This may seem a strange statement to make. Surely according to the laws of the world it is only by desiring strongly enough that we get what we want. We must ask a question here. What is it that the ordinary human being wants in life ? Diverse things, you may say, according to a man’s temperament. He may be ambitious and desire power and wealth or maybe he just wants a quiet life with a home and family, good health and enough money to live moderately well.
But there is something which every man wants no matter from what walk of life he comes, whether he be ambitious or no— there is a common denominator for all—the desire for happiness. It cannot be denied. Rich and poor, saint and sinner, have’ the same fundamental desire for happiness, serene and unadulterated. Consciously or unconsciously our life is a search for this most elusive quality. We look for it in our relationship with friends, in the acquisition of objects, in the pursuit of wealth and power.
We grasp at every shadow in the hope that it will grant our heart’s desire. But why is it that this happiness which we most fervently desire eludes us most of the time and when perhaps we do have a taste of nectar it does not last but is followed by disappointment, disillusion and sorrow ?
How many times in our lives have we allowed our minds to dwell on an object of desire, something we are sure will make us happy, a better position in life, more money, a holiday abroad, then by some twist of fate either our hopes are shattered by the object being snatched from our grasp or when we possess the thing we desire we are not satisfied and want something different ? “ That is fife ”, you may say, “ there is nothing that can be done about it.” Well it is life, it is true, but something can be done about it.
Firstly, we must accept the fact that desires are never satisfied. The more they are indulged in the more greedy and grasping they become. The satisfaction of one desire gives birth to hundreds of others, and so it goes on ad infinitum.
Man’s real source of happiness comes from within. It is the continual chasing after happiness in external objects that drives them away, like chasing after one’s shadow. The shadow can never be caught no matter what energy is expended in the chase. But if we disregard the shadow, turn our back on it and face the sun, the shadow, we find, will follow.
Dr. Shastri used to give an illustration on this point. The musk deer at a certain time of the year goes mad with desire for the scent. It chases over hill and dale and runs and runs until it falls exhausted, yet the musk which it strives for is secreted from a gland within its own body.
We are deluded like the deer. We search for happiness where it is not to be found. Adhyatma Yoga teaches that the Self of man is bliss. If instead of chasing after happiness externally we direct our efforts within to the realisation of our true nature, the bliss we seek will be ours.
The clouds of thickly gathering desires in the mind are the causes of sorrow. They agitate the mind and prevent the bliss of our nature being known. It is the absence of desire which brings bliss. When on having a desire fulfilled we experience extreme satisfaction it is because in that short moment the mind is undisturbed by any desire and a drop of the bliss of our true nature is experienced, but immediately other desires crowd in that bliss is lost.
It is the aim of the Yogi to reach that supreme state where the mind is perfectly still and one-pointed and to become absorbed in the ocean of infinity, the sea of unceasing bliss.