Free Press Journal

In pursuit of peace and happiness


The mantra of happiness and peace magnifies if we increase our acceptance quotient and truly live in the present moment, writes Ravi Valluri

Peace of mind is a state of mental and emotional calmness, happiness and freedom with no worries. Can we achieve such a state of stillness, given the fact that we continue to postpone our moments of happiness?

The prized possession of several youngsters used to be Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’. The immortal lyrics were a rage:

‘Hello Darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Within the sound of silence…’

And the mellifluous song goes on…It was a path breaking number which inspired generations of musicians and lovers of melody. The human mind continues to be restless or in a state of agitation. It seems to be constantly strafed by innumerable thoughts and desires. This makes us miserable and unhappy as humans are never living in the present moment. They are in pursuit of achievement, not peace or happiness. We are inured to delay the state of fulfillment and bliss.

When Buddha attained enlightenment on a full moon day, it is believed that he maintained silence for a full week. He did not utter a word. Mythology says that the angels in the heavens were a petrified lot. They were conscious of the fact that only once in millennia does a Siddhartha become a Buddha.

They pleaded with him to utter some words. The compassionate Buddha spoke thus, “Those who know, they know without my saying and those who do not know, will not know even if I say something. Any description of light to a blind man is of no use. There is no point in talking to those who have not tasted the ambrosia of life, and therefore I am silent. How can you convey something so intimate and personal? Words cannot. And as many scriptures in the past have declared words, end where truth begins.”

The angels opined that there are several people who are confined to the borderlines; neither are they fully enlightened nor are they ignorant. Such people too have the necessity and potential to cross the Rubicon and move from sound to silence.

For the sake of such individuals, the compassionate Buddha spoke, to silence their minds. Thus after undergoing the churning, the tormented and distraught souls would be able to discern between chimera and contentment.

Similarly, when Jesus was asked as to whether he was the son of God, he did not reply! He remained silent and it was his service to the humanity and innumerable miracles performed that drew the faithful to him. Pagans were converted to a more structured religion where their self and mind discovered succor.

Since the beginning of our existence we have fixated our minds to be in auto state to desire, to perpetually want. Are we so impoverished? The mind is continuously cannonaded by innumerable covetous thoughts in order to fulfill those wants. Study of economics teaches us that a want when backed by money becomes a demand.

Now to fulfill the demand, humans need to be gainfully employed. We end up choosing careers which may nourish our bodies but not our souls. Employment is followed by marriage, and then begetting children, their education and the circle continues.

Paradoxical as it may appear amidst us are anxious mothers who even attempt timing the birth of their grandchildren to attain stability. One can imagine the hapless state of such couples.

Psychologists have to perforce treat such couples who cannot procreate at their will. The biological lives of such couples get controlled by overbearing parents. In this age and space, one can imagine as to how joyless their lives would be!

It is no trade secret that to become a civil servant is the most celebrated job in the country. Doctors, engineers and highly qualified professionals all aspire to become bureaucrats to ‘serve’ the nation.  But the purported happiness and peace is achieved only when an officer trainee joins the IAS, the IPS or the IFS and those selected for the Central Services remain poor cousins of their illustrious peers.

Again we can have conditioned our minds, bracketed them in certain ossified compartments where individuals feel strangulated their entire careers. Or else why would officers repeatedly appear for the examinations losing precious joining time. Again we postpone our happiness…..

Various pay commissions have not been able to rectify anomalies in pay structure and promotions between the presumably elite services and the others.

This for years has not been accepted by the officers belonging to the Central Services and those in the defence services. There is a virtual war between the South Block and Army Headquarters, men in uniform pitted against ‘Babus’.

Two fundamental pointers emerge from this debate. Envy and jealousy, and not accepting the reality, the result is our pathetic life. Do not overate what you have received, nor envy others. “He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind”, says Buddha. When humans measure everything in quantitative terms, happiness will remain an elusive bird which will build its nest in more harmonious environs.

Bhutan or Bhota Anta(in Sanskrit) perhaps comes closest to happiness index as the country’s prosperity is measured in Gross National Happiness(GNH) and not in Gross Domestic Product(GDP). Furtherunder the aegis of Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010, there is a stringent control on tobacco and tobacco products in the country.  Consequently, lives of Bhutanese people are not endangered by the noxious twins of tobacco and unhappiness. Interestingly this is perhaps the only country where no newspapers are delivered on Sundays. Thus a Bhutanese is not exposed to any gruesome news.

The mantra of happiness and peace magnifies if we increase our acceptance quotient and truly live in the present moment. Humans should not just be in search of excellence but in pursuit of happiness and peace. It should not be adjourned to the winters of our lives when we rue the missed opportunities….. not of acquisitions but of moments of silence.