In spiritual circles it has become an article of faith that a the quest for spiritual knowledge is an 'intellectual' and therefore misguided pursuit. But it should be noted that anyone seeking enlightenment through the 'heart' or other paths would necessarily be motivated by the intellectual belief that he or she was limited, inadequate and incomplete i.e. unelightened. To pursue experience is natural but to pursue it at the expense of understanding is foolish because it is only misunderstandings about our true nature that make us think we are unenlightened in the first place. The Self realized beings who went before left a vast body of information to help us purge erroneous concepts that stand in the way of appreciating who we really are.
Although written by me, the books and articles that follow are not my personal theories, ideas, opinions or beliefs. They are an attempt to render in clear modern English the Vedantic teachings that set me free. To help the reader determine the content a small synopsis of each of the books and articles follows the list at the left.
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From MEDITATION, INQUIRY INTO THE SELF
By James Swartz
The business of life is the business of happiness. Because we feel limited with respect to happiness, everyone is fully engaged every minute trying to attain happiness. When I take a job, fall in love, read a book, eat a meal, go to the dentist, pray or meditate, I expect the activity and/or its results to make me feel better than I do at the moment. No matter how good I feel I can always imagine a state of greater happiness. If I am miserable, my actions will be calculated to remove or lessen the misery, a situation I view as an increase in happiness. When a better state is inconceivable, I refrain from activities that might compromise it. The world’s tropical beaches are packed with people flat on their backs, not moving a muscle.
Everything is done for the sake of happiness. Some accumulate money, not necessarily for itself, but for the happiness it supposedly brings. Others seek happiness in life threatening sports because they produce a high, an aliveness beyond the normal state. We ingest chemicals, pills, drink and drugs to change our state of mind for the better. Belief in God is not intended to make one miserable. Nobody gets married to suffer.
At first glance happiness seems to be the result of activities. I jog, garden, meditate or ski and feel happy. But if happiness were in an activity, the activity should produce happiness for anyone who performed it. Giving away millions makes philanthropists happy. Letting go of a dime is anathema to a miser. A granny who knits for fun will not take pleasure in bungee jumping.
Can happiness be achieved getting and possessing certain objects? A man divorces his wife because she seems to be the cause of his misery but before the ink is dry on the divorce decree he finds her in the arms of another.who sees her as his darling bundle of joy. A steak makes a carnivore happy, a vegetarian unhappy. In spite of this sad fact we slave overtime to get happiness through objects and activities.
Some try to attain happiness through the mind. Poets, writers, artists and intellectuals find happiness playing with thoughts and ideas, feelings and emotions. Professionals, convinced that sustained happiness can be gained through knowledge, subject their minds to years training and their lives to untold sacrifices.
A tiny minority, spiritual questers, try to find happiness by disciplining themselves with prayer, meditation, chanting, breathing or ‘processing’ to achieve altered or high states of consciousness.