Saturday, July 16, 2005

Ah, Happiness!

My Melancholy Musings

These days, I am fondly reading a special Happiness issue of Outlook magazine and a book entitled An End to Suffering by Pankaj Mishra.

Now, it's merely a coincidence that I happened to travel along with these profound and moving write ups in the throes of my turbulent present. But then, happiness and suffering are like two sides of a coin.

So far, I have waded through the half of Mishra's bulky but edifying book. And, I beg a permission from Mr. Mishra to reproduce a paragraph from it which I think puts the book in a nutshell:

"For Buddha, as much as for Hume (David), happiness was too closely bound together with suffering. Even the happiness caused by meditation was fleeting and so part of dukha. Happiness could never be fully and permanently possessed as long as it arose from conditions external to us, conditions that changed all the time."

I often mull over the cause and effect of happiness, its source and elusiveness. When was I happy? What makes me happy? Money? It's a big no-no. Then what?

Let me dwell upon this vexed question in detail. Happiness, for me, is a will-o-the-wisp, a butterfly. Few days back, I remained happy for some one and half days. But, the ebb and flow of happiness was so short-lived that the other evening I retraced back home, exhausted, sad and melancholy. Mental ache sometimes is heavier than the physical one. No one else, but own my sister was baffled by my rapidly changing state of mind. Only that morning, she noticed how I was unable to hide my happiness. But, now her brother arrived home, crestfallen and gloomy. She was happy to see me happy and turned sad in my new avatar. This topsyturvydom, taking place so swiftly!

When the happiness, I thought, was accompanying me suddenly abandoned me, was a suspect immediately. Was it there? If it was there, where was I then? I was missing someone just like one misses sun on a cloudy day. I was surprised to discover that I've been inextricably intertwined to someone. I have been coloring the canvas without knowing what the painting would be like. After much soul-searching, toss and turn in my bed, I felt as if I was broken into pieces. I pieced myself together and vowed to erase it like one tries to erase the memory of nightmare.

Happiness turned out to be so transient, so ephemeral and so fleeting. I felt like a man who in a moment of passion is betrayed into an act of infidelity. But, I realized only a tad later how wrong I was. And, how things were happening beyond my grip, against my will.

I ask you: what makes you happy? See, you can not pinpoint, you can not recall a moment when you felt over the moon lately. When was that? You became dumbfounded, eh? Poor you! Or, are you an unhappy soul?

Happiness is a state of mind. I read somewhere: Happiness is not a place, it's a direction. No! Not only this, there are many more axioms in offing. Dale Carnegie says: Remember, happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have. It depends solely upon what you think.

I know this epigram too fails to make you happy. Then, what makes you happy indeed? Can you be happy like a child seeing the sky reflected in puddle after the rain? Can mundane matters make you happy? You too have a claim on the ample store of happiness, huh?

Memory of your loved ones, caressing his/her hand and then gradually clasping it, eventually to declare how much you are in love ( knowing albeit that love is unfathomable). Billing and cooing with your beloved, serenading your sweetheart! Ah, rhapsodies of romance! A compliment for your accomplishment! You passed your last exam but your buddy failed. Were you happy then? Can you be happy when your near and dear ones are suffering? Your happiness, even if that occurred momentarily, blurs with another challenge that life places in front of you without your acknowledgement.

Salman Rushdie impeccably says: Most of what matters in your life takes place in your absence. Were you there when you were needed, when your presence meant a lot? No, you were somewhere else, with somebody else. This elusiveness, this unbecoming of you! You have vivid recollections of your miseries and sorrows. But, where's happiness gone? Ah, the flipside of happiness! It always eludes you, it eschews you.

We often wear a cloak of happiness. You see your neighbor, your colleague, your acquaintance always smiling. Are they really happy? We human beings wear a mask. We pretend we are happy while veiling our pain artistically.

But, as we see beneath the layer, the fog of hypocrisy slowly lifts and there is the real person trying to camouflage his/her real state of mind.

Love! Does love bring happiness? Ouch! Love is so painful; it gives more sorrow than pleasure. So, never mistake love for happiness, these two are world apart.

Having said that, I still say: Don't worry, be happy!

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