The secret to being happy all the time.
The mind consumes a vast amount of sensory experiences daily, some of which generate happiness, while others leave us unhappy. Both these states of joy and sorrow linked to sensory experiences are temporary. Life becomes uncertain and unpredictable when trapped in a cyclical movement between happiness and unhappiness.
The most significant source of stress for most people is the future. Those who are happy and comfortable in the present worry it might end, while those who are struggling in the present fear the future getting worse. In both situations, the struggle is for lasting happiness.
We lose precious time in the search for a joyful state that does not leave us. Human ingenuity that can create external comfort and convenience cannot help with inner freedom and joy. We can send human-made objects to Mars, but we have not come up with external solutions for this internal struggle for happiness. Existence has equipped everyone equally to mine the interiority for lasting happiness. How do we do it?
The extent and timing of life's upturns and downturns differ from one individual to another. That is a fact of life. Our resistance to the acceptance of this fact leads to comparison with others. When we compare ourselves with those whose lives we perceive as being on the upswing, which is a defacto correlate of happiness in the worldly sense, we experience unhappiness.
There are many external variables out of our direct control, which influences success and failure, and hence, joy and sorrow. The sensory apparatus bringing in desirable and undesirable experiences are agnostic to the type of experience. Once it passes through the doors of the mind, we begin to sort through this information, labeling it according to our desires and aspirations.
We can divide sensory information streaming into the mind into two categories.
1. General interest
2. Personal context
This differentiation is essential in the context of what the mind does with incoming sensory data. Information of a general nature such as the happenings in the world keeps the mind occupied for a limited time. It is like reading a newspaper. Just as we don't go back to yesterday's news, we forget information of general nature that the mind consumes daily.
The subconscious mind stores all sensory information coming into the mind, including those bits to which we pay little attention. From there, fragments of information well up as passing thoughts and dreams. Such transitory thoughts are like the paint on a wall. The color of paint offers no structural support but adds a finished look.
Information of a personal context gets special treatment. It has to pass through the gates of our likes and dislikes. There is a 'walled off personal area' in the mind. We can compare our likes and dislikes to bricks and cement which bind together to create a wall. Although likes and dislikes differ widely, they cannot be separated. Every like has a corresponding dislike. Unless we dislike something, we cannot preferentially like another thing. They work in concert to build the edifice of the mind.
Taken together, the 'brick and cement' of likes and dislikes, and the finishing' paint' of general information that the subconscious stores, completes the picture of the mind.
The mental picture we have of life is a play between the mind and awareness. Although the mind is a place of movement of thoughts, as a whole, it is static. It cannot move from place to place. A solid wall is stationary, but its constituent atoms are in continual movement, similar to the concept of the static nature of the mind as a whole and the dynamic environment of individual thoughts.
Our awareness is in continual movement just as air moves in space. We cannot see the flow of air in space, but we can feel it's presence. Just as we cannot confine air within the walls of a building, we cannot confine awareness solely to the mind.
Awareness does not originate in the mind. We can delink it from the mind by taking advantage of its movement in and out of the mind. The less we choose between what we like and dislike, the more the distance between mind and awareness.
Experience of life through the mind and awareness are entirely different. Through the mind, living in the present is relative to the past, and through awareness, it becomes absolute. Awareness does not have a past. It is a present phenomenon.
We can compare different walls of a house, their size, the color of paint, thickness, and whether they are structurally essential or not. Similarly, the mind sees life through the lens of comparison. Comparisons exist both externally and internally. We compare one thought with another, one emotion with another, our lives versus that of others, etc.
We cannot see air, but we can measure its quality in different parts of the world based on particulate densities of pollutants. Similarly, awareness has varying degrees of contamination based on our involvement in the mind and thoughts. Just as air is very pure in remote and unpopulated places, awareness gets purer as we get further away from densely packed thoughts.
Just as humans depend on air, but the air, in turn, does not need human activity to exist, the mind depends on awareness for its existence. Whereas awareness can standalone without the mind's involvement. When awareness is entangled with the mind, we are continually searching for happiness. This search happens through picking and choosing, retaining and discarding, comparing and contrasting between various experiences.
To render awareness independent of the mind, entering a witnessing state is essential. Witnessing leads to pure and choiceless awareness and growing awareness, in turn, strengthens our witnessing ability. Witnessing offers an independent unbiased viewpoint, while the mind's viewpoint is always partisan to one thought or another.
It is through awareness that we touch the eternal spring of happiness that is within all. The mind searches outside for pleasure, while awareness and witnessing turn us inward. When we own a car, we have full access to it all the time. Similarly, once we are in an awareness that is independent of the mind, it comes with a perk - growing inner happiness that does not depend on the world.
Awareness ensures that the keys to happiness remain with us and not with objects and experiences of the world. Once we have this key, we never lose it, just as fingers always remain attached to our body. Happiness follows us wherever we go, and we need not be in search of joy. We can utilize our time in giving to the world rather than trying to wring happiness from the world. When we are in awareness, happiness becomes a permanent appendage. No thought can provide us with such assurance.