Man’s Real Nature is Happiness

Man’s Real Nature is Happiness

By Desmond Yeoh SC

In his book, ‘A Search in Secret India’, Dr. Paul Brunton wrote about his travels throughout India in search of true Yogis. His sceptical western mind enabled him to work his way pass the numerous ‘pseudo Yogis’ to find the true Masters. His effort was rewarded with the meeting of his Guru, Ramana Maharshi.

In one of their meetings, Paul could not grasp the logic behind the ‘Who am I’ analysis. Ramana clarified, “Will it be clearer if it is put in this way? All human beings are ever wanting happiness, untainted with sorrow. They want to grasp at happiness which will not come to an end. The instinct is a true one. But have you ever been struck by the fact that they love their own selves most?”

“Now relate that to the fact that they are ever desirous of attaining happiness through one means or another, through drink or through religion, and you are provided with a clue to the real nature of man”.

Paul responded, “I fail to see….”

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Ramana continued, “Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. His search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end”.

“But the world is so unhappy.. .” Paul argued.

“Yes, but that is because the world is ignorant of its true Self. All men, without exception, are consciously or unconsciously seeking for it.”

“Even the wicked, the brutal and the criminal? ” Paul asked.

“Even they sin because they are trying to find the Self’s happiness in every sin which they commit. This striving is instinctive in man, but they do not know that they are really seeking their true Selves, and so they try these wicked ways first as a means to happiness. Of course, they are wrong ways, for a man’s acts are reflected back to him.”

“So we shall feel lasting happiness when we know this true Self?”

Ramana nodded, “To understand this matter it is first necessary for a man to analyse himself. Because it has long been his habit to think as others think, he has never faced his ‘ I ‘ in the true manner. He has not a correct picture of himself; he has too long identified himself with the body and the brain. Therefore, I tell you to pursue this inquiry, Who am I?”

The Master added, “When a man knows his true self for the first time, something else arises from the depths of his being and takes possession of him. That something is behind the mind; it is infinite, divine, eternal. Some people call it the kingdom of heaven, others call it the soul, still others name it Nirvana, and we Hindus call it Liberation; you may give it what name you wish. When this happens a man has not really lost himself; rather, he has found himself.”

“If you meditate on this question, Who am I? – if you begin to perceive that neither the body nor the brain nor the desires are really you, then the very attitude of inquiry will eventually draw the answer to you out of the depths of your own being; it will come to you of its own accord as a deep realization.”

“Know the real Self and then the truth will shine forth within your heart like sunshine. The mind will become untroubled and real happiness will flood it, for happiness and the true Self are identical. You will have no more doubts once you attain this self-awareness.”

Our true Self is Happiness. This is easily observable in toddlers. They are always happy and anything can send them into a laughing frenzy. But as they grow, their ego grows as well. Their intellect starts to develop and their database of what is right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair and so on starts to grow. Eventually, their intellect dominates them and the true Self gets hidden behind these layers of conditioning.

Our search for happiness is often clouded by our intellect which causes us to search endlessly outside when the real answer is within us. The intellect cannot give us happiness.

Ajahn Sumedho illustrated this point clearly: Referring to his mother’s passing, he said, “I was thinking at the funeral when they took her coffin to the cemetery: ‘I’ll never see you again’. It was a very sad feeling. And so we can witness this as a characteristic of our humanity. If we’re taking it personally, we might think: ‘Well, if we’re really mindful we won’t feel anything. We won’t feel any sadness. It’s just anicca (impermanence) , dukkha(suffering), anatta (no-self or illusory self). That’s it. Mother is only a perception anyway. Death is the end of something that’s not self, so why make a problem about it. You know, just dismiss the whole thing as anicca, dukkha, anatta’. This is an intellectual kind of business in our head, isn’t it? But it’s not looking into the nature of things. We are not penetrating. We’re just applying a nice theory to simply dismiss life and not feel anything. We needn’t be frightened or resist feeling, but rather contemplate it. Because this is very much the realm we have to put up with and be with for a lifetime. Emotions, feelings and intuition are an inseparable part of it all. If these are not recognized, witnessed and understood we become callous and insensitive rationalists. We just shut everything down because we don’t want to be bothered with sadness, gladness and other feelings. That’s the realm we sometimes feel quite frightened of and resist”[1].

Another observable proof that our true Self is Happiness is when we are faced with a personal crisis. We just want to be alone and do not want to do anything. We do not want any distraction. Instinctively, we are searching for our true Self for comfort because we know that only this can give us happiness. If we trust our instincts and penetrate our intellect by resting in the gap between our thoughts, we will get a glimpse of our true Self. Many people have found true happiness in the midst of a personal crisis. That is why many will laugh when they discover their true Self; they would have become a child again!

[1] Source: ‘Nothing is more Joyless’ – compilation of talks by Ajahn Sumedho


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