“One day lived by a virtuous person absorbed in jhana
is better than a hundred years lived without virtue, uncentered.
And one day lived by a discerning person absorbed in jhana
is better than a hundred years lived undiscerning, uncentered.
And one day lived energetic & firm
is better than a hundred years lived apathetic & unenergetic.
And one day lived seeing arising & passing away
is better than a hundred years lived without seeing arising & passing away.
And one day lived seeing the Deathless state
is better than a hundred years lived without seeing the Deathless state.
And one day lived seeing the ultimate Dhamma
is better than a hundred years lived without seeing the ultimate Dhamma.”
The Buddha has raised the most important question. It is unavoidable: the most important question for everyone. In fact everyone is engaged every waking minute of every day, just trying to answer this question. But especially for intelligent people—those who are capable of inquiring into truth, into life, into existence—it is the most important question of all.
The most important question of all questions is: What is real happiness? Is real happiness even possible, or is everything momentary? If it is possible, then is there a way to achieve it?
Is life only a temporary dream, or is there something substantial in it? Does life begin with birth and end with death, or is there something that transcends birth and death? Because if life is not eternal, if there is no transcendent happiness, there is no possibility of real happiness. In momentary experience, happiness is fleeting: one moment it is here, the next moment gone, and you are left alone in despair and darkness.
That’s how it is in ordinary life, in the life of the unawakened. There are moments of bliss and moments of misery; it’s all mixed up, unpredictable. You cannot keep the moments of happiness that come to you. They come on their own and they disappear on their own; you are not the master.
And you cannot avoid the moments of misery; they too have their own persistence. They also come and go on their own; you are simply a victim. And the result is that you are torn between happiness and unhappiness. You are torn; you are never at ease, because any moment, everything can change. Therefore the Buddha’s First Noble Truth is “Existence is full of suffering.”
There are innumerable dualities: love and hate, life and death, day and night, summer and winter, youth and old age, and so on. But the fundamental duality, the duality that represents all other dualities, is that of happiness and unhappiness. The duality of happiness and unhappiness is the most fundamental and the most symptomatic. You are torn apart, pulled in polar opposite directions.
You cannot be at ease; therefore you are always in a condition of dis-ease, suffering, dukkha. According to the buddhas man is always in dis-ease. Is this dis-ease absolute, inevitable, or can it be cured, transcended?
Hence the basic and the most fundamental question is: What is real happiness, and how can we attain it? Certainly the happiness that we know is not real; it is dream stuff, it always turns into its own opposite. What seems like happiness one moment turns into unhappiness the next.
Happiness turning unexpectedly into unhappiness simply shows that the two sides of any duality are deeply connected; they are two sides of the same coin. If you have one side of the coin, the other is always hidden behind it, waiting for an opportunity to assert itself—and you know it. When you are happy, lurking deep down is the fear that it is not going to last, sooner or later it will be gone. The night is descending, any moment you will be engulfed by darkness. This light is just imaginary; it can’t help you, it can’t guide you to the other shore.
Your happiness is not really happiness because its shadow, unhappiness is never far away. Similarly, your love is only a mask for your hate. Your compassion is nothing but your anger—cultivated, sophisticated, educated, cultured, civilized—but it is nothing but anger. Your sensitivity is not real sensitivity but only a mental simulation, a certain practiced attitude and approach.
Remember: everyone is brought up with the idea that virtue can be practiced, that goodness can be created. We are trained that we can learn how to be happy, that it is within our power to create a certain character that brings happiness. We are taught that a false smile can lead to a real smile, that phony love can grow into the real thing. And that is all utterly, completely wrong.
The first thing to be understood about real happiness is that it cannot be practiced, because it is not something that you can create. Whatever you, the ego, create cannot be bigger than you. Whatever you, the ego, create is going to remain smaller than you, tinier than you. The painting cannot be bigger than the painter himself and the poetry cannot be bigger than the poet. Your artificial happiness is bound to be something smaller than you. And because of that, it will always be unsatisfactory.
If you practice happiness you, the ego, will be always there hiding behind it, with all your stupidity, your ego trips, your ignorance, your chaotic mind. With this chaotic mind you cannot create harmony, you cannot create grace.
Real happiness is something natural, not man-made. It cannot be manufactured; it happens to you in a state of let-go. Grace always descends from the Beyond; it has to be received as a gift in tremendous trust, in total surrender.
