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Enemies of happiness

THE ASIAN AGE. | SUMA VARUGHESE
Published : Jul 27, 2018, 12:25 am IST
Updated : Jul 27, 2018, 12:24 am IST

There are five primary tricks the ego uses to veil the happiness that is our true nature.

At the heart of desire is the feeling of not being good enough exactly as we are
 At the heart of desire is the feeling of not being good enough exactly as we are

Our true nature is happiness. Every sage has said so. Vedanta upholds sat-chit-ananda (existence, consciousness and bliss), as the three constituents of our true nature.

So it begs the question. How come, then, that most of us are spectacularly unhappy? The short answer lies in the presence of that sneaky little entity — the ego, which is aptly called ahamkara (the I-maker) in Sanskrit. This focus on I, me and myself, gives rise to the illusion that we are separate from others which is the root reason for much of our unhappiness.

There are five primary tricks the ego uses to veil the happiness that is our true nature.

Desire. Desire is the seductress that sends us chasing after the new iPhone or the latest Mercedes model, not to mention earning so many crores per year, becoming CEO at 30, marrying the girl or boy of one’s dreams and so on. Desire foments unhappiness, for in our longing to get what we want, we spurn what is. Even if we achieve our dreams, our satisfaction does not last long, for then we fear lest we lose what we have gained so painstakingly. At the heart of desire is the feeling of not being good enough exactly as we are, which is why we seek to bolster ourselves through possessions, labels or romantic love.

Expectations. These too can trip us up and send us spinning into despair. When life does not act according to our expectations, when people are unreasonable, the boss is a terror, our significant other nags, we fail to snag the marks or the job we were expecting, we tend to react in anger and disappointment.

Resentment. It is essentially lack of forgiveness. Each of us has a checklist of grudges we have against parents, siblings, friends, even God and life. Our favourite activity is to run this checklist in our minds over and over again, as we brood over the injuries done to us. This locks us in victimhood and deprives us of our power, which steeps us in further pain.

Resistance. This is the biggie. Resistance is the thin filter of protest that runs through every moment of our lives. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, there is always something or the other that we are resisting in the back of our minds. Resistance is the inability to accept life as it unfolds moment by moment, which means we are doomed to despondency when we do not get an auto to stop, miss the local train, get splashed by a vehicle on a rainy day, forget our wallet at home, lose our mobile or whatever contretemps, major or minor, that may accost us in the course of the day.

Fear. Fear has many siblings and cousins — worry, anxiety, insecurity — to name just three. Living as we believe we do in a world of separation with no control over the future, fear engulfs us most of the time, putting rest to any possibility of peace and joy.

Now the big question is, what do we do about them? This is where inner work comes in. Enter your inner world and become intimately acquainted with yourself. The more you accept what reveals itself to you — your thoughts, feelings, fantasies — the freedom you  get of these egoic patterns. Your journey is done when happiness, unsought and silence, comes stealing in.

The writer is former editor-in-chief of Life Positive magazine and founder, facilitator of the Zen of Good Writing Course. Contact her at sumavarughese@gmail.com

MT25

Tags: sanskrit, ahamkara, disappointment.