I suppose before attempting to explore a claim such as this, I should try to describe my own interpretation of what happiness means to me. It is, after all, an internalized sensation, quite personal to every one of us. And although we can more or less agree that happiness has a positive effect on the quality of our lives, we have widely varying experiences from which we draw our memories and interpretations of what it truly means to each of us.
For me, the intensity of happiness that I experience correlates with the degree of peace I am given to feel in both heart and mind. It is an expression of self-awareness free of any self-centered interests, a veritable consciousness of the immeasurable depths of oneness. It is the blessing received when we find ourselves neither here nor there, the birthplace of imagination and creativity, and the exclusion of the rational, calculative mind. An ardent emotion absent of worldly concerns, happiness is the spiritual gift we find during meditation.
But I also know very well the sensation of happiness resulting from interacting with other people, the wonderful feeling of elation created when our spiritual energy is shared with one another. By joining with others in this way, the very essence of our existence has a tremendously positive impact on us all. We bond together in the presence of the divine. Extending ourselves in this way, we create an energy exchange that is far greater than what one person could ever accomplish alone.
If I say that in my own experience, happiness is most real to me when I am alone, I must immediately contradict myself because I know that I am never truly alone, even when isolated from those who share their lives with me. During those precious moments spent in meditation, I often feel the presence of others, friends that have either gone before me or have simply chosen to help me when I might need them. Their dispassionate yet spot-on messages are sometimes quite clear.
The sense of affinity granted by a spiritual friend in this way has so often produced such profound peace within me that I have come to realize true happiness lies beyond the life we know today and that we are merely given a taste of what happiness really is. Thinking that we are alone simply because we are isolated from others may seem perfectly normal to us. We are often taught that this is absolutely so—that we are distinctly different, separated from each other because of our individuality. But what if this claim is only a half-truth?
Perhaps we are nothing more than separate human beings, going about our personal business day after day; but what about the essence of our spiritual awareness? Is this just an ethereal idea
considered unimportant when compared to the claim we place upon our individual humanness? Aren’t we also spiritual beings capable of joining with one another… any time we wish?
From the moment we begin to perceive our role in this world, it seems that we are encouraged to cultivate an individual human identity rather than rediscover the shared spiritual oneness we have always had with one another. We are taught to become specialized as individuals, to stand out from the crowd, and to forget the fact that as spiritual beings, we need never be apart. We are shown precisely how to nurture separateness within our own minds and ultimately contradict the commonality of our spiritual nature.
We are indeed faced with a contradiction the moment we choose separateness over wholeness—a primal contradiction. When we deny that we are all part of an omnipresent divinity, we begin to forget the natural spiritual bond we share with each other.