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Happiness cannot be the purpose of life
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Questioner (Q): Sir, my question is, what should be ones the purpose of life? Is it earning money, or happiness?

Acharya Prashant (AP): The lady is asking, ‘What is the ultimate purpose of life?’ She has already presented us two options: Earning money, and second happiness. But you already know. You have already discounted everything else and zeroed on to two options. What are they? That the purpose could be either to earn money, or it could be to be happy.

Alright. So, let’s first look at these two. What does one earn money for?

Q: For livelihood.

AP: And, why does one want a livelihood?

Q: For comfort.

AP: What does comfort give you?

Q: Satisfaction and happiness.

AP: So, it is very obvious that if one has to choose between money and happiness, one would quickly choose happiness because the very purpose of money is happiness. Right?

See, you have a 500 rupee note with you, that is what you call as ‘money’. If that 500 rupees note can buy you nothing or if it can only buy those things which will not give you happiness, will there be any worth of that 500 rupees note? If that 500 rupees note can only buy you stuff which will not give you happiness, will there be any value of that note?

So, money has a value only if it can give you happiness. So, between money and happiness, one obviously decides for happiness. That is the easy part, that is the obvious part. But what is this animal called ‘happiness’? we are saying the purpose of life happiness but what is this ‘happiness’?

If we do an experiment, a small experiment right now, that so many of you are sitting here, and if I ask you to write down, what makes you happy, write down five points? And then I ask you to exchange your sheets with your neighbour, what would you find?

Q: That we have written different points.

AP: Right. You would have written vastly different points. In fact, some of the points would be contrasting, would be opposites of each other. Now, how does one decide, what makes him happy? How does the mind decide, what makes it happy? How do you come to say that this is what gives me happiness?

Alright. There is a particular tournament going on and Indian cricket team would be meeting the South African cricket team, right? Dale Steyn sends down a beautiful yorker and the Indian batsman is bowled out. Who would be happy?

Q: South Africans.

AP: There are South African supporters and there are Indian supporters. Who would be happy? The South African side would be happy and the other side would not be happy. The next batsman, who comes in, he sends the next ball into the stands, straight six, eighty meters. Who would be happy?

Q: Indian side.

AP: How would you come to see what makes you happy? How do you decide your happiness? Why is one side happy? When the Indian batsman got out, why did the South African side get happy?

Q: The condition got applied.

AP: What is that condition? Why does the South African side become happy when the South African bowler gets a wicket?

Alright we rewind, we go back in to the past. Now these are two-year old South African kids, and on these other side are two-year old Indian kids. The same event is happening, the South African bowler has bowled out an Indian batsman and these two-three years old South African kids are watching this incident. Would they still be happy at this?

Q: No.

AP: Now, they are eight years old and you are also eight years old, the same event happens. Would they still be happy?

Q: Probably, Yes.

AP: What changed between three years and eight years? If the same thing had changed between the this, and this, how are their happiness’s different. What has happened between three and eight years of age?

Q: The kids have developed an Ego.

AP: And, what has he been told? Because ego comes from outside. Right? What has he been told? What has this side been told? ‘You are a South African, and hence when your team wins, you should be happy.’ What has this side been told? When your batsman hits a six you should be…

Q: Happy.

AP: All this is trained happiness. Can we even call this their happiness? But the fellow will say, ‘I am feeling happy.’ When the very thought of when to feel happy has been drilled inside you by somebody else, can you even claim that this is ‘my’ happiness? Are you getting it?

Do we even have the right to say, ‘I am feeling happy’ when my happiness is a totally conditioned and trained happiness? I have been trained to feel happy in certain situations and the other side has been trained to feel happy in just the opposite situations. So, there is no truth in this happiness. You feel happy when ‘X’ happens, and the other feels happy when ‘Y’ happens, because you have been trained to feel happy when ‘X’ happens and he has been trained to feel happy when…

Q: ‘Y’ happens.

AP: Now, suppose one kid from this side accidentally came over to the other, when he was three years old. He would also feel happy when ‘X’ happens. Right? There is nothing intrinsic in this happiness, nothing innate. It’s just that you are born in a particular land, you are surrounded by a particular type of people who have constantly told you that this is what is meant by happiness. When this happens, start laughing. This is happiness. ‘When the Indian batsman hits for a six, start laughing’, this is happiness.

All this is conditioning, not really happiness. We do not know what is it to be happy. Look at it, you go to school, and as a kid when you go to school, it is just another place where you meet few other kids, and there is a building, something is are there, and toys are there, and teacher is saying something. And then as you become six-eight years old, you are told that if you come first in the class then it is a matter of great celebration.

‘You will get a new dress; you will get a cake, and we all will laugh’. So, what is the message that goes to the kid’s mind? What is happiness?

Q: Coming first in the class.

