Chapter 18: Looking for Happiness
Swamiji: What is your final aim?
An American Visitor: I think, speaking philosophically, joy or peace is what we all want, whether we seek it in business, or love, or religion.
Swamiji: In a life which is characterised by momentariness and fluxation, with temporality reigning supreme everywhere, and nothing permanent worth the while, with no control finally over anything, what kind of happiness are you expecting in this world? Perhaps happiness that is going to be enduring and not merely fleeting cannot be had in a world which is fleeting by its nature.
Nobody can be happy in this world, yet it is happiness that we seek. It looks like a contradiction in our approach. Being involved in a world of fluxation and temporality, how do you expect permanent happiness? Yet our heart seems to be yearning for permanent happiness. It doesn't want a joy for one moment, and destruction the next moment.
Actually, the joy that we seek is super-physical, super-terrestrial; it is transcendent. All that we empirically experience, sensorially perceive or contact, what we feel psychologically in terms of sense perception is not the joy that we seek, finally. There is a transcendent super-physical element operating in us, and if you can contact that transcendent element in your own self or in the world, you may be contacting the source of your joy. This is the work of religion.
Religion is nothing but the art of contacting the source of real happiness which, as we have in this little analysis found, is not to be had in this world. When I say "in this world," I mean anything that is sensorially perceptible. Even this body is not a reliable source of happiness, because it comes and goes.
This body was given birth to, and it also will pass away some day. Would you like to connect your happiness to a bodily existence which comes and goes? Would you like to have a joy which comes and goes? You have already decided that you don't want such a kind of joy. We want a joy which is always there and shall not leave us, but the body has come, and it shall leave us. Our relations, property, the world, this body, will all leave us. Where are we going to be finally? That you have to contact, by an inner vision and an in-depth analysis of one's own self, and a meditation which is called yoga, religion, metaphysics.
Direct action is necessary in this connection; something has to be done about it. Meditation is a practice of concentrating the consciousness on some thing, but what is that something? In kriya yoga there is a breathing process prescribed on which you concentrate; that is one method. Meditation is the art of contacting reality, and for that you have to first be sure what reality is. You cannot concentrate on something which is not clear to the mind.
What are you wanting, finally? On that you have to fix your attention. Whether you call it hatha yoga or kriya yoga or anything else is not important. Fix your consciousness on your concept of final reality, and it shall bless you. You have to decide yourself what is ultimately real, in yourself or in the world; then fix your attention and attune your consciousness with it. This is meditation. It has no particular name.
When you adopt certain preparatory techniques which vary according to different schools, you call them karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, kriya yoga, kundalini yoga, etc. These names are given only to the preparatory stages, but the final end is the same in all cases. It is a plunge into reality. What is reality? This requires a knowledge which is obtained from the teacher. Everyone has to approach a teacher for this purpose. A Guruis necessary.
Each one has a concept of the Ultimate Being; on that you concentrate. The word "ultimate" implies the finality of it, and there is nothing above it. When you ask for it, you need not ask for anything else. On that you fix your mind. This is the whole of religion, philosophy, and yoga.