Thursday, May 30, 2024

Unable to find happiness and satisfaction in life? Karma Yoga offers the best solution, according to the Bhagavad Gita!

Amlan Shekhar Baruah

Are you struggling to find happiness and satisfaction in your life? Do you keep chasing materialism and still not find satisfaction? Do you get bored of something after you have spent enough time with it and later regret losing it? And do you become happy again after you get it back? If you’ve answered yes, then you are not following the right approach to life . But don’t worry! The Bhagavad Gita offers a simple solution to this issue with its principle of Karma Yoga, or basically Yoga.

Most people believe that it is not possible to experience happiness without experiencing sadness. They believe that happiness is dependent on sadness and that they can find happiness only after going through sadness first. Well, this belief is not entirely false and can certainly be true to an extent. For example, most of us are not happy or satisfied with what we have now. But we become sad when we lose them and happy again when we get them back. So our happiness at having something is dependent on our sadness at losing it, and we experience the happiness of having something only after losing it first. This is the dualistic approach to life, and most of us are following this approach. However, Karma Yoga offers a much better approach to life, called the non-dualistic approach. The belief that happiness is dependent on sadness is true only for those who follow a dualistic approach to life. For those who follow the non-dualistic approach, this belief is not true at all. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite for them.

Verses 14 and 15 of Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita state:

“O son of Kunti (Arjuna)! The contacts of the bodily senses with objects give rise to feelings of heat and cold, happiness and sadness, etc. These come and go and are temporary, so endure them, o Bharata (Arjuna). O best of beings (Arjuna)! That being who is not affected by these and remains steady in both happiness and sadness becomes fit for immortality (liberation).”

Then, Verse 48 of Chapter 2 and Verse 7 of Chapter 6 state:

“O Dhananjaya (Arjuna)! Do your duties by abandoning all kinds of attachment and being equanimous/even-minded with respect to success and failure. This equanimity/even-mindedness is called yoga.”

“Those calm/steady/even-minded ones who have conquered their minds in the dualities such as cold and heat, joy and sorrow, and honor and dishonor, the Paramatma (Supreme Self) is completely situated in their minds.”

We are not happy with what we have now because we do not realize its importance. We realize their importance only after we lose them. If we are not happy with what we have now, we will keep on wanting more and more and still not be happy even after getting more and more. So if we follow the dualistic approach to life, we will become greedier and greedier and keep on desiring more and more, yet we will never find enough satisfaction or happiness in life. We will have to go through hard times of grief, sorrow, pain, suffering, etc. in order to experience happiness. And this happiness will only last temporarily, depending on our sadness during our hard times. The more we lose, the sadder we become, and the happier we will become after getting them back. We do not realize the value of something during our good times (when we have it), but only during our bad times (after we lose it). Thus, we do not treat our good and bad times equally and do not have evenness of mind. If we follow this dualistic approach to life, we will experience only temporary happiness, and this is not true happiness.

However, if we understand the value of all good things at all times, whether we have them or not, then we will be able to find happiness in both our good and bad times, and thus our happiness will be independent of our sadness. This is the non-dualistic approach to life, and it is the right approach. In our good times, i.e., when we have something, we will be happy to have it. And in our bad times, i.e., when we do not have that thing, we will still be able to find happiness in the remaining things that we still have. Thus, if we follow this non-dualistic approach, we can find happiness at all times, even in our times of sadness. So, our “good” and “bad” times are actually a matter of perspective. If we treat all times equally, then we can perceive every moment of our lives as a “good” time.

In the same manner, we should treat our happy and sad times equally while doing our duties. Some people realize their mistakes and become moral only when they are going through terrible times. But rather, we should keep on correcting our mistakes and continue doing good at all times. If we do not do our duties properly during our good times, this will only encourage our sad times to come sooner. On the other hand, during our sad times, we should not use those times as an excuse to run away from our duties. If we do, then we will be encouraging even sadder times to come. However, if we perform our duties and responsibilities properly in both our good and bad times, then we will be attracting happiness all the time and thus will be able to get rid of our sad times sooner.

Likewise, if we apply this non-dualistic approach to all other dualities of life by treating both their halves equally, we will realize that the other positive experiences of life, such as success, victory, gain, love, peace, and life, are also independent of their negative counterparts like failure, defeat, loss, hatred, violence, and death. We will transcend all dualities of life and find happiness, satisfaction, love, peace, and success in all situations.

This equanimity or evenness of mind in all situations is the true meaning of yoga. Doing all kinds of activities with this equanimity is Karma Yoga. All the other forms of yoga, such as Gyaana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Dhyana Yoga, also aim at achieving this equanimity of mind in different ways. If equanimity of mind is not achieved, then yoga remains incomplete. Thus, all the other forms of yoga are actually just different forms of Karma Yoga viewed from different perspectives and will ultimately lead to the same destination, i.e., union with Bhagavaan (the Supreme One).

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