AP: So, He learns that coming first in the class is called happiness. He picks up a journal, a magazine, and on the cover page of the magazine is a photo of a board-exam topper and he is smiling, and everybody is congratulating him. Now the child himself has not even written the board exams, but he looks at all those faces and comes to the conclusion that this must be called…

Q: Happiness.

AP: ’O! everybody is laughing when somebody tops the board-exam, so surely, this must be happiness.’

You are being trained into believing that this is what is happiness. Then you go and watch a movie in which there is a man who is living in a huge mansion, and riding a mammoth car, eight-wheels, and I don’t know how many—eighteen wheels, and it is being displayed with great fanfare. What is the conclusion that your mind draws? That this must be happiness.

‘O! so happiness means having a great palace, lots of money and this big car.’

Then after that you move in life and what do you see? Somebody got married and after a couple of years of marriage, they post a photograph on Facebook, in which they are holding a baby in their hands and the woman is smiling from ear-to-ear. Now you do not know anything about having a baby, you have not had a baby yet, but you look at the face of the woman, and that huge smile, and what do you infer? ‘This must be called as happiness. This surely is happiness. Otherwise, why she is grinning so much?’

Now, you go and ask that woman, “Why are you grinning so much?” She will say, “You know, because everyone told me that this is happiness, having a baby is happiness.” And if you ask her, “Who told you?” She will say, “Those three people told me that this is happiness.” You go to those three people and ask, “Why did you tell her that this happiness?” They will say, “Oh, everyone told me that this is called happiness.”

Is it really happiness? And if it is really happiness, then why does it fade away so soon? Why does it always have sadness lurking around? In fact, why does it require sadness for its presence, if it is really happiness?

Have you noticed this, that you cannot be happy unless you are sad? The deeper is your sadness, the greater is the possibility of happiness.

Results are about to be declared, there are two subjects. One, in which you are apprehensive that you might fail, and the other, in which you are confident that you will pass. You go there and you find that you have passed in both the subjects. What makes you more happy? Passing the one in which you are already confident, or passing the one in which you were afraid that you might fail? What makes you more happy?

Q: Sir, passing in the one in which I had a doubt whether I will pass or not.

AP: So, you are happy only if you are tense. And the deeper is the tension, the greater is the happiness. If you go there sweating, terrified, trembling, “‘I am going to fail’, ‘I am going to fail’” and you find that you have passed, you will start dancing. You will be so happy.

Such is the stupidity of happiness. How can this stupid thing be the purpose of life? The common happiness that we know—I have said— has two characteristics:

One, it is an acquired conditioning. And second, it depends on the presence of sadness.

So, if you want to be happy, you should be sad. How many of you want deep happiness? You must go and must become deeply sad. Obviously, this kind of happiness is of no use, it is coming from others, it is situation dependent, there is no intelligence in it. There is another happiness, that is called as ‘joy’.

Joy is not a product of conditioning, joy is not a product of anything, joy does not depend upon situations, and joy is not stupid. Joy is reasonless! I said joy is not a product of anything, it is uncaused it is reasonless.

How do you know whether you are joyful or just happy? If there is a reason behind your happiness, then it is the stupid kind of happiness. If somebody asks you, “You are looking so happy, what is the reason?” and you are able to come up with a reason, you are able to tell the reason, then you should know that this is that stupid kind of happiness, acquired conditioning.

However, if you find that you are light, the mind is playful, you are unnecessarily singing a song and there is no reason why you are doing all this, then you should know that you have discovered real happiness. And that real happiness, we will not even call it as happiness, we will call it as ‘Joy’.

Unreasonable happiness is called joy, that happiness which does not come to you as a product of circumstances, that happiness which cannot be taken away by others, that happiness that you do not work for and attain, that happiness which does not lie in the future. That happiness is called as ‘Joy’. Are you getting it?

It is wonderful to be happy, but you hurt yourself if your happiness is that stupid variety of happiness, because that happiness will definitely turn into sadness. Stupid happiness is waiting to turn into sadness. It depends upon its opposites.

I am asking you to quickly, effortlessly, find that happiness which nobody has given you and nobody can take away, which is your own nature. Lightness, simple pure lightness! A lightness in which you understand, a lightness in which you are not bogged down, you are not feeling threatened, you are not afraid.

And you know what happens when you are not afraid and when you are joyful? You become capable of love, that mysterious thing that suddenly happens. Only a mind whose mind is not bogged down under the weight of a thousand types of conditioning, only that man is capable of love.

Then that Lightness, that Joy, that Freedom cannot even be called a purpose, because all purposes are in future. When you already have it, will you call it a purpose? When you say that ‘X’ is the purpose of life, then you mean that I am working towards ‘X’, right? I want to attain ‘X’.

‘Happiness’ is what you want to attain, ‘Joy’ is what you already have. So, ‘Joy’ cannot be a purpose. It’s a purposeless ‘Joy’; already there.

Be light, be aware, be loving, that is the purpose of life. Simple!

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