Everyone wants to be happy. Something we all have in common is the part of our nature that has a fundamental need for fulfillment and satisfaction. All of man’s technology has been created with the hope of fulfilling that need in mind. All the material development we’ve achieved is testimony to mankind’s continual attempts to ease the sufferings of our bodies and the conflicts of our minds.
In recent years we’ve made unbelievable technological progress, but it seems that the search for contentment is still going on. Somehow, the more we seem to achieve, the more exotic and sophisticated our needs become. The greater our efforts toward progress and simplifying our lives, the more complicated things get. The more we build, the more we have to destroy. As we advance technically we seem to have to destroy our surroundings instead of being able to live harmoniously within them.
Individually we’re more educated, have better jobs, have larger incomes, live in far better houses and eat more regularly than our ancestors ever did, but we’re still struggling for more. We’re told that we never had it so good, but we’re still unhappy. We live in the strongest, most advanced and wealthiest nation in existence, but we’re still afraid, afraid it will all disappear and we’ll be left alone with nothing. Tragically, to most people, the unsteadiness and uncertainty of the world around them is surpassed only by the restlessness and instability of their own minds.
If we look around, we can find every possible scheme for happiness being tried. There are occupations, hobbies, diversions, creeds, societies, philosophies, vacations, charities, drop-ins, drop-outs, sit-ins and cop-outs. If someone has thought of it, it has been tried, applied, packaged, advertised and sold. We’re told about so many ways to achieve success and happiness; we can dress in it, paint it on, drive it, be driven to it, be educated into it, be elected to it or selected for it. Why, we should be the happiest, most fulfilled people in all of history. So what’s wrong?
The mere presence of so vast a selection of means to the goal is glaring testimony to its absence. If we don’t find it in all this, then where does it lie? Maybe it doesn’t exist at all; maybe we should give it all up, or maybe they’ll invent it tomorrow or maybe if we move to the country – maybe – maybe – maybe.
Actually what we’re seeking is real, it is just our method of searching that has failed us. The emptiness, the moving force is within us, but we try to fulfill it from outside ourselves. We search in the world of relativity and constant change, for something lasting and permanent. We try to hold fast to those things which offer us satisfaction but somehow they always manage to slip away. No matter how appealing things are , when we first encounter them, eventually they or we change and that old familiar emptiness comes back again.
You see, by their very nature, all created phenomena, that’s everything in the material world, exists within a paradox of extremes. Day dissolves into night, winter into summer, happiness into sadness and ultimately all matter flows into energy. It is natural law, every action has its equal and opposite reaction. Everything in nature is cyclic and in constant motion.
As long as our efforts are limited to the physical world, we must abide by it’s laws and we can, at best, be only half successful. Our motto will always be – “You’ve got to accept the bad with the good” and our present hunger pains will always be interfering with the joy of yesterday’s feasting.
If our search is to end, we must recognize that there is more to our struggle than mere physical and mental acquisition. We’ve got to understand that the mind and body are co-ordinates of just one of an infinite number of dichotomies or complimentary opposite pairs, the ultimate of which are matter and spirit.
While matter follows natural law and separates into endless variety, spirit remains whole and unified, permeating and sustaining all material creation. As creative energy it dwells within every atom. Within our own body, it is the force of life itself, but it goes unrecognized because we fail to see anything beyond it’s grossest manifestations.
With the intellect as his only tool, it is impossible for man to know the whole of reality. To do this he must acquire the knowledge of spirit, and unfortunately as we well know, thinking about something is just not the same as the direct knowledge of its existence.
Spirit cannot be fathomed by the mind, because the mind functions within and is bound by material limitations. It just oscillates between ideas of truth, hopelessly unable to experience it for itself. In fact, this oscillation or deliberation, is the main cause of man’s separation from reality. We are dominated by the thinking process, and knowledge of spirit lies beyond thought. We can’t intellectually comprehend it, we can only realize it through direct experience.
To have this realization, that is to experience spirit directly within ourselves and then fully unite with it, is the key to satisfaction and fulfillment and is the purpose for human life.