आनन्दाध्येव खल्विमानि भूतानि जायन्ते
आनन्देन जातानि जीवन्ति
“From bliss, indeed, all these beings originate;
Having been born, they are sustained by bliss;
They move towards and merge into bliss again.”
~ Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6.1
Can you imagine being nothing other than bliss? What if the whole purpose of life is to move toward bliss? What if, even when we don’t feel it, we are sustained by bliss? That is what this verse implies. Bliss is not only the goal. It is also our origin and our path. How does that relate to happiness?
Bliss is a concentration of happiness. If you see the sun reflecting on the water, happiness is the reflection on the water while bliss is the sun itself. The sun has greater intensity and greater heat and exists independently of anything else. The reflection on the water might be obscured by waves, fog, or darkness. The reflection can disappear. The sun itself, even if we do not see it, is always there.
In the same way, happiness reflects inner bliss. It might be affected or overshadowed by circumstances. The reality of bliss, the essential nature of us all, is like the sun, present regardless of outer circumstances.
In this sense, bliss is described as the nature of consciousness. It is the essential constituent from which everything we think of as the world and our lives arises. If all beings (including humans, plants, animals, and even inanimate objects) arise from bliss, are sustained by bliss, and merge again with bliss, bliss is described as the essential constituent, beyond any sense of you or me.
It is from this perspective that Maharishi said over and over, “Life is bliss” and “Expansion of happiness is the purpose of creation.” Even though we are made of bliss and sustained by bliss, stress or strain will obstruct this experience. Stress can be what we think of as daily life stress, or it can be the deeper stress in the nervous system, genetics, or DNA. Stress, abnormalities, and obstructions are not the normal state of the nervous system.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Perfect health, and with it, perfect functioning of the nervous system can be achieved. Anything can be rectified, corrected, or removed. Stress and strain can be removed, allowing the blissful nature of life to shine through once more.
This is not just a theory but can be a practical reality. It has already been experienced by millions of people around the world throughout the ages. If we can be bliss and live in bliss, why waste time struggling and suffering?
If bliss is the nature of life and happiness its reflection in our thoughts, actions, behavior, and daily reality, then happiness can be an all-time reality.
The Purpose of Life
“Expansion of happiness is the purpose of life, and evolution is the process through which it is fulfilled. Life begins in a natural way, it evolves, and happiness expands. The expansion of happiness carries with it the expansion of intelligence, power, creativity, and everything that may be said to be of significance in life.” ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
If things make you happy, how can happiness be the basis of success? The simple answer is that happiness comes from the inside. Happiness can be found in a beautiful sunrise or a rainbow, in the laughter of a child, or in a warm bath. But none of those things create happiness.
Happiness is the natural fragrance of a contented heart. Happiness does not take, it only gives. Happiness is at once the essence of love, peace, and humility and flows as the expression of inner bliss.
Happiness is without expectation of results or projection to the future. Happiness just is. There are many different things that make people happy: a hug from a loved one, a day at the beach, a vacation, a delicious meal, a good book, success in school or at work. All of these are things that people say make them happy. But do they really?
Let’s take the day at the beach. Suppose that the weather is perfect, and you have a great group of friends joining you, but you wake up feeling off. You are tired, achy, and not in the mood to socialize. Then even if your friends are loving and kind, the weather perfect, and the food great, your day at the beach will feel dull. What changed was not the beach or the friends—it was the inner feeling.
It is obvious by now that how we feel inside affects how we perceive the outside world. But how does happiness create success? Happiness draws more happiness to it. It is the principle that like attracts like. Maharishi has said that “Happiness radiates like the fragrance of a flower and draws all good things towards it.”
Imagine your happiness like that flower—perhaps sweet night jasmine or a summer rose, wafting on the breeze. Everyone who walks by you feels it. Everyone who talks to you smells it through your voice. Happiness is just like a subtle fragrance: it is in the air all around us.
