In the teachings of yoga, it is clearly stated that happiness does not come from identification with yourself as the particular body you happen to inhabit. Whether one is in a male body or a female body we still have to go through the stages of material experience from birth to death, which include all the torments of youth, the incompleteness of marital and partnership situations, the state of ill health which often brings severe diseases and then in later years the dwindling of the mortal frame and the closure of the life we have known when the portal of death is upon us. The happiness and fulfillment we are seeking is not due to our physical self. Of course there is some satisfaction if we are a healthy, toned, physically fit athlete who does well in our particular chosen field but eventually that also depletes and we are left with memories and maybe some awards. We may derive some happiness from our mental abilities, to create new ways of thinking or to work out how to increase wealth but unfortunately these things also change and soon there is another theory, another business model, another ‘bright young person’ standing in the place we were standing twenty years ago. Any type of achievement we may pursue and obtain must, by the very nature of the energy in this world, eventually diminish and end. Fleeting and flickering happiness at best!. You can watch this musical kirtan video which will immerse you in a happiness consciousness, love and peace.
We are all seeking another type of happiness called as eternal spiritual happiness. Me, you, the person changing his or her external form, the worker, the billionaire, the slum dweller, the oil tycoon, everyone is desiring happiness that is everlasting. This idea of happiness and the real knowledge about the material body and self is beautifully explained by Jagad Guru here. We ourselves can analyze all the ways in which we can find pleasure and avoid pain from the simple act of looking at the sunrise on a summer’s morning to owning a sea going yacht and sailing away into the sunset. From picking a ripe apple from a tree in summer to owning thousands of acres of orange groves. Every single person in every conceivable situation has one ambition and that is to be happier than they are. Even if the life they lead has more pleasure than pain it cannot continue indefinitely. Our bodies are finite. They come to an end. Sooner or later the laws of nature come into force and I am pushed out. Then according to spiritual laws I find myself in another body starting all over again. In the ‘Bhagavad Gita As It Is’, we find a clear definition of this process: “For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain.”
So the karmic reaction that we are due is influencing each and every one of us as we travel from one lifetime to another. It is clearly stated that whatever one is thinking of at the time of death, coupled with the karmic reactions a person has accrued in their lifetime, will influence the next type of body they will inhabit. And so it goes. A continuous pattern of taking on one body after another. Lifetime after lifetime and the driving force, the thing that we are fervently pursuing is happiness.
We generally don’t go searching out painful situations and then immerse ourselves in them. No, we seek pleasure but like the fish when it is out of the water, which gasps and gasps until it expires, so we look for happiness where it cannot be found, gasping and floundering around in the material energy. Searching out new and different experiences and after they are finished looking for more, for something else. But every conceivable pleasurable experience can be broken down into beginning, continuation and end. There is not one activity we engage in that does not follow this pattern. We eat an ice cream, go to a movie, play with our children, engage in sexual activities, frolic in nature, sleep, create, win money, spend money, whatever a person does must begin, will continue for a period of time and then it will end. And the happiness derived from any activity is only available as long as the activity is taking place. The ice cream last a few minutes, a movie two or three hours, a hike up a mountain a few days, sexual activity some fleeting minutes, driving a fast car as long as the road, etc etc… and we want it to go on and on and on. The very nature of the material energy as opposed to spiritual energy is its limitations. It has an in built factor that exhibits impermanence. This includes our body, which is the one thing we cannot bear the idea of losing, even if we lose all other things. Whether we change our body or not, any happiness we acquire associated with the body will merely be transient and ephemeral. All these true facts about life are beautifully laid out in this profound website of science of identity organization.
From the time I was in a tiny baby body through to old age, the body changes around me. I don’t change within. I still feel the same as I did when I was twenty as when I am seventy. There are instances of people who have been in horrific accidents. They lose part of their body, maybe an arm or a leg; they sometimes have their whole faces burnt. In the early 2000’s a fire fighter was severely burnt over his body including his face. He became the recipient of one of the most successful full face transplants including the ability to use his eyelids and ear canals. The face he was given was of a person who had died in an accident. So here we have a man who has a wife and children who have known their father all their lives and then after exhaustive surgeries he was able to go home but looking to all intents and purposes like a stranger to his family. Was he the same person or had he become the person who had the face before him? He had not changed the body around him changed but he did not. He was still the father who loved his children, the husband who loved his wife and the same person who thought a particular way, liked certain foods, engaged in certain activities. He did not suddenly develop a new personality because his outer appearance had changed.
We are not the material body! I am the self dwelling within. I can remember when I was a young person and I can remember my twenties, thirties, forties etc and according to modern science the body I was born with only lasted for 6 to 7 years and in that time was being completely renewed due to molecular distribution of new cellular structures through the metabolic process. The scientists have tested this process by dyeing parts of the body to see how long it lasts and it is conclusive that the body is changing around us constantly until we have a completely new outer shell in less than a decade. So, for example, if my body is eighty years old, then I have had more than ten bodies in that period. If you ask people who are amputees if they feel like a half or third of themselves is missing they do not answer in the affirmative. They feel like whole people because they are, they the self within has not changed; only the body has become affected.
If we identify with the body we will always be frustrated. This false identification only serves to steer us in the wrong direction over and over again. Living this way there is always something missing. There is always something else that I need to pursue, to obtain, to control and to try and enjoy. And the very things that we acquire whether they are objects, eatables, riches or even a different body will only satisfy us temporarily.
These things are insubstantial, they have no real substance. Like fire flies in the night. Brief, evanescent, vanishing before our eyes but creating more and more desires for more of the same. Endlessly obtaining and disposing. Treasure to trash in a brief flicker and then gone.
The wise person looks within, searches for their real identity, and knows that the external world and its objects are fleeting and temporal. That the nature of the material energy is transitory and it has no real wealth and that no happiness is available there. This understanding is the basis for developing a spiritual outlook, for traversing a different pathway, one that leads to another world, a sacred place where you, the self belong and where happiness does not dissipate like the wind. The outer covering will vanish in time but you will not. You exist and you will always exist and the decision is yours as to whether you want to exist in the illusion that you can find permanent happiness in temporary things or whether you want to pursue a higher way of thinking. This is our free will.
The impressive thing about the happiness derived from spiritual understanding is that it has the exact opposite attributes to material pleasure, it increases, and it does not decrease as one experience it.
The more one realizes in spiritual life the more contentment and enjoyment one appreciates. Spiritual knowledge is ever fresh, never stale. It is life and it ultimately leads us to that supreme happiness that we yearn and long for but we waste our lives searching in the dust of the material desert instead of the well of higher thought. In the ‘Bible’ it states: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
Whatever name is given to the ‘mortal coil’ it is veritably just that, mortal. No substance no permanence, no ability to sustain our desire for happiness. Our search for a different and better way of being will not come about by changing the outer shell; we have already done this many times, lifetime after lifetime. Knowing who I am, that I am the self, distinct and superior to the physical body is the basis for that which we are all always seeking.
Aham Brahmasmi, I am spirit, I am not matter.