But we have been told to achieve, to be ambitious. Our whole mind has been cultivated to be a doer, an achiever. Education, culture and religion all build on this basic idea that we have to be ambitious; only the ambitious man will be able to attain fulfillment. Great leaders, wealthy businessmen, famous artists, brilliant scientists are held up as examples, templates of who we should become.
But it has never happened, it will never happen; only our ignorance of life is so deep that we go on believing in nonsense. No ambitious person has ever been happy; in fact, the more ambitious one is, the more unhappy one will be. And the so-called great people are the unhappiest people in the world. But we go on training children to be ambitious: “Be the first, be at the top, get good grades, and you will be happy!”
But have you ever seen anybody at the top and also happy? Was Alexander the Great happy when he became a world conqueror? He was one of the unhappiest men who ever lived. Seeing the blissfulness of Diogenes he became jealous. Such a ‘great man’, and he became jealous of a beggar. Do you know the story?
Diogenes was a beggar; he had nothing, not even a begging bowl. At least Buddha had a begging bowl and three robes. Diogenes lived naked and without even a begging bowl. In the beginning he used to carry a begging bowl; he must have got the idea from the East. He was like Mahavira. Mahavira also lived naked with no begging bowl; his hands were his begging bowl.
Diogenes was going to the river one day with his begging bowl. It was hot, he was thirsty, and wanted a drink of water. And on the way, when he was on the bank, a dog passed him by, running, panting, jumped into the river, had a good bath, drank to his heart’s content.
The idea arose in Diogenes’ mind: “This dog is freer than me—he does not have to carry a begging bowl. And if he can manage, why can’t I manage without a begging bowl? This is my only possession, and I have to keep an eye on it because it can be stolen. Every night I have to feel once or twice whether it is still there or gone.” He threw the begging bowl into the river, bowed down to the dog, thanked him for the great message that he had brought for him from God.
This man who had nothing created jealousy in Alexander’s mind. How miserable he must have been! He confessed to Diogenes that, “If ever again God is giving me birth, I will ask him, ‘This time, please don’t make me Alexander—make me Diogenes.'” Diogenes laughed uproariously, and he called the dog—because they had become friends by now, they had started living together—he called the dog and said, “Look, listen, what nonsense he is talking! Next life he wants to be Diogenes! Why next life? Why postpone? Who knows about the next life? Even the next day is uncertain, the next moment is not certain—what to speak about the next life! If you really want to be a Diogenes, you can be right this moment, herenow. Throw your clothes into the river! Forget all about conquering the world! That is sheer stupidity and you know it.
“And you have confessed that you are miserable, and you have confessed that Diogenes is in a far better, more blissful state. So why not be a Diogenes right now? Lie down on the bank of the river where I am taking my sunbath! This bank is big enough for both of us.”
Of course, Alexander could not accept the invitation. He said, “Thank you for your invitation. Right now I cannot do it, but next life….”
Diogenes asked him, “Where are you going? And what will you do even if you have conquered the world?”
Alexander said, “Then I will rest.”
Diogenes said, “This seems to be absolutely absurd—because I am resting right now!”
If Alexander is not happy, if Adolf Hitler is not happy, if Rockefellers and Carnegies and Bill Gates are not happy, the people who have all the money of the world, if they are not happy, the people who have all the power in the world, if they are not happy…
Have you watched Obama’s photographs? All the smile has disappeared now; now those teeth are not showing. He had really a beautiful smile, but where has it all gone? It has become an ironic smirk. He must have been far happier before becoming president than he is now. Every day his face is becoming more and more aged and sad; more and more anxiety, anguish, is visible there.
Just this morning I looked at the news. Obama’s face looks as if he has aged twenty years. He must be suffering from nightmares. Where are all those hopes that he will be happy when he becomes the president?
Just watch people who have succeeded in the world and you will drop the idea of success. Although you have been told that ‘nothing succeeds like success’, I say to you that nothing fails like success. Success is the greatest failure, because one finds that it does not bring happiness. Happiness has nothing to do with success, happiness has nothing to do with ambition, happiness has nothing to do with money, power or prestige. It is in a totally different dimension.
Happiness depends on your consciousness, not your character. Character is just artifice, cultivation. You can become a saint and still won’t be happy, because sainthood as calculated by the world is nothing but a practice, an external cultivation. How do they become saints? They practice a routine, the same thing day after day: when to get up, what to eat, what not to eat, when to pray, how to dress, what to say, when to go to bed. There is no aliveness, no creativity, no individuality to it at all. How boring! No wonder after some time they become dead, wooden.
