Happiness is not goal in itself, it’s byproduct of proper thinking (Soch), living wisely and fulfilling one’s duty with honesty and commitment. This is true in personal relationships as well as in one’s career or vocation.
That said, nothing else can make anybody happy (Sukhi) or unhappy (Dukhi) if that individual does not want to be.
If something or somebody can make an individual happy (Sukhi) or unhappy (Dukhi), then this essential would mean that you have given the remote control of your mind in the hands of that “sombody” or “something”, and so let them decide the state of your mind!
We all can attest to the fact that all human efforts and activities are aimed at two things: (1) gaining happiness (Sukh); and (2) freedom from all Dukh (suffering, sorrow, pain, affliction, agony, unhappiness …). 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:
- ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਮਾਗੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਦੁਖੁ ਨ ਮਾਗੈ ਕੋਇ ॥: Every one asks (begs, craves, wishes, etc.) for (worldly) Sukh and none asks for Dukh. (sggs 57).
- ਜਤਨ ਬਹੁਤ ਸੁਖ ਕੇ ਕੀਏ ਦੁਖ ਕੋ ਕੀਓ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Man makes all sorts of efforts to find happiness; but none to earn pain (sggs 1428).
Dukh or problems will happen in life. There is no escape from them. However — since the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches a practical Way of living — the Wisdom of the Gurbani provides strength to our weak mind to cope with them.
In general, in human history, we have been living in the most materially prosperous time.
Still, it seems as we are not happy.
It’s because happiness is a state of the mind, not a function of material prosperity. More money or success accumulated in ‘rat race’ just helps to buy a better quality of unhappiness! That’s all! The Gurbani attests to this:
- ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਬਹੁਤੈ ਧਨਿ ਖਾਟੇ ॥: There is no Sukh in earning lots of money. (sggs 1147).
The Gurbani indicates that happiness (Sukh, Bliss, Peace…) comes when the mind living daily life with the divine Virtues (ਮਨ ਦੇ ਗੁਣ) such as – Truth (ਸਤ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ-Natural State of Being), Wisdom (ਗਿਆਨ), lack of desires, annihilation of false ego-sense (Haumai) and craftiness, etc.
- ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਚੁਕਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Subduing ego, lasting Sukh is obtained, and emotional attachment to Maya is dispelled (sggs 110).
- ਗੁਨ ਗਾਵਤ ਸੁਖ ਚੈਨ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: by living the divine Virtues in daily life, Sukh is realized (sggs 1272).
- ਹੁਕਮੈ ਬੂਝੇ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਏ ॥: One who understands God’s Hukam finds lasting Sukh (sggs 424).
- ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਮ ਧਿਆਏ ॥: There is no peace without remembering (i.e., living in daily life) the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad…).(sggs 1145).
So, the Gurbani tells us there is NO Sukh in:
- ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਲੋਭ ਮੋਹ ਅਭਿਮਾਨਾ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: Lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment and pride – (caught in them) Peace is not obtained (sggs 614).
- ਜਿਨਾ ਰਾਸਿ ਨ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਉ ਤਿਨਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: Those who do not have the Fund (i.e, Capital, Asset) of Truth, how can they find Sukh (Happiness, Bliss, Peace…)? (sggs 23).
- ਸੁਪਨੈ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਨੀ ਬਹੁ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਪਰਜਾਲੇ ॥੩॥: Even in their dreams, people find no Peace; they are consumed by the fires of intense worry (sggs 30).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭਾ ਗਣਤ ਹੈ ਗਣਤੈ ਨਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥: All accounting is in egotism, in these, there is no Peace (sggs 36).
The Gurbani tells us that man’s all efforts are to find Sukh, none to get Dukha (‘ਜਤਨ ਬਹੁਤ ਸੁਖ ਕੇ ਕੀਏ ਦੁਖ ਕੋ ਕੀਓ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥’)! Yet, the whole world is in the grip of ‘Dukh’ (suffering…)!
- ਫਰੀਦਾ ਮੈ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਦੁਖੁ ਮੁਝ ਕੂ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਬਾਇਐ ਜਗਿ ॥ ਊਚੇ ਚੜਿ ਕੈ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਤਾਂ ਘਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਏਹਾ ਅਗਿ ॥: O Fareed! I thought I was the only one in ‘Dukh’; in fact the whole world is in ‘Dukh’ (suffering…)! When I looked around from a vantage point (i.e., rising above my own Dukh), I saw this fire (of Dukh) in every home (sggs 1382).
