Most of us have some goal or the other for ourselves. (Unfortunately, there are those who travel through life without even thinking about the purpose. We will, for the time being, leave them out) Goals may range from very short term ones, such as wanting to do well in an examination, to longer term goals such as being remembered after one’s death.
Sooner or later, one will come to understand that the goal (any goal in this universe, within the jagat) does not seem to satisfy one – something is short. Achievement of these goals certainly can bring some amount of comfort or happiness, sukha, called vishaya sukha. However, this sukha is dependent upon external objects, people and situations. Unfortunately, none of these is stable, they keep changing. Even when they do not change, their ability to give us sukha (or our ability to extract sukha) seems to change.
When a man buys a new car, after a lot of struggle, he seems to be happy. Soon, when his neighbour brings home a bigger car, the same car that gave him sukha, seems not to be able to do so! A man who was enjoying his lunch and drawing sukha from there, suddenly seems to lose out when he gets a message that this son has had an accident. Sastra points out any vishayasukha will come with three types of dosha or limitations.
First, Anitya. Such vishayasukha can only last a short time. Then it wanes or even completely disappears (sometimes even becomes the cause for duhkha!). A young couple gets married and find great joy in each other – for some time! Then each does not find the same sukha in the other. In some cases, there may then be another man who thinks he will find happiness if he marries the girl!
Second, every sukha is accompanied by its counterpart, duhkha. There is effort needed to gain the goal; there are disappointments and frustrations along the way; having gained the object of desire, there is effort (and worry) to maintain/preserve it. For example, having gained wealth, one has to invest it and worry about the investment (and all the known and unknown factors that may affect it), or store it and worry about it’s safekeeping from robbers (or the taxman!) or worry about people who may cast a “bad-eye” on his wealth.
Third, Atrupti. Every desire is like fire. One of the names for fire is Analah, so called because it has no alam buddhi – does not ever say, ‘enough’. Similarly, no one with any desire says this is enough. If he does, he would not then know what to do next! The desire keeps growing, and he does not know how to stop, even if the relative sukha that every addition gives keeps diminishing. (If you have ever wondered why some people keep on wanting more and more wealth, even though there is little or no additional value to be seen, this atrupti is a possible explanation)
One may say, “OK, I understand all this, but I still I want to gain these visayasukha. Veda tells him how he can gain it, as long as he remains in harmony with dharma and, follows the instructions strictly.
Is it possible to find sukha without these limitations? The answer is Yes. This will be dealt with later, but think about it.
(Swami Ganeshaswarupananda can be reached at email@example.com)