"The Kingdom of Heaven is within" —Jesus
"Man, you don't get happiness from your life, you bring happiness to your life." —My dad (who was definitely not Jesus)
The other day I was in a long line at the drugstore, looking around, and I guess had a pretty big grin on my face because as a rather sour-faced guy passed by, cutting through the line right in front of me, he gruffly asked, "What're you so happy about?"
He was gone in a flash, so there wasn't really time to reply...and I don't think he was really interested even if there was time. But the answer I would've given was, "no reason."
That wasn't always the case. I knew what I needed to make me happy, and I chased it relentlessly. But I was, for far too much of the time, angry and unhappy. Why?
Because I had a content-based idea of happiness. I thought if I had better stuff, a bigger title, more money, better friends, better food, better travel experiences, etc., that I would be happier. More content. More fulfilled. (Sound familiar?)
But this idea, that our happiness is somewhere outside of us, contingent upon some condition or some accomplishment, is not just wrong—it's dangerous. Because we end up chasing happiness in the place that it can never be found. And this fruitless endeavor is actually the source of our unhappiness.
This is why there are so many people who have so much—fame, friends, sexual conquests, business success, gadgets, money, etc.—who are utterly miserable. This is the bad news.
The good news is that we are not empty vessels waiting to be filled by whatever happiness we can import. The good news is that the opposite is true. That all the happiness and joy and love we've ever experienced in our life has arisen from within. And the better news is that source is always accessible and renewable. We all, at our core, have a sustainable happiness factory, just waiting to be tapped.
When we learn to meditate in the Vedic way, we are given a tool, our mantra, and the instructions on how to use it to reconnect with the source of that happiness. We sit comfortably, close our eyes, and allow our minds to settle. No concentrating or focusing. No acknowledging thoughts and letting them go.
And so we fall away from the surface of life, from all the striving and acquiring and accomplishing to the layer of consciousness at which we are already fulfilled. And we emerge rested, energized, and happy...for no reason at all.
How nice is that?