The Pursuit of Happiness, Part 2


“Love is the only cause of happiness.

Its nature is all-pervasive like space.

Love is the sunlight of the mind.”

~Garchen Rinpoche

What do we really want? Although this is truly a fundamental inquiry, with so much depending on its resolution, how often is the question seriously and thoroughly explored prior to our embarking on the various life choices and endeavors in which we find ourselves – our schooling, relationships, acquisitions, careers? More often than not, it seems that we merely go along with what we believe is expected of us by others, only to find some years later that our life is haunted by a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction, which in turn merely prompts a more desperate version of the search.

If we had taken the time to honestly investigate our deepest motivations right from the beginning, perhaps we could have skipped a lot of the ensuing suffering and confusion that invariably results from jumping into adventures without proper preparation, based on second-hand opinions and consensus programs. Although it may initially have seemed that the most convenient way was to just conform, sooner or later we come to realize the price we have paid in terms of peace and happiness at the heart.

Moreover, even in the spiritual realm, this is something that most aspirants don’t really make the effort to do. They just plunge into the religious marketplace and start imitating and doing practices that may seem interesting, but which they don’t really understand. We rarely make the effort to discover what is in our own heart right from the very beginning, but instead rely on information we have heard or read about in books.

We are attracted by the hopeful promise of various schemes, methods, and strategies that promote idealistic visions, and so build our subsequent practice on these borrowed notions, dressing up in cultish costumes and assuming a “spiritual” identity, be it Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Moslem, or even Atheist (not to mention the plethora of “New Age” groups and affiliations that attract the seeker with the allure of personal ascension, salvation, redemption, or just the fulfilment of material desires).

Alternately, if we are able to pause (for as long as it takes) and truly ponder the true nature of our deepest longing, inspecting what it is that we really want in this life with which we have been blessed, then we will already be well along on the path of wisdom, regardless of the name or form we might attach to it, or even any religious/spiritual affiliation whatsoever that might be superimposed on the journey.

In that process of inquiry, one of the first things we will notice is that, in order to understand what we really want, we must necessarily also delve into who/what we really are. What is our true nature, prior to the consensus reality programs that provide us with generally unquestioned identities, albeit ones which we nevertheless cling to for dear life? The vast majority of us typically resist challenging our conditioning programs, because we have been taught to fear the unknown. Indeed, many of our core personality program files have been put in place as a defence against the unknown, and so asking “Who am I?” can be quite a revolutionary act.

Of course, part of the reason for accepting society’s conditioned descriptions and labelling tags is due to the primacy of the inborn animal herd instinct. The fear is that, by departing from the prescribed consensus program, we risk ostracism from the tribe, a fate which is anciently interpreted as equating with certain death. This is such a powerful fear that it is hardwired into our genetic structure, and for good reason, because death was often the result for those cast off from the village.

However, a complementary aspect of that herd instinct is the innate human need to love and be loved, and so this territory – the realm of love — is where our deepest desire can be found. Because we are each unique beings, its expression will forever vary, but the one thing we all share in common as our one deepest yearning is the wish to be happy. For most of us, there is no greater happiness than loving and being loved. Indeed, the motive to love and be loved is right at the heart of our human incarnational adventure, determining our choices and behaviours regardless of what field of experience we find ourselves in.

The problem arises when we invariably imagine that there is something obstructing our native happiness, and thus we make tremendous efforts to attain or re-gain it at any cost. Indeed, one might say that, for most of us humans, the entirety of our lives is dedicated to that motive and ensuing effort, first and foremost. Both our triumphs as well as our tragedies can be traced back to the foundational motive to realize some conceptual ideal of happiness and love.

Consider, for example, how the propaganda of this world is perpetually expounding and reinforcing the message that we are somehow separated from happiness. Likewise, we are told that we are not innately lovable, although we can become so for a price, if only we follow this program, wear these clothes, drive this car, follow this physical routine, have this mate, this job, say these prayers, meditate this way, follow this teacher, preacher, iman, or guru, adopt this belief system, and perform as instructed by the book, the bible, the sutra, the koran, or the latest best-selling happiness plan.

Perversely, all the evil in the world, all the unhappiness, stems from our misguided efforts to become happy. Because that innocent yearning is still filtered and conditioned by the poisons of greed, envy, ignorance, and hatred, its expression is corrupted and we suffer the results of love’s failure. Rather, it is not truly love’s failure, but our own failure to properly recognize and actualize love’s invitation, and it is just such failure that repeatedly returns us to the stark mirror of our discontent.

Furthermore, as long as we are striving to “become happy”, it will always be a future ideal, precluding the possibility of actually being happy now. When becoming happy becomes a mission, then it can never be a present experience, and that is why all the schemes and methods promising happiness will never deliver. As I pointed out in the first essay in this particular series here, it is only when the search for happiness itself becomes suspect that there is a chance for the recognition of our already-always-existent happiness to manifest. Until then, all we will be doing by seeking for happiness is reinforcing our present perception of unhappiness.

