People are trying to achieve happiness at any cost. They are willing to pay any price to make themselves happy or buy happiness for the future. If you ask a young profession slogging 18 hours day as to why he is working so hard. He is likely to describe his toil to attain happiness. Even if his immediate goal may be to make money yet his ultimate goal is happiness and the money is purely a means to attain that goal. People who crave power too believe that power would give them happiness. The people who are craving for the physical and sensual pleasure do so to achieve happiness. Yet all wealth, power and pleasure is not enough to make a person happy as his desire becomes higher and higher. Gandhi has rightly said,
There is enough wealth in this world that can satisfy every person's need. Yet the entire wealth is not enough to satisfy one person's greed.
Are We Like This Fisherman?
It is, therefore, no wonder that no one seems to be happy in this world as no one has been able to satisfy his desire. We all seem to be like the fisherman of this story.
There was a poor fisherman who used to satisfy the basic need of his family by fishing. Once he was extremely hungry as, he could not catch a fish for many days. With great effort, he caught a big fish. He was extremely happy and planned to take the fish home to feed the self and his family. However, the fish asked the fisherman to show mercy on her and spare her life. The fisherman was kind, and he put the fish back to water.
Then he saw that the fish became a Goddess. She told the fisherman, that she was a Goddess who had become fish due to a curse. The effect of the curse was to be removed only if a kind man spares her life. So she thanked the fisherman for sparing her life and making her Goddess again. She asked the fisherman to ask for a boon.
The fisherman was a simple man. He simply thought what he needs and asked the Goddess to give him a decent house, good cloths to wear and sufficient food to eat. The Goddess granted his wish and promised that anytime he needs her help, he can always come to the same place near the sea and she will appear again to grant him another boon.
The fisherman on his return to his home found that the hut had disappeared and replaced with a beautiful house. He found his wife and children dressed in beautiful cloths. There was the best of the foods to eat. His happiness knew no bounds.
Many months passed. Once he was walking in the market, when suddenly he was asked to get out of the road as the king of the State was passing from the road. He was forcefully removed from the road. From a distance, he saw the king passing on the road on an elephant, full of grandeur. He felt humiliated by the men of the king. Then he remembered the Goddess and immediately went to the same place on the seashore and wanted to see the Goddess.
Goddess appeared and asked him to seek another boon. He requested that she must make him the King of the State. The boon was awarded. Now the man was too happy. He has all the power and wealth of the State.
After few years, once he was taking a tour of his state on the gold studded elephant in the month of summer. The weather was hot and humid. He was sweating profusely. He looked at the sky and found the sun to be shining like a hot iron. He wished for the cool breeze. Yet there was no wind. He felt frustrated and went straight to the seashore and asked the Goddess to appear.
Goddess asked, "What do you need now?" He said that he wants, that the sun must shine as per his direction and the wind must flow as per his wish. The Goddess got extremely angry and said reluctuously, "You fisherman! I made you a king. Still you are not satisfied. Go and become fisherman again."
The Nature of Man
The author on conclusion of the places asked the reader, "Whom do you think was wrong? Was it the fisherman or the Goddess?" He then concludes that the man was right as it is the nature of the man to seek more. So the fisherman behaved as any other man would have behaved in a similar situation. However, Goddess did not like like Goddess as she kept on fulfilling the wishes of the man when it was within her power. But when the man asked for something which was beyond her power, instead of telling the man the truth of her limitation, preferred to punish him by making him poor again forgetting what he has done to give her new life.
While many of us would agree with the conclusion of the author that it is the natural desire of man to seek more and more in this world to fulfill his desire, yet in some corner of our heart we also feel that we were being in the place of the fisherman, we would not have committed such a blunder and would have not asked for such an outlandish boon. We also know that even if the Goddess would have satisfied his wish, he would have come back to her for still more wishes. Many of us have virtual control over sun and wind, thanks to the discovery of the air conditioners. Yet we do not seem to have happiness despite the fulfillment of all possible physical comforts. While, it is true that man has unlimited desire, yet it would be incorrect to conclude that the desire of man is only material.
Jesus was the true judge of human nature and he rightly said, "Man will not for bread alone." While bread is necessary to feed the body, yet no man can live merely to satisfy his body. While an animal may remain contented after its physical desires are satisfied, man moves to the next level of desire on satisfaction of physical desire.
What are the different levels of desire? We can classify the desires of man in four distinct categories viz.
(1) Desire of the Body
(2) Desire of the Mind
(3) Desire of the Soul
4 Desire of Spirit
Thus while an animal can spend his entire life for the satisfaction of his physical desires man has to satisfy the desires of the higher level, which may lie dormant only till the lower level desires are not fulfilled. The true happiness is realized only when man is able to satisfy the craving of all four levels of desire.