If all human efforts are geared to find Sukh, then the question one may ask is: Where does the Dukh come from?
The reason given by the Gurbani is that we keep sawing the seeds of ‘Dukh’!
- ਸੁਖੈ ਕਉ ਦੁਖੁ ਅਗਲਾ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: But in the wake of Sukh, there comes Dukh. The Manmukh does not understand this (sggs 57).
Here is Baabaa Nanak’s eye-opening assessment of human life and sorrows:
- ਦੁਖ ਵਿਚਿ ਜੰਮਣੁ ਦੁਖਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਦੁਖਿ ਵਰਤਣੁ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਅਗੈ ਆਖੀਐ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥ ਦੁਖ ਕੀਆ ਪੰਡਾ ਖੁਲ੍ਹ੍ਹੀਆ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਨਿਕਲਿਓ ਕੋਇ ॥ …: In sorrow, man is born, in sorrow he dies (that is to say, from birth to death, the whole life remains entangled in sorrow), and in sorrow he carries out all the affairs of the world. Even after obtaining education (people) weep and wail, (whatever is to be) obtained (ahead) can only be called sorrow. (For man as if) packages of sorrows are open, and no happiness comes out (of any of the packages). … (sggs 1240).
Although man’s target is Sukh, but his thinking (Soch) and the resulting actions are all Dukh-producing!
Because of the fear of missing out in life, we run in the ‘rat race’ —
focusing on needs rather than wants, we pursue what appeals to us rather than what we are told by the Gurmat Wisdom should appeal to us.
- ਮਨ ਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਭਾਰੀ ॥: O mind! Egoism and attachment are such heavy loads of Dukha (sggs 1260).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਸਭੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਹੈ ਦੁਖਿ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਦੁਖੁ ਰੋਇ ॥: The love of Maya is total pain; in pain they perish, and in pain they cry out (sggs 316).
As indicated in the foregoing verses (there are many more in the SGGS), unhappiness comes from Haumai (false ego sense), mind’s allurement or attachment to worldly things, uncontrolled desires, hunger for Maya or love of duality (two-ness or two divisions of the mind), fear, life full of doubts, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, and their countless variations.).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਜਾ ਦਿਨ ਹਉ ਮੂਆ ਪਾਛੈ ਭਇਆ ਅਨੰਦੁ ॥ ਮੋਹਿ ਮਿਲਿਓ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਆਪਨਾ ਸੰਗੀ ਭਜਹਿ ਗੋੁਬਿੰਦੁ ॥੬॥: O Kabeer! (By living the Divine Virtues) on the day when my egotism dies (bad influence of ego on my mind), afterwards there is Bliss within. (Also) I met my Prabh (Truth, Virtues, Wisdom, Mool…). and now my companions (all senses-ਇੰਦ੍ਰਿਆਂ) are united with Gobind (i.e., Prabh). ||6||(sggs 1364).
In nutshell, a mind devoid of Virtues or Wisdom is an unhappy (or Dukhi) mind.
- ਸਾਚੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਲਾਗੈ ਭੂਖ ॥ ਉਤੁ ਭੂਖੈ ਖਾਇ ਚਲੀਅਹਿ ਦੂਖ ॥: If someone feels hunger for the True Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), that hunger will consume his Dukh (sggs 9).
- ਮੁੰਧੇ ਗੁਣਹੀਣੀ ਸੁਖੁ ਕੇਹਿ ॥: (O soul-bride)! Being devoid of Virtues, there can no happiness. (sggs 56).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵੇ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਜੁਗ ਚਾਰੇ ਭਰਮਾਈ ॥: Without living daily life with the Satgur’s Wisdom (Virtues…), the mortal suffers immense Dukh all the time. (sggs 603).
The Gurbani shows us how to burn Dukh:
- ਦੀਵਾ ਮੇਰਾ ਏਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਤੇਲੁ ॥ ਉਨਿ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਓਹੁ ਸੋਖਿਆ ਚੂਕਾ ਜਮ ਸਿਉ ਮੇਲੁ ॥੧॥: The One Naam (which provides Light of Wisdom or Truth in my life…) is my lamp; I have put the oil of my Dukh or suffering into it. With the Light (of that Naam’s lamp), the oil (of my Dukh) has dried up and I escape my connection with the Jamm (lust, anger, greed, etc.). ||1|| (sggs 358).
