Search for Happiness
The following is an excerpt from a Public Meeting with Gangaji. It begins with a monologue by Gangaji and concludes with a dialogue between Gangaji and a questioner requiring further explanation.
Victoria, British Columbia
July 25, 1997
The search for happiness is obviously a very deep command in most beings. Sometimes it is even stronger than the instinct to survive. As you know from your own experience, the search for happiness can take many avenues. In very superficial ways, it can be a search for pleasure or comfort or security, or a search for some known position in the herd of humanity. When one has accomplished some level of success in terms of pleasure, comfort, security, and position, there is the recognition that pleasure, comfort, and security doesn’t touch this deeper command, this deeper call for true happiness. So the search continues, often at the same level of pleasure, comfort, and security.
Sometimes, in a blessed life, there arises what we call the spiritual search, the search for God, the search for Truth. There is a recognition that the usual means of taking care of this command just doesn’t take care of it. There is a putting aside of what we have called mundane existence and a turning of one’s attention toward spiritual life. Unfortunately, the same conditioning that directed the mundane life usually also attempts to direct the spiritual search, and it, then, becomes a search for spiritual pleasure, spiritual comfort, spiritual security. Sooner or later there has to be a disillusionment with that search also.
There is pleasure, obviously. There are ecstatic realms. There is a sense of security when you sense that God or Truth is present, and there is comfort when you feel held by that Presence. But until you recognize that you have never been separate from that, there is a continuing thrust to find It somewhere, to find God, based on the belief or the hope that God will give you happiness. This belief or hope is based on a pretty infantile understanding of what God is — some body, something, some force, some where, that can deliver pleasure, comfort, and security to you.
I got a note this afternoon from someone asking, “Which world religions are your principles based upon?” Well, I haven’t made a study of world religions, except superficially, but what I have seen is that at the heart of every human being, there is a command to find this that I am calling right now, “happiness.” But I have discovered that it is impossible to find happiness. As long as you are seeking to find happiness “somewhere,” you are overlooking where happiness is. I would say the same in reference to God. As long as you are seeking to find God in some place, you are overlooking the essential truth of God, which is Omnipresence. When you seek to find happiness someplace else, you are overlooking your true nature which is happiness. You are overlooking yourself.
So this teaching is the invitation and the challenge to stop overlooking — to simply, radically, absolutely, Be Still. To put aside, at least for a moment, all of your ideas of where God is, or where Truth is, or where you are. All of your ideas of what God, or Truth, or you have to give or receive. Put them aside. Be still. Stop looking anywhere. Stop seeking. Simply be. Not be in a stupor, or be in a trance, or even be like a cow is being in a field, but deeper than that, so that the revelation of Omnipresence can be recognized, can be revealed, the revelation of your true nature. I don’t mean your personality. I mean deeper than your personality and present in all the fluctuations of your personality. Be still in the presence of that. Not be still to create that. Not even be still to invite that. Be still simply to recognize what is always here, who you always are, where God always is.
This teaching is not a religion. Although my guru’s guru was Hindu, and my guru was raised as a Hindu, it has nothing to do with East or West. It makes no distinction between Hindu, Christian, Jew, Moslem, Buddhist, Pagan, Communist, Capitalist, you or me. It is a recognition of the Omnipresence of Being in which you appear, in which I appear, in which ocean, mountain, sky, saints, bliss, and horror, appear. That field of Presence that is alive and intelligent and is coming to recognize Itself in you.
If you ask Ramana or Papaji this question, they would most likely answer it very differently, because there is not a liturgy that goes with this teaching. There is not a sect, or a belief, or a creed. It is too simple. It is so simple that I have already said too much about it. That is why Ramana, in his depth of wisdom, remained mainly silent.
I got a letter today from someone who wrote, “Well, since you obviously had such an easy time of realizing the Self, you can’t possibly understand what my problems are.” In a sense, this is true. To realize the Self is the easiest. But I can tell you that I spent most of my life in great difficulty, always searching, seeking, struggling to get out of what I experienced as my basic unhappiness, and to get into what I hoped, or somehow believed, was the happiness of Truth.
And my teacher stopped me in my tracks. He told me to give up every technique I had. When he said that, I must admit, there was a bit of resistance. I was concerned that if I gave up my techniques, then perhaps I would lose ground. Perhaps the happiness that I had somehow gotten, I would lose. But his glance was so powerful, and his presence was so certain, that luckily I had no choice but to investigate for myself. I asked myself, If I give up every technique, if I give up every strategy of trying to get some happiness, or trying to escape this human condition that I had called unhappiness, what will I discover? There is no way of knowing without first giving it all up. There is, finally, no way of theorizing, no way of speculating That which is finally unspeakable.