Upon observation, it can be recognized that the confused ego-mind is all too ready to grant a substantial reality to the proposition that happiness is chronically lacking and hence must become an object of pursuit, because by doing so it creates another “me project” with which to occupy itself, thereby confirming its enduring existence. Invariably, this is how the perpetual cycle of craving and aversion is birthed and fueled — by just such an assumption of lack and insufficiency, all revolving around the “me-story”.

Wisdom, on the other hand, awakens in the realization that we have been going about things in the wrong way, that all our desperate effort has merely prolonged an internal conflict. In such true recognition, surrender spontaneously happens. Relief. The failure of our strategies has paradoxically inspired a great exhalation, a profound letting go.

There is an old saying: “To find yourself, you must lose yourself”. Just so, only by releasing all old tapes and belief programs that suggest we are lacking in love and happiness and must struggle to grasp it, will the unconditioned reality of true love and inherent happiness be revealed. All along, it has been the search for happiness itself which has prolonged the sense of dissatisfaction. Love and happiness have never been absent – they are our very nature!

By relinquishing all self-absorption and giving oneself gratefully in service to life and relations without hesitation or ulterior motive, one naturally becomes an offering to the world, a lover of life without conditioned preference – already free, happy, and spontaneously in harmony with whatever arises.


love one another

“Happiness is not to be found with
many efforts or will.

It is here, nearby, in
your relaxing and surrendering.

Don’t worry,
there is nothing to be done.

Everything that comes up to your mind
has no importance because it
has no reality.

Don’t conceive
any attachment for it.

Don’t judge yourself.

Let it be.

Let it come up and down
without changing a thing.

It all vanishes and begins again,

Nothing but the quest for happiness
prevents us from seeing it.

It is like a rainbow that
one is always chasing without ever
reaching it.

It is because it has no existence.

It has always been here and
goes with you all the time.

Don’t believe in
the reality of experiences,
good or bad.

They are like rainbows.

Because we want to grasp
what is not to be grasped,
we exhaust our strength in vain.

As soon as we relinquish our hold,
space is here, open, welcoming &

So, do enjoy it.

Everything is yours already.

Stop searching.

Don’t go into the jungle to
look for the elephant that
is quietly waiting for
you at home.

There is nothing to do.

There is nothing to force.

There is nothing to desire.

And all comes by itself.”

~Lama Guendune Rinpoche


See also:

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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19 Responses to The Pursuit of Happiness, Part 2

  1. says:

    Thank YOU, Hrtbeat7

    Beautiful 🌳🌳🌷🐢

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Bob OHearn says:

    “All suffering comes from wanting your own happiness.
    Complete awakening arises from the intention to help others.
    So, exchange completely your happiness
    For the suffering of others — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.”

    ~The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

  3. marcel says:

    Great post, may the “becomers” read this and take a rest to investigate.
    Thanks for the continual blog entrees, which continue to be a source of inspiration and guidance.

  4. jencistory says:

    The two pieces on this are excellent, Bob – Part 1 is a very accurate description of how the ego (sense of a self) operates through a human body.

    While happiness is sought, there can never be any lasting happiness because the seeking is founded on mis-identification with the body or the “me” that wants to be happy. Observing the seeking, however, can be very fruitful in terms of dis-identification. Happiness and unhappiness can be seen as arising and dissolving continuously in the natural pattern which is human life, like the ebb and flow of the ocean, with waves appearing and disappearing with no ending.The point of observation is unaffected by the rising and falling of happiness or unhappiness and if attention can be turned to this point it can begin the process of freeing the identification with the seeker who is grasping at happiness and resisting unhappiness.

    “Even the strategy to relax this clench is only another form of clenching, of reacting.” – this is a very important point you make. Breaking the identification with the seeker doesn’t happen without doing some work, whether it be self-enquiry, meditation or other spiritual practices and people who have walked this path will say that it takes a lot of diligence and persistence to get to this point but what is necessary at that stage is not the end of it. The very act of any spiritual practice – like you say, is a strategy to relax the clench – is just another form of clenching and in itself becomes a way that the ego just maintains identification with the body and the sense of me which is doing something.

    At some point, the aspirant on the path has to realise that trying to end the seeking will only take them so far. Awakening is not about the end of seeking. It is about the permanent realisation that there is no seeker. It’s a subtle but very critical difference and one that may not be obvious to the aspirant until their practice has taken them to the point they are ripe for that understanding.

    One of my favourite Nisargadatta quotes begins “there is nothing to do”. Of course he also taught there was plenty to do if the aspirant needed to hear that at the time but realising that there is nothing do to or that can be done is something which will have to be addressed at some point.

