Happiness, what is it, where can I find it, who will give it to me.
“Happiness”, deMello explains, “cannot be described. What can be defined is misery. Drop unhappiness and you will know”
This is so true, we know it but we don’t understand it, we can’t accept it. “Why can happiness not be defined?”, we ask, insist even on a definition. Some of those who attended my philosophy class came in order to be shown how to be happy, some even wanted happiness to be given to them.
We want to be able to get it on demand, like off the shelves in the supermarket. Fresh happiness for instant consumption, frozen or tinned happiness to store for future use, pre-ordered happiness for Christmas and holidays. But this is not possible.
“Make me Happy”, we demand of people, of places of objects even. Such requests are doomed to failure. deMello compares describing happiness to describing a colour to a person born blind. It exists, you know it does. You know it in all its multitude of varieties and shades, but how do you describe it to one who has never seen it, never seen any colour?
The United States Declaration of Independence lists a number of “unalienable rights” which have been given to all human beings by their Creator. One of these is the “pursuit of happiness”. Almost without exception, we believe that the pursuit and gaining of happiness involves material things, involves getting things and then getting more. Even if that doesn’t work, then the accepted solution is “Get More, Get Better, Get More Expensive”.
Unfortunately, the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed to end in failure, in unhappiness. Happiness cannot be pursued, cannot be bought or stolen, cannot be stalked and won.
Perhaps this is why there are so many unhappy people in the world. The Declaration of Independence undersells human life; the ‘pursuit’ of happiness is considered to be the right, not actual ‘happiness’. Perhaps we need a new ‘Declaration of Happiness’ telling everyone that happiness is within, that it can’t be pursued and won. I’m not sure that our society, based as it is on consumption, would ever accept such a Declaration.
deMello and other spiritual teachers tell us that happiness lies within, within all of us all the time. It is there, just stop, become aware of it and be happy.