In the Upanishads, there is a thought-provoking story of a musk deer (Kasturi-Mriga) which elucidates the nature of real happiness…
Once when roaming about and frolicking among the hills and dales, a Kasturi-Mriga suddenly became aware of an exquisite musk-scent which stirred the innermost depths of its soul so profoundly that the deer was determined to find the source of this heavenly fragrance. So keen was the deer’s longing for the scent that in spite of the severe cold winter it roamed about in a desperate search. It knew no fear and no rest for years and years until one day it fell from a cliff with a fatal injury. While breathing its last, the deer suddenly realized that the scent which ravished its heart, making it roam aimlessly all through life came from its own navel. Thus, the last few moments of the deer’s life were moments of regrets for having chased after something, all life-long that was ultimately within itself.
Come to think of it, we are all like the musk deer. At a physical level, we search for love and happiness through family, marriage, in-laws, children and friends. In the process, we select our own poisons and seal our own fate. At a higher metaphysical level, we search for peace, self-knowledge, inner-reality and God-realisation through various books, lectures, seminars and rituals, becoming more confused than ever. All the love, happiness, peace, self-knowledge, inner-reality and God-realisation are within us if only we have the time and inclination to look for them. Our real self (Atmaswaroop) is so self-sufficient (Sampoorna) that no external happiness or sorrow can ever touch it.
We have forgotten to look ‘inwards’ for the illumination we crave. We are dismally ignorant and ‘lost’. We run here and there but we arrive nowhere. Consider the rush-rush, go-go, hustle and bustle of modern life where God is not so much denied as merely crowded out.
In most ancient cultures, the day began with prayers and spirituality, looking-inward. Early morning worship of the sun was prevalent in ancient Egypt, Lemuria and Atlantis. The Magis of ancient Persia and Vedic rishis started the day with Surya-namaskar which led to spiritual introspection throughout the day. Unless we realise this, we shall never free ourselves from the ‘surface-life’ that enslaves us. We shall remain like the musk deer!
Real happiness is within us, inside us, and doesn’t depend only on our outward circumstances. Some can be unhappy in a palace, while others may be content in a small hut. Happiness does not lie in wealth, name or fame. Think of Princess Diana. She had everything and yet had nothing. Now think of Mother Teresa, who had nothing but had everything!