Happeiness and Peace
Guru Nanak's Philosophy
Aristotle (384–322 BCE) an ancient Greek scholar in the disciplines of ethics, metaphysics, biology, amongst others, describes ‘eudaimonia’ as the goal of human thought and action. Eudaimonia is often translated to mean happiness. More specifically, eudaimonia refers to an inherently positive and divine state of being in which humanity can actively strive and achieve. Given that this state is most positive for human to be in, it is often simplified to mean happiness. Aristotle points to the fact that many aims are in reality only intermediate aims, and are desired only because they can make the achievement of higher aims possible. Therefore, things such as wealth, intelligence and courage are valued only in relation to other things, while eudaimonia is the only thing valuable in isolation. Aristotle regarded virtue as necessary for a person to be happy and held that without virtue the most that may be attained is contentment. For Aristotle, achieving the virtue involves asking the question: “How should I be” rather than “What should I do”. A fully virtuous person is described as achieving eudaimonia, and therefore would be undeniably happy.
Most of the scholars attribute two thoughts to the concept of happiness; one and the foremost is that it is a state of mind; a psychological state, life of satisfaction and a positive emotional condition, second thought is that the life goes well for the person leading it, i.e., wellbeing, welfare, flourishing etc. (Ref: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happiness).
According to Hinduism, there are two types of happiness; the first one comes from achievement and pleasure from the good life, the second is happiness that comes directly from God. Further in Hinduism, the real happiness is inherent within each one of us. It is not located as such, it is we ourselves. Yes, we are of the nature of bliss. Our nature is one of immortal bliss and we have forgotten this simple truth. The so called happiness is only a faint reflection, a little spark of the brilliant Sun of bliss, which is hidden within. This is only a shadow of the eternal bliss that is waiting to be exposed. Our so called happiness and misery are nothing but different states of mind. In the Bhagwad Gita, it is said that ‘He who is attached to the external world and its objects, and is attached to the inner self will attain supreme happiness, which is everlasting’. Real happiness called ‘Ananda’ is the goal of all beings. (Ref: http://www.gateway forindia.com/articles/happiness.htm)
According to Christianity, the true happiness is living in peace and harmony with your own body, mind and soul. It is a state of mind constantly in love with yourself. Happiness is a gift from God found in the believers’ relationship with God. Further when we seek holiness, we will find happiness. When we seek righteousness, we will become happy people because our will is aligned with the will of God as we walk in harmony with Him. The rest of life will then find proper balance. (Ref: https://tifwe.org/biblical-definition-of-happiness/)
According to Buddhism, happiness is achieved when a person can perceive the true nature of reality, unmodified by the mental constructs we superimpose upon it. The authentic happiness comes from having an exceptionally healthy state of mind that underlines and suffuses all emotional states and that emplaces all the joys and sorrows that come one’s way. The mental state necessary for authentic happiness is not simply found or happens upon. Rather, happiness is achieved through mental training that purges the mind of afflictive emotions, such as hatred and compulsive desire, which literally poison the mind and above all through the eradication of ignorance. (Ref: https://bhavanasociety.org/article/buddhist-concept-happiness)
As per Islamic philosophy, the good life is happiness itself. It is realised through faith and good deeds. This does not mean that we will not face difficulties in our good life. Our worldly lives, when they are bolstered by faith and good works can never face distress and vexation. The contentment and openness of the heart are aspects of happiness which are achieved through keeping up the remembrance of Allah and through following the guidance of Islam. Total and perfect happiness is achieved through true devotion in worship to Allah, salvation from hell and admission to Paradise in the Hereafter. (Ref: https://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/finding-peace/inner-peace/quran-speaks-happiness/)
In Jainism, real happiness has been defined as an experience, not of speech, not of demonstration; but it can be had only by being introvert cutting ourselves from the non-self entities and being one with our soul itself. Since the soul is full of happiness, experience of the soul is experience of the happiness. Just as one can’t achieve the soul without experience, in the same manner one can’t get real happiness without the experience of soul. (Ref: https://jainworld.com/?s=happiness)
Basically, from the different scholars and various religions have elaborated, the real happiness is nothing but a state of mind; as to how you feel in the given circumstances. A thirsty person feels happy when he gets water and a hungry one, when he gets food; but not so in the normal course. Similarly a poor man feels happy to find a hundred rupee note but again not so in the normal course. What makes one happy, may not make another man happy, in that particular set of circumstance/conditions.