Happiness is the best perfume, the most elegant accessory, and an incredible tool to create more success. Happiness begets happiness. Success begets success. It is a principle so embedded in the fabric of nature that we seem to have forgotten it.
It is so simple and so obvious that it seems like a joke. Really? That’s it? All I have to do is be happy? And the simple answer is yes.
Does that mean someone should make a mood of being happy or try to force happiness? The answer is no—and yes. It is never helpful to force something beyond what is comfortable or natural. So of course, one should not fake a mood of feeling happy while feeling sad (or any other range of emotions). In that case, the inner feeling still predominates—and it is the inside that counts.
We all have a choice every day, many times a day, of how we react to any situation. We can react with gratitude or happiness or we can react with upset, frustration, anger, or any other spectrum of emotion. All these emotions come naturally. But we have a choice: choose happiness and gratitude or choose anger or frustration.
Gratitude Creates More Happiness
Countless experiences have taught me that it is always better to choose gratitude, and with gratitude comes happiness. It is so easy to fall into a trap of frustration or anger, but that, in the end, always comes with a price. You feel weaker, you lose opportunities, or you hurt someone you care about. Anger is never free, even if it seems to be.
In the Vedic tradition, they say that anger makes you weak. You lose your power and reasoning. You lose the strength of your purity in love and happiness to the weakness of anger. In moments of anger, you cannot accomplish all that you desire.
Happiness and gratitude, on the other hand, make you strong. They give you the power of righteousness and guide you toward your higher purpose. I chose gratitude specifically because on the surface situations may seem unreasonable and unfair. In those moments, look to nature and ask, “What are you trying to teach me?” This moment of reflection usually reveals some weakness. Nature is the best teacher.
To give a simple example: I saw this once with a particularly aggressive Airbnb host. He pointed out everything he did and followed it up with the statement along the lines of, “You should be grateful to me” or “See how caring I am?” These statements were exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. “The room was clean when you arrived, see how caring I am. I gave you toilet paper, you should be grateful.”
Throughout my stay, he kept stating that he was the best host. I realized he was hoping for a positive review, but because of his pushy and domineering manner over little issues and unfair assumptions, it didn’t create a good feeling.
After checking out, I walked down to the beach, sat on the dunes, and looked up at the wide blue sky. In a moment of quiet, it dawned on me: I’ve done the exact same thing at times to other people, although not to the same level.
But if this man’s level of needing appreciation and casting blame wasn’t so high, I wouldn’t have understood the lesson: a good deed done in silence is filled with power and brings happiness. A good deed shouted from the rooftops for credit or gain loses its strength.
This reminded me of another beautiful scene from the end of a movie, of a chance encounter at a rural gas station between a woman healer and a boy dying of cancer. The boy sees her dog and wants to pet it or take it with him. She sees his illness and knows she can heal him. She says she will give him the dog if he gives her a hug.
In that hug, she heals the boy. The family drives away with the dog, thinking they received a generous gift from a stranger. They don’t realize that the stranger saved the boy’s life and changed his destiny forever. That quiet joy belongs to the healer.
This is the power of happiness and inner peace—the ability to do good for the sake of doing good. Like attracts like. Creating good attracts more good. That is the principle of nature. What we are, we draw toward us….
Here are some reflections, ideas, and actions to absorb and experience this thread of wisdom:
- Laugh. I mean, really laugh. Find someone with whom you can laugh until you are crying or falling on the floor. Laugh hard and laugh often. Don’t force it, but the process of laughing revitalizes physiology and psychology. Even laughing every once in a while will start to put greater happiness into your life and body.
- Do Something that You Love or that makes you feel renewed every day. For me, that is often a walk or swim in nature, but it can be anything that makes you feel grateful for the opportunity to be alive and experience life.
- Transcend. Bliss is an inner reality. Without a path to experience it, reaching it is like a game of chance. It is also physical. The more the nervous system is trained to maintain the experience of bliss, the more bliss can be experienced. Transcendental Meditation is the most simple and effective path to cultivate the nervous system to experience and maintain bliss.