Our happiness depends not as much on our standard of living as on our standard of longing
We usually seek to improve our standard of living. If we have a high standard of living, we will have the trappings of success; society will respect us; and we will be happy. Or so we believe.
The reality, however, is that our happiness is determined not as much by our standard of living as by our standard of longing, that is, by the kind of things we long for. Even when we have a lot, if we are still longing for the things we don’t have, we will stay dissatisfied. No matter how much more we raise our standard of living, still our standard of longing will keep us longing for something more thereby keeping us dissatisfied. Such a life is, in the Bhagavad-gita’s language, in the mode of passion; and it is characterized by insatiable longing (14.12).
Of course, longing itself is not bad – longing characterizes the living condition. While some spiritual paths enjoin the eradication of longing, bhakti-yoga recommends its elevation. All living beings have longings at the bodily level – they long for food, strength, sleep and sex. But we human beings also have the developed consciousness to long for something more.
Bhakti-yoga connects us with the highest object for longing: the all-attractive reservoir of all pleasure, Krishna. Connecting with him, and with those connected with him, provides glimpses of sublime joy, thereby stimulating within us a longing for him. Such longing is itself joyful because the more we long for him, the more we remember him and such remembrance comprises connection with the one who is the source of all joy. Over time, this divine longing eclipses all our mundane longings.
When we become absorbed in Krishna and long to be constantly absorbed in him, we become perennially happy.
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