ਜਉ ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਚਾਹੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਰਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਲੇਹ ॥:
Jou sukh kaou chaahai sadaa sarani Raam kee leh:
If Eternal Happiness (Peace, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ...) is desired,
then, seek (within) the refuge of Raam (sggs 1427).

We all can attest to that all human efforts and activities are aimed at two things: (a) gaining happiness (Sukh); and (b) attaining freedom from all sorrows (Dukh). Accordingly, all our endeavors are motivated by impulse to seek out joy-giving things and circumstances, and avoid any sorrow-giving things and situations. The Gurbani affirms this as follows:

  • ਜਤਨ ਬਹੁਤ ਸੁਖ ਕੇ ਕੀਏ ਦੁਖ ਕੋ ਕੀਓ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Jatan bahut sukh ke keeye dukh ko keeo na koi (sggs 1428).
  • ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਮਾਗੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਨ ਮਾਗੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਸੁਖੈ ਕਉ ਦੁਖੁ ਅਗਲਾ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Sukh kaou maangai sabh ko dukh n mangai koi. Sukhai kaou dukh agalaa manmukh boojh na hoi (sggs 57).

Apparently, as all human resources are aimed at seeking out happiness, it becomes imperative to convince ourselves as to exactly where this happiness is located. Is it located in the worldly objects, or, is it located somewhere else?

Happiness (Sukh) can be lumped in two types: material (worldly) and Transcendental (Eternal Bliss, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ). The material or worldly happiness we experience appears to us appealing than the Transcendental Happiness. However, as indicated in the Gurbani, the worldly or material happiness is Mithiya (fleeting, temporary, ephemeral, illusion, unreal, etc.). Thus, it is limited, changeable, inconsistent, unfixed, untrustworthy, fluctuating, and so on. By enslaving our sense-bent minds, it makes us Bikaaree (slaves of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealousy, stubborn mindedness, narrow mindedness, and so on). To the contrary, the Transcendental Happiness has no trace of any of these faults. For it can only be experienced upon realizing the real Freedom or Mukti (liberation) from bondage or the Haume-mind. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) indicates that we human beings still don't long for it with earnestness, cheerfulness, readiness, ardency, excitement, urgency, etc. Consequently, only the very "rare" one (who has become the Gurmukh) pursues it. Transcendental Happiness (Eternal Bliss) bestows on the seeker the Divine Knowledge (Wisdom, Aatam-Giaan...) that the Soul is the embodiment of Truth-Pure Consciousness-Immortality; thus the Real or the Original Source of Eternal Happiness. As indicated in the SGGS, once a person experiences this Transcendental Happiness or Peace, then he realizes the insignificance of the worldly happiness. In this context, this Gurbani Reflection will try to reflect on the following:

  • Material Happiness - worldly happiness
  • Eternal Happiness - Transcendental Happiness
  • Achieving Real Happiness
Material Happiness - worldly happiness

As we know it, this Jagat (or material world) is ever changeful. Everything around us keeps changing on a constant basis. Nothing ever stays permanent. Accordingly, any happiness experienced from material objects is also changeable, hence, temporary or impermanent. In addition, what gives one happiness today may cease to give one the same happiness in the future. For example, one may feel some fleeting joy from owning a new car or a new house, but that joy will not and can not stay forever. Further, an object that provides one happiness may not provide the same degree of happiness to someone else. For example, one may find momentary joy in eating sweets, however, the same sweets will act like a poison to a diabetic. Similarly, a hungry person may find some joy in eating a delicious meal, however, the same meal will not have any appeal to an another person who is not hungry at the moment.

One may struggle all his life to amass wealth, gain very high position in the government or status in the society, one may have good family (most beautiful spouse and best children), he may be highly educated, he may be very effluent and powerful, he may be full of worldly talents - but at any given moment he is subject to loose all of it. This is the true nature of this material world; it is ephemeral. Accordingly, the scriptures thunder that finding a real and unending joy in the sense-objects is not possible.

  • ਖਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਕਉੜੇ ਹੋਇ ਗਏ ਜਿਤੜੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਭੋਗ ॥: Khin mahi kaiourre hoi gae jitarre maya bhog (sggs 135).
Thus, there is no single object in this world, which can give us lasting happiness. Any happiness or pleasures experienced due to contact of the senses with the mundane objects has beginning and end. Such fleeting happiness derived from worldly objects tastes like nectar in the beginning, however, at the end, it turns out to be a poison (Bikhiaa)!
  • ਹੋਵਨੁ ਕਉਰਾ ਅਨਹੋਵਨੁ ਮੀਠਾ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਮਹਿ ਲਪਟਾਇ ਜਰੇ ॥: Hovunu kouraa anehovunu meethaa bikhiaa mahi lapataae jare (sggs 823).
  • That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their worldly objects is termed Raajsic. It appears like nectar in the beginning and like poison in the end (Geeta 18-39).

The visible material world is colored with two colors of duality (Doojaa Bhaav). Because of this duality, every material Sukha or happiness is followed by Dukha or sorrow. If there is a laughter, there is a cry; if there is a birth, there is a death; if there is a rich, there is a poor; so on and so forth. As everything in the world is in the state of constant flux, there can be found no permanent or ever-lasting happiness.

