In search of a certain kind of happiness
by Vic Shayne
The Self is a Belief: The idea that causes suffering
Ultimately, people are trying to find happiness.
Happiness is either fleeting or permanent. The former kind of happiness is dependent upon the whim of the mind and circumstances. Because the mind — and in particular the egoic mind, or sense of self — is programmed to seek pleasure and to avoid pain, it judges pleasure to be happiness. But this sort of happiness is temporary and conditional.
The latter kind of happiness is a state of permanence that underlies all of the movement of life, which can also be called consciousness. Unconditional happiness always exists, yet it takes the transcendence of the egoic mind, the sense of self, in order to realize it.
Since the contents of consciousness are so unstable, changing, bounded, conditional, and temporary, then so is any happiness that can be connected to it. Jiddu Krishnamurti explained, “Our consciousness is what we are, what we think, what we feel, what we demand, our failures, miseries, confusion and all the rest of it is part of that consciousness.”
Unhappiness is dependent upon conflict
Unhappiness is dependent upon conflict. If you were to realize that you are consciousness itself, including all expressions, phenomena, feelings, ideas, good, bad, beauty, ugliness, pettiness, beneficence, and so on, then there would be no conflict to cause unhappiness. The conflict comes from parsing the totality of consciousness into fragments so that when you identify with one or more of these fragments you lose sight of the whole. This is the reason Joseph Campbell said that we should say “yes” to it all — this is where we find bliss, in the “all.”
Campbell said, “All life stinks and you must embrace that with compassion.”
The egoic mind is the problem
The difficulty with realizing permanent happiness lies with the egoic mind, the persona, that which you call “I,” or “me.” Although this can be known intellectually, the ultimate test is during times of so-called difficulties or stress. In periods when everything is balanced and normal, the mind finds no necessity for reflection. But when times are tumultuous and stressful, the egoic mind is usually in no condition to be reflective or even reasonable. However, if you are so sick and tired of suffering, at long last the egoic mind may turn in on itself and try to find the source of suffering and unhappiness. For a very few people, the mind becomes willing to observe itself and its connection to unhappiness and the roller coaster of life.
Clearly, if there is no egoic mind in control, then all there is the wholeness of consciousness.
There have been many schools of thought that teach how to be happy. The entire New Age and Positive Thinking movements — as well as most meditation teachers — have done this. In the long run, these teachings do not bring lasting happiness. This is because these sorts of movements are created by leaders who do not understand that pleasure is not happiness. Even more than this, they do not realize that mental effort is not the answer — it actually prolongs the suffering and cycling in and out of temporary happiness.
If the mind uses effort then it is still mired in its own wake; it is temporarily fooling itself to think that conditions have changed. True, permanent happiness is prior to the mind, body, and even consciousness. It is the silent stillness that resides before the potentiality for manifestation.
Still the mind and find happiness
When the mind is completely still, this sense of absoluteness becomes apparent. Krishnamurti taught, “When the mind is completely still, it is in total order, and there is not a single movement of energy wasted. That silence, that quietness, that complete tranquillity of the mind is not something put together by thought. That is what you have been doing, trying to bring about silence, quietness, peace of mind, and in that there is control. You are trying to control thought, which is wandering all over the place. You have never inquired into who is the controller and the thing controlled? A segment of thought tries to control the wandering movements of other thoughts, and you sit quietly and want to meditate. You sit quietly, and your thought wanders off, and the controller brings that thought back. Another thought comes up, and you think about something else, and again this battle goes on. You call this meditation, but it is a total waste of energy. Can the mind be free from all control? Give your heart to find out.”
Happiness is always present, but it takes the cessation of the mind to be known. Thus, it is not created, but merely realized. On the other hand, temporary happiness that is experienced and created by the mind is part of a dualistic cycle whose counterpart is pain.