You may not know this, but I know for a fact that you cannot be happy in the material world by bodily and mental gratification.
Certainly, you can get a sense of relief by gratifying your senses, but the bitter truth is that sense-gratification always and without exception ends in misery.
Take eating, for instance. Eating is considered one of the great pleasures in life. Did anyone ever get happy and satisfied in life by eating, though? In the west everybody has enough to eat, still frustration is wide spread. Anti-depressants are selling like never before, and suicide among young people is on the rise. Are those the signs of a happy population?
The truth is that in the global culture people basically have unhindered access to sense-gratification. Sex, drugs and rockn’roll are freely available to everyone. Still people are not really happy in life.
This proves the Vedic version, which states that not only does sense-gratification not make you happy, it is also the very cause of misery.
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)
Someone may object, if I have sex, or smoke a joint and drink a couple of beers, or enjoy e nice juicy steak, that makes me happy. As long as I don’t overindulge and become addicted, it’s no big deal, it won’t cause me suffering.
But it does. Why? Because, the bottom line of life in a material body, is one of suffering. Even if you enjoy to the max, say, you are rich, beautiful, and famous, disease, old age, and death always get you in the end.
And most importantly, the reason that sense-enjoyment doesn’t bring happiness, is because bodily gratification does not satisfy the soul. When we enjoy the body, we don’t enjoy our actual selves. The soul is different from the body and mind, so no matter how much we gratify our body, it doesn’t make the self satisfied. As long as we don’t feed the soul, but only the body, there will be an inherent sense of frustration.
It’s like trying to satisfy a bird in a cage, by polishing the cage, instead of feeding the bird.
To satisfy the soul, we need to feed the soul, and that is done by connecting ourselves with God. Since the soul is eternal, it can never be satisfied by temporary bodily enjoyment.
In order to satisfy the soul, ie. our real selves, we need to engage ourselves in the eternal service of the Supreme. Since we are all minute particles of God, and since God is made of eternity knowledge and bliss, when we connect ourselves to God, we link up with eternity, knowledge ad bliss.
And that is the only way to true happiness. True happiness is lasting, rather than being interrupted constantly by misery. Real happiness is ever lasting.
O learned Uddhava, those who fix their consciousness on Me, giving up all material desires, share with Me a happiness that cannot possibly be experienced by those engaged in sense gratification. --Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.12
Hridayananda Maharaja explains:
The actual purport of Vedic knowledge is explained in this verse. The word visayatmanam includes those who are cultivating material peace of mind, self-control and speculative philosophy.
But even if such persons rise to the platform of sattva-guna, the mode of goodness, they do not attain perfection, because sattva-guna, being material, is also part and parcel of maya, or illusion. As stated by Sri Narada Muni,
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is not inclined to award Himself even to one who executes the yoga system, speculative philosophy, the renounced order of life or Vedic studies. Indeed, no so-called materially auspicious process can induce the Lord to reveal Himself." (SB 4.31.12)
According to Srila Sridhara Svami, one enjoys the happiness spoken of in this verse while associating, in one's own spiritual body, with the supreme transcendental form of the Lord.
The Lord's transcendental form is filled with infinite wonderful qualities, and the happiness of being with the Lord is unlimited. Unfortunately, materialistic people cannot possibly imagine such happiness, since they are not at all inclined to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead.