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How to be happy without depending on others? || (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
19 min
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Questioner (Q): How to be happy without depending on others?

Acharya Prashant (AP): First of all, one begins by seeing that the happiness that is obtained by depending on others has certain transience about it. That helps us be disengaged from that kind of happiness. Otherwise, if one is certain that the source of happiness is in the world, lies in the others, then the very possibility, the very inspiration to seek differently doesn't arise.

So, we begin from honestly examining what we are anyway usually doing. We are continuously seeking happiness in this or that and we are succeeding, and we are continuously seeking happiness. Which means the success is incomplete and short-lived even if it comes. We highlight success as our achievement, and we downplay the failure as a law of life.

So, if you obtain success, that is happiness, using your efforts, what you want to selectively remember is that you tried and you succeeded in getting happiness. That the happiness faded away is conveniently forgotten or even if it is remembered, it is remembered as something unavoidable, something to do with some unjust universal law.

We have surrendered to the cycle. What is the cycle about? “We will work hard to attain happiness and then the happiness will wither away and because it withers away, we again try hard to get more or same happiness”, and the cycle continues. We have made peace with this scheme of things. We have told ourselves this is the universal order and success lies in incessantly chasing happiness, getting it for a while, losing it, reclaiming it, again losing it. That's how the Ego has defined success and its satisfaction.

What is the definition? After you lose happiness, go for it once again, don't be demotivated. Even if you fully well know that the next round of happiness is going to be equally fleeting as the previous one, still invest yourself fully, remain harnessed, remain fully occupied in this endeavor. And if you are fully occupied in this, then there is nothing that is available to observe what you are doing. When you have totally given yourself, committed yourself, as we said surrendered to the cyclical process then, of course, there is no possibility of examining this process. That's a definition of commitment and surrender. Once you tell yourself that you are sold out or you are beholden then you withdraw from yourself the right to question that thing. Suspicion would be treachery. So, you keep all suspicion at bay, and you just keep following the cycle, following the cycle.

First of all, we need to be a bit curious, even suspicious. We need to keep our certainties aside. And that's difficult because certainty is a mental rock. It’s a mental rock on which you are standing. First of all, it’s a rock; secondly, you are standing on that rock, how will you displace it? To displace that rock is to displace yourself. Who wants to be displaced? But we'll have to attempt that. If at all we are genuinely interested in exploring whether there is a quality of happiness independent of others.

What has happiness dependent on others really given us? Except that it has allowed us to while away time. It's a good time pass, you know. Make it, break it, make it, break it, make it, break it. Nothing is obtained but you are spared the agony of looking honestly at yourself. You are left with no resources, no time, no space to look at yourself because you are fully committed to make it, break it, make it, break it. Someone comes and says, “Son, what are you doing?” And you say, “Don't interfere. I'm involved in something very serious, very important”; make it, break it, make it, break it.

So, you get the pseudo satisfaction of doing something meaningful. You can conveniently wear a mask of seriousness on your face. You can tell yourself you are not internally unemployed. You can tell yourself you are some important person involved in some important work that helps one's self-esteem which is Ego. "I am on a very serious project these days." What is the name of the project? - Make it, break it, make it, break it.

‘Make it’, would require your effort. ‘Break it’ is inevitable, like a sandcastle. Are you okay with this? If you are okay with this, then there is no point in asking whether there is happiness independent of the world. Are you okay with remaining invested in this cycle?

There are obvious advantages of remaining absorbed in this process. The first and foremost is as we said that you are left with no time, no energy, no space to honestly look at yourself. You are so busy, so busy. The fellow is huffing, puffing, and running down the lane and I stop him and say, “I have something important to tell you. You might be going down the wrong lane”. And he says, “Don't waste my time. If I invest a minute in listening to you, I would be losing a minute of distance covered. Covering distance is so very important, how can I idle around your teachings?”

Observation requires energy. Observation is dangerous for the Ego. The Ego does not quite like honesty. Remaining occupied in the pursuit of happiness keeps you so busy that there is no space for inner honesty. That's a great relief to the Ego.

Secondly, time; the great enemy. If you have seriously something worthwhile to do in life, then time is a friend but if you are just loafing around and you fully well know that you are just killing time then obviously time is an enemy. Every passing moment reminds you that you are committing a crime against yourself, you know. That's the situation of most people. They fully well know that they are wasting life. So, the clock, the tick-tock is actually the announcement of a perpetual sentence, tick-tock, tick-tock. The judge is there constantly telling you that you are being condemned to an inner hell of total waste. So, it becomes very-very important to just pass away time.

Have you seen how people are addicted to TV, to gossip to all kinds of methods that just somehow enable them to pass time? The pursuit of happiness is a great way to pass time. You'll keep doing and doing but never fully succeeding, so, you'll always have more to do.