    For me, I would say this point of “doing nothing” is where the real work begins. A paradox, I know but the clenching always drives us to do something and letting go of doing that and the idea that there is a “me” who is doing that, is much easier said than done.

    Adyashanti once summed it up saying that it is one thing to wake up and realise you have been sleeping at the steering wheel but another thing altogether to realise that you never had your hands on the wheel in the first place.

    Thanks Bob 🙂

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thanks so much, Jen, for a very thoughtful response, and it is wonderful to hear from you again! You make a number of excellent points, particularly in regard to the paradox of non-doing.

      Another salient quote from Sri Niz: “There is no place for effort in reality. It is selfishness, due to self-identification with the body, that is the main problem and the cause of other problems. And selfishness cannot be removed by effort, only by clear insight into its causes and effects. Effort is a sign of conflict between incompatible desires. They should be seen as they are – then only they dissolve.”

      He also says, “It is earnestness that is indispensable, the crucial factor. Sadhana is only a vessel and it must be filled to the brim with earnestness, which is but love in action. For nothing can be done without love.”

      Thus, we have the two prongs of wisdom and love, which together constitute the key to realization.


  5. marcel says:

    Thanks Brother, a long time ago I made those pages into a PDF file and printed it for occassional reading, instead of going through the whole books with Q and A. But I find myself stuck staring at the screen often 😀

  6. marcel says:

    That’s just too funny, caught me off guard, jaw’s hurting :lol

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    “There are only two states of consciousness that exist – the state of the ego and the state of love. The ego is the narrow state, the seed-form, the atomic stage; love is all encompassing, love is God. The center of the ego is I; the ego exists for itself. The nectar of love is the universe. Love exists for all. The ego is exploitation; love is service. And the service that flows from love, freely and spontaneously, is non-violence.”

    ~Siddharameshwar Maharaj

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    Q: The root of all desires and fears is the same — the longing for happiness.

    M: The happiness you can think of and long for, is mere physical or mental satisfaction. Such sensory or mental pleasure is not the real, the absolute happiness.

    Q: Even sensory and mental pleasures and the general sense of well-being which arises with physical and mental health, must have their roots in reality.

    M: They have their roots in imagination. A man who is given a stone and assured that it is a priceless diamond will be mightily pleased until he realises his mistake; in the same way pleasures lose their tang and pains their barb when the self is known. Both are seen as they are — conditional responses, mere reactions, plain attractions and repulsions, based on memories or pre-conceptions. Usually pleasure and pain are experienced when expected. It is all a matter of acquired habits and convictions.

    Q: Well, pleasure may be imaginary. But pain is real.

    M: Pain and pleasure go always together. Freedom from one means freedom from both. If you do not care for pleasure, you will not be afraid of pain. But there is happiness which is neither, which is completely beyond. The happiness you know is describable and measurable. It is objective, so to say. But the objective cannot be your own. It would be a grievous mistake to identify yourself with something external. This churning up of levels leads nowhere. Reality is beyond the subjective and objective, beyond all levels, beyond every distinction. Most definitely it is not their origin, source or root. These come from ignorance of reality, not from reality itself, which is indescribable, beyond being and not-being.

    ~from “I Am That”, Nisargadatta Maharaj

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    “You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after happiness and peace. Don’t you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking, nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which ‘I am’ is timelessly present. Soon you will realise that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels, that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance, that is all. To seek there is no need; you would not seek what you already have. You yourself are God, the Supreme Reality. To begin with, trust me, trust the Teacher. It enables you to make the first step — and then your trust is justified by your own experience. In every walk of life initial trust is essential; without it little can be done. Every undertaking is an act of faith. Even your daily bread you eat on trust! By remembering what I told you you will achieve everything. I am telling you again: You are the all-pervading, all transcending reality. Behave accordingly: think, feel and act in harmony with the whole and the actual experience of what I say will dawn upon you in no time. No effort is needed. Have faith and act on it. Please see that I want nothing from you. It is in your own interest that l speak, because above all you love yourself, you want yourself secure and happy. Don’t be ashamed of it, don’t deny it. It is natural and good to love oneself. Only you should know what exactly do you love. It is not the body that you love, it is Life –perceiving, feeling, thinking, doing, loving, striving, creating. It is that Life you love, which is you, which is all. realise it in its totality, beyond all divisions and limitations, and all your desires will merge in it, for the greater contains the smaller. Therefore find yourself, for in finding that you find all.”

    ~Nisargadatta Maharaj

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    Devotion and compassion strengthen the recognition of mind nature. Other practices also further enhance mind essence; however, the Third Karmapa stated the most essential point when he said: “In the moment of love, the empty essence dawns nakedly.”

    ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

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