When I was a child, my family took yearly summer vacations to Sedona, Arizona. Back in those days, nobody knew about this beautiful place. It became popular many years later. We’d drive, and the start of each trip was on multi-lane highways out of Los Angeles. Soon we turned onto smaller, two-lane country roads with cars coming from the other direction just over the center line. For the whole day, we’d drive through the vast empty expanse of desert, the gray road stretching seemingly to infinity before us.

There were places in those days, where the road rose and fell over tiny hills and dips, and in those areas, it looked like there was water on the road that we about to drive right into. But that water would always disappear as we approached. I also saw huge lakes in the distance, but they too disappeared and became desert as we approached. The water on the road and in the desert was not water at all, but mirages. They were an illusion caused by heat and light. We were lucky we didn’t need that water to survive. But by experiencing those mirages, I came to understand how one could be tricked by seeing something that didn’t exist.

Where is Happiness Found

As I grew up, I found there is another mirage that most of us get taken in by. The great Himalayan yogi, Swami Rama, explained it well: “seeking happiness in the external world is like chasing a mirage: no matter how fast one may rush toward it, he never finds anything even when he reaches the place where he thought his goal lay” (Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, Pp. 219).

The mirage Swami Rama points to is such a good illusion that often we don’t even realize we’ve been fooled. The reason for this is a slight-of-hand by our very own minds: although we often experience a momentary pleasure upon satisfying our desire, before we have time to realize how puny and short lived that pleasure is, the mind is already off after the next desire.

For most of my life—I’m 70 years old now— I tried to find happiness by chasing desires, obtaining things and having experiences and, although I often experienced the momentary pleasure upon obtaining my goal, I also experienced a constant low-level frustration. Looking closely at the origin of that frustration, I realized that nothing, no experience, no object, really satisfied me. Momentary pleasure is not the same as happiness. I wanted to be happy, to be eternally fulfilled, and no experience gave me that. Eventually, I realized that I was spending my whole life chasing mirages. If I wanted to be happy, that happiness had to come from somewhere else.

So where does happiness come from? Swami Rama says, “It is impossible to attain happiness in the external world, for happiness is only found deep in the innermost chamber of one’s being. The Self is the center of happiness. Those who are realized are always filled with the happiness of the Self, and they alone find real peace in their hearts” (Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, Pp. 219-220). Meditation is the path to find that center of happiness within.

Over the many decades that I’ve been practicing meditation, at times I’ve tasted a happiness mixed with love, and a sense of fullness and connectedness, that is not dependent upon anything external. It just is. As one advances in his or her meditation practice, it becomes possible to dip into this great happiness more often. The key is to keep practicing.

Editor’s Note:

Randall Krause (Mokshadeva) is a Senior Teacher and Mentor in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition. He spent years learning closely from Swami Veda Bharati, and time personally attending to Swamiji in India and elsewhere. He has taught the Himalayan Tradition in the USA, Europe, India (at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama), and in Thailand and Taiwan.