Cultivation of character will not bring happiness at all. Happiness comes from consciousness. If a person becomes more conscious, naturally his character is transformed. But that transformation is totally different: it is not managed by the mind, it is natural, spontaneous. And whenever your character is natural and spontaneous it has a beauty of its own; otherwise you can go on changing, but your progress will only be in circles.
You can drop your anger, but where will you drop it? You will have to drop it within your own subconscious. You can change one side of your life, but whatsoever you throw from that side will start expressing itself from some other corner. That is not change, it is only repression.
It is bound to be so. You can block a stream with a rock; then it will start flowing from somewhere else. You cannot destroy it, because that is the nature of water. Anger is there because you are unconscious; greed is there because you are unconscious; passive aggression, possessiveness and jealousy are there because you are unconscious.
There is no profit in trying to change your anger; that would be like pruning leaves of a tree and hoping that the tree will disappear. It is not going to happen; on the contrary, the more you prune the leaves the thicker the foliage grows back. Repression doesn’t work because the repressed energy simply hides and grows until it bursts forth unexpectedly somewhere else.
Hence the religious so-called saints are actually the unholiest persons in the world, repressed pretenders, pseudo. If you look from the outside they seem very holy. But something is wrong; they are too holy, like saccharin, too artificially sweet, sickeningly sweet, nauseating.
You can only go and pay your respect to them and escape. You can’t live with your saints even for twenty-four hours: they will bore you to death! The closer you are to them, the more puzzled, perplexed, confused you will be, because you will start seeing that they have forced anger from one side, but it has entered into another side of their life.
Ordinary people are angry once in a while, and their anger is very fleeting, transient. Then again they are laughing, again they are friendly; they don’t carry wounds too long. But your so-called saints, their anger becomes almost a permanent affair; they are simply angry, not because of anything in particular. They have repressed anger so much that now they are simply angry, in a state of rage. Their eyes will show, their noses will show, their faces will show, their very way of life will show it.
For example, now in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, some Buddhist monks want to wage war against the Mohammedans. They want to kick Islam of out their countries, with violence if necessary. And these same monks go in their temples and chant the Karanīya-mettā Sutta, on cultivating loving kindness! They cannot realize they are simply hypocrites.
That is not the way of transformation. Changing your character is easy; it is just a matter of practice. The real work is changing your consciousness, in becoming more conscious, more intensely and deeply conscious. When you are conscious it is impossible to be angry, to be greedy, jealous or ambitious.
And when all anger, greed, ambition, jealousy, possessiveness and lust disappear, the energy involved in them is released. That energy becomes your bliss. Now happiness is not coming from outside; now it is happening in the innermost recesses of your being.
And when this energy is available you become a receptive field, you become a magnetic field. You attract the Beyond. You can call it God, but the Buddha never calls it God; he calls it nibbāna: the deathless, the unconditioned, the infinite. When you become a magnetic field, when all the energy that is unnecessarily being wasted by you in your unconsciousness gathers, pools inside you, when you become a lake of energy, you start attracting the stars, you start attracting the Beyond, you start attracting God, nibbāna itself.
And the meeting of your consciousness with the Beyond is the point of bliss: real happiness. It knows nothing of unhappiness, it is pure happiness. It knows nothing of death, it is pure life. It knows nothing of darkness, it is pure light, and to know it is the goal. Gautama the Buddha went in search of this and one day, after six years’ struggle, he attained to it.
You can also attain to nibbāna, but let me remind you: by saying that you can attain to it I am not creating a desire to attain it. I am simply stating a fact: that if you become a pool of immense energy, undistracted by any worldly thing, it happens. It is more a happening than a doing. And it is better to call it bliss than happiness, because what you know as happiness is nothing but a relative state. What you call happiness is just a question of relativity; it means you are suffering less in comparison with somebody else. Your happiness is a relative phenomenon.
What the Buddha calls bliss is something absolute, unrelated to anybody else. It is not in comparison with somebody else; it is simply yours, it is inner. And it is a happening: the Beyond descending in you, the ocean falling into the dewdrop. And when the ocean falls in the dewdrop, the dewdrop disappears, its boundaries disappear. It becomes as unbounded as the ocean itself; it becomes oceanic.
Bliss is an oceanic state. When you disappear as an ego, bounded, small, and become huge, enormous, as huge and enormous as the universe itself. That is nibbāna, and it is attainable in just 100 days through The Dharmasar Solution.