Tuesday, November 23, 2010

True Happiness

Ever since I was a child, I kept on thinking about how to prevent suffering, how to think out of the box to stop the suffering from outside. How to keep on being happy. As a child, it was easy, just take out the toys and games and play with them. It provides instant happiness and there seems to be no drawbacks, it’s not like we had to work or study all the time.

One of the most satisfying experiences of happiness I’ve got as a child is meeting my dear cousins again. We always played together all the time whenever we meet. Even through it was just for a few days of the holidays every year, whenever we hear even the slightest news about each other, we would bath in ecstasy, waiting for them (literary at the doorstep) to come and then rush off to play computer games, Play station 1 or even just hide and seek. And whenever we separated, I would spend a whole afternoon feeling sad, usually falling asleep in the process.

Once, I had even screamed and shouted to go to their place in another state, reasoning out that parents will do whatever to make their kids happy, and this makes me happy, so they should oblige.

This is part of the pursue of happiness.

Getting top in classes, getting to skip one year of school, getting to buy and play new toys, getting to joke with friends, getting to dream about the future and writing them down, these are part of the happiness I’ve encountered.

But how long can these last? How long can any of these happiness last?

Video gaming brings as much happiness as long as you are at it.

Physics and academic pursuits brings a more subtle satisfaction that can last a bit longer.

Friends and Family brings you comfort and love and happiness as long as you’re with them, even then it is not always.

One cannot be the top of the class forever, or be the best in some area of specialisation forever.

Even the straight As which are supposed to be forever doesn’t bring you to the tops of your spirit more than just that once.

Money is obviously not a solution, any kid knows that.

Even love, the kind between boy and girl, that if successful will eventually lead to marriage and wanting to stay with her/him forever, even that love is not forever. This feeling of falling in love can no doubt be satisfied by having the significant other in your arms for the rest of your life. It may even last this whole lifetime! However strong, however intense, however insane the other person drives you when you think about her/him, it will end. It is finite.

It seems like whatever we do, we do it for the fleeting happiness that it brings us. Success, wealth, fame, gain, praise, none of them last a lifetime.

I had seen a shampoo advertisement, “Use this and you’ll get rid of your dandruff”. I wondered, does it means use it once and my head will never produce dandruff? Or do I need to use it for the rest of my life to prevent dandruff, dependent on it like drugs?

I’m sure you can see the similar analogy towards happiness.

What’s the difference between the things we do for temporary happiness versus taking drugs then? Hardly any. Perhaps it is because drugs makes you a bit more unhappy in the overall count (addicted, wasted etc…). (Not promoting drugs here, more like promoting the disgust towards our mundane lifestyle).

Those who see no way out tends to spend their life falling in love, getting married, or enjoying materialistic pleasures, be it gaming, movies, books, academics, money, and they do get their temporary happiness. Temporarily. 

Perhaps it is those who work towards eternal happiness that are truly the wise ones. Those in science works for the betterment of society. For eternal happiness, the goal cannot be just having nuclear fission energy plant realised or even space travel; nothing less than immortality and cracking the secret of happiness in the brain will do.

As we are only an individual and powerless to fast-forward science, some has opted for cryonics. Some turn to religion. Religion, generally referring to the Abrahamic religions with their one true God and eternal heaven, provides a sane and good way (in general) for people to channel their energy for their own personal benefit in their afterlife. For the Indian religions and East Asian religions, it is also quite good in channelling the energy for the elongation of happiness.

In particular, for Buddhism (for I know it best) it is a path towards the ultimate happiness: the end of suffering. It does not make sense for a person who had seen for himself the futileness of mundane life to continue living it. The way out of this cycle of birth and rebirth is to practise the supra mundane life. To develop the Noble 8 fold path and to escape the wiles of suffering, the tangles of attachments, the 3 poisons forever. To work towards true happiness would be the only sane and logical purpose in life.

Not the pursuit of gain, fame, praise, worldly happiness, but the happiness that is beyond mundane and without dissatisfaction. The happiness that cannot be imagined or compared in terms of worldly happiness that still contains a tinge of un-satisfactoriness, however intense and strong worldly happiness maybe.

Viewed in this way, the pursuit of Nibbana is the only logical purpose of life.

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