The desire for happiness motivates all creatures to act. Whether it is a tiny little ant or a human, every child of God is constantly busy looking for joy, peace and happiness. While laughing, eating, sleeping, walking, playing, getting an education or working, we are in fact, like rivers flowing incessantly towards the oceans, striving to be happy. The scriptures reveal that, being fractions of God, who is otherwise known as Bliss or Perfect Happiness, we cannot help but desire to be happy. This desire comes to us as naturally as breathing.
Since happiness is synonymous with God, it has the same nature as God. It is limitless and eternal. If it is limited, if it fades with the passage of time, if it is overshadowed by sorrow, it is not happiness. Being naive, we think a person, a place or an object to be the source of happiness. Many believe that if they live in a certain house, in a certain neighborhood or in a certain country, happiness will come to them. A man gets married and fully believes his wife will make him happy. A couple feels that a child will bring them joy and satisfaction. A poor man sincerely believes that money will make him happy. A millionaire is unhappy because he is not a billionaire, and the billionaire is working feverishly to become the richest man in the world. And the richest man in the world is tense, because he wants to maintain his number-one position. But my beloved Guru, Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj, explains that happiness which is attained through people, places, money and things decreases and keeps on decreasing until it comes to an end altogether. Godly bliss, on the other hand, keeps increasing with every moment that passes.
To attain true happiness, we must first understand who we are. We are a combination of the mortal body and the immortal soul. For the sake of the body, God has provided us with the world, and He has pervaded each particle of His creation for the benefit of the soul. The body is material, whereas the soul is divine. Both need their respective nourishment. The body, comprised of five material elements--ether, air, fire, water and earth--needs the world in the form of clothing, air, sunshine, shelter, food, water, etc. The soul, a divine fraction of God, needs to be fed also. The food for the soul is the Supreme Soul, variously known as God, Paramatma, Ishvar and Bhagavan. Just as ignoring the needs of the body leads to ill health and disease, in the same way, depriving the soul of its nourishment results in unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
According to the scriptures, we must do two things in order to be happy: limit our material desires and form a loving relationship with God. Let us take up the first point. Television ads would have us believe that all we need to get rid of stress is to go on a shopping spree or take a holiday on some exotic island in the Caribbean. Lottery ads do their best to convince us that all our problems will end once we are millionaires. Huge billboards suggest that we cannot be happy without wearing designer jeans and the latest fragrance. We never seem to have "enough" material goods. A teenager has a closet full of clothes, but says she has nothing to wear. A man drives a good vehicle, but has his eye on a fancy sports car. A woman lives in a perfectly good house, but feels it is not big enough. All right! The teenager gets a new outfit, the man is now driving a sports car, and the woman buys a bigger house. Are these people satisfied now? Are they happy? Yes, but only for a while. The outfit loses its charm in a few days, the car gives the man problems, and the woman is still not satisfied. Please think! Is this not your experience also? It is our gross misconception that material objects can give us lasting happiness.
A little child once asked me, "Didi Ji, why do I get tired of my toys after a while? When I get a new toy, I play with it all day, but a few days later, I don't have fun playing with it any more." We must ask ourselves the same question. The world we live in is full of five kinds of toys: toys that look good, toys that sound good, toys that smell good, toys that are nice to touch and toys that taste good. We have seen, heard, tasted, smelled and touched so much, but we remain dissatisfied. What should we do now? Do what a little child does. Put the toys away and cry for the mother.
This is the second point. In other words, form a loving relationship with God, who is the source of unlimited happiness. To love God, you do not need to learn Sanskrit. All you have to do is to spend some time alone with your Creator every day to communicate with Him. Talk to Him as you would to a friend. Once, an illiterate man was speaking to God, "My Lord! You have so much work to do. Taking care of the entire world must exhaust you by the end of the day. Come and put your feet up. I will give you a relaxing massage. You must be hungry, my friend. Let me get some fruits for you to eat. Allow me to pluck the thorns out of your sandals." God was pleased with the innocent words of the devotee. He will be pleased with your prayer that comes from the heart.
Happiness lives within us, and we live within happiness. To get in touch with happiness, we must strive towards leading a balanced life. Scriptures recommend six hours of sleep every night, which leaves us with 18 hours. How many hours are you devoting to the material body and how many to the soul? Discipline yourself. Budget your time. Devote time to God every day. Live a balanced life, and you will find the happiness you have been seeking.
SUSHRI SIDDHESHVARI DEVI, 39, affectionately called Didi Ji, is a disciple of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. She is founder of Divine Love Mission. She has preached devotion of Shri Radha-Krishna since 1987 and travels all over North America instructing aspiring devotees. Find out more. Visit www.divinelovemission.org