Happiness and Unhappiness – Sukh and Dukh

First off, 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 “something” or “somebody”, 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 Gurbani teaches a practical Way of living — the Wisdom of the Gurbani provides strength to our weak mind to cope with them.

Sukh

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. 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).
  • ਆਤਮਾ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਪੂਜਨੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਕਿਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: They (Manmukh) do not worship the Aatam Raam, how can they find Sukh (i.e., Joy, Happiness, Peace…) from another (i.e., duality, Maya…)? (sggs 1415).

Dukh

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 ॥”).

If all our efforts are geared to find Sukh, then the question is: Where does the Dukh come from?

  • 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).

Although man’s target is Sukh, but his thinking (Soch) and the resuling actions are all Dukh-producing!

In other words, the Gurbani makes us aware of our mind’s Dukh – Haumai and it’s faults such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, etc., and their numerous variations.

  • ਮਨ ਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਭਾਰੀ ॥: O mind! Egoism and attachment are such heavy loads of Dukha (sggs 1260).
  • ਪੰਚੇ ਰੁੰਨੇ ਦੁਖਿ ਭਰੇ ਬਿਨਸੇ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥੧॥: The five senses (of knowledge – eyes, ears, etc.) waste away through the love of duality; full of pain, they pine away. ||1| (sggs 19).
  • ਸਭੇ ਦੁਖ ਸੰਤਾਪ ਜਾਂ ਤੁਧਹੁ ਭੁਲੀਐ ॥: All suffering and sorrows cling (to mind) upon forgetting (the Divine Naam = Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad…). (sggs 964).
  • 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 Virtueless, 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 in my life…) is my lamp; I have put the oil of Dukh into it. (With that Naam’s lamp-) Light, 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 Gurbani is — “ਦੁਖੁ ਦਾਰੂ”  or “Suffering is the medicine”.

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 Ultimate 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…) as Unconditioned Consciousness. Worldly Sukha thus kills the Spirit per se, not to mention the body. As told in the Gurbani, we are nothing but “Joti Savroop“, which is free from Dukha and Sukha.

  • 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 the Spiritual matters (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth, Shabad, Naam…) in daily life.

How can Dukha be the medicine?

If Sukha puts us to deep sleep of illusion (Maya), Dukha awakens us!

In other words, Dukh makes us patient and humble and takes us closer to the Truth. It is our reformer and benefactor in disguise—the “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! sugar cane, candy, sugar, molasses, honey and buffalo’s milk – all these things are sweet. But, O Rabb! They are not equal to the sweetness of (the Divine Naam, i.e., they are not as sweet as the Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…). ||27|| (sggs 1379).

Know Dukha and Sukh the same

First, the Gurbani wants us to understand the truth 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 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”).

The Gurbani tells us – making the mind die through the Gur-Shabad (Gur-Wisdom) – 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!

Whether we want to be happy or unhappy solely depends on us. No third-party such as god is responsible for it. Remember, the Gurbani repeatedly reminds god is within us!

  • 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).

In nutshell, according to the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad, if we want to be happy, we need to change our thinking (Soch – thoughts, habits, actions).

  • ਜੇਹਾ ਬੀਜੈ ਸੋ ਲੁਣੈ ਕਰਮਾ ਸੰਦੜਾ ਖੇਤੁ ॥: (Body is the) field (of man’s Karma); whatever (he) sows so does (he) reap (sggs 134).

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).

7 replies on “Happiness and Unhappiness – Sukh and Dukh”

This reminds me of a saying :

When you desire the good

You make room for the bad (not achieving your desires)

Thank you T Singh Ji !

Sukh and Dukh are essential part and parcel of life and there is no escape as Guru Nanak Sahib puts it:
ਨਾਨਕ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਝਖਣਾ ਦੁਖ ਛਡਿ ਮੰਗੀਅਹਿ ਸੁਖ ॥ ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਇ ਦਰਿ ਕਪੜੇ ਪਹਿਰਹਿ ਜਾਇ ਮਨੁਖ ॥: O Nanak, it is absurd to ask to be spared from pain by begging for comfort. Pleasure and pain are the two garments given, to be worn in the Court of the Lord. (Raag Maajh M. 1, GGS. 149-4).

Thank you for putting this up. My grandfather just passed away and the last quoting from the granth sahib could not have described him better. Reading this, I felt like guru ji was writing about my grandfather.

This is a beautiful post. Thank you.

Before a man reaches self-consciousness, the desires and sorrows of his kamarupa catalyze awareness of his external world, as he is yet too immature in his eternal being to have awareness of the world around him from his own internal activity. The generic desires and sorrows of his kamarupa give him awareness of his external world as, perhaps, the flesh of his hand gives his bones awareness of the physical world – it is a glove of sentience. The more he becomes aware of his eternity, the less sway does his kamarupa hold over him. Is that the meaning of this post?

Good comment!

The more he becomes aware of his eternity, the less sway does his kamarupa hold over him. Is that the meaning of this post?

Essentially!

The sensory world can never give us any real satisfaction…

Certain desires may not be in keeping with Dharma. They are fancies that come and go.

So while fulfilling desires one has to make sure that one’s actions and efforts conform to Dharma – mind linked to the True Nature, Naam…

Baabaa Nanak says:

ਹਉ ਮੁਆ ਮੈ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਪਉਣੁ ਵਹੈ ਦਰੀਆਉ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਥਕੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਤਾ ਨਾਇ ॥ (sggs 1091).

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