Is there a limit to your happiness, an upper limit, that is?
You may already be quite a happy and fulfilled individual or so you think. You may have just completed your hard-earned university degree or you may have a good job and a relationship with someone that seems to go well, and your health is ok. What else would one need?
But are you truly happy? If you look deep inside yourself, do you possess the kind of happiness that truly counts? The happiness that you have, is it lasting and is it immune to the vagaries of life? Few of us would readily answer in the affirmative. For it is no secret that health may deteriorate, relationships may sour, a good job may not last or may become a drag depending who one works with, while a university degree is simply a piece of paper that may not count for much depending on whom you show it to.
If one were to define true – and let it be at this stage purely hypothetical – happiness, where would one start?
For one, such happiness should not depend on outer circumstances. It would be unfortunate if real happiness had to depend on a statistically very improbable confluence of a myriad of events, which one has little say over and which would need to fit perfectly each person’s situation. How cruel would it be of nature to have created a human being without endowing him or her with a self-contained source of happiness?
Therefore, one characteristic of true happiness is that it should be originating inside oneself. Perhaps, such happiness should also be always available and accessible at one’s sweet will. What is the point of owning a well, but not being able to drink freely from it?
Which brings us to the next criteria – happiness should be such that it can be shared with others. Owning a well and being able to drink from it is good. Being able to share the well with others and thus give them the joy of drinking from it is the best. Sharing is a joyous moment not only for the receiver, but also for the giver, thus further adding to the happiness that one already has.
Importantly, happiness should be available in abundant, if not unlimited, supply. Not only such boundless supply should provide for personal needs which at times may be quite demanding, but it should also allow for unconstrained sharing with others. True, happiness is positively contagious in its own right, but it is more appreciated when shared deliberately and enthusiastically.
Perhaps linked to the abundance aspect, true happiness should be enduring. In earthly terms, that would be as lasting as the ocean, the mountains or the stars, but the real definition of true happiness would extend well beyond that.
It would also not be too much to ask if happiness were totally pure, unadulterated by anything else of this world or of the other worlds. Genuine diamonds would come close to describe purity, but may still not live up fully to the definition of ‘pure’ in its purest and strictest form.
Is then search for true happiness an exercise in futility?
In an old spiritual tale, a wealthy farmer once heard from a wondering monk about a mythical river whose river bed was covered in diamonds. The story about the river carrying diamonds so captivated the farmer that he decided to set on a journey to find it. Before leaving, he sold all of his vast lands, cattle and other valuable possessions. He spent all the remaining years of his life criss-crossing the world in search for the fabled diamond river, but in vain – the river was nowhere to be found. In his desperate and excruciating search, he spent his entire fortune. Having reached a very old age and in a state of absolute desperation, he decided to return to his old lands. His intention to return to his roots and the previous source of his now-squandered wealth was marked with just one thought – to die in peace. Tired and mentally worn out, he entered his native countryside and bent over a river to drink from its waters. Lo and behold, the river was full of precious and shining diamonds lying on its bottom.
This tale epitomizes the spiritual search of man, who looks for answers to his existential plight somewhere else but within himself. Meditation reminds us that the source of our happiness, the story’s true diamonds, lies within us. Even if at times we may be distracted to look for them elsewhere, the fabled diamonds continue to be, as they have always been, within our reach. All we need to do is to have faith and turn our gaze within.
Unsurprisingly, the happiness one derives from meditation meets all of the criteria listed earlier. It may not be something one would experience at the very start, but eventually, with time and practice, such true happiness comes within reach, becoming part and parcel of our existence.
In conclusion, let me share a well-guarded secret. True inner happiness can be created and it can be multiplied to such a degree that life’s circumstances soften, change course and align to reflect your own happiness that springs from within. Thanks to meditation, as you become happier within, so you’ll become happier without.
And, of course, to answer the opening question to this article, as you may have already sensed, only the sky is the limit.
For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.