- Description of the ideal.
Every creature seeks happiness, and man plans for it, consciously. But few very few indeed, can claim that they have gained happiness. In the first place, we do not know what precisely happiness is. To seek a thing is better than to have it. This is the law, of human mind. “To travel hopefully is better than to arrive” said Stevenson, and he was right. Happiness is also a thing whose pursuit inspires us with hope, but not its possession. Secondly, there is no common, universal standard of happiness. It varies with the culture and temperament of people. Indeed, it is well known how one man’s food is another man’s poison. And in the same way, one man’s happiness may well turn out to be another man’s worry! Yet is a fact that all men seek this unknown thing and it because they hope to get it sometime, somewhere, that they exist at all. A life without hope is a living death. We live by hope, effort and expectation.
Since now two persons share the same vision of happiness, it obvious that we all have our own special brand of happiness to pursue. We have our own ideas and ideals of happiness. It all depends on what we are, how we are placed and trained in life. It is our culture and temperaments, as we said, that determine our ideas of happiness. A beggar, for example, dying for want of bread will deem it heavenly if he procures a crumb of food while, by the same token, heaps of richly cooked food will let a rich man be indifferent to it.
Our idea of heaven is our idea of happiness. To the hungry heaven is land flowing will milk and honey. To the childless heaven is a home full of children; to the blind, it is vision to bachelors, it is married life; to the dull and stupid, it is matter of intelligence and knowledge, and so on. In short, we are happy to have that why we have not.
I would be happy if I were able to live a simple life. I have dreamed of doing away with those things which people generally seek, namely, wealth, fame, honour and applause. My happiness, I have felt, does not consist in the possession of things that are uncertain. The things of this world are of this kind. Money goes away as it comes, leaving one worried about getting more fame is fickle; it too, comes to some and leave them after a while. It is the lot of many to live a fameless life. The world, in the words of Wordsworht, is really too much with us. Getting and spending and yet again getting this is what we all prize. And thus do we all lay waste our powers. Man was not created to earn money and do nothing else. And so we are not happy in the pursuit of worldly things.
I have thought over this and come to the conviction that I will be happy only when I possess something which does not lessen, get lost or destroyed. Such a thing is contentment. To be contential to possess inner wealth. It is not lost; it cannot be stolen; it increases with the years; it enriches our soul. And so my idea of happiness is a spiritual one. And in order to possess this inner wealth, it is necessary that I should live a simple life. Simple living encourages high thinking; it is the best guarantee of contentment. It leaves one time and energy enough to seek after better things. These are the things of the mind. There are truth, beauty, love goodness, kindness and charity. It is in the pursuit and cultivation of these that I can be truly happy. So at any rate, I think and hope.
I do not mean that I will be an ascetic. No, I will live in the midst of life with all its interests and responsibilities. I will discharge my responsibility to my parent, my dependents, my home, my country and my fellow beings at large. I will function as son, a lover, father and citizen. But I will do this in the spirit of selfless service. I will not demand, nor expect, and wordly returns for this service. I shall be happy only when I am free to pursue and cherish my dream of happiness. And I shall not be truly free to do this till I have faithfully discharged my obligations to my home and to my country.
To conclude, my idea of happiness is a dream. It is a life of simple living and high thinking. It is to live a richly spiritual life. I will be happy in this way. Let me quote a few lines of a poet who describes a way of the life which is also mine.
My walls outside must have some flowers,
My walls within must have some books;
A home that’s small; a garden large
Add in it leafy nooks.
This is what I imagine is a happy life. I must have a life devoted to Nature and learning. I must have a loving wife and little children to play with. I must have a contented mind. So the poet and I service in the time I cannot be happy if I do not live this kind of life, even though fortune might smile and give me heaps of money. I share the idea of the poet who says.
With this small house, this garden large,
This little gold, this lovely mate,
With health in body, peace at hearty-
Show me a man more
This idea of greatness is also happiness.