Happiness is always a byproduct, never a product
All of us want to be happy. And the world is filled with activities that promise happiness – movies, music, video games, food, sex… Yet experience shows us that these activities offer a bit of initial titillation, but no real happiness. On occasions like long vacations when we make these happiness-promising activities our primary business, we soon find ourselves empty and bored. No matter how extravagant the ways in which we seek happiness, what we get is a temporary relief from emptiness and boredom, not any positive fulfillment.
Why is that?
The world’s great wisdom-traditions tell us that happiness has a paradoxical nature. It forever eludes those who seek it as their explicit, exclusive goal. It comes as a byproduct to those people who dedicate themselves to a cause greater than the attainment of happiness.
Gita wisdom echoes and expands this insight. It informs us that the greatest cause to which we can dedicate ourselves is love, love for Krishna. Why? Because Krishna is the all-attractive Supreme Person who has fully all the qualities whose fractional presence makes people lovable in our eyes. And most importantly, Krishna already loves us and is waiting for us to revive our loving relationship with him. In loving Krishna, all our heart’s longing to love and be loved is completely and eternally fulfilled. The Bhagavad-gita (10.09) indicates that those who engage in such pure devotional service relish as a natural byproduct immense sublime happiness (tushyanti ca ramanti ca).
However, this happiness will elude us if we let the goal of our devotional service shift from the pleasure of Krishna to our own happiness. The more we seek Krishna’s pleasure, the more we will find our happiness-stock automatically filling and flooding.
“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.”