What do you have to do to acquire happiness? You don’t have to do anything to acquire happiness because happiness cannot be acquired. Why?
Because you have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Uninterrupted happiness is uncaused. True happiness is uncaused. No person or thing makes you happy. Happiness is your natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture.
One could use other words to define happiness, like peace, love, enlightenment, enjoying every moment as it occurs, living in the present. We have a natural urge to be free, a natural urge to be creative, and natural urge to love and be happy and at peace. Think of it this way: your natural state of being is like the sky that clouds pass over. Clouds come and go, some dark, some white, but the sky remains. Many of the Oriental masters have said that before enlightenment, they identified themselves with the clouds. After enlightenment, they identified themselves with the sky. There was a great Zen master who was reported to have attained enlightenment, and one day his disciples said to him, “Master, what did you get from enlightenment?” And he said, “Before I was enlightened, I used to be depressed. After I got enlightened, I continued to be depressed.”
Puzzling isn’t it? Attitude is the difference. You see, the depression didn’t change; his attitude toward the depression changed. He’s not saying, “I’m not going to be happy until this depression goes away.” Because, strange as it may seem, you could even be serene and calm and happy while the depression is going on. You’re not fighting it, you’re not upset about it, you’re not irritated about it. You’re serene. That’s the difference.
We understand so little about our own true nature. We don’t know what sight is until the eye is unobstructed, but this much is clear—that innately one does possess a state of serenity, of happiness, of freedom, of fulfillment, even as clouds pass.
So, if happiness is your natural state, then why aren’t you experiencing it?
Because you’ve got to drop something. You’ve got to drop attachments. You won’t know what happiness is until attachment desires are dropped. Then you know.
We were born happy. We lost it. We were born with the gift of life. We lost it. We’ve got to rediscover it. The world is full of sorrow. The root of sorrow is attachment, desire. The uprooting of sorrow is the dropping of attachment. The great Meister Eckhart said, “God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction.” You don’t do anything to be free; you drop illusions. Then you’re free. You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop attachments. Then you’re happy.
How does one drop attachments? Through awareness. You only have to look and see that the attachment is based on a false belief that, without this, I cannot be happy. That’s false; that’s an illusion. The moment you see that belief is false, it drops, and you are free. That’s what it is to watch yourself. You have no idea of what happiness is until you’ve dropped attachment. So, happiness could only be defined as the dropping of illusion, the dropping of attachment. When attachment is dropped, happiness is attained. It will arise all by itself without the slightest effort on your part.