1 Satisfying the Craving of Body
The first need of every human being, like any other animal, is to satisfy the craving of the body. The desires of the body can be satisfied by food, water, shelter, and clothing; and by the fulfillment of the sensual needs. However, the physical needs are satisfied only for a small time and the cravings return after some time. Therefore, we want to ensure the satisfaction of physical needs for future also by accumulation of wealth and by creation of rituals like marriages which takes care of sensitive needs. All institutions of man are created with a view that man can ensure satisfaction f all his physical needs for life so that he can advance to the next level of craving.
2 Satisfying the Craving of Mind
We all find that people acquires wealth much beyond their need. Often such people are called greedy or filthy rich. Yet the fact is that accumulation of wealth is not for the sake of the satisfaction of the physical need but for the mental need as wealth that provides them recognition and respect in the society. People earn respect and honor which seems to be related to their salies or wealth. Bill Gates was certainly respected by many because he was the richest person of the world. Yet, in reality it is not the wealth that is respected in society but the respect is for the mind that created the wealth?
Imagine, that you have acquainted a billion dollar by chance, say by lottery or inheritance. Or you have acquired wealth by killing a rich person or looting a country. Would you feel happy? Would you get the respect of people? The answer seems to be negative.
The fact is that people do not respect wealth or like the wealthy people for their wealth. After all only the owner of the wealth enjoys the wealth. Yet they like and respect the mind hat created that wealth. Wealth is merely a measure of the mental or intellectual capacity of a person in this material world. If in a company, different people are paid different salies, the chances are that the person getting higher salary is more likely to be more intelligent or wise than the person getting lower salary. Here people respect the person getting higher salary as they believe that he would have higher mental capacity. Many authors and leaders like Gandhi and Mother Teresa were respected even though they had no wealth at all. They too had the potential to create wealth, which they chose not to do.
Men seek respect of the people, once they become rich or powerful. This can be done only if the person satisfies his mental craving and evolve intellectually. Therefore a rich person has to prove his mental worth to the society. All self-made men have already done so. Others have to do so by making sound investment in the business and acquiring more wealth, thereby providing themselves to be smarter than the other. If they fail to do so, they also fail to realize happiness.
3 Satisfying the Craving of Soul
Most people acquire their wealth or power by providing themselves to be smarter than others. Here most successful people should be happy as they have been able to satisfy their body and mind. Yet they fail to get happiness as their next level of craving starts.
People realize late in their life that they are unique in this world having unique personalities and skill. It is a deliberate design of the nature as every person has been designed for a purpose. Thus every successful person seems to ask at some point of his life, when they fail to realize the happiness, "Who am I?", "What is my goal?", "What is the purpose of my life?"
Identifying the self is the greatest secret for the person. Once a person realizes it, he understands the goal and purpose for his life. All great people like Gandhi, Buddha, Newton and Einstein understood their purpose of life and created a new world by satisfying their soul. There is no logic why they did the things which were quite offbeat for the "normal" people.
A man is able to satisfy his soul, only if he knows himself correctly and follows the voice of his conscious rather then the logic of the world.
4 Satisfying the Craving of Spirit
The final destination of the man is to attain the divinity by recognizing the God within and without. Once a man has satisfied the craving of his soul, he realize that all the world is one and every one is connected to each other by the common spirit which we often call as God or Supreme Power. After this realization, the soul of the man becomes one with spirit. So the person works for the satisfaction for every creation of the world. All his wealth and power, instead of becoming a means to satisfies his desire, is used to satisfies the desire of the spirit or God by serving everyone in this universe.
Happiness- The Only Goal of Life
Not many people feel the craving of spirit as even their lower level needs is not satisfied. Yet it is only due to this craving that people like Bill Gates donated all their wealth for the benefit of the society. Buddha too left his kingdom for satisfying his craving of soul and spirit.
Indian philosophy believes that once a man satisfies his craving of spirit, he becomes one with God and become free from the bondage of life and death. He achieves his salvation by becoming one with God. However, one who fails to satisfies his craving of Spirit has to come back again and again to this world till he or her is able to satisfy all the desires. The state of satisfaction of all craving is also called Paramanada (Ultimate Happiness).
Thus, the natural desire of man is to progress from body to mind to soul to spirit. It is like a treasure hunt where, the clue of higher level desire is found after the satisfaction of the lower level desires. The reward for discovering each treasure is happiness. Moving in this direction is the source of happiness while moving in the opposite direction is the source of all unhappiness, pain and miserly.
Thus every man can achieve salvation or God or enter the kingdom of God not by suffering pain but simply by satisfying the desires of his desires which rewards the person by the feeling of happiness.