The Misguided Search For Happiness


In this time of world conflict, it’s important we understand why feelings of division and separateness arise, and what can be done at the baseline of our own consciousness state to raise the state of the collective.

In the video lecture, originally recorded in 2014, Thom shares timeless Vedic wisdom about why lack of baseline happiness causes wars in our home, in our hearts, and out in our world.

Thom discusses not only the root cause of suffering and conflict but also provides us with a roadmap for our personal role to eradicate conflict in the world.


happiness and the misguided search for it causes war

Happiness and the misguided search for it causes war. Happiness, and the misguided search for it, causes arguments at home. The misguided search for happiness is based on the concept that if you behave differently, I’ll be happy. If you behave differently, meaning you, meaning the other country, the other nation, the government, your partner, the shopkeeper, the bird, the tree, the weather, whatever it may be, if you behave differently, I’ll be happy.

And the language of happiness, we call this object referral. But the objects simply won’t cooperate because they believe that if you behave differently, they’ll be happy.

What’s the solution to all of this? What we attempt is to remove all challenges to our happiness. If you won’t behave differently, then I can’t be happy. So, I have to remove you. And there are all kinds of ways of doing that. If you seem to be pretty settled where you are, I’m leaving. Or if I’m more settled than you, you’re leaving. Somebody’s got to go because you won’t behave differently, and I can’t be happy. And then, I’m going to make arrangements to get somebody else around here who’s going to make me happy. You just watch.

We do this individually, we do this collectively, we do this as families, we do this as nations, and sometimes we get absolutely convinced about our happiness depending upon a change of behavior in another or others, and we’re willing to do anything. Fighter planes, napalm bombs, thermonuclear weapons, whatever it takes. Conform to our idea of happiness, or else we’ll make you not exist. This is the world that we’ve lived in until now.


There’s another kind of happiness, and that happiness is baseline happiness. The happiness that you have from deep inside yourself, when you find that just on the basis of being, you feel pretty good. And then, if things don’t go a particular way, although you have your preferences, and naturally we move toward our preferences, if things don’t go a particular way, I’m kind of okay about letting go of rigid attachment to specific timing and specific outcomes, because I trust in the larger picture that likely if I make a good example to you, you might be able to do the same.

Baseline happiness is not happiness based upon the behavior of another. It’s not based upon the weather being good. Baseline happiness is not based upon what you look like in the mirror. Baseline happiness is happiness that bubbles up from inside of you. And it’s very contagious, very contagious. Why? Because at that level of baseline happiness, all of us are connected. If I go into my baseline happiness, and feel that splashdown on that bliss field which is deep inside of each one of us, ripples go out, and you will start to feel happy, too. And you will attribute it to something else, like, “I look pretty good in the mirror today, after all.” Or, “After all, people are behaving kind of okay.” Or, “Even rainy weather’s good.”

Baseline happiness is not contagious only on the basis of, I go out and talk to you and say, “I’m feeling so good. How are you?” It’s contagious on the basis of the connection that we all have, which is deep inside, beyond the place where thoughts are. And it certainly is incumbent on us to do everything we can to see how happy we can be.


But unless we have some kind of a method whereby we remove the stress from our body, what’s stress caused by? When things didn’t go your way, and you decided that was your way, and you got rigidly attached to specific timings and outcomes, and you didn’t trust that there’s any evolutionary process whatsoever. And you formed the idea that your happiness, and indeed the happiness of others, was only going to happen to the extent that you control.

I’ll control myself. I’ll control the timing. I’ll control you. I’ll control your thoughts. I’ll control your behavior. Then we’re all going to be happy, right? And it didn’t work, and that made you stressed. And every time you get stressed, your body remembers it.

And if there was something around that smelled a particular way, or it had a particular color, or there was a particular weather pattern, or there was a particular other kind of sensory stimulus around, when you didn’t get happy by controlling everything, and you got stressed, your brain remembers what it tasted like, what it smelled like, what it looked like, and so on.

And the memory of all of that lodged inside the cells of the body is going to sabotage Your baseline happiness, and your access to the baseline.

This is why we meditate. Call it whatever you like. You get your eyes closed and step beyond the regular experience. What happens when you do that? Your body gets quieter, and stresses unwind in your body. And those stresses unwind as your mind is settling into those quiet states. Then it’s natural that when you come out from there, your awareness is somewhat saturated with a supreme inner contentedness. And that supreme inner contentedness is not so convinced about the value of controlling everything.


The attempt to get happy by controlling has already changed the world negatively. And it’s an experiment that’s already been done. We don’t need to continue doing the research. When you research something and you get a research outcome, maybe you want to replicate it just to be sure. World War I, World War II, do we really need to go for three?

