Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Crapiness
We should be content with what we have. The pursuit of happiness will leave us unfulfilled.
This is a passage spoken by Vāmanadeva from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) Canto 8 Chapter 19 Text 24:
यदृच्छयोपपन्नेन सन्तुष्टो वर्तते सुखम् ।
नासन्तुष्टस्त्रिभिर्लोकैरजितात्मोपसादितै: ॥ २४ ॥
yadṛcchayopapannena santuṣṭo vartate sukham
nāsantuṣṭas tribhir lokair ajitātmopasāditaiḥ
“One should be satisfied with whatever he achieves by his previous destiny, for discontent can never bring happiness. A person who is not self-controlled will not be happy even with possessing the three worlds.”
So it seems that contentedness does not lie in the actual ‘thing’ we possess, but in our mental association to the ‘thing’. If we are forever looking for happiness outside our current condition, as promoted by the consumer culture that is no longer limited to the “developed” world, then happiness will evade us. Vāmanadeva recommends that we be grateful for whatever we’ve achieved by our destiny.
Previously in Canto 7 of the Bhāgavatam, the sagely child Prahlāda gives us this to contemplate:
सुखाय दु:खमोक्षाय सङ्कल्प इह कर्मिण: ।
सदाप्नोतीहया दु:खमनीहाया: सुखावृत: ॥ ४२ ॥
sukhāya duḥkha-mokṣāya saṅkalpa iha karmiṇaḥ
sadāpnotīhayā duḥkham anīhāyāḥ sukhāvṛtaḥ
In this material world, every materialist desires to achieve happiness and diminish his distress, and therefore he acts accordingly. Actually, however, one is happy as long as one does not endeavor for happiness; as soon as one begins his activities for happiness, his conditions of distress begin.
Again, happiness is depicted as something internal and dependent more upon our orientation than our obtainment. The things of this world are temporary, and the very body by which we want to enjoy such things is also temporary. Thus, Prahlāda recommends:
Of the different processes recommended for disentanglement from material life, the one personally explained and accepted by God should be considered perfect in all respects. That process is the performance of duties by which love for the Supreme Lord develops.
Such love is not dependent upon our external circumstance. It is irrevocable and carries with us forever. Even if we are temporarily forgetful of the happiness that comes from loving devotion, we can quickly be reminded by simply engaging in acts of devotion again. The thing is, devotional activity, such as hearing, speaking and remembering the Lord, are not enacted in a void. Such acts invoke the attention of God, which cannot be impeded by anything in existence. Confidence in such a relationship is, in itself, liberating.
It’s simple really. The only thing that complicates it is our minds that are habituated towards the empty pursuit of happiness outside of ourselves. The good thing about minds, though, is that they can be changed by intellectually choosing good association. If we’re sincere, we will be divinely guided towards the right path.
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These words were not generated with or augmented by artificial intelligence; just “flawsome” human thoughts here … with, of course, due homage to The Algorithm that abides over us all.
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