  •  ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਏ ਨ ਕੋਈ ॥: Doojai bhaai sukhu paae n koee (sggs 123).
The Gurbani indicates that any pleasure emanating from material objects ultimately turn into disease or pain. When one gets imbued in material enjoyment, he tends to forget his Mool (Source, Origin Reality...). As a result, he act as a Manmukh (Mayadhaaree, Maya-stricken or self-willed, etc.). A soul so contaminated with the material nature becomes infected with the poison of lust, greed, anger, delusion, attachment, pride, enviousness and stubborn mindedness, etc. Consequently, the soul gets caught in the cycle of repeated suffering.
  • ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: Eh Maya jitu Hari visrai mohu upjai bhaaou dooja laaiaa (sggs 921).
From this discussion, it is clear that worldly objects are not the source of Real Happiness (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ). If they were, then they should provide the same happiness to each one of us at all the time. We know this is not the case. Therefore, any happiness obtained from the mundane objects at best is only fleeting, thus, illusory.

Now, if the real happiness is not inherent in the worldly objects, then where is it located? What is the source of real and eternal happiness? The Gurbani provides us with the answer to this fundamental Spiritual Inquiry.

Eternal Happiness- Transcendental Happiness

Our Soul incessantly yearns for happiness (Inner Peace, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ...). Why? It is because the True Nature of the Soul is nothing but Truth or Eternal Existence, everlasting Joy or Bliss, and Pure Knowledge or Consciousness. Thus, the true happiness can be found nowhere, but within by Realizing our Mool (Source, Origin...).

  • ਜੇ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੁਝੈ ਤਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਿਹਾਲਾ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚੁ ਸਭੇ ਸੁਖ ਨਾਲਾ ॥: Je Shabadu bujhai taa sachu nihaalaa. Antari saachu sabhe sukh naalaa (sggs 412).

From the Shabad-Vichaar (Reflection on the Gur-Shabad), we understand that happiness is not the nature of the objects of our senses. Rather, happiness is the nature of the subject. Due to ignorance of our Mool (subject), we look for happiness in the worldly objects of this never lasting world. At the end, we become the source of casting a spell of miseries and sorrows upon ourselves.

We are part and parcel of the Supreme Being (Parameshar) — the shoreless Ocean of Eternal Happiness and Pure Awareness. He has made us in the true Image of Him (Joti-Svaroopa). However, due to our love for Maya, we have forgotten our True Nature. This is our ignorance so much talked about in the SGGS and other scriptures.

  • ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Iou kahai Nanaku man toon joti saroopu hai apanaa moolu pashaanu ||5|| (sggs 441).

The Gurbani indicates that each one of us is capable of finding the Eternal Happiness (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ) in the midst of Maya, "hear" and "now"! That is to say, we all can obtain the state of Eternal Existence - Pure Consciousness -True Bliss while performing our duties as householders in this world; like a lotus that lives untouched in muddy water, or like the bird who flies in the sky without leaving any footprints behind, or like the swan who swims against the stream without becoming wet.

The Gurbani indicates that the Pure Blissful state of the Joti-Svaroopa can be realized by quieting the mind of the Maya's noise. In other words, a tranquil or peaceful mind is the real locus of a true happiness.

In nutshell, happiness is a state of the mind. Therefore, degree of happiness is directly proportional to the degree of tranquility of our mind. For example, if one's mind is in peace for a moment, he will enjoy momentary happiness, on the other hand, if one has learnt the art to have peaceful mind all the time, he can enjoy everlasting happiness.

Once the true nature of happiness is understood, one can bring about lasting tranquility within, without having to depend on any outside objects or circumstances. God has provided all of us a unique capacity to quieten the mind. However, in most of us that capacity lies dormant. This leads to the question: How can we awaken this dormant faculty?

"We need to mend our ways", urge the Gurbani. Vicious and stubborn habits of past will not give in to empty or phony talks, or mere daydreaming about Self-realization. The Aatam-Giaan, Bibek-Budhi, or the Divine Knowledge of the Gurbani can help us successfully mend our ways to achieve Real Happiness (ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ), here and now.

Achieving Real Happiness

  • ਜਉ ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਚਾਹੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਰਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਲੇਹ ॥: Jou sukh kaou chaahai sadaa sarani Raam kee leh (sggs 1427).

If we put everything in perspective, we will realize that happiness is impossible without inner peace or stillness, and inner peace is impossible without a steady mind, and steady mind is impossible without Spiritualized Intelligence, and Spiritualized Intelligence is impossible without connecting with the Mool within (Source, Origin...). In other words, until we are connected to Essence of Divinity within (Joti-Svaroopa), we can neither have Transcendental Intelligence nor steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace or happiness. Accordingly, as time and again indicated in the Gurbani, to become established in our Trur Nature (Joti-Svaroopa), the desirous of real happiness needs to make the Divine Name (Naam: Giaan...) the prop of his life. Without which this rare form of human life will be gambled away.