Dukh is medicine
The edict of the Gurmat is — “Suffering is the medicine” (“ਦੁਖੁ ਦਾਰੂ”).
Suffering or pain (Dukh) makes the mind strong; it ushers or introduces a person to his true self within; it unites us with others; it develops the feeling of empathy, collaboration, etc.
So, the Wisdom of the Gurbani — the medicine — asks us NOT to be afraid of Dukh.
- ਦੁਖੁ ਦਾਰੂ ਸੁਖੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਭਇਆ ਜਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਤਾਮਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥: Dukh is (or becomes) the medicine, and Sukh (becomes cause of) the disease (i.e., suffering); but if (the Real – spiritual or ਆਤਮਕ) Sukha (is experienced or Realized, within), then (no Dukha remains) (sggs 469).
First, let’s try to understand why Sukha is said to be the source of disease (i.e., suffering, Dukha…). The Gurbani tells us that Sukha puts us to sleep (mayaic slumber) — it makes us forget our True Nature (Mool, Truth, Jot Saroop…). Worldly Sukha thus kills the Spirit per se, not to mention the body.
- ਸੁਖੁ ਮਾਂਗਤ ਦੁਖੁ ਆਗੈ ਆਵੈ ॥ ਸੋ ਸੁਖੁ ਹਮਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਂਗਿਆ ਭਾਵੈ ॥: People beg for Sukh, but Dukha comes instead. I would rather not beg for that Sukha (sggs 330).
However, worldly Sukha deludes us away from Truth, causing separation where there is none. While intoxicated with mundane Sukha, we care less about essential matters (e.g., Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad, Naam…) in daily life.
How can Dukha be medicine?
In other words, Dukh makes us patient and humble and takes us closer to Truth. It is our reformer and benefactor in disguise — “Dandaa” (stick) of the Hukam or the Law of Nature, per se.
To put it otherwise, every Dukha that enters our mind pulls us towards Bliss. For example, if we look at ourselves in our moments of Dukha, we will invariably find that we not only think of Rabb a lot during those moments, but also do so with more intensity and faith!
Dukha thus revives the Divine Consciousness dormant in us. Hence, Dukh acts as catalyst of the Spiritual quest, pulls us towards the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad…), and thus becomes the medicine for all our ailments!
- ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਰਹੈ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗਾ ॥ ਜਨਮੁ ਜੀਤਿ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਦੁਖੁ ਭਾਗਾ ॥੬॥: Recognizing his own selves, a person who remains lovingly attuned (to the Naam), through the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…), he becomes victorious on the battlefield of life, and his suffering run away. ||6|| (sggs 1189).
- ਫਰੀਦਾ ਸਕਰ ਖੰਡੁ ਨਿਵਾਤ ਗੁੜੁ ਮਾਖਿਓੁ ਮਾਂਝਾ ਦੁਧੁ ॥ ਸਭੇ ਵਸਤੂ ਮਿਠੀਆਂ ਰਬ ਨ ਪੁਜਨਿ ਤੁਧੁ ॥੨੭॥: O Fareed! Unrefined sugar, loaf sugar, molasses, honey and buffalo’s milk – all these things are sweet. But, O Rabb! They are not equal to the sweetness (of that life which is lived abiding in Naam, Hukam, Wisdom, Truth, Virtues, ਤੱਤ, ਸੱਚ, ਅਸਲੀਅਤ…). ||27|| (sggs 1379).
Know Dukha and Sukh the same
First, the Gurbani wants us to understand that both Dukh and Sukh are part of human life – man’s own making (“ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਪੜੇ ਪਹਿਰਹਿ ਜਾਇ ਮਨੁਖ ॥”).
Depending on one’s own Soch (thinking or thoughts) and the resulting actions, a person either experiences Dukh or Sukh in daily life.
Therefore, if one’s Soch (thinking or thoughts) and the resulting actions are primarily Dukh-producing, then one cannot avoid Dukh. To the contrary, if one’s Soch (thinking or thoughts) and the resulting actions are primarily Sukh-producing, then one cannot avoid Sukh either.
Accordingly, the Gurbani reminds us that it’s foolishness to pray or ask the third-party for ONLY Sukh by abandoning ALL Dukh (“ਨਾਨਕ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਝਖਣਾ ਦੁਖ ਛਡਿ ਮੰਗੀਅਹਿ ਸੁਖ”).
