Happiness (based on Teisho 1047, 2006)

We hear so much about suffering that I was rather surprised to hear on one of Albert’s teishos that “awakening and happiness are the same.” In fact it brought me up short and stayed with me, filling me with happiness. By happiness, I mean that feeling of relaxed openness. In this state, one could face and deal with anything. Of course, it did not last very long, but the memory of those words has stayed with me, making me understand at last just what it is I want. Happiness.

Such an ordinary word, not grand at all. Surely all this work is not just for happiness? …but then the teisho goes on to explore this word in depth. As is often the case, it is an exploration and elaboration of some of Nisargadatta’s statements.

Nisargadatta makes very clear that he is not talking about pleasure when he refers to happiness: The difference between happiness and pleasure, he says, is that pleasure depends on things, happiness does not. We “get” pleasure, we never say we “are” pleasure – but we say we are happy. This indicates the vast difference between the two.

Happiness is a bit like silence, silence is always here. Noise does not overcome silence. When there is noise, silence does not disappear. In the same way, happiness is always present. Pain does not do away with happiness.

This last sentence takes some digesting: is it true? One has to examine once again what one means by the use of this word happiness, and remember to disassociate it from pleasure. I think the main word to associate with happiness is “openness”. So much of the time we are tense, resisting things because we “don’t like” them, shutting ourselves off from this and that. We have certain ideas, “beliefs” Nisargadatta calls them, about things, about what reaction certain situations call for. He says these beliefs make our world; certainly they make our life. If we can let go of these beliefs and open ourselves, we may be surprised to find that we don’t actually have to react as we do. As long as we believe we need things to make us happy, we will believe that in their absence we must be miserable. Certain people, certain situations, certain circumstances can all be classed as “things” that we believe we need to make us happy.

It is stated that happiness is our true nature; that there is being, knowing and feeling, and that the fundamental feeling is happiness. If we can see that happiness is fundamental, then we will be less inclined to reach outside when we ask “Who am I?” or “What is it all about?” When we want the ultimate we reach out, for the mind to get beyond itself. If we can see that happiness is already present, that “being” is being happy, that “knowing” is knowing happiness; that “being”, “knowing” and “happiness” are one, that they come from one common source which lies beyond it all, then we will be more inclined to allow what is to come up, to reveal itself.

Real happiness is utterly unselfconscious. This is why it is said that the awakened person does not know they are awakened. Awakening and happiness are the same. One comes home to one’s ultimate happiness. That does not mean to say one walks around on a pink cloud – one gets on with life, one gets involved, one works, but the working is no longer to get feedback, praise and admiration: one does it just to do it, one does things for the sheer joy of doing them…there is a natural pleasure in being able to use our abilities. One gives attention to the doing of it, and not to the meaning of it or the end result of it.

Awakening and happiness are the same – what a joyful statement. What encouragement for those of us who are asking “Who am I?” “What is it all about?”

Jean Low

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4 Responses to Happiness (based on Teisho 1047, 2006)

  1. louis bricault says:

    Thanks Jean for a very inspiring post. So true it is that “pleasure” and “displeasure” are intimately tied with the world meeting (or not) our forever fleeting desires and preferences. Pleasure and displeasure are conditional and deepen our belief that our true well-being lies outside of us, in the world of experience. The happiness / openness state which you outline reminds me of the “unconditional awareness” about which Albert often spoke. Taking it all in, letting be whatever is, without clinging or rejecting, just peacefully being. And then, just doing the dishes and washing one’s face …

  2. Katrin says:

    Thank you so much, Jean. And thank you. Louis. You wrote – better than I could – exactly what I felt reading Jeans posting

  3. Gervais Asselin says:

    Language is so restrictive. I remember having a conversation with Albert on this very subject. I asked him if the word contentment would be more precise in describing what Nisargadatta meant when he used the word happy. Albert said that I was just splitting hairs. I said that as I understand it, happiness is just a mood. One can be happy one moment, then sad the next, and then something will happen and one is happy again. But contentment can be seen as a foundation that moods can not affect. One can be sad, but content. Albert just smiled. An example of what I meant would be Albert’s memorial service. I really don’t mean to contradict anyone hear, but this is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

  4. Jane Fawcett says:

    Thank you Jean and Louis; your words ring through me, help me to “stay with it” as Albert so often said.

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