However, Gurbani has taken the philosophy of happiness to its zenith, by first explaining the reasons for being unhappy i.e., misery or pain. Only thereafter, the concept of happiness – peace – bliss can be understood, through Gurbani, which has been experienced by Gurus, Bhagats and Gurmukhs. Thus, on the basis of Gurbani, we will first try to understand as to what the misery or pain is and what are the reasons for the same.
Baba Farid says:
PrIdw mY jwinAw duKu muJ kU duKu sbwieAY jig ]
aUcy ciV kY dyiKAw qW Gir Gir eyhw Aig ]
Farid, I thought that I was in trouble; the whole world is in trouble! When I climbed the hill and looked around, I saw this fire in each and every home.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1383
Further, Gurbani says:
sgl isRsit ko rwjw duKIAw ]
The rulers of the all the world are unhappy.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 264
A step further, as per Gurbani,
nwnk duKIAw sBu sMswru ]
O Nanak, the whole world is suffering.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 954
iksu pih KolHHau gMTVI dUKI Bir AwieAw ]
Before whom should I unite the bundle of my pains, when all are brimful with woes.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 767
duK kIAw pMfw KulHHIAw suKu n inkilE koie ]
The whole world is filled with miseries who can then know my in-most state?
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1240)
But why so? Human being is confined within his desires and his life is revolving around food, clothing, shelter and momentary pleasures, based on materialistic things, even the pain and misery is not felt/realised, many a times, unless and until the mental horizon of the person goes high or the pain and misery in life makes all material comforts meaningless. But it happens very rarely and if it so happens, the human being searches for true and everlasting happiness and peace. At this stage the human being maybe able to realise that:
suKu nwhI bhuqY Din Kwty] suKu nwhI pyKy inriq nwty ]
suKu nwhI bhu dys kmwey] srb suKw hir hir gux gwey ]
There is no peace in earning lots of money. There is no peace in watching dances and plays. There is no peace in conquering lots of countries. All peace comes from singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, Har, Har.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 1147
Then what? How to derive the true happiness, peace and ultimate bliss? Guru Nanak in simple words says:
ismrau ismir ismir suKu pwvau]
kil klys qn mwih imtwvau ]
Meditate, meditate, meditate in remembrance of Him, and find peace. Worry and anguish shall be dispelled from your body.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 262
pRB kI pRIiq sdw suKu hoie ] pRB kI pRIiq duKu lgY n koie ]
In the Love of God, eternal peace is obtained. In the Love of God, one is not touched by pain.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 391
mweI myry mn ko suKu] koit AnMd rwj suKu BugvY hir ismrq ibnsY sB duKu ]
O my mother, my mind is at peace. I enjoy the ecstasy of millions of princely pleasures; remembering the Lord in meditation, all pains have been dispelled.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p 717
These are some of the quotations from Gurbani which elucidate the canses of unhappiness as well the ways to achieve true happiness and peace. The philosophy of Guru Nanak has been simplified in these quotations. The real happiness and peace lies not in material possessions or momentary pleasures, not even in acquiring any position, power or wealth or even all of these. The real happiness and peace which ultimately leads to state of bliss lies in the refuge of Guru; wherein you have the feeling of being nearer to the God and that is the true way of life. God is the only true source of happiness and surrendering to the will of God has been emphasised in the Gurbani. It would lead to the complete sycronization of body, mind and soul which would ultimately create virtues like contentment, humility, satisfaction, patience, magnanimity etc., leading to a higher state of mind.