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October 11, 2005


Attendees: Prasad, Srikanth, Vijay, Manju, Dinesh, Srini, Vipin

Manju started the session with a prayer to goddess Saraswati composed by Suresh Kumar (father of a friend, Mayank) � see postscript below.

Srini wondered what he would ask God if he could ask him for ten things. Srikanth suggested asking for enduring happiness. Dinesh wondered if simple or �passive� happiness would really make one happy/satisfied in the long run. What about learning which often required effort, and even pain? Wouldn�t learning lead to new/richer forms of happiness? Manju gave an example of how the departure of her nanny/cook had made her learn to cook out of practical necessity, thus leading to the discovery of a new kind of happiness, namely, the �joy of cooking�. Other people similarly discover new sources of joy/happiness, such as listening to classical music, through an active approach to life.

These comments led to a more general discussion of �what is true happiness� and �what brings happiness� For Srini, true happiness resulted from the absence of negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, bitterness, etc. Dinesh said that happiness was �anand� or bliss. For Manju, happiness was being fearless. She quoted Osho to the effect that a life without risks or surprises was a �dead� life. Vijay mentioned that fortunately the universe was unpredictable (non-deterministic) at the most fundamental level.

Prasad then mentioned various types of happiness such as �mod�, �pramod�, �sukham�, �anand�, and �brahmanand.� Some examples of events leading to happiness include: acquisition of something desirable; end of unpleasant interactions with someone; end of physical pain; discovery of a new capability in oneself; and, the happiness of a child leading to the happiness of his/her parents.

Prasad said that happiness also depended on the gap between where you were and where you wanted to be. If you thought you were 90 on a scale of 100, you might be quite happy. But if you suddenly realized that you were 90 on a scale of 1000, you might become very unhappy.

So how can one become happy (or happier)?

Lincoln said that you are as happy as you make up your mind to be. Vipin wondered that if happiness caused people to smile, could an (induced) smile lead them to happiness? There is some evidence that it would. Dinesh mentioned that laughing every day for 5-10 minutes (as in �laughter yoga� of Dr. Madan Kataria) promoted health and happiness. According to Prasad, true happiness was not a function of what you got or where you were, but a function of what you could/would give from where you were.

Manju asked how to extend the concept of individual happiness to happiness in a relationship. Prasad responded that a symbiotic (and thus happy) relationship had four levels:

a) Physical level � This is the visible level. Even at this basic level, some surprising things can happen. For example, women who start living together in harmony start menstruating together after a few cycles.
b) Emotional level � At this level one feels and shares the pain and joy of the other person. The person who is relaxed often helps calm down the more anxious person.
c) Intellectual level � This level of relationship requires some effort to develop.
d) Spiritual level � This level requires finding out what makes the other person�s spirit come alive.

All these levels contribute to the overall happiness in a relationship. Finally Prasad noted that comparison and judgment always undermined happiness. Therefore, inquire instead.

P.S.: Saraswati Vandana
by Suresh Kumar
Refrain: Jo arth se aage bhi kuchh ankit kare,
shabdo mein wo jhankaar de ma shaarde
Aasmaan ke paar jo jaaye nikal,
kalpana ka wo prasaar de, ma shaarde

1. Vigyaan se haTta nahi man ka andhera,
kaavya ke surya ka ujiyaar de, ma shaarde
2. Tu rahe nirlep nirguN, kintu mujhko,
ek sundar srishTi saakaar de, ma shaarde
3. Main rahoon yaachak tu rahe karuNamayi,
Bas yahi sambandh de, ma shaarde
4. Om ka man bana de jindagi,
Ek rachnakaar de, ma shaarde.

Vijay's translation:

Refrain: O Mother Saraswati, please make my words resonate beyond their (literal) meaning. And expand my (poetic) imagination beyond the skies.

1.Science cannot remove the darkness of mind. Please give me the sunshine of poetry.

2.You may remain formless and without attributes, but please give me a real, tangible and beautiful world.

3.I remain a supplicant and you remain kind and compassionate. Please give me only such a relationship.

4.Enrich my life with the mind of Om, i.e., the ultimate/universal reality. And make me a good writer.

Posted by Ragu at October 11, 2005 02:39 PM

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