Some people love to travel. If you ask, “Why do you want to travel?” they may say, “To see a lot of places.”

“So if you see a lot of places, what will happen?”

 “Well, I’ll be happy.”

“If you ask the travel agent, why are you making all those arrangements for them to see this and that?”

 “Well, I’m happy to help them.”

With every little effort, no matter what you do or how you do it, the answer to the question, “Why are you doing it?”,  is always the same: “I just want to be happy.”

Sometimes, people don’t want to do things. So why is that? Ask them and you might hear this response: “Oh, I can’t do that because it will make me unhappy.” So, you don’t want to do things that will make you unhappy, but you want to do things that will make you happy. That seems to be the common goal. In that respect, the entire creation, not just humanity, is looking for this happiness. Ask the animals. Ask the plants. Take a plant and put it in a dark corner; it will strain its neck to look for the light. If you ask, “Why are you straining your neck? Aren’t you comfortable in this wall to wall carpeted room?” It will say, “Yes, this room is nice but I don’t have light. I want some light and then I’ll be happy.” A small little insect, and even the so called inanimate things like metal and stones, also seem to be saying that they want to be happy. Science proves it. So the goal of the entire creation seems to be this: I want to be happy. Happiness is my goal.

Now, if that is understood and accepted, the next question is, “Why do you want to be happy?” It’s something like, “I want to eat candy.”


“Oh it tastes great!” That means you have tasted it before. If you had never tasted it, you wouldn’t even want it. You won’t even know about it. That means you must have tasted happiness before. And what happened to that? Now you miss it and you want it again. So when did you taste the happiness and why do you miss it and why do you want it again? “Oh, I used to be always happy!” Then what happened to that happiness? “I seem to have lost it.” Why? What did you do to lose it. It just went away? “Oh, I started doing all kinds of things. I was not behaving well, I was not eating the right food, I was not doing the right things.”

So, by our mistakes, if you want to call it that, our not doing certain things that would allow the mind to retain its happiness, results in our missing that happiness. There are some great thinkers who wanted to give a proof that you lived before, and they talk about reincarnation. But, let us also think about the pre-incarnation. You lived before, and you’ll also be living after. How am I to know I lived before? Because you don’t want to lose your life now. You don’t want to die. Patanjali called it abhinivesah, or the fear of death. Everybody is afraid of dying. Why? If it is for the very first time that you are dying, why should you be afraid of it? Only if you have gotten burnt before by fire, are you now afraid of fire. If you have never seen fire, never gotten burned, you would just go and hug it! So the very fear of dying, is the proof that you have died before and you don’t want that to happen again. Does it make sense? It’s logic.

In the same way, you experienced happiness before, and now that you seemed to have lost it, you are looking for it again. Try and analyze it. When did you become unhappy? When were you happy? Happiness and peace go together, in a way. Without peace there is no happiness. A great saintly poet sings a song that says that if there is no peace there is no joy in life. If you have one, you have the other. Maybe they are two sides of the same coin. Think of some time when you were peaceful. You may say, “Even this morning I was peaceful. Now I’m a little disturbed.”


“Oh because I got a phone call.”

“What was it?”

“You know my friend whom I love so much? I was expecting him and he called me and said, ‘Sorry I couldn’t come. I can’t make it.’ I feel so upset. How can he do that to me?

What did he do? Did he make you unhappy? No. Then why are you unhappy? Who made that? You! Yes, he said that he would come, but then he couldn’t. Just because he said that, you decided he must come. You started demanding. You made it as an appointment. He said it, alright. He made an appointment, but you accepted it. If you hadn’t accepted it, even if he made an appointment, you would not have become disappointed. But, you thought, he has to come. Then you made all kinds of arrangements for this friend who is coming back after a long time. You bought all kinds of things to get ready like flowers and special foods. Then the phone call came, and he said he’s not coming. And then when he did not come, what happened to your appointment? It got disturbed. It’s your appointment. But when it gets dissed  you call it a disappointment.

Earlier, it was my appointment and now it is my disappointment. Who dissed it? You. If you had never made the appointment, you couldn’t have made a disappointment. No. So who is the cause of your disappointment? You. We decide that we want things and we expect things. And that disturbs our peace. There was a great saint and mathematician who used to give a teaching: take a balance scale and put all your wants on the dish on one side. Place joy on the other side. If the wants are more, the joy becomes lighter. More wants, less joy. If you can’t right away put more joy on one side to make it heavier, you can slowly take the wants out, one by one. When the wants are less, the joy is more. And if you take all the wants out, your joy is full.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda