Sunday, July 18, 2010


Yesterday's Times of India had a beautiful piece under 'The Speaking Tree' column, titled "Just Around the Corner", written by Jaya Row. She argues that, "You can choose to be happy in the worst of circumstances or be miserable with the best. Happiness is a state of mind. When the mind is tranquil, you are happy". This seems to be the final truth, I too believe. We all know this truth in our heart of hearts, but we get so engrossed in the illusions of the physical world (maaya) that we tend to disregard this fact.

Marketing folks have become so good that they can convince us that so and so cream  can make us 'fair and lovely' - our five senses are inundated, and our mind is led totally astray - the magic of skin color changing in seven days on the TV prompts the 'not so fair' ones and the 'not so lovely' ones (who decides that? - myself) to buy that cream in the hope that once they are fair and lovely, things would be, as the ad depicts. A few weeks later we have the 'New and Improved' fair and lovely cream - this one removes blackheads too and cleans every pore deep down. Marketing sells dreams and generates desires in each of us. In the good old days, I was happy listening to 15 minutes of 'hawa mahal' every night at 9:15 pm on a small transistor radio - I now find over 300 tv channels, in colour too, inadequate - to give me the same happiness - if only I could watch it on a 100" LCD life size TV while lying on my bed at just the right angle, in air conditioned comfort. By this logic, anybody who has this should be happy. Is that so?

Each one of us is waiting for something to happen, and feel that once that happens, then I will REALLY be happy - some waiting for a fat paycheck; some for a challenging work environment, and some for a less challenging work environment; some for getting the Green card and some for how they can get back to where they left off; some for that dream car; some for passing that most critical exam; some for the kids to settle, and later for the grand kids to settle, and the list goes on and on. As one item on the list gets ticked, another one crops up. This is something akin to what Maslow referred to as the 'hierarchy of needs' - once the lower needs are satisfied, they stop being motivators, and one moves onto the next level needs.

All the above 'something to happen' desires are the root causes of all this wait for 'being happy'. "I will be really happy, when ......... happens". Our desires are what make us postpone our happiness to a later time and place, and they are what makes our happiness conditional. It has been my experience that as soon as one desire is fulfilled, another one takes its place. My own experience tells me that I have been the happiest when I (my mind) did not exist; when I was so engrossed in my karma that I did not realise that I was doing it - it later felt like a dream and I could never believe that I was capable of doing it. It's happened to me during a trek in Kulu/ Manali, when I felt like a speck of dust, standing in front of the grandest of the grand Himalayas; its happened to me when flying low level over the sea, 300 kms from the coastline - one feels that some other power controls everything that is happening; its happened to me when I have been surrounded by hills and by the green cover or snow over them. In fact every time I have lived in the present moment, when I have been awestruck by something that made me forget my existence, I have been happy. I believe that my mind exists, but only in the past and the future - and this is where my desires exist.

Jaya Row has further stated that happiness is the number of desires fulfilled to the number of desires harboured. Putting this thought mathematically, as a percentage...........
                                                        Number of desires fulfilled    
Happiness ( in percentage)   =     ------------------------------------ X 100
                                                   Total number of desires harboured

However, number of desires fulfilled could be infinite and yet one can never be 100% happy, as long as we have some desires left unfulfilled. The only way to be as happy as can be is to reduce the denominator to  zero and then one would be infinitely happy.......or a true yogi?

None of us are yogis, or are ready to become one yet, and so what is best way forward. Firstly, "Do what you enjoy doing" and secondly "enjoy what you do", because doing can only be done in the present moment. Live in the present, and one can be happy.

Management teaches us to plan; results are important, etc., but management never promised us happiness.

Gita teaches us that we have control only on our karma, and not to the fruits thereof.

Is happiness illusive? Or are we looking for it with our minds - the eternal trickster, or guide, depending on how we use it.


up↑take said...

"My own experience tells me that I have been the happiest when I (my mind) did not exist; when I was so engrossed in my karma"

Golden words!! You are the first Indian blogger that writes like this. There is a lot of interest in this topic in the west, but sadly very little interest among educated Indians.

Every desire, big or small, is denial of the present and a denial of our selves. Desires are the fibres, mind is the fabric. The mind robs our life from us.

J P Joshi said...

Uptake: I really enjoyed the quote that you left behind with your comment. Thank you - these are actually words of great wisdom.