The truth is that there never was any happiness in those worldly things: not in the tasty food, not in the beauty, not in anything of this world. We experience happiness in the association of those things in proportion to our desire for them. The hungrier we are, the better food tastes, and the more pleasure we receive in eating it. The thirstier we are, the more we enjoy water. The longer we have been separated from the object of beauty, the greater our desire for it has grown, and the greater the pleasure we receive upon meeting with it.
But as we go on eating, our desire for food wanes, and the happiness we experience in eating decreases accordingly. As we go on drinking, our thirst is quenched, and our pleasure in drinking the water also disappears. The longer we go on looking at a beautiful thing, whether it is a person, or a painting, or any natural scene, the more accustomed to that thing we become, and the less desire we have to keep looking at it. Eventually, we become bored, and we want to look at something else. Eventually, we become full from eating or drinking, and we want to stop.
When we reach such a threshold, if we were forced to continue, then the very thing that initially gave us pleasure, would now start giving us displeasure. If we were forced to keep on staring at the same beautiful face or painting for hours on end, we would get fed up and not want to look at it anymore. If there was real happiness in these things, then how could we receive pain from the very same things?
If there was real happiness in any object or person of this world, then everyone would be able to get the same amount of enjoyment out of the same person or thing. Everyone would love chocolate and hate onions. But there is no consistency: some people love onions and hate chocolate. Everyone would feel the same happiness in seeing your son as you do. But they don’t; you receive the happiness from your son, because you are attached to him. Your neighbor is not attached to him, so he is neutral towards him. He gets happiness from his son, not your son. Thus, we see that the so-called happiness is received based on the attachment of the mind, not based on the existence of happiness in that person or thing.
The next question is: if there is no real happiness in this world, then is there only pain? We will see what the philosophy of Bhagwad Gita has to say about this in the next article.