Ananda-happiness

Bodhinatha discourses on the third of five beliefs and five practices; the third belief being ananda-happiness. Many associate happiness with desire. Bodhinatha presents bhashya on Gurudeva's outlook on desire: "Desire is life and the reason we desire things is because we are alive. Desire is energy expressing itself." He proposes that we focus on transmuting our energy to a more refined level. Bodhinatha offers practical ways to accomplish the upliftment of desire through the seven higher chakras and the monistic-theistic ways to achieve true happiness.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone. We're preparing for our next trip. Lots of trips this year and next one is at the end of May to Montreal, Canada for kumbhabhishekam. Originally was scheduled for last year but one small detail, the murtis didn't arrive before the scheduled kumbhabhishekam. That's our obstacle, so couldn't have it on time and then so they rescheduled. So it's on Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Memorial Day. So they've given us a slot for two short talks and then there's a seminar for youth, so this comes from the seminar. We have a forty-five-minute presentation as part of the seminar along with a few other people will be presenting then there will be questions and answers. So trying to say a lot in forty-five minutes. So I chose five beliefs and five practices to present, so this is this the third belief, ananda.

The non-mystical approach to happiness is that if you attain what you desire you are happy and if you don't you are unhappy. Win the lottery, get a great job and you are happy. Miss the lottery, lose your job and you are miserable. The dictionary tells us that: "Happiness is the emotion evoked by success or by the prospect of possessing what one desires." Even the prospect of, makes us happy.

The reflective person knows that this kind of happiness is fleeting. When we finally possess what we have been desiring, somehow the happiness soon fades and before we know it we are back to our dissatisfied self again, desiring something new to give us that elusive happiness. The cycle of desire, fulfillment, pleasure, loss, pain, suffering, that is the cycle of seeking happiness in outer things, be they possessions or people. What is the solution? Some say give up desire. Desire is what is causing the whole problem. It drives us to get what we want and when the happiness of that getting eventually wears off, we start all over again with a new desire. So if you can get rid of desire you solve the whole problem, right?

Our Gurudeva looked at it differently. He said: "Desire is life and the reason we desire things is because we are alive. Desire is energy expressing itself." Thus the only way you can get rid of desire would be to get rid of life. Even if the physical body has passed on, even if we don't have a physical body, we are still alive. Still active, creative and motivated by what? Desire! So trying to get rid of desire is not really a solution to the cycle of desire and fulfillment, because we cannot get rid of life. Instead, Gurudeva suggests we focus on uplifting our consciousness and changing what we desire. That is how we solve the problem, by channeling or transmuting our energy. Desiring things that are more refined. Instead of desiring just to make ourselves happy, we desire to make our entire family and all our friends happy too. That is a higher desire.

Going to school is a way of channeling energy. As a child, first we memorize, bringing the energies up out of the chakras below the muladhara, into the muladhara chakra. Chakras for those not familiar with the term are force centers. Our centers of force and consciousness located within the inner bodies of man. In the physical body there are corresponding nerve plexuses, ganglia and glands. There are seven principal chakras, and the muladhara is located at the base of the spine. Then in the svadhishthana chakra, located below the navel, we reason; we learn how to think. Then we learn how to push things through and accomplish them through the force of will in the manipura chakra, located at the solar plexus. We are pulling the energy up into memory, reason, and willpower in the normal process of schooling. Schooling is important, for it trains us to lift our consciousness, refine our character and harness the baser desires and emotion such as fear, anger, jealousy, hatred and envy.