Happiness, such an interesting subject. Happy people are never terrorists. You haven’t yet heard of the happy terrorist. So happy. You see, the thing is, happy people don’t make bombs. Happy people don’t beat their spouses, or even frown at them. Happy people don’t rob banks. “So happy I’m here robbing the bank. Everybody, please give me your money. I’m so happy.”

So, happiness clearly is the key, but if it’s the kind of happiness that you get because somebody told a good joke, that’s over with in a few minutes. It goes away. If it’s the kind of happiness that you get because, after lots and lots of trying, you finally got to kiss somebody and even go further than that, it tends to go away, that kind of happiness. It comes and goes.

You’re really happy because you got that very fantastic new garment or shirt, whatever you’re wearing. And then it goes away. You got the iPhone 5, and Apple has a plan for you. The phone you have, made by them, very soon is really going to suck. You just haven’t heard about the 5S yet.

So, happiness based on stuff, happiness based on other people, happiness based on things, this is all okay. It’s like icing on a cake. But it’s not the cake. The cake is what you feel like inside most of the time. And if what you feel like inside most of the time is absolutely fantastic, then anything added to that is the icing. Nothing wrong with icing, except that if somebody says, “I’m giving you a cake,” and all they give you is a bowl of icing, you’re going to be a little disappointed.


So, acquisition of baseline happiness has to do with learning where it is. It’s not on the other side of an achievement. You can’t achieve a thing and then get baseline happiness.

You know lots of people who’ve achieved lots of stuff, and they didn’t get baseline happiness doing it. What they got was a view of what’s yet to be achieved, and it’s always daunting. This is a very, very important thing I’m telling you. The happiness that you need to be acquiring, you already have it inside you. You have to start some process of self discovery. If you haven’t started anything yet, then you need to ask yourself the question, “Well, when?

This is not a preparation for death thing, by the way. “When I’m 90-something, I’ll…” When I finish doing the research again and again about whether in fact I can acquire it through doing things or controlling others. When I’ve done World War I, and World War II, and World War III and World War 15, and still I’m not happy, then I’ll get around to that thing that he was talking about back there in Bondi.

We have a concerted program in our lives of all kinds of things guaranteed not to make us permanently happy. Guaranteed. Most of it has to do with acquisition and control of others. If I control everybody, and they all think the way I want them to think, and they all behave the way I want them to behave, and I acquire a bunch of stuff, I’m really going to be happy. And it’s just going to keep failing and failing and failing. It doesn’t work.


This is an urgent thing. It’s the biggest thing there is on Earth. It’s the most urgent thing there is on Earth. I was asked… They have this big economic conference in Europe every year, the G8, and I got invited to that thing. And there was a spinoff conference called the Impact Economy Conference, and I was selected as the keynote speaker. And all the suits were there, and the ministers of finance, and three prime ministers, and several countries. And I sat in front of them and I said, “You’re all suffering from chronic brain failure.” My opening line. They were talking about the importance of finding out how to slow the pace of, or deal with, global climate change. That was the subject.

And I said, “It’s going to be very distracting if, sometime in the process of this, one of the minorities of the world…” Minorities are always unhappy, by the way. Cultural minorities, racial minorities, religious minorities, economic minorities, all these minorities who are being told by the rest of us, “The secret for you people is democracy.” That word, “democracy,” to them means, “You lose.” Democracy means unless you’ve got 51%, we win, and you guys continue being minorities, so we want to put democracy everywhere. And all the minorities are saying, “That’s not going to make us happy, and we’re getting less happy by the minute every time you mention the D word.”

So, we need to get your attention. And how do we get your attention? Well, there’s all kinds of ways. There’s all kinds of nasty things we can do to get your attention. You think that reducing the pace of global climate change, or reversing it if possible, is the solution. We’re going to interrupt your program. We’re interrupting your program. How about the thermo nuclear weapon going off in Chicago? Have we got your attention yet? How about, yet another one of your buildings coming down? Got your attention yet? If we don’t address happiness, it’s going to be very distracting to all the other things we have to do.

We live in a world where there are lots of extremely urgent things to get done, and unhappiness by any group of people who wishes to figure out how to draw attention to themselves and their unhappiness is going to really distract all of us.


How do we get to the world? We have to be, first of all, exemplars. That means you become exemplary yourself. Becoming exemplary yourself is terribly important, and that’s urgent. It’s very urgent. We have to be preceptors, people who teach by precept, by example.

We have to live it ourselves. Very urgent. We have to be one of those people who, when people see you coming, they don’t cross the street to get away from you. We have to be one of those people who, when you to buy a loaf of bread at the grocer, that grocer just feels so happy that you came in that day, because there’s something about you that is considerate, perceptive. You’ve learned how to empathize. You actually have an interest in what other people are experiencing. You’re not just on your own agenda, ignoring people, looking so busy and distracted that you can’t even smile at a waiter because you don’t have time, because you’re so busy racing off to control somebody. Or you’re so busy racing off to acquire yet another thing that’s going to suck within a few months.