So, if you can, first of all, see that the process most of us are currently committed to, is not something you'd want to remain with, then there opens up something else. Then you start seeing many things. You see that the things or persons that you use to fulfill yourself, they all belong to the same plane. Therefore, if one has failed in fulfilling you, the other one cannot really succeed. It is one thing to honestly experiment, and it is a totally different thing to foolishly hope.

Hope and experimentation do not go together. You do not experiment with a certain hope. In fact, if you are hopeful while experimenting, the hope will distort the results of the experiment. You have already tried this out, but you are still hopeful about this or this and their numbers are infinite. You can pass away your entire life trying them one after the other, you will still have something left to try out. All these flowers here, one petal from one flower you try out then another petal from another flower, and how many flowers and how many petals are there? Not only are they infinite, but they also keep infinitely growing as well. Will you ever exhaust them?

It is strange but this disillusionment is very central to Joy. You cannot have Joy without disillusionment. If you are hopeful about the world, Joy won't be possible. It's a strange thing because we associate disillusionment with sadness. And I'm saying Joy comes with disillusionment. In a way, I am saying, “Joy is accompanied by sadness”, yes. At least, those who have been happiness chasers will find that Joy has come to them along with sadness. Later on, the sadness may or may not evaporate but given that chasing happiness is our default state, Joy does come with sadness, and you have to be prepared for that. You need to have an appetite for sadness. You cannot keep rejecting sadness and yet want Joy. Joy is not ordinary happiness. Joy is a very demanding kind of happiness. It is a happiness that demands sadness. And therefore, Joy has a depth that happiness has not.

Therefore, if you ask artists, they will say, “There is great joy in the depth of tears.” Therefore, great epics and works of creativity have sprung forth from deep agony. In fact, agony is often a trigger to creativity.

You'll find it strange too, here, but the Ego does not like Joy because Joy is expensive, happiness is quite cheap. You can buy it at a burger outlet. Joy requires that you sell away happiness itself. And that is merely the first installment. Ego does not like Joy.

Several people, they dislike their few glimpses of Joy. They hold themselves accountable, they hold themselves guilty for having tasted even a few drops of Joy. Joy is not a socially sanctioned kind of happiness. Joy is deep, disruptive, rebellious. It takes you far away from everything into yourself. It fulfills you but does not please you. It takes you really high but at a great risk. There is no feeling of attainment accompanied with Joy.

So, the Ego does not quite like Joy. The Ego keeps on resisting Joy till Joyfulness finishes off Ego itself because Joy and Ego cannot coexist for long and that's why obviously, the Ego resists Joy.

So, it's a difficult thing, Joyfulness, you know. It's ours if we want it but that's a difficult thing to want it. The very declaration to oneself, “Yes I want that expensive thing”, and you will have to break your woes. Remember that we are all committed to the pursuit of happiness. So, a lot of promises will need to be broken and the Ego will have more reasons to feel ashamed and guilty. Because when you say that you will have happiness through someone, it's always a two-way thing. You will have happiness through him, and he will have happiness through you. When you decide that you don't see any merit in this exchange then you withdraw. But when you withdraw then your business partner will taunt you.

You are the one who is seeing and declaring that you no more want happiness through him, but he is still convinced that he can have happiness through you. So, when you withdraw from this arrangement, he will feel entitled to blame you, sue you. Joy can land you in a court of law and lawyers are expensive.

What is Joy? To smile through a heartbreak, that's Joy. You cannot have Joy if you are too afraid of heartbreaks.

Obviously, later on when you fall in love with Joy then there would remain no Ego to be broken. But that is a thing that comes much later. Firstly, you have to pass through agony, alone.

Now, that you are doing one thing alone, you have a taste of aloneness. That is joy. At least do something alone.

Q: So, this concept of being alone leads me to this question, I have created this situation where I have come out of my house and now I find myself living independently and there are many situations where I'm alone. In these moments, I'm alone for hours. So, then this happens that I feel very lonely in those times.

So, is this loneliness that is happening to me what I am reaping for? The conditioning that I have done to my mind, like you had written this article about Kumbh where you said churning first, the poison comes then. So, when this happens and I feel lonely, I try to reach out to the divine or at least, try to feel that I am in His lap and that, there I don't need any medial. But when I reach out, I don't feel comfort. So, what is the way in which I can do that? Or is that the right way of looking at it? How can I go about it?

AP: You’ll have to just stay put. Theoretically, you have put your finger just right on it. You know what is going on, but this knowledge may prove insufficient. You will need to muster courage. You need to muster courage, yes.

You now sense why it is so difficult to return to the center. The farther you have receded, the more you have to give up in your return journey.

I read this news, there was a burglary case. There were these two thieves who had somehow broken into a shop. One of them had managed to take and gather a lot of stuff, this much (expressing the amount by stretching his hands). The other one was probably unwise. He had managed to gather only this much (expressing the small amount by his hand) and then they both hear the siren. The police were to arrive. The one who had pinched little managed to throw the little that he had and ran away. The one who had stolen much tried to somehow preserve what he had obtained; could not escape away quickly enough and then could not run away quickly enough and was caught.

