--> Skip to main content

Religion Must Be Realized To Make Us Happy

If we could think of God always, our lives would be really blessed, for we cannot think of God, the eternal Spirit, and feel miserable. If we realize what God is, if we know for a certainty that He is the Soul of our souls, our real Existence, that we are really He and hence Immortal, we can never be unhappy. Religion makes us the happiest of beings. But religion must be realized to make us happy. It must become part of us, not simply a pleasant thought or a beautiful idea. When we live religion, we are happy. To live religion means to live the Truth, to feel and to express that Truth in our lives. But first, we must know the Truth. Otherwise, how can we live it?

We are now deluded by ignorance. Truth is hidden from us. As scum and moss rise from the water and, resting on its surface, cover and hide the water from our view, even so the Atman, our real Self, is covered by ignorance. We must remove the moss if we want to see the pure water and remove the suffering of thirst. So avidya, or ignorance, must be removed. Then the Atman manifests, pure eternal, blissful. Ignorance takes the form of desire.

Shankaracharya compares sense objects to sharks and advocates their killing with the sword of mature dispassion to cross the ocean of samsara (transmigration) without any obstacles. Through discrimination and renunciation we must try to get rid of false desires. We cannot live without desiring something. Therefore, says Vedanta, desire the Highest, desire to know and love God. Then other desires will not trouble you.

It is said that the odour of sandalwood removes all bad odours. So also, the desire of the Real drives away all other desires. Because we have been desiring the non-self, the apparent, the world, the desire for the real Self, which is God the Spirit, is kept back from us. But when we long for God constantly worldly desires leave us of their own accord. The mind is the cause of our bondage; it is again the mind that makes us free. The mind creates desires, which bind us through attachment. It is the same mind that destroys the bondage by creating non-attachment. The mind must, therefore, be trained. It must be made our useful instrument so that it may help us reach our goal, which is liberation.

How shall we train the mind? Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘Let your mind always think of Me.’ Then Arjuna asked, ‘How can my mind always think of You? I live in the world; I am busy with many things; I live a sense-life. How then can I think of You? I want to do that but don’t know how. Please instruct me.’ Then Sri Krishna said, ‘Yes, you can do it. I will show you how. First of all, remember that I am the Self in all beings. He who realizes that need practise no more. He will always see Me. But if you cannot realize that vision, then try to see Me in the different objects with which you come in contact. Think that of all things I am the best of its kind. If you practise that a little, then it will gradually become a habit with you. You will then always try to see Me and think of Me. It will become natural with you. It will require very little effort once the habit has been cultivated.