We all have desires that remain unfulfilled, throughout our lives. These desires are of two types. The first is a desire to do, to accomplish something. Whether or not you fulfill this desire, does not bother you. We do not refer to these desires as kama because they do not bind you. These are desires in whose fulfillment you find yourself happy and in whose non-fulfillment you do not become sad. Everyone has “a few desires like that.
Binding and Non-binding Desires
Suppose you desired to have an evening walk. It rained and you could not go for the walk. If it does not bother you then the desire is of a non-binding nature. You may have wanted to meet somebody. You could not meet that person and it does not bother you. Then that desire is a non-binding desire. All great masters too, have desires to fulfill. They undertake lots of activity, all of them are necessarily backed by desires. These are non-binding because they have mastered desires. Binding desire is when the fulfillment of a desire makes you elated and its non-fulfillment reduces you to a wanting person.
You all have had desires in your life which you felt should have been fulfilled. Without their fulfillment, you found your lives to be incomplete. All throughout life, from the time your memory is activated, you find you have always been a desiring person. Desires which are binding in nature are called kama. I gave the argument that in spite of these desires being there, you do find yourself happy occasionally. That there is a possibility of your being happy in spite of these desires, can prove a point. Perhaps to be happy, you do not require to fulfill all your desires. Although, mark the difference, you can happily fulfill all your desires. Therefore if fulfilling all your desires alone makes you a complete person, it is impossible for anybody to be happy without fulfilling all these desires.
Binding desires are also of two types. First is the desire to avoid, get rid of something and the second is the desire to get, experience something. Both positive and negative are included in this type of desire. You have those desires to stall events from happening or to avoid and get rid of things which irritate you. These desires are meant to keep sorrow away. The positive desires are those in whose fulfillment, you hope to be happier than you are right now.
In spite of these desires if one can be happy, perhaps you do not require anything to be happy. Let us analyze happiness a little closer. The wrong notion is that we become happy fulfilling a desire and unhappy when we do not. Sometimes you fulfill a desire and become happy. On the other hand, sometimes you fulfill a desire and find yourself unhappy because you did not know what was in store.
You cannot conclude that only by fulfilling a desire everyone becomes happy. For instance, you happen to hear somebody say something flattering about you like, ’You are wonderful and beautiful etc.’, then you become happy. You may find something amusing and you are happy. You take the newspaper, see a funny cartoon, start laughing and you are happy. No desire was fulfilled in order for you to be happy. Therefore, you do find yourself happy occasionally.
From where do you get these moments of happiness, which come in spite of unfulfilled desires? They either come from outside or from inside. That is exactly our contention. Some say that happiness is outside. They go after things for happiness and we call them materialistic.
And then there are the spiritualists who say happiness ‘ is to be discovered inside. If you think the outside world makes you happy, we need to see what all constitutes the outside world.
The Nature of Happiness
There is no given object in the world called happiness. Otherwise, you would all want to possess that object. There is neither such an object in the world, nor is happiness a perceivable attribute to an object, like a blue lily or a white lotus. You also do not see happiness sticking to an object. Suppose you see a happy man, how do you know he is happy? ‘Yes, he is happy Swamiji. He laughs all the time.’ He may be smiling, but behind that smile, that laughter, whatever joy is there may be as false as his teeth. Therefore, you do not know, you cannot judge. You cannot also say happiness is an attribute to an object, an adjective to its appearance. Happiness is neither an object nor an attribute of an object. What else is there in the world then?
Is a particular place happiness? Is a particular time happiness? Is a particular direction happiness? No, none of these are. Happiness is neither in the East nor in the West. One person is going from west to east for happiness, and the other fellow is going from east to west. Both of them are moving in opposite directions looking for happiness. You cannot really pinpoint any particular time or place in which you are happy.
Your external world is now finished with objects, attributes, time and place. There is no other source of happiness available externally. None of them can be looked upon as happiness.
If you say happiness is not outside, happiness is inside, what does it mean? Do you search inside the body, where there is a kidney full of stones, a bloated liver, a heart prone to attacks, a stomach meant for ulcers? Certainly, none of these is a source of happiness. You can say mind is the source of happiness. So that means when you are sad you will not have any mind. Actually, when you are sad, there is lot more mind than necessary. I told you, sadness. does not come by a single thought, you have to work for it. Therefore, you cannot say that the mind is a. source of happiness. In fact the mind is the problem.
