We wish Happy New Year, but we rarely ever investigate into what is this happiness that we all seek? Is that happiness and its experience different for each individual? Is happiness to be discovered outside of our own self?
New year is a period of hope and aspiration. No matter at what point we are in our life, and no matter how hopeless our life situation has been, new year fill us with new hopes that perhaps life can turn out to be better this year. Even for those, for whom the past year has already been good, the new year beckons them to look forward to better and better things.
While hope is a good thing in itself, that what we are hoping for may not always be so. Not all that we hope for always makes us happy. Almost all of us, when we look back into our lives find something or the other that we now wish didn’t come into our lives — perhaps a wrong relationship, failed investment, getting entangled in some addiction, etc.
When we do reflect deeply we realize that what we really sought or that that we are all always seeking is happiness itself. We want a kind of happiness that is unchanging and lasting. We search for such a happiness, with the attitude that it lies somewhere, in something or in some person. We believe that if only we can get that, then alone shall we be complete.
This completion and fulfillment that I hope for, is in reality a seeking to make myself a happy person. All my hopes in improving my life situation and relationships with others are because I may be a happy self. What use is it to me to have a huge mansion or a wide circle of family and friends, if I am not happy?
Such questions has prompted so many Saints to renounce everything in search for that eternal happiness, such as Buddha, St. Francis, Ramana Maharshi and so on.
The other extreme cases come from those who are willing to give up their own lives, including teens and young adults, when they feel greater distance between themselves and this idealized state of happiness. We all experience this conflict between this underlying ideal of the happy self and the current incomplete self.
Upon deeper contemplation, we begin to see that this very gap between the current hopeless me to the future hopeful me, is the cause of all our conflicts. As long as we nurture such hope to fill the gap, we can never really be happy, no matter how many happy new years we get to celebrate. Nor can we hope to find lasting happiness no matter how many of our new year goals get realized.
According to the highest Indian non-dual teachings, the reason for my unhappiness is because I don’t realize that the fountain of happiness is my own Self. I love myself, more than anybody or anything, because I know with an innate conviction that I am the true source of all happiness! Modern psychology reiterates too that we cannot really love anyone or anything, unless we truly love and accept ourselves.
However, the difference in the Self that Indian Saints such as Sankara spoke about in positive linguistics and Buddha implied through ego-self negation, is much deeper than a mere psychological sense of myself. Nevertheless, the common notion is that I can’t stand myself being unhappy. Infact, the mere awareness of my own unhappy state of mind doubles my sorrow. Tormented by troubling thoughts people try to distract themselves by watching movies, indulging in intoxicants and drugs, etc. On the other hand, buoyed by positive thoughts, people are caring and compassionate to one another. Because doing so makes them happy with themselves.
In reality, the step to finding my true Self can happen this very moment. But for that we have to turn the attention of our seeking to what is already abiding in us, as our very own Self. I don’t have to look anywhere else but realize that I am the very source of what I am seeking without…not in some esoteric and mysterious way but in plain and clear apprehension. This is the happiness of Self-Realization! And, it is in the here and now.
May this new year be a truly happy one for you. May you discover the happiness that lies in the inquiry of “What am I?”