“There are many fools among men; among animals none”
– James Basford
How could we know if what we feel is genuine happiness and not simply a mental trick? Is it permanent happiness or temporary?
Take a test. Ask if the happiness you feel is increasing with each passing day? Do you feel inspired to share it with others? Or do you feel your experiences have a beginning and an end; is it interrupted by miseries and is your happiness limited in amount? Is pain a part of your pleasure? Answers to these questions would make it clear to you if what you pursue is indeed permanent or temporary happiness?
Your happy, spiritual experience is characterized by a steady feeling of peace within, even as the world outside may fluctuate in its fortunes. And you know it’s a temporary happiness when despite externally things being stable, you are inherently dissatisfied and restless.
A billionaire, on a holiday, was peeved by a rustic who casually relaxed on the road side.
“You are wasting your life”, challenged the billionaire, “You should be working hard and earning money”
The villager asked, “Oh rich man, you are working hard, and what have you gained and what do you want to achieve?”
The man passionately said, “I have huge industrial estates, and shall double my income by next five years”
“Then what would you do sir?” asked the simpleton.
“I would take over the entire economy of the country soon”
“Pardon me for asking, but then what would you do?” said the old man.
The wealthy man explained his grandiose plans further to which the villager probed more on what would he do next.
Finally the rich man smiled, “yes, when I have more than 50% share of the world market, I shall finally relax in peace”
The old man smiled, and with a twinkle in his eyes said, “Oh sir, if you finally seek to relax, then please join me now for that’s what I am doing now, relaxing on the country side”
Many are active without a purpose, like the billionaire in the story. As a wise person remarked, “It may be difficult to be happy with little, but with much impossible”
This doesn’t mean a spiritualist, seeking permanent happiness, doesn’t work hard. On the contrary he works tirelessly but not because he wants pleasure. He is motivated by a sense of purpose and that’s what nourishes him deeply. This also helps him add meaning and joy to others’ lives, while bravely tolerating the vicissitudes in his own life.