We all long for happiness and are deeply convinced that we have a right to be happy. But this conviction runs contrary to our lived reality. In real life, the media hype notwithstanding, the pleasure we seek eludes us. We frequently don’t get the things that promise pleasure. Even if we get them, their pleasure peters out just when it is supposed to peak. Worse still, millions of people live constantly with the opposite of happiness: suffering. Though they too are convinced that happiness is their right, their life is filled with poverty, disease, strife and a myriad other problems.
When we live in a world where happiness is at best elusive and suffering is pervasive, where does our conviction that we have a right to be happy come from? From our spiritual core. Happiness is a part of our composition as eternal-conscious-blissful souls. The soul is an eternal part of God, Krishna, and is rightfully meant to delight in eternal love with him.
Thus, our conviction about happiness is right, but what’s wrong is the direction in which we try to actualize that conviction. As our mind is materially attached, we seek happiness in worldly things. Thus, we become like animals seeking water in a mirage. Water is a genuine need and it does exist, but not in desert mirages. Similarly, happiness is our genuine need and it does indeed exist, but not in material things.
The Bhagavad-gita (06.20) indicates that by the steady practice of yoga, the mind’s default craving for mirage-like worldly pleasure ceases. Then our vision turns inwards, we see our true self with our spiritual cognitive capacity, and we delight in our eternal nature.
By thus directing our quest for happiness in the right direction – the spiritual direction – we can actualize our right to be happy.