Have you have ever seen a goat, a real actual goat? If you ever have, then you might have noticed that there are some peculiar nipples on the goat’s neck. What are these nipples for? In India people say that only a fool will try to milk such nipples as that’s not how you can get milk. Have you ever seen a mirage of water in a desert or on a highway road? A few times I have seen mirages that were so realistic and looked just like real water.
The material pursuit of happiness can be likened to both of these phenomena. Recently a friend of mine called and asked me why he was having so many problems in life. I answered him by saying, “If you go to the beach, you will find a lot of sand there. If you want to avoid sand, then do not go to the beach!” Pursuing pure happiness in the physical realm is like trying to avoid sand at the beach. Similarly, even though we try to extract milk from the nipples on a goat’s neck, and look for water in the desert, we still wonder why there is no milk or water. Just think of any material circumstance or material situation – no matter how you rearrange it, even the “best” material circumstance does not produce wholehearted happiness.
Another analogy is that of carrot cake. Carrot cake is a very tasty desert, but if you accidentally drop it in the sand and then try to eat it, the pleasant taste will be spoiled by the unwelcomed grit. The sandy cake will leave you unsatisfied and you will eventually set out to search for a piece of pure carrot cake. In the physical realm, with physical interactions and circumstances, happiness is tainted with sadness and frustration much like the cake is tainted with sand. There is only a sporadic appearance of happiness. However, it is a bit foolish to expect to taste pure carrot cake without some sand in it in this physical realm, or to derive pure happiness from the contact of the senses with the sense objects. Whether it is through excessive eating, sleeping, sex, fast cars, vacations, or whatever, happiness will always be tainted with some kind of “sand.” Many people conclude that that’s just the way life is and choose to accept it as standard. But those who have made at least a little progress on the spiritual path know that this is simply not true. Such a person realizes that carrot cake without sand really does exist and recognizes when they are tasting it.
THE COURAGE TO PURSUE HAPPINESS
It takes some courage to pursue pure happiness though. The materialistic culture can be rather discouraging. This civilization as we know it is intricately designed to help us express materialism and indulge in it. For the most part, however, people seeking ways to live and express their spirituality are left on their own to explore and find ways to live and pursue their spiritual development. For that reason, spirituality is an abstract and illusive concept for most people. Living entities are intrinsically pleasure-seeking beings. Since, generally speaking, people do not really know how to derive happiness from the spiritual plane, they default to the material plane and thus become another member of the materialistic ranch.
The first step in spiritual realization is to see the self as a spirit, a soul in a physical body; not a body that has a soul, rather a soul that has a body. Sure, since we have physical bodies, we have physical needs. No doubt. But essentially we are spirit souls and therefore our primary needs are spiritual. When we are unaware of this, we wind up pursuing the unessential, the material semi-happiness.
Krishna Lounge is an attempt to share a few aspects of a tremendously rich spiritual culture that will help people develop spiritual relationships, socialize spiritually, and express themselves spiritually through music, art, and everything else that is associated with spirituality. This spiritual contact is very much needed in this world. The ultimate cause of all suffering in this world is a lack of spiritual identification and a lack of spiritual culture. If we don’t know how to express ourselves in our true spiritual identity, then we are stuck in material futility.