‘Swamiji when the mind is happy, I am happy.’ In fact even when the mind is unhappy, you are still happy. You are the one looking at the mind and you are happy. At that time, the mind becomes a non-demanding, pleased mind. All your demands are met with for the time being. Either all your wishes are fulfilled for the time being or you have forgotten all those wishes and demands for the time being. Something overwhelmingly fascinating has captured your imagination. You are a complete, non-demanding person at this time. The world is there like music. The world does not rob you of your happiness. The senses do not deny you happiness, much. less does the mind. The mind is, the senses are, the world is, you are and yet you are happy.
The only thing absent at this time is your seeking. You cease to be a seeker. You want neither yourself nor the world to be different. That has nothing to do with the mind. It is not the intrinsic property of the mind. The mind is meant to think, nothing more than that. It is not meant to make you happy or anything. When the mind is pleased or you are pleased, the mind is very simple, appreciative and admiring. You find yourself a happy person. Understand that happiness is an experiential word, in which your own fullness, limitlessness is manifest.
The outside world is there. I am there. There is harmony between me and the world. I am not seeker with reference to the world, the seeker is gone. The world and myself have become one. There is only wholeness, fullness, oneness, limitlessness. It is what happens when you appreciate the stars, appreciate good music. On all these occasions, there is no hindrance between you and the object. Both become one undivided whole, without the dividing factor. The dividing factor is nothing but the thought, ‘I am the seeker, this is the sought,’ or ’I want this to be a little different.’ And the moment is gone.
You can appreciate a lot of things Without money. Money can provide a lot of things, but you are the one who is going to make use of them. Do Whatever you need to do to make your life comfortable. Then, to make your life happy, you have to discover you are fullness. In every moment of happiness, you are yourself. At that time, you forget all your demands. All your life is a struggle to forget yourself. The moment you remember yourself, you become unhappy. Music makes you forget, movies make you forget, a disco makes you forget, more than one drink makes you forget. This is the whole tragedy. There is no greater tragedy in life than not being able to be with yourself. You cannot accept yourself. You cannot stand yourself, for you are a desiring person, a wanting person.
You are the very content of happiness.
The Gita says the contrary, ’You are the Very content of happiness and not the desiring, wanting person.’
प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् |
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते || 2.55||
prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha mano-gatān
ātmany-evātmanā tuṣhṭaḥ sthita-prajñas tadochyate
prajahāti—discards; yadā—when; kāmān—selfish desires; sarvān—all; pārtha—Arjun, the son of Pritha; manaḥ-gatān—of the mind; ātmani—of the self; eva—only; ātmanā—by the purified mind; tuṣhṭaḥ—satisfied; sthita-prajñaḥ—one with steady intellect; tadā—at that time; uchyate—is said
Happiness is an experiential word, the truth of which is nothing but limitlessness, yourself. The one who knows this fact revels in himself, आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते, प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् O Partha, Arjuna, such a one gives up all desires as they arise in his mind. He not only gives up the desire to do but all desires to be happy afterwards also. He does that only by being happy with himself, आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट:. He is happy, being awake to the fact of his fullness. Such a person has no more axes to grind. He is free and his wisdom is true. Lord Krsna calls him a ’sthitaprajna’ स्थितप्रज्ञ because his prajna प्रज्ञा, knowledge is firm, clear, and without doubt.
Therefore, it is only a matter of clarity, of clear understanding of your being free from any limitations. All self-judgement is purely born from ignorance of oneself alone. Knowledge makes you recognize yourself as a completely free person. You are free enough to do anything, even start a new industry. You can do whatever you want. You are not doing anything to become happy afterwards. If you think you are doing something for happiness, you will be unhappy all the way. This clarity of vision about oneself is not experience. Understand this clearly. In an experience, you have a moment of happiness which is in actual fact, the experience of yourself. That experience has to be understood and assimilated in the form of, ‘Happiness is nothing but myself alone.’
This understanding is exactly what Vedanta is out to give.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Excerpts from: Vision of Gita in Ten Essential Verses