So, you’re getting the message, right? Individual happiness has to find expression in some exemplars. And who are they? They’re not in the pubs tonight, they’re here. Where are the exemplars, the examples of baseline happiness, people who are actually interested in doing something every day to enhance their wellbeing? They’re nowhere else in Sydney tonight. Nowhere. They’re not watching The Heat down at Bondi Junction. They’re not at some dumb Seth Rogen movie. Seth’s a cool guy, by the way. He smokes too much dope, but he’s a very cool guy.

But that’s not where it’s happening. Where it’s happening is here. The Conscious Club. This is the packed house that 100 people wanted to get in here and couldn’t get in because you guys got here first. This is where it’s going to start. Who’s watching? Everybody.


People who are grossly unhappy are going to run out of suicide bombers pretty soon. It’s just a fact that you can’t continue suicide bombing your way to getting your way because you start running out of people after a while. And those who are trying to be convinced, others are trying to convince them that’s a good idea, to have the career of a terrorist, they’re going to start looking around. Check on Facebook. Is there any other way of getting happy besides doing that? Is there any other way? Our older brothers and sisters and fathers and grandfathers and everybody, they’re all willing to kill lots of people and kill themselves, so that we could get our way and underscore our cause.

Is there anything else, maybe they’ll Google the word “happiness” and discover that tonight at The Conscious Club in Bondi, there was some bearded guy talking about this. Maybe they’ll get a little interested. Maybe you personally will start doing something that has the word happiness in it. Maybe you’ll get a website that has happiness on it. Maybe you’ll become known as a very happy person. Maybe.

There has to be a beginning somewhere. It doesn’t matter who anyone is. If we start having the experience inside of that deep, supreme, inner, pure contentedness, supreme contentedness, then not only are we going to bring it outside, but we’re going to create waves through the collective.

Particularly when, like tonight, we do this in groups. I won’t bore you with any details or science or anything, but whether we have the science, we don’t have the science, it just makes sense that lots of people going within and quieting themselves are going to create an effect that’s outside the proximity of just that room in which they’re doing it.


You need to start thinking. I’m not going to do all your homework for you, how you personally are making a contribution to this cooperative enterprise of global happiness. What are you personally doing?

I was trained by a very jolly man. He was sometimes known as the giggling guru, because he seemed to laugh about almost nothing. It didn’t take very much to make him laugh. But he was on a mission, and that was to bring happiness to the whole world.

One day when I was in my early 20s, and I was riding in an airplane with two other guys… One of those other guys became very famous, by the way. He wrote a book about Venus and Mars. Women and men, or something. Johnny. Johnny and I and another character from Sweden, we were all young guys in our 20s, and We were complaining about Nixon or something. Oh Nixon, blah, blah, blah. Vietnam, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, those people who hate people. We hate them. Blah. And I know, carrying on, all of that.

And our teacher, Maharishi, was sitting… We were all in economy class. He was sitting in front. There was somebody asleep next to him. And he was a tiny little man, and his hand came up above the seat where he was sitting, and we saw it doing that, which meant come up here.


So, I was in the aisle. So, I walked up, and I said, “Yes?” He looked at me. “What was the conclusion?” I thought, “My God, he was listening to us. Oh no.” I said, “The conclusion was, this is the world we live in.” He said, “No, the conclusion is this is the world you have to change. And what are you personally doing about it right now?”

“Me?” He said, “Is there anyone else here? I’m talking to?” I said, “No.” He said, “Above your seat, there’s a little button. If you push that button, a person will come. Push the button. When the person comes, tell them you need paper and some pencils. And the three of you, before we land in five hours, are going to write an essay. This is the world that we’re in. This is what I’m personally doing about it right now. Go. Push the button.”

Closed his eyes and started meditating. And then I could hear him up there giggling. He just thought it was hilarious that we were back there scrambling around trying to write our essays.

We all need to be writing that essay. What are you personally doing about it right now? Are you waiting for this new prime minister? There’s been a few prime ministers in the last few years here. Do you really think the prime minister is going to just make all the difference? And so, what I’m doing is waiting for the correct prime minister to get into office.

Are you waiting for a new government policy? Are you waiting for somebody else to do all of this, make everything better? United Nations going to suddenly get all enlightened, start making everybody get baseline happiness everywhere in the world? No. Governments don’t know how to do this. Leagues of governments don’t know how to do this. Leaders of governments, they don’t know anything.


You’re waiting for some great educator to come and teach all of the kids how to get baseline happiness? Don’t wait for anything. Whatever you think you’re waiting for, where the great miraculous solution’s going to suddenly arrive, get out your piece of paper and start writing what you’re personally doing about it right now. And it has to start with you. It has to start with you. That’s it. Thank you.

Jai Guru Deva