Is there such a thing as real happiness?
- I think if we pursue happiness, life becomes very shallow. After all, happiness is a thing that comes to you, it is a by-product; when you go after happiness, it eludes you, does it not? If you are conscious that you are happy, you are no longer happy. When you know that you are joyous, surely at that very moment you have ceased to be joyous. I do not know if you have noticed this. It is like the man who is conscious of his humility; surely such a man is not humble.
So happiness, I think, is something that cannot be pursued, any more than you can pursue peace. If you pursue peace, your mind becomes stagnant. For peace is a living state; and to understand what peace is requires a great deal of intelligence and hard work – not merely sitting down and wishing for peace. Similarly, happiness requires immense understanding, insight and hard work – as much hard work as you give to earning a livelihood, and far more. But if you are merely seeking happiness, then you might just as well take a drug.
To pursue happiness, it seems to me, is to pursue an illusion. In that pursuit is involved a very complex process. There is the pursuer, and the thing which he pursues. When there is a pursuer wanting something, there is always conflict; and so long as there is conflict, there is no understanding, but only a series of miseries and an endless struggle to overcome them in order to reach happiness. This is the conflict of duality, of the thinker and his thought. Only when the mind is no longer pursuing its own gratification, its own fulfillment, no longer trying to reach happiness, which is a self-centred activity – only then is there the cessation of all conflict.
This state may be called happiness – but that is irrelevant.
So it is important to go into this problem of effort and conflict. I wonder if we understand anything through effort? And if we do not make an effort, what will happen? We have been brought up, educated, to make an effort; and if we do not make an effort, we think something is wrong, we fear that we shall stagnate, degenerate. But if we are at all observant of ourselves, I think we must have found that understanding comes at those moments when the mind is very quiet, and not during the period of struggle. And the mind is in a state of perpetual struggle so long as it wants to be happy, secure, or is seeking some kind of permanency.
Where there is conflict, there must be tension, misery; but to live without conflict is an immense problem. One cannot just brush it aside, saying « I'm going to live without conflict » – that has no meaning. Nor can one meditate, do all kinds of mystical things, in order to have no conflict – which is very childish. One has to understand the psychological process of this movement which we call conflict; and we cannot possibly understand it so long as there is the motive to achieve something. So long as I want to be something – happy, good, virtuous – , so long as I want to find God, or what you will, there must be conflict, and with it, misery and pain.
One has to understand totally the whole process of achieving, end-gaining, and not merely say « If I do not make an effort I will degenerate, I will lose my job », which is a very superficial response. To understand deeply the psychological problem, the inward nature of effort, requires a great deal of self-perception. That is why it is very important to know oneself. In the very process of self-knowledge, perhaps there will be happiness on the side – which is very unimportant.