What can one do to attain happiness? There is nothing anyone can do; for the simple reason that we are already happy right now, since the very nature of our real Self is infinite bliss. So how can we acquire what we already have?
If that is so, why do we not experience this happiness which is already ours? That is because of our ignorance of our real Self and as a result, our mind creates unhappiness all the time due to identity with wrong entities as Self. We need to drop this unhappiness of our mind and the happiness that has always been ours will instantly manifest.
How to drop this unhappiness of the mind?
We need to find out what is causing it and look at the cause unflinchingly. It will automatically drop.
Now if we analyze carefully, we will discover that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness.
The name of that thing is Attachment.
What is an attachment?
Our mind imagines or projects some kind of joy, pleasure or happiness in some being or thing and gets attached to it. It is an emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without that particular thing or being we cannot be happy. This emotional state of clinging is composed of two elements, one positive and the other is negative. The positive element is the flash of momentary pleasure and excitement, the thrill that we experience when we get what we are attached to. The negative element consists of two aspects. One is the sense of threat, fear and tension that always accompanies the attachment. It is the fear of loss, theft or destruction or reduction in its quality or quantity or the quantum of pleasure we derive out of it. The second negative element is that the object of our attachment may not measure up to our expectations.
So an attachment by its very nature makes us vulnerable to emotional turmoil and always threatens to shatter our peace. As every coin has two inseparable sides, so also every attachment has two inseparable sides – the positive and the negative. If we keep an attachment for its positive element, invariably the negative element will also come with it. We simply can’t get rid of it. So how can we expect an attached person to enter the ocean of happiness?
Now the tragedy of an attachment is that if its object is not attained it causes unhappiness. But if it is attained, it does not cause happiness, it merely causes a flash of momentary pleasure followed by weariness, and it is always accompanied by the anxiety that we may lose the object of our attachment, or its quality or quantity may reduce, which makes us more miserable.
A visitor to an insane asylum found one of the inmates rocking back and forth in a chair cooing repeatedly in a soft voice, Lulu, Lulu…
“What’s this man’s problem?” he asked the doctor.
“Lulu — she was the woman who jilted him,” was the doctor’s reply.
As they proceeded on the tour, they came to a padded cell whose occupant was banging his head repeatedly against the wall and moaning, Lulu… Lulu…..
“Is Lulu this man’s problem too?” asked the visitor.
“Yes,” said the doctor. “He’s the one Lulu finally married.”
So the tragedy of an attachment is that if we don’t get it we are miserable and if we get it we become even more miserable!!
One may say, “Can’t I keep just one attachment?” Of course, we can keep as many as we want, but for each attachment we pay a price in lost happiness.
The nature of attachment is such that even if we satisfy many of them in the course of a single day, the one attachment that was not satisfied will prey upon our mind and make us unhappy.
There is no way to win the battle of attachments. As well search for water without wetness or sun without heat as for an attachment without unhappiness.
No one has ever lived who has come up with a formula for keeping the objects of attachments without struggle, anxiety, fear and sooner or later defeat, leading to misery sorrow and pain.
There is only one way to win the battle of attachments:
Contrary to popular belief, dropping attachments is easy. All we have to do is see and really see the following truths by thorough analyses.
1) First truth: We are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person or thing we will not be happy.
We should analyse each of our attachment and see the falseness of this belief. If we intellectually analyse, we will come to the conclusion that there is not an iota of any joy, pleasure or happiness in any of the things and beings of this entire existence. We may encounter resistance from our heart, but the moment we see the reality of this false belief, there will be an immediate emotional result. At that very instant the attachment loses its power.
2) Second truth: If we just enjoy things, refusing to let ourselves be attached to them, that is refusing to hold the false belief that we will not be happy without them, we are spared all the struggle and emotional strain of protecting them and guarding them for ourselves.
We can keep all the objects of our attachments without giving them up, without renouncing a single one of them and we can enjoy them even more on a non-attachment, a non-clinging basis, because we are peaceful now and relaxed and unthreatened in our enjoyment of them.
3) The third and final truth: If we learn to enjoy the scent of a thousand flowers we will not cling to one or suffer when we cannot get it.
If we have a thousand favourite dishes, the loss of one will go unnoticed and leave our happiness unimpaired. But it is precisely our attachments that prevent us from developing a wider and more varied taste for things and beings.
In the light of these three truths no attachments can survive. But the light must shine uninterruptedly if it is to be effective.