Never before was humanity dreaming as big as it is now. The endless stream of short videos that pop up in our Facebook newsfeed tell us success stories from around the world – those of today, and those of yesteryear. And almost all of them end with the punch line – you too can do it!
But will big achievements make us happy? Are all the big achievers happy? Hollywood star Jim Carrey once quipped, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
For ages, people have turned to the Vedas for the answer. Here are 16 thought-provoking quotes from the tome Srimad Bhagavatam that explore the mysteries of life, some of which, as you will see, challenge popular beliefs about happiness. The Srimad Bhagavatam dares, for it wasn’t written to appease ‘potential customers’, but to guide sincere seekers of true inner joy.
Simply learn the art of satisfaction
For a person who has put on suitable shoes, there is no danger even while walking on pebbles and thorns. For such a person, everything is auspicious. Similarly, for one who is always self-satisfied there is no distress; indeed, there is only happiness everywhere. – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.17
One should be satisfied with whatever one achieves through previous destiny, for discontent can never bring happiness. A person who is not self-controlled will not be happy even with possessing the three worlds. Srimad Bhagavatam 8.19.24
Material hankering is undoubtedly the cause of the greatest unhappiness, and freedom from such hankering is the cause of the greatest happiness. – Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8.44
In spite of achieving the power to control in all directions and in spite of enjoying all types of dear sense gratification as much as possible, Hiraṇyakashipu (a narcissist of a bygone age) was dissatisfied and unhappy because instead of controlling his senses he remained their servant. – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4.19
One should try to keep oneself satisfied in any condition of life which is offered by the supreme will. A person who endures in this way is able to cross over the darkness of nescience very easily. Every person should act like this: when one meets a person more qualified than oneself, one should be very pleased; when one meets someone less qualified than oneself, one should be compassionate; and when one meets someone equal to oneself, one should make friendship. In this way one is never affected by the miseries of this material world. – Srimad Bhagavatam 4.8.33-34
Your destined quota of material happiness will automatically find you, even without you endeavouring for it
The happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past karma. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavour, just as we automatically obtain distress. – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.3
The living entities in every species of life find a particular type of satisfaction and happiness in that species. What’s the proof? They feel little inclined to cast off the body, even when in hellish conditions, for they find delight in hellish ‘enjoyment’. – Srimad Bhagavatam 3.30.4-5
Material happiness is elusive
In this material world, every living entity desires some future happiness, which is exactly like a mirage in the desert. Where is water in the desert, or, in other words, where is happiness in this material world? As for this body, what is its value? It is merely a source of various diseases.- Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.25
Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. People who haven’t experienced spiritual joy think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although actually it is a source of distress. – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.45
Both the lowest of fools and one who is transcendental to all intelligence enjoy happiness, whereas persons between them (those who are endeavouring for material happiness) suffer the material pangs. – Srimad Bhagavatam 3.7.17
A man may carry a burden on his head, and when he feels it to be too heavy, he sometimes gives relief to his head by putting the burden on his shoulder. In this way he tries to relieve himself of the burden. However, whatever process he devises to counteract the burden does nothing more than put the same burden from one place to another. – Srimad Bhagavatam 4.29.33
People desire and act to achieve happiness and diminish distress. Actually, however, one is happy as long as one does not endeavour for happiness; as soon as one begins activities for happiness, conditions of distress also begin. – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.7.42
O great one, O Supreme Lord, although there are many remedies by which to get out of miserable life, any such remedies in the material world are more miserable than the miseries themselves. Therefore I think that the only remedy is to engage in your service. Kindly instruct me in such service. – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.17
Spiritual happiness is the answer
A pure devotee of the Lord whose heart has once been cleansed by the process of Bhakti Yoga never relinquishes the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, for they fully satisfy the devotee, as a traveler is satisfied at home after a troubled journey. – Srimad Bhagavatam 2.8.6
The bee travels from one flower to another, seeking honey, but when it approaches the celestial tree called the paarijaata, it certainly does not leave the tree, because it finds complete contentment there. Similarly, when we have approached you and have taken shelter of you, what further benediction may we ask of you! – Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.32
A person fixed in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord, Hari, the Lord of the highest auspiciousness, swims in the ocean of nectar. For such a person, what is the use of the water in small ditches(material happiness)? – Srimad Bhagavatam 6.12.22
Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below.