Will you please tell us something about happiness?


There are many kinds of people in the world — good and evil, restless and meditative, ignorant and wise, happy and sad. Tell the evil person to be good, and the restless person to be meditative, and they will make you feel that they do not want to follow your instructions, or that they cannot do so. This is due to previous habits, not to the desire of the heart.

Although happiness depends to some extent upon external conditions, it depends chiefly upon attitudes of the mind. You love the outward pleasures of the senses because you were held up by them first, and then remained their prisoner. Even as some persons get used to jails, so we mortals like outer pleasures, even though they shut off the joys from within

For the most part, the senses promise only temporary happiness, but give long, lasting sorrow in the end, whereas inner virtue and happiness do not promise much in the beginning, but in the end give lasting satisfaction. That is why I call the soul’s lasting inner happiness “joy” and the impermanent thrills of senses, “pleasure.” It is better to be unhappy about your ignorance than to die happily with it. Wherever you are, remain awake and, with your thoughts, perception, and intuition, be ever ready, like a good photographer, to take pictures of exemplary conduct and to ignore bad behavior.

Persons of strong character are usually the happiest. They do not blame others for troubles that can usually be traced to their own actions and lack of understanding. They know that no one has any power to add to their happiness or to detract from it unless they themselves are so weak as to allow the adverse thoughts and wicked actions of others to affect them.

Without inner happiness, one may find oneself a prisoner of worries in a rich castle. True happiness is not dependent upon success and wealth, but upon struggling against the failures and challenges of life with an attitude of unshakable inner happiness. To be unhappy as you try to find happiness, defeats your own purpose in the end. Happiness comes by being inwardly happy while struggling your utmost to uproot the causes of unhappiness.

Pure love, sacred joy, poetic imagination, kindness, wisdom, peace, or bliss are first felt inwardly in the mind or the heart, and are then transmitted through the nervous system to the physical body and then outward. Do not camouflage your soul with the veil of sermons and solemn words. Once you feel the superior joys of inner life, you will prefer them to the fleeting pleasures of the outer world.

From Inner Culture, December 1938.