Happily Ever After
People like happy endings in stories, books or movies. Some would say this is “human nature” but really the body is a reflection of the soul, and the soul is by nature happy. Since we identify ourselves as the body, our conditioned reasoning only suggests the body and mind and its extensions as objects of enjoyment. Unfortunately physical manipulation and stimulation does nothing for the souls needs. We find ourselves in an unhappy position having a material body which has to function under limiting conditions like time, space and what seem urgent necessities—like the threat of non-existence. Desires scream to us to be fulfilled in order to temporarily keep the body alive and avoid pressing unhappiness (hunger, thirst, loneliness, lust—the counteraction of which is falsely considered happiness).
Even though disease threatens to “crash our party” giving notice about “the end” we are undaunted in our pursuit of physical happiness. And old age is only for old people—not us—and if it does show up, we pretend we are not much affected by it. Actually our “golden years” are to “die for”—the best time of our life, and we will be such “cool mature retired people” that we’ll be the envy of the world.
What about death? Shhhhhh!! Usually no one speaks of it, or if they do, only in hushed tones. There is an unwritten “law” in the West to hide death, insanity and deformity from sight—something like Buddha’s father who tried to hide birth, old age, disease and death from him to prevent his renunciation and enlightenment. Truly comprehending our miserable condition in matter is the beginning of ending it if it leads us to a spiritual search. Interesting and fittingly for attached materialists, many people become angry when they hear criticism of material life, calling one a pessimist or having a “morbid preoccupation”.
A major problem for many of us is that we don’t like the “story” we grew up in with our parents. Either we feel we missed out on something or that we are damaged goods from our unsupportive dysfunctional family. Our quest is to search for a new story we can be part of through another person or family. We want to believe that if we combine with another person with a better upbringing, history or character we can create a newer more satisfying story. Being disappointed in our failure we may resort to ways of distracting ourself from our new unhappy story.
The world is full of distractions from the metaphysical truth about our incompatibility with matter. These distractions are all really stories or alternative worlds we try to be part of. Professional or participatory sports, role playing online or video games, TV shows, movies, books, travel—really everything in the material world save the spiritual search for our soul and our relationship to God is a spiritual distraction.
It is not a question of making a negative judgment on those of us who indulge in these activities, but determining the nature of the influence we subject ourselves to--and why we do it. Morality or rules/recommendations of any religion or spiritual practice is not meant to restrict our enjoyment. They are meant to direct our energy toward inner life where our real happiness lies. We do what is important to us. If spiritual life is our goal, then we will naturally do those things that foster it.
The distracted would rather go to an escapist movie then hear the Spiritual Truth. Part of the material world’s function of keeping the inhabitants in blissful ignorance has been the creation of fantasy movies, video games, or books where handsome muscular heroes or beautiful enchanting heroines have splendid adventures and high powered passionate love affairs, doing inconceivable—or at least very unlikely—feats to win the holy grail, treasure or their perfect lover.
If we can’t be happy at least we can become absorbed in other people’s apparently happy lives—even if they are make-believe stories. The true hero, God, has been forgotten, and since today’s society has a shortage of real hero’s, they need to be manufactured in popular media. This also serves to inflate worldly dreams of grandeur and egoic hope to find bliss in matter.
Behind all our attempts to find meaning, purpose, and a story to become absorbed in is our desire to live in the spiritual atmosphere where we are in our “element”. Where is our real, lasting home and the plane for our fulfillment? As a soul everything we pine for externally exists within our spiritual nature—relishable, active eternity, blissful, meaningful existence free from fear, and true essential knowledge of who we really are and what we need to do.
The Divine Lila or eternal activities of Goddess/God or Radha and Krishna, Lord Chaitanya (the combined form of the two of them) or other manifestations of God and their associates are the real stories our soul wants to identify with. They are reality, not manufactured myths, and never disappoint. The truth of this comes gradually by realization afforded by spiritual practices and processes such as chanting or singing the holy name and hearing with rapt attention the scriptures in saintly association. By being absorbed in the Divine activities and adventures of God and godly people we will return to them in due course of time.
If we are dissatisfied with the material stories we grew up with or have created now, that is progress. Depression or despair is a call to make changes in our life and is often the result of an existential crisis. We have learned that real life begins with our perception of the miseries of life, and our active search for the spiritual solution—the opposite of hopelessness and contempt for life. From the perspective of the Vedic literatures the actual “business” or occupation of human beings--with all their advanced facilities and faculties--is to find the way to travel to the soul's real home, the land of our never ending blissful story in Divine rapturous love.