I recently lost my BC Hydro charge card. I looked for it in my wallet. I went through my jacket and pant pockets. I checked my desk and on my nightstand, but still couldn’t find it.
This card allows me to charge our electric car at the high-speed charge station. With it, the car can recharge in a little over an hour instead of taking all night. Replacing it would require jumping a few hoops, checking through accounts, recalling passwords, etc.
In short, I felt greatly distressed.
The next day, while in the car, I dropped a pen between the passenger seat and the centre console. While digging around to retrieve it, I happened to find my card. It had fallen out of my pocket. All those problems and issues that had been cartwheeling through my mind vanished in that flickering moment. With the burden of trudging through the bureaucracies of cyberspace lifted, I smiled and laughed.
When I told this story to my friend Kevin, I asked him, “What does this tell you about the quality of my happiness?”
He replied, “That you’re easily satisfied.”
While that analysis contained a ring of truth, its core displayed why I accepted Kevin’s friendship. He shed a favourable perspective to my miserly condition, but I wasn’t ready to concede the point.
I needed to explain a bit further.
“It’s such a small thing, though, and yet I got tremendous happiness from it,” I said,
Kevin smiled and repeated himself, “So it doesn’t take much to make you happy.”
“No, no,” I replied. “It’s not about the quantity of the happiness, but the quality. The distress I felt from the loss of the card laid the foundation for my happiness. I experienced relief from my suffering. That lifting of the burden created an illusion of happiness. My happiness is just a lift up from a miserable state.”
Kevin shook his head: “I don’t think you’ve got that right,” he said. “That’s not the cause of your happiness.”
I continued: “Of course you’re not going to agree. If you did, that would mean a state of misery necessarily precludes your own personal variations of happiness, whatever they may be. That 2019, five-day, all-inclusive Mexico vacation I took felt so good because the sunshine thawed out the frost sinking into my bones. It dispelled the dark icy chill of December. Quantitatively, I got a lot more happiness out of that vacation than I did from finding my BC Hydro charge card, but qualitatively, the happiness is the same.”
Kevin replied: “So, where are you going to look for happiness? If it comes easy enough after a four-and-a-half hour flight, why not just lay back in the sun and enjoy it?”
“It’s flickering,” I replied. “It comes and goes like the seasons, this material happiness. The happiness we derive from our interactions within this world isn’t real happiness at all. It’s all just a variation of weekend blowouts. We feel refreshed and ready to start anew after a little slackening of the binding knots that tie us to our daily activities. Rather than seeking out real happiness, we just get entangled in the constant cycle of pressure and release, action and reaction.”
“In order to have real happiness, the kind that gives us a high with no hangover because we never come down, we need to direct and root our consciousness so it connects us with the supreme personality of Godhead. Because this position is our eternal position we get a sampling of that eternality, which includes unlimited happiness.”
In Bhagavad Gita 2:66, Krishna says, “One who is not connected with the Supreme [in Kṛa consciousness] can have neither transcendental intelligence, nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?”
This understanding that we are not the body and have absolutely nothing to do with this world is the most basic aspect of transcendental knowledge. We need that transcendental knowledge in order to go beyond and transcend the mundane forms of happiness we seek in this world. Real happiness lies in the re-establishment of our eternal position, making that connection with the supreme.
The constant pursuit of material happiness leaves the mind in an ever disturbed state. Unless our minds can connect with the supreme, the ultimate goal, mental activities must constantly endeavour and search out forms of happiness and sense pleasure.
With the goal of re-establishing the relationship with god, the mind can become peaceful.
The goal should never be happiness. Real happiness is just a by-product of being established in the transcendental position.
And what is the saddest part of having this knowledge?
“No, what is that?” Kevin asked.
“I am still going to search out happiness on Friday at 5 p.m. while shopping for a new phone, eating out at a good restaurant and binge-watching HBO on Sunday afternoon,” I replied.
Meier lived in Taiwan for over 20 years. He worked as an aircraft maintenance technical instructor and quality manager with Lufthansa Technical Training. During his time there he studied eastern religions, primarily Vedantism, and became an active member of the Hare Krishna community. Besides having a technical background in aircraft maintenance, Meier holds a Masters degree in Educational Practices. He repatriated back to Canada with his family four years ago. Currently, Meier is working in the social services sector.
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