The Way to Fulfilment

One becomes happy by coming into contact with the source of happiness.
Who indeed can breathe in or breathe out if this bliss were not there within the heart?
Taittiriya Upanishad

Without peace of mind, how can there be happiness?
Bhagavad Gita

The Upanishads have much to tell us about human happiness and its source. The sentence ‘Who indeed can breathe in or breathe out if this bliss were not there within the heart?’ signifies that the source of happiness is within our own being. The way to it is through cultivating and deepening the mental condition which the Bhagavad Gita calls ‘peace of mind’—a deep and stable peace that influences the roots of the mind. The idea of cultivation is apt, because it suggests something that is transforming and developing, and leads to a wonderful and worthwhile result.

This peace is present even now at the deepest level of our nature. But our normal ways of thinking, feeling and willing, with their side-effects of restlessness and anxiety, obstruct our experience of the peace of our true Self. In some strange way, we spend our lives out of touch with what is best in us. It is to rectify this situation that the Yoga of Self-knowledge is practised.

Yoga is like a return home, to the home we have never really left. The lines of T S Eliot are relevant here:

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

The path of Self-knowledge leads to fulfilment because it leads to the realisation of that deeper Self, hidden behind the mental activity, through which we know in our own experience that this deeper Self is one with the reality underlying all.

Before we examine this claim, let us turn to the question of how to find fulfilment. Fulfilment surely deserves a place at the top of our list of positive experiences. That list includes pleasure, happiness, satisfaction—and fulfilment. Fulfilment cannot be less than pleasure, and it must include happiness and satisfaction. Whoever heard of a fulfilled person who was unhappy or dissatisfied?

How can we be fulfilled as human beings? Is it possible, or will fulfilment ever escape us, and perhaps remain in reserve for us in some after-life, if we are fortunate? We are surely here to fulfil ourselves in some meaningful way. But how is this brought about?

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This article is from the Winter 2017 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.