Through the Wisdom, the Gurmat tells us to develop the thinking wherein one sees Dukh and Sukh the same (Gurmukh Lifestyle – “ਹਉਮੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਖੋਈਐ”).
- ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਉਰੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਅਪਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਹਰਖ ਸੋਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਅਤੀਤਾ ਤਿਨਿ ਜਗਿ ਤਤੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥੧॥: One who knows that Sukha and Dukha are both the same, and honor and dishonor as well, who remains detached from joy and sorrow, realizes the true essence (of living) in the world ||1||. (sggs 219).
To be happy or not depends on us!
The Gurbani repeatedly reminds god is within us! Hence, whether we want to be happy or unhappy solely depends on us. No third-party such as god is responsible for it.
- ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਬੂਝਤਾ ਤਬ ਹੀ ਲਉ ਦੁਖੀਆ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਤਬ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਸੁਖੀਆ ॥੩॥: As long as man does not understand the Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature…), he remains miserable (Dukhi-ਦੁਖੀ). Meeting the Gur (–Giaan, Wisdom, Bibek) when he recognizes the Hukam since then he becomes happy. (sggs 400).
- ਜੇਹਾ ਬੀਜੈ ਸੋ ਲੁਣੈ ਕਰਮਾ ਸੰਦੜਾ ਖੇਤੁ ॥: (Body is the) field (of man’s Karma); whatever (he) sows so does (he) reap (sggs 134).
- ਫਰੀਦਾ ਲੋੜੈ ਦਾਖ ਬਿਜਉਰੀਆਂ ਕਿਕਰਿ ਬੀਜੈ ਜਟੁ ॥: O Fareed! The farmer plants acacia trees (ਕਿਕਰਾਂ), and wishes for Bijouree grapes! (sggs 1379).
No matter if the mind is trained to be happy or unhappy, life will go on. Therefore, the time to be at peace and happy is NOW. Who knows, one may not get the opportunity later!
- ਜਉ ਸੁਖ ਕਉ ਚਾਹੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਰਨਿ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਲੇਹ ॥: If you long for Eternal Happiness (Peace, ਆਤਮਕ ਅਨੰਦ…), then (your mind) must take refuge of Raam (Truth, Wisdom, Virtues, Mool…). (sggs 1427).
- ਡਿਠਾ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ॥: (By searching) I have seen the whole world, there is no Sukh without the Naam (i.e., Wisdom, Truth, Virtues…). (sggs 322).
- ਜੋ ਜਨ ਪੀਰਿ ਨਿਵਾਜਿਆ ਤਿੰਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਅੰਚ ਨ ਲਾਗ ॥੮੨॥: The person who is blessed by his ‘Peer’ (i.e., Gur-Giaan or Wisdom), do not feel the heat (of the fire of Dukh – suffering…). ||82|| (sggs 1382).
Gurbani’s Wisdom prepares us to laugh at worry
The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS teaches us that nothing is permanent, including bad times.
Hence, the more we diligently read the Gurbani ourselves and understand the Gurmat Wisdom, the more we learn to laugh at the uselessness our worries or Dukh in life (adversity, mishap, torment, bad luck, affliction, sorrow, tribulation, tragedy, grief, agony, etc.).
This Universal Energy is within and without us.
However, we have no control over what’s outside us. Hence, the Gurbani’s counsel is not to become the slave of the outer domination. Because, one who draws on the Energy of the outside is a slave.
On the other hand, we can control what lies within us, which is the same Universal Energy.
- ਇਹੁ ਜੀਉ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ ਜਰਾ ਮਰਨੁ ਛੂਟੈ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਭਾਗੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ …. ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡਿ ਪਿੰਡਿ ਸੋ ਜਾਨੁ ॥: (When) an individual is attuned to the Divine Naam, (then) its (fear of) old age and death is over and (the mind’s) wandering is gone. … That person recognizes the same Energy in the whole Universe as well as within the body. (sggs 1162).
In short, thus, Happy or Joyous people (i.e., the Gurmukhs) are capable of claiming mastery of what lies within, NOT what lies outside. It’s so because the one who is able to draw the Energy from within is skillful of the Gurmat Wisdom.
- ਜਿਸੁ ਮਨਿ ਬਸੈ ਸੁ ਹੋਤ ਨਿਹਾਲੁ ॥: The human being within whom (such a Universal Energy) dwells becomes happy. (sggs 293).