Beloved Abstract: Happiness is our essential being
Happiness lies deep within us, in the very core of our being. Happiness does not exist in any external object, but only in us, who are the consciousness that experiences happiness. Though we seem to derive happiness from external objects or experiences, the happiness that we thus enjoy in fact arises from within us.
Whatever turmoil our mind may be in, in the centre of our being there always exists a state of perfect peace and joy, like the calm in the eye of a storm. Desire and fear agitate our mind, and obscure from its vision the happiness that always exists within it. When a desire is satisfied, or the cause of a fear is removed, the surface agitation of our mind subsides, and in that temporary calm our mind enjoys a taste of its own innate happiness.
Happiness is thus a state of being — a state in which our mind’s habitual agitation is calmed. The activity of our mind disturbs it from its calm state of just being, and causes it to lose sight of its own innermost happiness. To enjoy happiness, therefore, all our mind need do is to cease all activity, returning calmly to its natural state of inactive being, as it does daily in deep sleep.
True happiness is therefore the happiness of just being, which is the perfect and absolute happiness that in mystical literature is known as ‘beatitude’. This true happiness of being is also described as ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding’, because it is experienced in full only in the perfectly peaceful state of just being, which is the state in which all mental activity has subsided in the clarity of unobstructed self-consciousness. That is, since it can be experienced perfectly only in the state in which we are conscious merely of our own essential being and not of any thoughts or objects, true happiness or peace is beyond all mental comprehension.
Not only does happiness exist within us — it is in fact our true nature, our essential being. The transient happiness that we seem to derive from external experiences, but which actually arises only from within ourself, is in reality nothing other than our own essential being. The more clearly we are conscious of our own essential being, the more deeply and intensely do we experience happiness.
The degree of happiness that we experience at any moment is directly proportionate to the degree of clarity with which we are then conscious of our true and essential being. Therefore happiness is not only our essential being, but is also our consciousness of our being. In fact, since we are the consciousness that experiences our own being as ‘I am’, we are both being and consciousness. In other words, our essential being is consciousness, or more precisely it is self-consciousness — consciousness that knows itself clearly as ‘I am’. Therefore, since our unobstructed consciousness of our own being is experienced by us as happiness, in our essential nature we are non-dual being, consciousness and happiness.
The rising and subsequent activity of our mind distracts our attention away from our essential being, thereby clouding our natural clarity of self-consciousness and obscuring our awareness of the happiness that we really are. Therefore so long as our mind is extroverted, attending to anything other than our own essential being, we can never experience perfect, permanent and unqualified happiness. To experience true and eternal happiness, we must attain the experience of true self-knowledge, that is, perfectly clear consciousness of our own essential being.
In order to experience such true self-knowledge, we must withdraw our attention from everything other than ourself, and focus it wholly and exclusively upon our own essential being, which we always experience in the form of our fundamental consciousness — our primary knowledge ‘I am’.
Until and unless we attend to our innermost self in this manner, we cannot know who or what we really are, and unless we thereby experience a clear and certain knowledge of what we really are, we cannot be certain about the reality or validity of any knowledge that we may appear to have about other things. All our knowledge about the world and God — about science, religion, philosophy, physics, cosmology, psychology, theology or any other branch of human knowledge — is open to serious doubt so long as our knowledge about ourself — the consciousness by which all those other things are known — is confused and uncertain.
Therefore, if we wish to experience permanent and unqualified happiness, or to attain knowledge about which we can be absolutely certain, we must focus our whole attention keenly upon ourself, our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, ‘I am’, in order to ascertain who or what we really are.
Such in brief is the simple but profound truth revealed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.