What is happiness?
Happiness is to be fully content, to be totally satisfied with oneself; something that is only possible once we have realised our true Self.
At a practical level:
1. To be happy is to not be swept away by desires and passions (Bhagavad Geeta).
2. We are happy when we have nothing to hide in our life (no skeletons in the
closet!), when everything in our life is transparent and we don’t fear any inspection or investigation.
3. To be happy is to be totally independent.
4. There is a happiness in serving others: but we experience it only when we don’t consider others as “others”, but as oneself.
What is success?
Success must not be considered at a merely superficial level: success is not to simply achieve our goals (we can successfully cheat people for example). In fact, it is better to fail in a noble action than to succeed in a mediocre one.Real success is to be able to face challenges in life with a calm mind, guided by right thinking.
What is right thinking?
When we think from our limited, selfish point of view, we are indulging in wrong thinking. So right thinking is to think at a grander level, not from the little self point of view, but from the perspective of the true Self, that is all encompassing. The Scriptures teach us how to develop this right thinking through living the noble values of a virtuous life.
What is self-effort?
Self-effort involves an individual striving to achieve a goal. In self-effort, there are components to be considered, for example, the nature of the self-effort and the nature of the goal. For the self-effort to be ‘right’ it must be based on discrimination. But we must also know when to allow the things to pass (e.g. we don’t control our digestion, assimilation of food: it occurs without effort).
Obedience is essential, even if we dislike it. The duty of the young is to obey their parents and teachers. As spiritual seekers, we must obey our guru and follow the values taught in the Scriptures.Râma is the best example of what is obedience: when Râma was in Ayodhya, he always obeyed his parents, his teachers. Later on, when he was on his own, he led his life following the Dharma.
Emotions are great powers (shakti): anger, jealousy etc. are all powers and as such should not be wasted by getting carried away. We can for example use our anger for good purpose and in doing so, transform it into Sattvic anger.
There are in fact, 3 kinds of anger:
1. Sattvic anger: e.g. somebody insults God, say a spiritual person, and we respond, “How dare you speak like this!” This is Sattvic anger as there is no personal dimension to it; we are simply defending something sacred (e.g. Lakshmana’s anger in the Râmâyana).
2. Rajasic anger: e.g. when we react for a personal reason (e.g. someone criticises us and we identify with that criticism). When we react for personal reasons, our anger is always wrong.
3. Tamasic anger: in such anger, the individual wants to destroy the object of their anger, even kill them.
Different kinds of peace and restlessness
1. Rajasic restlessness: e.g. when we have great personal ambition
2. Sattvic restlessness: e.g. the desire for Good, for evolution.
We usually think that peace is better than restlessness. But sometimes, restlessness is better than peace: for example, the desire for good is better than the peace given by the satisfaction of our personal and material desires.