Gained happiness is not happiness


Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

These are quick notes for Brahma Sutra Bhaashya (authored by Sri Shankaracharya) classes that were taught by Swami Paramasukhananda, which I was a student of during 2012-2013. What I feel like recording I record. They are not a substitute for live classes, but done as my cogitation.

For other such short notes, check –

  • Prasad.


Gained happiness is not happiness

I find myself (and believe most others do) in one of these states mostly –

  1. “I want something”
  2. “I struggle to achieve it”
  3. “I have achieved it”

Unfortunately this cycle never seems to terminate. After achieving the desired object, there is a temporary cessation of desires in one’s mind. The mind reflects the idea – “I am satisfied, I need nothing”, for a short duration. This feeling is referred to commonly as joy or happiness.

However, the joy attained is short-lived. There is the feeling that some higher achievement should be gained, the present one is just not good enough. This is due to several reasons.

  1. Comparison with others who have got a ‘better’ deal.
  2. The gained object decays with time.
  3. Dependency on object or attainment gained causes suffering.

So as a result, the cycle begins again. Till the end of our lives, it continues unabated. Further, there are failures and missteps occurring in this cycle, this causes me further suffering.

This is why the Vedanta Shastra says, “Gained happiness is not real happiness, because it does not break the cycle. It does not result in complete satisfaction and complete cessation of desires”.


At this point, Vedanta says to me, the struggling person,

There is a way to get out of this cycle. There is the state which is unalloyed happiness or contentment which can be ‘gained’ and never lost again.

I can react in three ways.

  1. If I say “I am not willing to believe you. I think this cycle is quite normal and I am willing to go through all the struggle”, then the Veda says – “OK, carry on. But make sure you don’t do things which are immoral or illegal or unethical, else you will land in trouble”.
  2. If I say “I believe you; but I cannot get out of this cycle and follow your advice, because I have too much skin in the game” , then the Veda says – “OK. Follow Karma Yoga. Do your actions according to Dharma (ethical, moral and legal), but dedicate them and their results to God. God is the sum-total of all and its creator as well. For your emotional satisfaction, depend on God alone. Do your duties fixing your mind on the feet of the Lord”
  3. If I say, “I believe you; I am ready to break this cycle as I am quite tired of it”, then the pathway of Vedantic understanding opens up. A Guru is to be approached by me, who makes me understand  “This happiness is your true nature, and thus it cannot be lost, for what is one’s real nature cannot be lost”.

The choice is left to oneself, always.


One comment

  1. […] The natural assumption of man is that duality is true, i.e, “I am separate from the world”. When religion introduces a God, the creator, if he believes in this, then too he feels “I am separate from God”. This deep conviction resides in the buddhi and therefore the mind oscillates through the samsaaric modes, kaama (desire), krodha (anger), maatsarya (jealousy), etc. (a picture here – […]

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