When my teacher saw that I had obeyed him, that I had investigated it for myself, he sent me off to invite you into this investigation. Not to convert you. Not to get you to prescribe to a set of beliefs, or a code of behavior, although there are definitely better beliefs and worse beliefs, better codes of behavior and worse codes of behavior. But you are adults, you are intelligent, and it’s up to you. What I am speaking of is not a code of behavior. It is not a belief. It is a result of direct investigation into the question, Who am I, really?
When you ask this question of yourself, the mind is sent back to that initial thought, I am somebody. That initial thought then leads to all the strategies, all the techniques to be a better somebody, a more protected somebody, a somebody with more pleasure, more comfort, more attainment. But in questioning that very basic thought, I am somebody, to really question, Who am I? The mind is thrown back to the I that has been assumed to be separate from that which it is seeking. This is called Self-inquiry. It is Ramana’s gift to you.
This most basic question, Who am I? is the one that gets overlooked the most. We spend most of our days telling ourselves or others who we are-somebody important, somebody unimportant, somebody big, somebody little, somebody young, somebody old-always overlooking this most basic question, Who am I, really?
So our meeting, this satsang, is a way of facilitating the deepening of that question, the aliveness of that question, and a way of celebrating the endlessness of that which cannot be spoken.
Also in this letter were the questions, “Is there a flow of Truth?” If so, what on earth is it doing? And are you doing Truth? I am not doing Truth. I would answer this question simply by saying, everything flows through Truth. Truth is the ground of Being, and it is Absolute. Relative truth and relative lies flow through It. It remains unaffected, independent, radiant in its freedom. Furthermore, who you are is that Truth, unaffected, in Truth, by your personality, by your lies, by your misidentification, by your experience of suffering.
I don’t want to make light of your experience of suffering, or of your lies, or of your misidentification. But if you will simply turn your mind toward who is really suffering, you can discover that there is the experience of suffering, and yet, there is no experience separate from this field of Truth, of Consciousness, radiant in its aliveness. That is what I am teaching, and if you didn’t understand a word, in the sense of holding it in memory, I have succeeded. My master told me, “The truest teaching is like birds flying across the sky.” A true teaching leaves no tracks that can be followed, yet, it cannot be denied.
Dialogue with Questioner
I have a feeling that what you are talking about is annihilation. You can call it annihilation. What I experience is incredible fear of this annihilation, and yet I pray for it. Isn’t that ironic? What you hunger for most is what you are most afraid of. So which is stronger, the hunger or the fear? Oh, both the hunger and the fear. Wait. This is a lie. You tell the truth now, really tell the truth. Is the fear stronger than the hunger, or is the hunger stronger than the fear? I think the hunger. No thinking allowed right now. That’s hedging your bets so that the fear won’t attack, sending some crumbs to the fear demons to signal your respect. I’m asking you, which do you give allegiance to? Which do you pay homage to?
Which do you pray to, your fear, or your hunger for Truth? I understand you pay some homage to fear, or this discussion couldn’t be happening. But I’m asking you right now, which is higher in your mind? The hunger for Truth. Now you’ve answered that very clearly, and in answering, fear is naturally evoked, because there is some fear of fear, but this evocation of fear is necessary. You bring the fear to the hunger.
Then, even fear fuels the hunger, until it is a raging fire, and the hunger for Truth is all that you know. This is a longing, a Divine Longing. When it is all that you know, you are not separate from the Longing, from the Truth, and you will be satisfied with nothing less than the Truth. Perhaps you have looked for Truth in many places, but I suggest you look at it in the core of the longing, in the hunger itself. It is this hunger that annihilates, and it annihilates every concept of who you are, what you need, what you got, and what you didn’t get. It annihilates every concept, and it reveals what cannot be annihilated.
The impact of this offering to the world is unknown, but the offering is true and endless and is your own heart. We invite you to share yourself in this extraordinary welcome home, Self to Self.
Gangaji’s Southern California Schedule
Jan. 16-18 — 7:30 p.m., Serra Center, The Mission San Louis Rey, Oceanside; Weekend Intensive Jan. 27-28, Lake San Marcos Resort, San Marcos.
Feb. 3-4 — 4:30 p.m., Feb. 5 — 7 p.m., Victoria Hall, Santa Barbara.
Feb. 9 — 7:30 p.m., Feb. 10 — 2 p.m., Agape Church, Culver City, Feb. 13-14 — 7:30 p.m., Pacific Palisades High School, Pacific Palisades; Weekend Intensive Feb. 17-18, Pacific Palisades High School, Pacific Palisades.
For more information on these events, call (800) 267-9205 or check out www.gangaji.org
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