Why does happiness often lead to distress?
We all want to be happy. And we often think that if we get enjoyable worldly objects, we will become happy. Yes, those things can give us some pleasure. But it is short-lived; that’s not just because those objects themselves don’t have an unlimited capacity to give pleasure. It’s also because our mind that is searching for some such objects is unsteady. The restless mind will keep wandering to something else that seems better and start craving for that thing. And by such craving, it will keep us dissatisfied.
The Bhagavad-gita analyzes human psychology in terms of the three modes of material nature; it describes that the mode of passion leads to distress, whereas the mode of goodness leads to knowledge and happiness. So when our consciousness is devoid of goodness, then even if we get enjoyable objects, still we will find ourselves getting far more misery than pleasure. The indulgence with the objects lasts for a few moments, but before and after those moments of indulgence, the hankering and the lamenting last for a long time.
When we understand this sobering reality, we redirect our quest for happiness — instead of chasing good-looking objects, we seek to develop the mode of goodness. As the mode of goodness increases, then our mind becomes steadier. And we can appreciate the good things that we have, thereby feeling more content. Through further spiritual growth, we can realize our own indestructible spirituality and thereby glimpse the joyful nature of the soul. Through devotional growth, our mind becomes sheltered in our indwelling Lord, who is the ultimate good thing we have, for he is the inexhaustible source of the ultimate happiness.
By thus increasing our goodness, we can pave the way to lasting happiness.
Happiness that is devoid of goodness is the doorway to distress.
Think it over:
- Why is external happiness short-lived?
- Why does happiness devoid of goodness lead to distress?
- How does happiness founded in goodness become enduring?
14.16: The result of pious action is pure and is said to be in the mode of goodness. But action done in the mode of passion results in misery, and action performed in the mode of ignorance results in foolishness.
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