The Financial Express

Happiness – search for the ultimate experience

Shihab Sarkar | Published: October 03, 2019 21:32:12

Happiness – search for the ultimate experience

Happiness is defined by people in different ways. In the view of a philosophical school, happiness doesn't have to be related to accumulated wealth. It's a certain condition of the mind. Spiritualists view it as epitome of the state of peace or happiness. A group of idealists extols remaining poor to be the key to happiness. Although the pragmatists, or even the stoics, and certainly the followers of hedonism will reject the idea outright, there are potent grains of truth in the theory. It has been in circulation in society in every modern civilisation since long. Purely hailing from the Orient, the advocates of plain and poverty-tinged living once used to command respect in society. Not only that, the fondness for a humble and unadorned life at one stage of the lives of many would be said to have been born in their dormant spiritual selves. Perhaps because of this, we have seen Gautam Buddha, then Prince Siddhartha, came out into the wide open and dust-laden world leaving the comfort of his palace -- in search of the meaning of existence.

Before coming out into the vast expanse of mundane reality, Siddhartha noticed an old man, an ill person, a corpse being carried to the cremation site and a monk in meditation beneath a tree. Those were the four sights that prompted the founder of Buddhism to roam places in search of the true meaning of life. Finally, he chose the path of the monk and sat in a deep meditation under the Bodhi tree in search of truth --- which finally visited him in the form of supreme happiness or Enlightenment. And Prince Siddhartha became Lord Buddha, an epitome of ethereal happiness. 

These enlightenments and spiritual realisations have occurred to many commoners as well. Owing to their obscure identity, the average people do not show much interest in them. The 'chosen' people also do not want to publicise their experiences. They find it to be a gift of nature that they have been able to identify wealth and pomp as the two main obstructions to happiness. Although he was a global celebrity, Albert Einstein has tried all through his life to find the roots of happiness. He even thought deeply about the subject keeping it against the backdrop of his own experiences. An incident related to the scientist's search for happiness is by now known globally.

Made public in 2017, the original incident occurred in Tokyo in 1922. The German-born scientist was in Japan on a lecture tour. He had just been informed that he was to receive the Nobel Prize for Physics that year. Worldwide fame and publicity glitters had already started pursuing him. The episode has it that during Einstein's stay at Tokyo's Imperial Hotel a courier arrived in his room to hand him a message. As person, the scientist was quite formal in dealing with people. On receiving the message, he was seen searching his pocket for coins as a tip. Perhaps he did not find any. On the other hand, the messenger declined to take any. Maybe, the Japanese tradition did not approve of the custom. Caught in a dilemma, the physicist tore a page from the hotel's pad, wrote a few lines and told the courier that these words might one day become much more valuable than just a regular tip. On the page Einstein wrote, "A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest." Many Einstein memorabilia collectors think the note had referred to the dread that had already started overtaking the scientist over the information of his receiving the Nobel Prize in a short time.

Genuine great people continue to try their best to shun public attention. They believe only in their work. Fame or publicity is of little significance to them. They derive happiness from the work they keep themselves engaged in for the welfare of mankind. However, seeking publicity is not viewed as something wrong. Many locally, regionally or globally famous persons run after what Einstein called "success bound with constant unrest." They continue to find the seeds of happiness in these achievements. The irony is that humble and unpretentious life has no parallel. What true happiness offers people is a peaceful and reflective mind. This happiness that grows beyond the boundaries of materialistic pleasures also generates fraternity and friendliness between man and man. It's only a few who experience bits of this state of bliss. Perhaps Bertrand Russell was one of them. As he has observed, "The secret of happiness is very simply this: Let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile." The quintessential message of these words is the overwhelmingly magical warmth transmitted from one person to another. This is how happiness grows and lasts in society.



Share if you like