He who is conditioned by the modes of material nature is subjected to threefold material misery due to forgetfulness of his relationship with Krishna." —Bhagvad Gita
After the fulfillment of the basic needs of food shelter and clothing, there is one quest that makes men take the various courses in life that they do.
Day and night one aches for few and fleeting moments of happiness and contentment, that will brace them for going about the routine of life, which may not give them any joy.
Such is the quest for happiness. And this big predicament has been pondered upon by the two sets of healers- the spiritual gurus and the scientists.
The path of spirituality preaches the path of looking inward, and merging with the Almighty in thoughts, words and action, to achieve that supreme bliss. Religions tend to be methodical institutions of peace and happiness, by employing faith, meditation, mantra, prayer, yoga, etc., aimed at the present life, as well as the life beyond death.
The scientists relate to physiological conditions, such as the release of serotonin, which is the feel good factor for the brain. There is also the effort in this way to reduce sorrow by finding cures to all kinds of maladies, that of the body and the mind.
Sages like Samarth Ramdas have said that the more human beings yearn for happiness, the faster they are drawn into the web of sorrow. Some would argue that it could be done otherwise by involving oneself in the charitable works and dedicating oneself to the welfare of mankind. Upon looking closely one would find that even the most charitable works have a subtle selfishness underlying in them.
The individual keeps giving in to the devious mind that is ever on a lookout for ways to fend off even the slightest chances of pain. And it is because of the mind that the individual takes recourse to memories from the past that has given him immense pleasure, and pines to live it up again. It races from one thing to the other, one hope to the other and one possibility to the other—always in perpetual agitation, always trying.
The search would only go on, but the spiritualists and scientists somehow almost agree to one method of arriving at a truly happy state, devoid of any illusions of happiness. This they concur can be found in a state of thoughtlessness and Pragnya. Pragnya, a Sanskrit word, means “ability of the brain to naturally experience the life”.
Pragnya, or Grey Matter, is the highest state of the brain. It is even beyond the basic brain. One has to be aware that apart from the brain that we know, there is the psychic mind, our everyday “me” or self that we live with.
It is not very difficult to understand that the memory of happiness is just a Xerox copy of it, and that particular feeling cannot be relived the way it was, the intensity with which it was. For instance, one can photograph a beautiful occasion, but cannot feel or experience the beauty of it just by seeing the photograph.
Thinking about it will only trigger the process of memory searching and once again the individual only can yearn to relive that experience. Since this happiness dwells in the memories, one only spirals down in hopelessness when they cannot be enjoyed when wished.
In total, this only becomes the relentless quest to be happy like one sometimes was, or like one witnessed someone else’s joy. The happiness that is, sought after is soaked in the sea of material comforts and is, therefore, almost an illusion- for even after one wish is satisfied there will follow another.
Life changes every moment (the human body ages with it) and so do the things attached with it. The definition of happiness and for all other concepts and constructs for individuals, at various stages of life, is different. Happiness is not the only concept here.
Some changes appear as losses, creating a feeling of sadness. There have been several methods devised for comforting this perturbed mind, but the effectiveness of these ways is suspect. The mind or “I” has been lusting for happiness for many ages. In every new body, it carries forwards the same desires and the illusion continues in each life.
The inner happiness, on the other hand, is beyond the words. Thoughts cannot touch it. The first step towards this eternal happiness is through Pragnya. The mind can do only what it has learned. However quick the mind may be, it cannot speak the language it has not learned. Therefore, its limitations are bound with what it has been fed with.
Mind has never actually seen the true happiness. It has only learned the word "happiness". Therefore, the being cannot be criticized for running after the happiness that it has known. But for all the efforts, if it wants, it can arrive at thoughtlessness and experience a better state of happiness than can be dished out by material world.