Saturday, August 05, 2006
Happiness & the Musk Deer
Antique lithograph of mule deer from the children's natural history book, "The Instructive Picture Book", dated 1878.
From Swami Satchidananda's translation of the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. Here, he is discussing Book 2, Sutra 8:
"Everyone wants to be happy. Is there anything we can think of that doesn't? Even a small worm put in the sun will immediately roll towards the shade...Happiness seems the basic need of everything in the world, yet rarely does anybody find it.Why? Because happiness is like the musk deer. The ancient scriptures have a fable about this animal, which has a scented spot above its forehead that gives off the musk fragrance. This deer runs here and there in search of the scent, not knowing the scent comes from its own forehead."
In real life, poachers are also chasing after the musk deer. National Geographic's story covers poaching of the musk deer for its scent glands.
"Gram for gram, musk is one of the most valuable products in the natural kingdom and can be worth three times more than its weight on gold," said Stuart Chapman, with WWF-UK in Godalming, England.
Do we also try and poach the fragrance of happiness from others? Swami Satchidananada:
"...happiness is already in us. Wherever we go we reflect our happiness onto people and things. When we see a smiling face and feel happy, it is because the smiling face reflects our happiness. Just as a pure, clean mirror reflects our face beautifully, certain pure, clean faces reflect our happiness. Then we say, 'She gives me happiness'. In other faces, our happiness reflects in a distorted way and we say, 'I don't like that person'. It's absolute nonsense. No one can ever give us happiness or unhappiness but can only reflect or distort oour own inner happiness."