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Excerpts from keynote address at the World Happiness Summit

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Do you want to listen to a story? When Buddha got enlightened, he became silent and angels asked him to talk.

He said “People who are happy they don’t need to listen to anything. They are happy. They are happy with everything around, they don’t need to listen to anything. And people who are unhappy they don’t listen to anything.  If you try to put some sense into people who are unhappy, they are not there. They are so embroiled in their own misery. They have closed their ears. Those who are miserable don’t listen to me anyway and those who are happy don’t need me.” So the angels requested him that there are some people who are on the border line. That’s when Buddha started talking.

Those who are happy you can feel the vibrations. You don’t need words to express yourselves. They are so sensitive. They can catch you. Kids exuberate happiness. They radiate joy. If you ask me, I will tell you that there are those who are happy and they want to share happiness. Nature of happiness is to share. Nobody can say I am so happy leave me alone. When you are happy you want to share happiness. It’s simple, if you see a nice movie you pick up the phone and call your friend. Nature of happiness is to share. Those who are happy,  they share. This is the first category. There is another category of people who are seeking happiness. So they seek in changing jobs, places, cars, gadgets,  trying to find happiness. There is a third category who have no hopes of happiness. For them happiness does not even exist. And if they see someone happy, they feel more irritated. Have you seen such people around? If one of them is happier the other is irritated.

Happiness is not something which has left anyone untouched. We all know what happiness is. So there’s no need to define happiness. It’s really a blunder to define the basics of life. Because you can’t define it in words. You can’t water it down in definitions. They are much vaster, much bigger, much greater.

You know feelings can never be captured in words. Haven’t you felt that there’s so much you want to express but the words are not sufficient enough? It’s the same with happiness. Happiness cannot be conveyed in words or in gestures.  Our being is much much much larger than our expressions.

Happiness is something that everyone has experienced. But it is very fragile. Now you are happy. Just one nasty phone call,  are you still able to keep your happiness? One nasty phone call and your happiness is gone. Your happiness is fragile.

What is that that can make our happiness stronger? I call that Wisdom. Wisdom brings a different context to our life. It expands our context. Anyone who is not happy, you make them see life from a different context and you can bring a smile back to their face. As the context of life expands the problems and issues appear smaller and insignificant. So to make your feeling of togetherness, feeling of worthiness become stronger the first thing is expand the context of life. If someone doesn’t get this take them to the planetarium. When they see the light and how insignificant the little earth is in the context of bigger universe, the multiverse, something happens. Second is commitment.  If you are committed to doing something, you don’t care. Whatever obstacles that come on the way, you don’t care.  Unpleasant remarks may come from people, but nothing detracts you. That is commitment. So strengthening commitment is the second thing. The third thing is compassion.  We are more disturbed by others behaviour towards us.     

— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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