“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
This life is meant to be enjoyed, is it not? Should we spend day after day sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for ourselves? Should we wallow in self-pity, wondering where everything went wrong? Nobody prefers to do these things; the first choice is to enjoy, to be happy. A person would rather greet everyone with a smile than look on with envy. One would rather not hate anyone than immediately search for someone’s bad qualities upon first meeting them.
Who is enjoying life right now? Is it the person with money? Know that this person gets hounded by others. Know that friendships they had previously change quickly once their net worth increases. Others don’t know how to act in front of them. They can’t view them as their friend anymore; they think first of the money.
Is the married person happy? Do you think it’s easy living with someone else, day after day? There is struggle in any relationship. Each party must compromise. If a person gives in too frequently, they might explode one day. They’ll remember all that they sacrificed and then consider that the other person is taking advantage of them. The spouse may not believe that you love them so much, even if you do. You may tell them that they are number one, and with that they’ll respond, “Ah, so that means there must be a number two. Who is it?”
Is the person with children happy? They have constant worry. They have so much affection for their children that they can’t stop thinking about them. They fear that one day those children will no longer be with them. Then you have the problem of independence. Every living being has some degree of independence, which means that we can’t fully control others, including our dependents. The children will disobey orders. They will fail many times in life. They will experience pain and heartache. This will reach the parents, who in turn will not be happy.
Is the recluse happy? They may experience joy from time to time, but who is there to share? There is no one around to whom to offer kind words. There is no interaction, whatsoever. In the drive to avoid distractions and attachments, the person has taken away enjoyment as well. They have no company; they are all alone.
As this covers the common circumstances in life, does this mean that it is impossible to be happy? The wise person will heed the words of the Bhagavad-gita, which say that the person who no longer hankers or laments gets real peace. That state is a transcendental one, coming from knowledge of Brahman. Spirit is that which transcends matter. It is beyond the dualities of heat and cold, up and down. It is described as Brahman, which is the Absolute Truth.
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
The person who has realized Brahman is happy, and they are eligible to take up devotion, bhakti. This is the route to true happiness. Regardless the circumstance, which is always temporary, there is one way to find pleasure for the soul. That way is offering praise. Take a look at the award shows honoring film and television stars. Listen to the person who has succeeded in life and knows why they did so. They offer praise to others. They are quick to find the good qualities in others. They don’t remember the bad, since that doesn’t make them as happy.
In bhakti, there is always someone to praise. The object of praise has qualities that are unimaginable, yet real. They are not concocted by the mind, though the mind could never think of such qualities. The object of praise is infallible, eternal, unconquerable, without a beginning, without an end, all-attractive, blissful, and full of knowledge. That object of praise is the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna.
Bhakti is love and devotion, and yoga is linking the individual with the Supreme Brahman. In bhakti-yoga, you find true happiness by devoting yourself to God. You have something to do all the time; it is not like you are signing onto a religion that you then use only for identification. It is not that you are only waiting for a better future, pleasure in the afterlife. Bhakti-yoga is a way of life, and the foundation is praise of the Almighty, the Supreme Lord.
You will feel happy offering this praise. You don’t need anything to practice bhakti-yoga. It does not require money, high stature, family members, or even intelligence. Even the person incapable of offering eloquent words can at least chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The person who can’t chant can at least hear. They can listen to others offer praise about their best friend. Shri Krishna is the greatest well-wisher, living in the heart always, travelling with the individual from life to life. Hearing praise of the author of all great things will make one happy. Everyone is looking for happiness, and bhakti-yoga is the way to get it.
Others jealous at materially successful life,
Children a worry, husband to argue with wife.
Though ascetic living in area secluded,
All alone, interactions not included.
Praise the way for happiness making,
Like honoree chance at awards show taking.
To Supreme Lord give words every single day,
His endless glory, true happiness’s only way.