--> Skip to main content

We Need To Overcome Happiness

It is not happiness that we need to achieve but bliss. This article from Prabuddha Bharata questions our notion of happiness.

Happiness Is The Wrong Goal

Though we are bombarded since our childhood with the idea that to be happy is the goal of human life, the human condition does not show signs of being at peace with happiness. Therefore we need to overcome happiness.

Since the period of cave dwellers, history has shown us that human beings have gone out of their way to seek disturbance. The cave dweller, for instance, could have merrily whiled away one’s time by just sustaining the body with the bountiful that the trees offered in the forest. No, that was simply not enough for the human being.

There Is Not Authentic Happiness

The growth of ideas in human civilization can be traced to the human pursuit of suffering. Ironically, almost all of the sources of global agony that we face today like climate change are the creations of the human intellect. So, while many motivational speakers and pop psychologists take pride in offering the soothing pill of ‘authentic happiness’ to one and all as the one stop solution to all human failings, there is nothing authentic in happiness.

Humans Are Taught To Pursue Wrong Happiness

The search for happiness of human beings is best summed up as the pursuit of something that constantly eludes us, much like the food dangling in front of the beast of burden so that the poor animal continues to carry its load with the never-ending hope that it will reach the delicacy.

The goal of human life appears to be more to pursue happiness than to actually attain it. The human condition truly gets it meaning only when the human being understands that happiness is something one can attain and work hard for. However, the moment a person attains a state of happiness where all pursuits of happiness come to an end, the very meaning of human life is lost.

Realization Of Supreme Truth Takes One To Beyond Happiness

This is the reason spiritual giants have emphasized that the knowledge of the ultimate Truth does not lead to ultimate happiness, but such a knowledge leads to everlasting bliss. The distinction between happiness and bliss is that happiness always presupposes the presence or absence of misery or suffering. On the other hand, bliss is a state that is not dependent on any other state of the mind, because such bliss is attained only after transcending the mind.

The goal of human life then is definitely not attaining happiness. Such a static state of happiness is in reality a miserable state for any human being. Imagine a person, who is provided everything she or he wants and has to do nothing at all to get anything. Such a person will not only have no idea of the value of the big and small things that life and Nature offers, there will be nothing for this person to do and she or he will soon turn into a vegetable.

The spiritual message of the seers of the past and present is not to attain a utopic, content, static, vegetable-like state of no endeavour, but to use the constant state of discontent and disgust of the human mind as a ladder to attain heights of spiritual realisation that are much beyond the ambit of the human being, or any living being, beyond the universe.

Source - Excerpts from the editorial of Prabuddha Bharata Magazine August 2019 issue.