Cultural practices such as traditional Hindu religious singing, dancing, and playing a musical instrument are also effective ways of refining desire. They help raise the energies even farther than does basic study in school. In doing so, we raise our consciousness and learn to avoid the grosser states of mind—doubt, depression and discouragement—and circumvent the base problem of desires leading ultimately to sorrow. This brings our consciousness into the anahata chakra located near the heart. The goal is to train the enduring or spiritual happiness that is inside of us. Happiness is already a part of our inner self. But we need to learn how to experience the part of us that is always happy. This spiritual happiness is called ananda, bliss, and is the pure joy that exists in our soul. Once we have refined our desires through academic studies and cultural practices, we are religious enough to take the next step toward experiencing enduring happiness. Our religion gives us inner ways and outer ways to accomplish this. The monistic or meditative way is to turn within in meditation, go deep into the lotus of the heart and experience our inner self, our inner life, our spiritual energy. That makes us truly happy. That's a wonderful way. There is a statement from Satguru Yogaswami that shows the deepest possibilities of the meditative approach. In Tamil it reads: "Anandam, anandam, anandam, ingum angum engum nan." It translates: Bliss, bliss, bliss, here there everywhere am I.

There is also the theistic way. We go within the temple and open ourselves to the blessings of the Deities. We arrive in an unhappy state and receive divine blessings; we go away uplifted and happy. Why? Because we have connected with our inner self, our soul nature, through external worship. We have connected with the same blissful state that can be achieved through meditation. Our guru also gave us another way: "If you want to attain happiness, make others happy." That is an insightful statement.

Quite often we are unhappy because we are self-centered. We are in a selfish state of mind; concerned only about our own life, our problems, our challenges. Life is not treating us fairly within, so we are miserable. What's the antidote? Do something for other people. Try to make them happy. Gurudeva made an insightful statement about selfless service: "Go out into the world this week and let your light shine through your kind thoughts, but let each thought manifest itself in a physical deed of doing something for someone else. Lift their burdens just a little bit, and unknowingly, perhaps, you may lift something that is a burden in your mind. You erase and wipe clean the mirror of your own mind through helping another. Through service and kindness you can unwind the subconscious mind and gain a clear understanding of all laws of life. Your soul will shine forth. You will be that peace. You will radiate that inner happiness and be truly secure simply by practicing being kind in thought, word and deed."

Being surrounded by family and friends is important. It is a natural and positive state to live in. It helps us live a life, it helps us live a fulfilling dharmic life. The problem comes if we rely on family and friends to make us happy. This is a false concept. We want our happiness to come from within ourselves. Then we can share the happiness with our family and friends. Similarly, we should never fall into thinking, I am unhappy by myself; if I get married, if I have children, or if I have lots of friends, I will somehow be happy. It does not work that way. Any temporary happiness soon wears away in the old cycle of fulfillment of desire. We get married, we are an unhappy person, we may be happy for a while. But eventually, we will fall back into the state of unhappiness, because that is our mental habit. The mode of our mind, the mode our mind operates in. That habit does not go away just because we associate with new people. The state of unhappiness only goes away permanently by our remolding our consciousness and the way we look at life. By refining our character to the point where we naturally live in a state of fulfilled contentment, all of the time. And when the Hindu belief that happiness comes from giving and not from getting is second nature to us. Nice message?

So it's certainly a key Hindu belief and it's one of the answers to the question: What is the relevance of Hinduism to modern life? You know it's an interesting question and probably I've mentioned this before but it's usually asked by a older teenager, who's kind of doubting that there is any relevance of Hinduism to modern life. But you know if the teenager was a little wiser then he would see that you know, happiness is not guaranteed in life and just because we get what we want and everything works out well, doesn't make you happy. Otherwise there'd be no divorce in the world, right. We'd all be happy. There'd be no unhappy rich people in the world. Everybody who's rich would be happy but you know, this is not the case clearly, happiness is elusive. And because we get married to a good person, or just because we acquire a lot of wealth, doesn't make us a happy person.

So, certainly everyone wants to be happy and Hinduism provides us the tools whereby we can increase our happiness. Of course, we have to apply them to our life. Someone else can't apply them for us, but Hinduism gives us both the philosophical concept that happiness is our inner nature, as well as the tools as mentioned here, gives us three tools: meditation, temple worship and helping others. Thereby, we can actually increase the amount of happiness we experience in life. And in that way obviously, Hinduism is relevant to all Hindu sides because it makes them happier, everyone must be happier. So that's kind of a very simple answer to that question.

Have a wonderful phase. Thank you for all coming this morning.

[End of transcript]