In the quest for happiness, we often seek fulfillment in external achievements, possessions, and relationships. However, according to Advaita Vedanta, an ancient Indian philosophy, true happiness lies within—Ananda, the bliss of the self. In this blog, we embark on a journey to understand the profound concept of Ananda and its significance in cultivating lasting happiness. Please note that the literal translation of Happiness is Ananda in Sanskrit.
Understanding Ananda in Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualistic philosophy expounded by ancient sages like Adi Shankaracharya, teaches that the ultimate reality, Brahman, is devoid of distinctions and is the substratum of all existence. At the core of Advaita Vedanta lies the concept of the Atman, the true self, which is identical to Brahman. Ananda, often translated as bliss, is considered the inherent nature of the Atman.
The Nature of Ananda
Innate Fulfillment: Unlike transient pleasures derived from external sources, ananda is not dependent on external circumstances. It is the unchanging, eternal bliss that arises from realizing one's true nature as the Atman.
Beyond Dualities: Ananda transcends the duality of pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow. It is a state of equanimity that remains untouched by the fluctuations of the world.
Limitless and Unconditional: Ananda knows no bounds and is not conditioned by time, space, or objects. It is ever-present, waiting to be discovered within oneself.
Cultivating Ananda: Practices and Perspectives
Self-Inquiry (Atma Vichara): Through introspection and self-inquiry, one can discern the distinction between the transient ego-self (jiva) and the eternal Atman. This realization leads to the experience of ananda inherent in the self.
Meditation and Contemplation: Practices like meditation and contemplation help quiet the mind and direct attention inward, facilitating a direct experience of the blissful nature of the self.
Living in Harmony with Dharma: Following the principles of dharma, righteousness, and ethical conduct, creates inner harmony and paves the way for the realization of ananda.
Gratitude and Surrender: Cultivating gratitude for life's blessings and surrendering to the divine order fosters a sense of contentment and acceptance, nurturing the experience of inner bliss.
The Role of Guru and Scriptures
In Advaita Vedanta, the guidance of a realized teacher (guru) and the study of scriptures (shastras) are considered indispensable on the spiritual journey. The guru imparts the knowledge of the self and provides the aspirant with the necessary tools to realize ananda within.
Ananda, the intrinsic bliss of the self, is not a fleeting emotion or a temporary state of mind. It is the essence of our being, waiting to be unveiled through self-realization. By turning inward, practicing self-inquiry, and aligning our lives with spiritual principles, we can awaken to the boundless joy that resides within us—the ananda inside. In embracing the teachings of Advaita Vedanta, we embark on a journey of self-discovery and liberation, ultimately finding lasting happiness in the realization of our true nature.
For those who would like to apply Happiness in the field of Education must attend the 11th International Symposium on Creative Education - Beyond the Smile being organized by CCE Finland from 14th-19th April as a Residential program.
For more details check - www.ccefinland.org/conf2024