everyone, even my boss.”
I want to be happy everywhere, under all conditions, at all times, and in all places. I do not want any kind of strings attached or conditions placed on my happiness. That I can be happy only at a given time, at a given place, or in a given condition is not acceptable. I do not want that. I have to settle for it; that is a different matter. I keep settling for it, helplessly. I cannot be happy with everybody, so I settle for a few people. I cannot be happy all the time, so I settle. That is a different thing, but that is helplessness. Everybody is a wounded person. So many desires arise in our minds, and many of these desires are unsatisfied, unfulfilled, so we have lots of frustrations. We are carrying a lot of these wounds. If we had our way, we would want happiness at all times, in all places, under all conditions.
Now suppose somebody asks me, “Swamiji, what kind of happiness would you like? Happiness with effort, that you work for, or happiness without effort?” Naturally, the choice is clear. I would like to have happiness without effort. If he says, “We’ll give you an injection that makes you unconscious and then you’ll be happy. Is that what you want?” I would have to answer, “No, no, I want conscious happiness.” I am told that I enjoy happiness in deep sleep, but that is not enough for me. Not only do I want to experience happiness; but I want to be aware that I am experiencing it.
We want happiness with knowledge, not in ignorance; and it must be अपरोक्ष aparoksa, immediate, not distant in any way. We also want happiness without effort. The only thing that can be experienced effortlessly is that which is already existent, meaning it is स्वयमेसिद्ध svayamésiddha, self-existent. We Want it all the time, which means it must be नित्यं nitya, eternal, not subject to time. We want it in all places, which means it must be पूर्ण purna, complete, all-pervasive. When we examine all these words that we use – nitya, siddha, aparoksa, purna – and add them all up, it becomes ईश्वर Isvara – God.
This is what we want. We want happiness that is nitya, eternal, so it never goes away. We want happiness without any effort, siddha. We want happiness that comes with awareness, aparoksa. We want happiness everywhere, puma. That is the Isvara of Vedanta.
Therefore nobody can really say, “I do not believe in Isvara.” If somebody says, “I do not believe in God,” then you should ask that person, “What do you want in your life? Happiness or unhappiness?” He will say he wants happiness. Then you ask all these questions and establish that what he is seeking is sukha, happiness, ananda, fullness, that is nitya, eternal, aparoksa, immediate, nitya-siddha, always existing. Ask that person, “Is that What you want? Is it clear to you?” He will answer, “Yes.” Then you tell him, “Well, that is Isvara; that is God.” Therefore, nobody can really say that they do not believe in God, because if you did not believe in that, how could you be searching for it all the time? What you are searching for, what you are constantly seeking to achieve, is nothing but that. That is God.
So if somebody says, “I do not believe in God,” the question is in which God do you not believe?” If you do not believe in God who is in heaven, that is okay, but you cannot say that you do not believe in God as Vedanta explains it. You may say that even this God is also very different from me, away from me. You could say, “I am searching for it, but I do not think it exists anywhere. I have not found it yet, therefore I do not believe it exists.” But the God that Vedanta teaches us is nitya, eternal, aparoksa, immediate, siddha, always existing, purna, fullness. That God is not elsewhere; it is my own self. Do you believe that you exist or not? Can you say, “I do not exist?” You cannot even ask the question or answer it if you do not exist. So nobody can deny the God that Vedanta teaches. Vedanta teaches about ‘what is’, it does not teach about some special God.
Thus the God that we are searching for is to be known rather than acquired. According to Vedanta, the very search for God is a denial of God. When we search for freedom and happiness, it is a denial of that.
As Ramana Maharshi says, the knowledge or realization of God is knowing God as one’s own self. That is the nature of the self, and if we knew the self as such, there would be no problem of sadness or sorrow in life at all. There would be total comfort with the self.
Swami Viditatmananda Sarawati