In the book, “The Art of Happiness“, the Dalai Lama states:
“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear, whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness...”
As Americans, we are taught that our “free society” guarantees, among other things, the right of Americans to “the pursuit of happiness“. But what is this “happiness” and what does it mean to pursue it?
Merriam-Webster defines the word happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment.”
Today, the common interpretation of the “pursuit of happiness“, is the right to pursue joy and live life freely in a way that makes you happy, as long as you don’t do anything illegal or violate the rights of others. In its original time and context, the term referred to the pursuit of not only material gain, but also included the spiritual and moral dimensions.
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote the following in regards happiness:
“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”
Unfortunately in the modern world, language and philosophical concepts have been eroded into superficial triviality; hollowed out shells with no real substance. Our modern Western conception of this “pursuit of happiness” is no exception to this unfortunate circumstance.
A modern American will equate the pursuit of happiness to be anything from the “right” of corporations to maximize profits at the expense of the general well-being of human beings and environment; to the “right” of a someone to create, promote and distribute pornography; to the “right” of certain people to use whatever public restrooms they wish.
Ultimately, in the modern world, pursuing happiness has become exclusively linked to material self-interest. It is the “right” to shop. It is the “right” to commoditize life. It is the “right” to wealth and power, regardless of merit or virtue. It is the “right” to one’s own self-interests and desires regardless of what the cost to anyone else or what the implications or costs to the community or nation may be.
In the modern world, happiness has become conflated with pleasure. It is equated to being one in the same with satisfying the ego and its myriad desires and passions.
This leaves people ceaselessly chasing mirages; holograms of “happiness”, over and over and over for their entire lives, only to be left unsatisfied and unfulfilled, and most likely in debt.
So then, how do we find true happiness in such a world as we live in? A world where humans are more connected technologically, yet are increasingly more isolated and disconnected from life and reality than ever?
This world of man; this artificial world of things that are made; is indeed “extremely hostile” to what is natural and what is natural in human beings. Modernity is about the domination and gradual replacement of Nature by artificiality; both in our environment and within ourselves right down to the very mental constructs we have that suppress our True Nature and True Self.
In modernity, we are urbanized and completely dehumanized; reduced to “cattle” by multinational corporations and elites; kept in a toxic environment and a society, plagued by loneliness, mental illness, and degenerative diseases. This harsh world leaves us wanting our “ration“; what we believe is rightfully ours; what we believe will make us happy. We obsess over it, then envy and resent others when we don’t get it.
The Gnostics were right in the sense that the artificial world of man; in particular the city with its parasitic nature; was a prison that distracts us and holds us back from the Christ within, which is what we all ultimately seek to find- even though most don’t know it yet.
It is through finding our connection to Spirit where we find true happiness.
But we must guard this connection, as the seemingly infinite distractions of modernity and well as the material world in general will consistently seek to disrupt it. But as Dr. Johnson stated:
“Happiness doesn’t depend on physical circumstances. It depends on watchfulness; the guarding of the soul.”
When we are connected to Spirit; and when we are mindful of what we we think, feel, and do; always seeking that these things be oriented toward Spirit; in resonance with our True Nature; then we find real happiness.
In some of my darkest moments I have found that maintaining consistent contact with GOD and Self; primarily through prayer, meditation, connecting with Nature and connecting with others whom GOD works through; allows me to have an internal peace and contentment that can completely alter the way I experience my life and the world around me.
Even if nothing has significantly changed in the exterior world, if we change our interior world, our experience of the world “outside” of ourselves, will inevitably change.
“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.”
WR-ALDA’S Blessings unto you and yours.