The more you have gathered, the more difficult freedom becomes for you.

“Karmfal” - live through it.

Q: Is it important to remain alone for the most part of life?

AP: No, no, no. This is just a purification phase. This is merely transient. Once you get established in an inner aloneness then there is no danger in coming out, socializing, mingling whatever. This is like a ‘Sadhana’ technique. Even classically this technique has been there; “Ekantvaas” . It hurts, but just live through it. Listen to songs, cultivate new hobbies. Do a few things that you anyway cannot do in a crowd. Learn to sing, to paint. Acquire a new area of knowledge. But don't buckle down. Don't feel so lonely or depressed or defeated that you start running towards some… the nearby wedding function.

There's a song. I'm not sure whether we have the right signal here. Somebody who's 4G is doing well. A song very apt for a situation like this (Playing the song: Poocho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitai (Sad)| Manna Dey | Meri Surat Teri Aankhen Songs | Ashok Kumar ).

A lot of times I have spoken on how aloneness and loneliness are distinct. But you must also see that the dawn of aloneness is preceded by the darkness of loneliness and for a while they co-exist. Does morning come to you in a flash? There is a period of transience that you have to live through, see through. If you succumb to that period, then the morning is not for you. And of course, they say it's darkest before dawn.

It's a strange conspiracy by our sister (Maya) . As long as you are living a socially adjusted and internally compromised life, as long as you are living resigned to your limitations even your agony is limited. As long as you are living a life surrendered to limitations even your agony is limited. There won't be much even in your sadness. You'll cry for a while and then the moment somebody shows you some plum cake, you are okay. Is that not how we treat sadness? “Oh, she is very sad today. Alright, have this… ”, nice. In fact, sometimes you are sad just because you want to have this… when sadness is shallow. But when you want to break away from this happiness-sadness duality and all the filth that we somehow name as life then your agony is sharp and deep. It cuts through you. It cuts through you, spiritually, that's a great thing because it actually cuts through the Ego. But spiritually even though it might be a great thing, it still does hurt and hurt badly. You'll have to live through that hurt, don't succumb. I'll send you a playlist.

(All the listeners burst out in laughing)

Q: In this song, does he get any hope?

AP: He gets the morning. I have been through innumerable such nights. So, nights have a very-very important role in the spiritual process you know. Just coincidentally, you get an occasion when the world is not around. So, this spiritual business turns you into a lover of nights.

Q: So, we should actually be thankful to the people who are causing the agony…?

AP: If the agony leads to realization.

Q: You said that you should live through the period of aloneness. Do we have this state of mind where we think that, okay there is somebody there watching me, that Faith; should we carry that Faith while going through and have a hope…?

AP: If that helps; yes. In fact, you should try all kinds of means that can support you. But again, be cautious. Using something to support you through your aloneness itself can become detrimental to aloneness. So, it's a very-very fine thing.

Q: You said that Joy is there in what’s happening inside. What is the state of Joy? Is it of peace?

AP: Carefree. Happiness is a burden, is it not? Have you tried to be happy for 10 hours? See, how you'd feel? In fact, try smiling for an hour, you'll need a face massage. It's one of the most irritating things, is it not, to smile for the camera? That itself shows that the camera is not your nature.

Q: But, there are those who want to live with that kind of…

AP: Happiness? That is because we are living in sadness. So, a temporary relief from sadness appears welcome. It is only in the backdrop of sadness that happiness appears attractive. Otherwise, both sadness and happiness are burdens. You could say, there is a scale of being burdened, one end of which you call as sadness and the other end you call as happiness. Even though the names of these two extremes are different, yet the name of the scale is just one: burden.

Joy is to be unburdened, carefree. Therefore, Joy is actually not a state.

Q: So, what is sadness associated there? What is the burden there?

AP: No, they are not lying. It's just that their method succeeds only for a while. They are not lying. When normal consciousness is such a burden then you want to drink to get rid of the normal state of consciousness. However, you cannot remain drunk forever. Sooner than later, you will have to return back to the normal state.

Q: So, once we establish ourselves, it is okay to interact with people and being social?

AP: Yes, then a lot of things can happen.

Q: Once we establish ourselves, is it again telling that we have to understand the Truth?

AP: Explaining the meaning of that is difficult because the meaning of that depends on what you take yourself to be. If you take yourself to be a responsible person, then the meaning of Joy or Aloneness is to go beyond responsibility. If you take yourself as a clever or wise person, then the meaning of Aloneness is to go beyond cleverness.

Actually, Joy has no meaning. But if you want to give it a meaning, the meaning can only be a negation of what you otherwise live as. So, if you live in suspicion then Joy is freedom from suspicion. Do not look for an independent meaning of Joy. No meanings are independent. A thing means something only in the context of its dual opposite.

Joy is not a dualistic state. It does not quite have a meaning.

Q: Still we add meaning to it.

AP: Yes and the meaning itself is a burden.

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