  • ਐਸਾ ਜਗੁ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਜੂਆਰੀ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਸੁਖ ਮਾਗੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਬਿਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Aisaa jagu dekhiaa juaaree. Sabhi sukh maangai naamu bisaaree ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 222).
  • ਤਿਨਾ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਨਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥: Tinaa anandu sadaa sukhu hai jinaa suchu naamu aadhaaru (sggs 36).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥: Brahm Giaanee kai naamu aadhaaru (sggs 273).
  • ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਤ ਮਨਿ ਹੋਵਤ ਸੂਖ ॥੨॥: Naamu japat mani hovat sookh (sggs 179).
  • ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥: Gur Giaan padaarath naamu hai hari naamo dei drirhaai (sggs 759).
Thus, the Gurbani indicates that the most effective means of purifying the mind is the Naam (Giaan - "ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ"). However, the condition is that it must be done with Pure Love (Bhagti), and without any selfish motives. In other words, without the Naam-consciousness (Shabad-Surti...), there is no possibility of achieving mental purification, necessary for experiencing Real or True Happiness - Transcendental Happiness.
  • ਸਬਦੁ ਸੂਝੈ ਤਾ ਮਨ ਸਿਉ ਲੂਝੈ ਮਨਸਾ ਮਾਰਿ ਸਮਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Sabadu soojhai taa man siou loojhai (sggs 113).
  • ਸਬਦ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਰਾਤਉ ਸੁਖ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Sabad surti sukhu oopjai prabh raataou sukh saaru (sggs 62).
Since birth, we keep increasing our love for the worldly objects (i.e., Maya). Once a desire to enjoy an object springs up in the mind, the mind becomes agitated. It can not sit still until the desire is fulfilled. Unfortunately, in the process of filling one desire, more desires spring up. Thus, an agitated mind ends up becoming the locus of unhappiness. Therefore, the Gurbani asks us to practice reducing desires. The ultimate goal is to become desireless — not to desire anything for sense pleasures.
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਤਜਿ ਸਹਜ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਏਕੋ ਮੰਨਿ ਵਸਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੧॥: Trisnaa taji sahaj sukhu paiaa eko manni vasaavania ||1|| (sggs 111).
A well without water is not only worthless, it also becomes depository of trash and the source of bad odor. A mind without Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) is also like a well without water. The Divine Knowledge helps understanding God's creation, as well as controlling the mind. As the pitcher keeps the water restrained, similarly, the Divine Knowledge keeps the mind under control.
  • ਕੁੰਭੇ ਬਧਾ ਜਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੁੰਭੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: Kumbhe badhaa jalu rahai jal bin kumbh n hoi. Giaan ka badhaa manu rahai gur bin giaanu n hoi ||5|| (sggs 469).
Like the saying goes, we are what our friends are. Therefore, the Gurbani urges us to constantly keep Company of the Gurmukhs, and stay linked to Truth within (Sach or Sat).
  • ਸਰਬ ਸੁਖਾ ਪਾਵਉ ਸਤਸੰਗਿ ॥: Sarab sukha paavaou satsang (sggs 180).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਏ ॥: Maya moh Gur Shabadi jalaaye (sggs 412).
The world of each one of us is born of duality (Doojaa-Bhaav). However, the true happiness comes from non-duality. Therefore, to taste real happiness, one needs to liberate himself from this world of pluralities and mental delusion. Also, the Gurbani urges us to practice Dharma in all situations. Because, Divine Oualities (ਗੁਣ) form the basis of strong Spiritual life (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ). Outer bodily-dress and or rituals do not mean much. Manmukhtaa (egoism) and empty religious rituals go hand in hand.
  • ਗੁਰਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਦੁਤੀਅ ਗਏ ਸੁਖ ਹੋਊ ॥: Guri Shabadu drirriaa parm padu paya duteeaa gaye sukh ho-oo (sggs 535).

A child's mind is said to be pure, innocent and at ease (Sahaj). It remains so as long as it does not become contaminated by the modes of material nature (i.e., Maya). If we wish to attain real happiness, the Gurbani urges us to maintain or adopt a child's mind — Intact or Undivided Consciousness.

  • ਪਾਇਓ ਬਾਲ ਬੁਧਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਰੇ ॥: Paaio baal budhi sukhu re (sggs 214).

The "Cause" is not different than the "Effect". Therefore, if we truly want to be happy, then we must Love the Divine Essence within (Mool). If we can do that, the Eternal Happiness will simultaneously reflect itself in us, because we are nothing but His True Image (Joti-Svaroopa). The process involves complete surrendering of the false ego sense (Haume) within, and becoming the Gurmukh (Spiritual Being).

  • ਜਉ ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਚਾਹੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਰਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਲੇਹ ॥: Jou sukh kaou chaahai sadaa sarani Raam kee leh (sggs 1427).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਪਾਵਹੁ ਸੂਖ ਘਨੇਰੇ ॥੧॥: Gurmukhi Naamu japahu man mere. Nanak pavahu sookh ghanere ||1|| (sggs 264).

— T. Singh