Happiness doesn’t come and go. Our essential being, some call it our original nature, is what comes and goes, or at least that’s how it appears. In fact, our essential being never goes anywhere and happiness is a quality of essential being-ness, so happiness always is.
So why are we often unhappy? Again, happiness is not a state that comes and goes. It is merely veiled by our identification as a separate individual, which is subject to the whims of cause and effect, to different states of mind and feelings – the separate self that thinks it gets its happiness from objects, relationships, substances, and activities.
But this isn’t our true experience. Happiness reveals itself in that moment of stillness when all desire ceases. For example, you covet a jacket and order it online. It arrives in the mail, you put it on, and you are instantly happy. Not because you have the jacket, but because in that moment, you, the individual self, are not seeking or desiring anything and in this emptiness the true self is revealed. But desire quickly rises up again in the separate self, which once again sets out to seek happiness in objects, relationships, substances, and activities.
Why does this happen over and over again? Because we place our identity in an individual self, which upon examination only exists in the form of a thought, feeling, sensation, or perception, which are all temporary, and thus illusory objects.
Lasting happiness can never be found in any kind of object – states of mind come and go; feelings, sensations, and perceptions all come and go. All things come and go except for that which knows the coming and going – that which exists prior to any manifestation of phenomena, during its existence, and after it has gone. Just as the sky exists before, during, and after the cloud has appeared, lingered, and dissolved back into the sky.
It is a simple misidentification with a separate self – an illusory being made of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – which causes all suffering and, at best, sometimes finds fleeting happiness.
To find lasting happiness, you must first investigate deeply the one who seeks happiness. Find this so-called individual self, this ‘I’ we call ourselves. Isn’t it just a thought? Set it aside for just a moment and, in the stillness, peace and happiness are revealed. As Buddha said, ‘There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.’