How do we know the happiness in our lives?

We know happiness in our lives by being happy and content in life.

By far, most people seek happiness of the body and its relations. They think they are the body, so when their body feels good, they think they are happy.

The problem with the happiness that comes from sense-gratification, though, is that such happiness always, and without exception, ends in misery. That’s the problem with the happiness that comes from the body - it is temporary and then replaced with distress.

The very bottom line of life in a material body is suffering, for the simple reason that the body ends in old age, disease and death.

The only way to escape the fundamental suffering of living in a material body, is to cultivate spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge begins with the knowledge of the difference between matter and spirit - the difference between the body and the self.

In the modern world, people are not educated in such knowledge, which alone can lead to happiness of the soul. They are not educated in real happiness. That’s why they confuse bodily and mental pleasures with happiness.

In the modern Consumer civilization people are indoctrinated into believing that sense-enjoyment will create happiness for them. Indeed, bodily and mental enjoyment is the only type of happiness people know of. But sense-enjoyment is merely a temporary pause in the suffering of the body and mind.

Sex, for instance, is regarded by most people to be the highest joy available. But sex-lust and sex-enjoyment are merely an attempt to escape the suffering of being without sex. It's misery to live in forced celibacy. Anyone who has reached puberty can testify to that.

Or eating. To eat is considered to be one of life's major enjoyments. But actually, to eat is just an attempt to escape the suffering of hunger. People of the Western culture don't know what it means to suffer from famine, but it is a great suffering experienced by many people in the world.

And that's how it is with most of the enjoyment we seek and experience. Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are the four activities humans have in common with all other living entities. In the modern world, however, it has become the foremost goal to fulfill and satisfy these four needs.

They have been made the standard of happiness and enjoyment in life. What do we do together with our loved ones, with our family and friends? We eat, we sleep, we mate, and we defend. The entire civilization revolves around these four activities. That's an animal civilization. Humans are expected to have a higher goal in life than merely satisfying basic bodily and mental urges.

Millions of tons of iron are extracted from the earth to make pots, knives and forks. Whole forests are cut down to make serviettes and napkins. Add to that the industry to manufacture cups and glasses etc. And for sleeping - beds, mattresses, pillows, quilts, covers, the list goes on and on. A massive enterprise - all of it, just to eat and sleep. What to speak of the meat-industry, the second largest industry in the world, only topped by the defense industry.

So the global culture is nothing but one giant industrial setup to fulfill four bodily needs.

The fact is that the Western civilization is over-consuming nature's resources. It is an exploitative civilization that rapes and plunders nature, and puts her inhabitants through untold suffering. And it’s proudly called the industrialized, developed world.

Anyway, the happiness that can be obtained by surrendering to Krishna's enjoyment is so far superior to the happiness that can be squeezed out of matter, that sex with the most beautiful women becomes like broken glass in comparison.

Krishna says:

An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them. —Bg 5.22

Srila Prabhupada explains:

Material sense pleasures are due to the contact of the material senses, which are all temporary because the body itself is temporary. A liberated soul is not interested in anything which is temporary. Knowing well the joys of transcendental pleasures, how can a liberated soul agree to enjoy false pleasure? In the Padma Purana it is said:

"The mystics derive unlimited transcendental pleasures from the Absolute Truth, and therefore the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is also known as Rama."

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam also it is said:

"My dear sons, there is no reason to labor very hard for sense pleasure while in this human form of life; such pleasures are available to the stool-eaters [hogs]. Rather, you should undergo penances in this life by which your existence will be purified, and, as a result, you will be able to enjoy unlimited transcendental bliss." (Bhag. 5.5.1)

Therefore, those who are true yogis or learned transcendentalists are not attracted by sense pleasures, which are the causes of continuous material existence. The more one is addicted to material pleasures, the more he is entrapped by material miseries.

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