My good friend Swami Kriyananda used to say that happiness is our basic state of being, but we pinch ourselves and cover it up. We only feel happiness when we stop pinching ourselves for a moment. Our so-called “pleasure” is merely just a temporary absence of pain. Then we go back to pinching ourselves, and our painful life gets back to “normal.”
I was listening yesterday to Joseph Campbell talk about greed. He compares it to a dragon guarding gold and damsels, neither of which a dragon would have any idea what to do with. We like to think that money and sex will bring us happiness, and we get very good at pretending that it does, but if we are really honest with ourselves, we have to admit that they are more distracting than helpful. Everything is fleeting, comes and goes, and leaves us where we were before. We use the lack of money and sex (or power, or possession, or appearance, etc. etc.) to pinch ourselves with, and as soon as we get them (or get distracted for a minute), we stop pinching ourselves and call that feeling of relief “happiness.” That’s all there is to it.
From where I’m standing right now, I can see that all this running around is like the soul saying to the mind, “Are you coming?” and the mind responding, “I’d like to, but I’m busy right now, pinching myself and pretending to arrive somewhere lasting and important.”
The whole thing is a silly game, but we won’t find that out… until we get tired of playing with the dragon and stop pinching ourselves.