“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
न शोचति न काङ्क्षति
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु
मद्-भक्तिं लभते पराम्
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“I don’t care where you look, people are upset. They have temporary happiness, for sure, but I don’t buy into that completely. For instance, when you are having a night out with friends, if you need to snap pictures every few seconds, how much fun are you really having?
“You understand what I mean? You get what I am saying? Rich people are miserable. Poor people are unhappy. The unmarried want to find the right person. The married are looking for a way out. Children want toys. Students want a break from school. Working adults want a vacation.
“The family man longs for a larger bank balance, with a properly funded retirement. The retired person is so bored that they wish they had something meaningful to do with their time.
“Across the spectrum you see unhappiness. Then everything ends at death. You were miserable while alive, and death takes away everything you worried over. How do we stop this vicious cycle? How will people finally be happy?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that unhappiness is due to wanting. If you want something, you will be unhappy. It might not be to the level of clinical depression, but there is the feeling that something is missing.
If your favorite team won the championship last year, you want them to repeat. If someone you love recently departed, at a young age, you want them to return so that you can spend more time with them. If you have money, you want more. If you have a sufficient amount, you want to invest it properly.
The number of desires is too great to count or keep track of. Desires keep rushing in. The more you satisfy them, the stronger they become. It is like feeding fuel to a raging fire. Who can ever find happiness in such a situation?
Bhagavad-gita explains that the transcendentally situated person is above hankering and lamenting. The lamentation is due to wanting. If you don’t want, you don’t lament. You rise above the two sides through realizing Brahman.
This is the spiritual energy. The living entities, bhutas, are actually Brahman. They are without beginning and without end. They are not defined by bodily attributes, which only manifest temporarily. My recently departed friend, for instance, has not ceased to exist. They continue to live. We might not know where or in what form, but they are always Brahman.
If we realize this Brahman identity, we can rise above wanting. This means that we will defeat the source of unhappiness. The Brahman realized individual is equal in spirits and thus fully joyful, prasannatma.
The solution is straightforward. Become Brahman realized. But the implementation is not straightforward. There are the senses and also objects to which the senses become attached. This results in this seemingly endless potential for desire.
Genuine spiritual life, as a discipline, should result in the curbing of desire. This takes place through control over the senses. The human life is meant for tapasya. That fasting schedule is for a higher purpose. That day of remembrance simultaneously helps the mind stay far away from unprofitable desires, anartha.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada also reveals that desire cannot be entirely eliminated. Is this a contradiction? Does it mean that no one can be truly happy? Is there no hope for humanity?
Desire in pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead is of a different nature. The brahma-bhutah individual is perfectly situated for serving God the person. They take advantage of the transcendental position, wherein they have no concern with desires not related to pleasing the speaker of Bhagavad-gita.
Taking the different truths together, we see that devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is the way towards happiness. The more a person progresses along that path, the less wanting they will feel. They will be free from the unhappiness of defeat in a material existence, and they will always be filled with enthusiasm and excitement in the renewing opportunities to see the smiling face of the one who is known as Shyamasundara.
Whenever desire to see,
Unhappy to be.
Since again to yearn,
Like raging fire to burn.
Only when for bhakti directed,
Lasting peace expected.
For smiling face shown,
Who as Shyamasundara known.