Chapter 8: Going beyond the Senses
For five thousand years, arranged marriages without love have worked in the East. Marriage without love is like flat ground - neither the deep abyss, nor the high peaks. But the West could not maintain the concept of marrying for love for even a hundred years. Now the intelligent man is discarding the whole institution of marriage; there seems to be no need to continue with it. For the sake of greater happiness people are choosing to remain free, the institution of marriage is being discarded.
But this is the same mistake. It was thought that arranged marriages should be abandoned for the sake of attaining more happiness, which would supposedly be more available in a love-marriage. Love-marriage does give more happiness, but only for a little while, and then it leaves an abyss of misery behind. And this abyss of misery seems to be much deeper compared to the momentary happiness.
The Western intelligentsia is again repeating the same mistake by doing away with marriage in the hope of achieving more happiness. What they don’t understand is that more happiness will also be followed by more misery. The mistake is natural, because we only know happiness and misery as opposites, not as they really are - a flowing, interchanging reality. They are changing all the time, without even a moment’s break in continuity.
Based on this understanding, the East has carried out another experiment - that if happiness converts into misery, then why can’t misery be converted into happiness? This understanding gave birth to the principle of tapa, purification through austerities. This principle of purification through austere disciplines is unique. It came out of the understanding that if happiness converts into misery, then there should be no difficulty in converting misery into happiness. In fact in the East it has been found that misery can be converted into happiness - if you accept your misery, then it starts turning into happiness. If you get settled in your happiness, it starts turning into misery.
Change comes through your acceptance. Whenever you accept a situation, it becomes ready to change. As soon as you accept it, the change begins. As soon as you say, “This is happiness, I want to live only in this happiness, I don’t want it to change,” it has already started changing. If you are able to say this, even in misery: “I accept it and no change is needed” - then you would be following this principle of self-purification. And it is very interesting to note that misery turns into happiness.
If you have to choose between the two, it would be wiser to choose the art of changing misery into happiness than the art of changing happiness into misery. Why is that so? Because the one who has managed to change his misery into happiness, his happiness does not then revert into misery. If he can even change misery into happiness, how then can his happiness ever change into misery? When one can change even misery into happiness, then happiness no longer has any power over him and therefore a change to its opposite does not happen.
In fact someone who can change his misery into happiness has already dropped the desire for happiness, that’s why he could change it. And when there is no desire for happiness, happiness loses its capacity to change itself into misery. It is the desire that gives it that capacity. Experiment with it and you will be surprised.