Saturday, June 27, 2009


We are all well aware of the fleeting nature of happiness - it comes and goes, ebbs and flows, enflames our hearts and stills our souls. Whether a hearty meal, witty joke or afternoon shared with friends, moments of genuine delight sparkle like fireflies on a balmy summer evening. Such gaiety proves temporary, finite, fleeting - but breathtaking, nevertheless.

Of course, happiness (in Gurmukhi: sukh) can easily turn to pain (dukh). With the euphoria of fame comes the disenchanting lifestyle of mass exposure; with the delectable bite of chocolate comes the necessary trip to a drilling dentist; with the luxuries of money comes the unquenchable thirst for superfluity. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib records this truism:

ਸੁਖੈ ਕਉ ਦੁਖੁ ਅਗਲਾ
But in the wake of happiness, there comes great suffering (57.13).

Most discontentment, most unhappiness, derives from unfulfilled desires. We read:

ਸੁਖ ਦੁਖੀਆ ਮਨਿ ਮੋਹ ਵਿਣਾਸੁ
Some are happy, and some are sad. Caught in the desires of the mind, they perish (152.19).

Hence, we need to cultivate more appreciation and less wanting, more concern for depth and less for quantity.

Ultimately, happiness does not depend on the external, but arises from deep within. Happiness derives from being held by and connected to the greater-than-me. One might suggest that God embodies eternal happiness, eternal joy, eternal bliss. Again, we learn:

ਹਉਮੈ ਬਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਛੂਟਾ
Egotism is bondage; as Gurmukh, one is emancipated (131.9).

Gurmukh, or faithful one, literally means she who wears God's face (Gur-mukh). In this way, any individual who forgoes fleeting temporal desires and attunes his being to meeting God by serving others holds the key to a happiness that lies beyond the short-sighted bursts of ecstasy. While the latter are undoubtedly fulfilling from time to time, they never satisfy our longing and inner suspicion that somewhere there exists something more.

Harkeerat Singh proposes that we see knowledge as pebbles and faith as a box. Without the former inside, the box could easily be flattened and destroyed. Similarly, without the latter to hold them, the pebbles would get scattered and lost. Happiness operates analogously. We must strive to collect our worldly pebbles of joy in the great box of the Beloved. And we must recognize that access to this box lies hidden deep within:

ਤਿਚਰੁ ਵਸਹਿ ਸੁਹੇਲੜੀ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਾਥੀ ਨਾਲਿ
As long as the soul-companion is with the body, it dwells in happiness (50.16).

We should strive to awaken to our own being-in-God; hence, to our being-in-God-in-community with others. In the Unitarian Pulpit, Rev. J. H. Thom. insists: "the first Law of the realm of spirits - to love God and Man - is a sure provision for Blessedness,- to find our happiness in the happiness of others."

We must live as Gurmukhis - with the faces of God, turned towards the world.

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