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I’ve had a debate for a while with people about happiness and whether it’s just being or a conscious state of being. And, unsurprisingly, there is a lot in the public sphere that get’s printed about how or what is happiness.

I came across this piece in Friday’s HT. It’s a viewpoint… if nothing else.

INNER VOICE – Happiness, a bit far-fetched

ENGLISH POET Rupert Brooke wrote: “A young Apollo, golden-haired/Stands dreaming on the brink of strife/Magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life.”

So “What is the big dream in your life?” I asked my class of undergraduate second year students at IIT Madras. The ‘young Apollos’ gave me these responses: “a genius the world will never forget,” “a world-famous academician,” “a billionaire in Silicon Valley,” “the CEO of a giant MNC,” and so on. But what happens when the big dream gets fulfilled, when you get rich and famous? Will you attain an enduring state of fulfillment? Will you then be able to live happily ever after?

Is there not a deep truth in the saying of Jesus: “For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” The dreams of our best and brightest students are ones that have been consciously and unconsciously ingrained in them by their parents and teachers. Their dreams are but a reflection of the prevailing worldview.

As a professor of structural engineering, I wonder if this is the best our education has to offer today and want to build up a strong case for thinking beyond competitive performance. Every accomplishment brings us some sense of fulfillment, but this does not linger long. At no point can one stop and feel: “Yes, at last I have found enduring happiness.”

We all have different reasons to feel depressed. The mind has its own mechanics and won’t obey the cold logic of reason. We have the dubious distinction of undergoing untold suffering, including boredom, caused by our own minds. Wise men have suggested that this discontent is nature’s way of saying, “Something’s wrong with you,” and enabling us to awake to a higher consciousness.

Only by an awakening can one experience the loveliness of existence.

(Extracted courtesy Tattvaloka magazine, April 2008, from ‘Stop Sleepwalking Through Life’, Yogi Books Pvt Ltd.)

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