To Lose the Mind is to Find Happiness

“To expound and propagate concepts is simple. To drop all concepts is difficult and rare.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Some of the ‘smartest’ people I know, the ones with all the acronyms and letters after their names and the framed, institutional placards on their walls, are the souls who suffer the most.

Suffering does that. The mind, which is the seat of that suffering, continually constructs new plans, programs, mantras, and life goals to dig its way out.

The litmus test for exposing such minds is relatively simple: Ask them to challenge those concepts and watch as they mentally check out, their eyes drifting off into space; or they practically jiggle themselves right out of their seat, so great is their agitation; or they become quite belligerent in the defense of their positions (that was my personal favorite). To the suffering mind it is imperative that the mental scripts be left in place – the sufferer clings to them like a life line in a stormy sea.

As a child I was considered too smart for my own good. The thinker, the seeker, the one forever in search of something I could never quite find. Those closest to me might still describe me that way and to some extent I would agree. But one thing is quite clear: My brain is never going to find peace.

As Nouk Sanchez notes in Take Me to Truth, if we look at what we really want – happiness – we discover that the sources to that supposed happiness are also the sources to our unhappiness. If money makes us happy, soon enough we will need more of it or we will moan and wail if we lose it. (Curious, isn’t it, that we pity the heroin addict for behaving the same way?)

Perhaps it is love that we seek, only to discover the honeymoon inevitably comes to an end and we still need to find a way to get along with this person we ‘love.’ Or it’s sex or fame or…. It’s never enough or we lose it or we never attain it in the first place (enlightenment, anyone?).

So to all you smart sufferers out there, give it up, your brain is never going to find you happiness. Come to think of it, that goes for the stupid ones too.

As Nisargadatta told anyone who would listen, the state of awakening is “the place where the intellect gets annihilated.”

How then, to find happiness, that ineffable state of bliss that supposedly is our true nature? Give up the self, the mind, the concepts.

How does your mind like that?



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  • I must first admit that I follow this blog because it makes me think. I draws me back to myself; away from where life takes up most (and sometimes all) of my attention and energy in seemingly meaningless, rudimentary tasks – the place I don’t really enjoy lingering in, but sometimes feel I have no choice. I always felt I was a born-philosopher, a mystic-wannabe; I seek to transcend the obvious, the necessary, and the mundane.
    I agree that a state of bliss, by definition, is a paradox, but I am not entirely sure that it is a state. Not in a conventional sense anyway. It is not like a “state of mind”: an overarching paradigm, a way in which to uniformly distill and sift through all information in order to understand the world and our place in it. A state of mind we acquire by learning and experience. It goes through a selection process of sorts, some trial and error, and some blatantly blind acceptance of what is passed on from individuals we admire and revere. Within it, all falls predictably into place, things add up as they should. We can conjure it up anytime we need to, I suppose because it at some point starts to make sense. It gives us control. Bliss/happiness on the other hand, does not get compartmentalized so easily. I am not convinced that we can even define it adequately. Unlike a “state of mind”, happiness seems to have very few qualities of a “state”. I don’t believe it has the duration and durability of other “states”, as it is fragile, fleeting and idealized. Do we even have a chance attempting to attain it, and maintain it??
    The bigger problem lies in the assumption that “finding the state of bliss is our true nature”. And I think I understand the basic premise behind this (and it applies to all creatures, not just the thinking ones): we seek pleasure and avoid pain (or something to that extent). It posits us in such a way that we instantly feel the universe, or God, or whoever is responsible simply owes us this. We are owed, and we will not rest until we attain it. And for the most part I feel that it is our own doing that set us up for failure. We talk, think, and dream about it a whole lot. It permeates our relationships, or work and arts. We become entitled; we expect it, hope and pray for it. But life seems to serve as a constant reminder that we constantly exert so much effort but gain very little. That it is impossible to follow a prescribed recipe or a path and get to it. That happiness is indeed fleeting, relative, and short-lived. So again, how can it be a state? (And notice how I am not describing or defining what happiness is/feels like, as it is so uniquely personal, thereby adding further difficulty in our trying to understand it, or even define it). So, perhaps we are searching for the wrong “thing” if what we search for can not be found.
    But, no reason for despair here. I’ll let you entertain at least one other option (and not an original option either): What if we are meant to suffer? What if we are built to endure pain, fear and loneliness in the vast unknown? What if this is what we are truly equipped for, and if happiness is not a “state”, nor a reward for our epic efforts? Then those few and short-lived moments of “happiness” are just a bonus, an epiphenomenon of our suffering, our one universal experience?

  • Zoe, I think what is being pointed to is not a seeker finding a state of bliss but rather that bliss being our natural state. In other words, there is no one there ‘experiencing’ that bliss, it just is. Awakening or enlightenment appears to be the falling away of the false self, which exposes the ineffable, stateless-state of being, which is love, bliss, ‘heaven.’ But what do I know? 🙂

  • Statistically, six out of seven dwarves are not happy…. Sorry, just couldn’t resist it, the joke arrived to me by email today. I’ll be more respectful in future.

  • To be happy or unhappy and not be conscious of it.
    Duality rules, how do you know your happy unless some of the time you are unhappy.
    Perhaps, we are bliss trying to know that bliss is in a state of bliss and only by experiencing unhappiness does bliss know itself.
    If you were in eternal bliss would you yearn for some change from the endless monotone ?
    To be happy or unhappy and not be consious of it.

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