Happiness be the lot of him
who works for the happiness of others.
May the Lord grant him health and endurance.
(Yasna 43:1 -
Translation D. J. Irani)
Or should we say, "may the
Lord grant him the patience, the serenity and the sense of martyrdom needed
to put up with the failures, the ridicule, the alienation, and the spurn of
those whom he serves!"
For what kind of happiness
is it, if it is to be mandated?
If it is to be stated as
"Thou Shalt have Happiness, only and only if Thou workest for the happiness
of Others", it becomes nothing more than an externally imposed rule. Yet
another scale on Nietzsche's dragon!
A Thou shalt
commandment can lead to nothing more than a sense of guilt and contempt.
"Thou Shalt be spiritual"
can only lead to contempt for spirituality, and the adherent would only
follow the commandment, for the fear of not being spiritual, and the
avoidance of the possible consequences of disobedience.
Likewise, "Thou shalt be
Happy..." can only lead one to contempt for happiness, which in turn will
lead to unhappiness. Happiness that is imposed through the force of fear,
guilt, or limitation is not, and can not be true happiness, just like "thou
Shalt be Free" is an injunction to impose Freedom, which itself becomes
dictatorial and enslaving.
So what was Zarathushtra
Zarathushtra was talking
about a deeper level of happiness that comes not from a compulsion to serve,
but from an innate impulsion to connect and to bring joy to others - from
the impulse to life.
A deep spiritual
understanding of our world can only lead us to recognize the interconnection
among all of us. Such understanding makes us realize that we are not
separate, that your happiness is my happiness, and my happiness is yours.
Just as no waves in the
ocean are separate from each other, except in appearance. The waves find
their interconnection through the ocean. We too find our interconnection
through the singular and primordial Creative Impulse, of which, we are all
This understanding will also
help us realize that I am most alive, not when I move or act, or achieve, or
accumulate. I am most alive when I am in touch with my uniqueness, and work
towards contributing and giving away my gift. The gift that only I can bring
to this world. And no other can come close to the quality of my
A musician is most alive
when she plays her music, not when she receives recognition for the various
compositions she has created over the years. A scientist loses himself most,
when he is in full concentration, pondering the question in hand, not when
he has to prepare his 45 minute speech for the Nobel Prize reception. And
the surfer is most alive when he is riding the wave, not when he is on the
shore bragging about the wonderful ride that he had that morning.
Furthermore, when we give
ourselves permission to be who we are, we also allow others to contribute
their unique gifts to the world, and become willing to receive their gifts
into our lives.
Joy begets joy. The
scientist enjoys the sublime feelings that are aroused in him when the
musician is performing in a concert. She on the other hand, feels the
exhilaration of the surfer, when he is riding that perfect wave.
What's more, we can be most
effective when we work on the thing that we are most effective at, namely
our unique contribution. We become energized. We experience a sense of
vitality. We become unstoppable. And thus, we push the boundaries of the
quality and the scale of our contribution.
The scientist is most
effective in the laboratory or in his library, not in the music hall, nor
riding the wave.
And the "Others" who become
the recipients of our contribution, can gain the maximum benefit, from what
we excel at, which is nothing other than our gift. The surfer will not feel
the same way about the music that is played by the scientist, as he would by
the musician's performance.
The genius of the design of
this physio-spiritual universe of ours is that it is completely
interdependent. The surfer relies on the scientist to create better boards.
The scientist depends on the musician to give voice to the feelings that he
could not express as vividly. And the musician counts on the surfer's ride
to become a source of vital inspiration for the next piece of music.
In other words, we make
others happiest, when we are at our happiest. And we are at our happiest,
when we make others the happiest we possibly can.
But the challenge of being
ourselves is testing. The scientist will spend many hours in fruitless
contemplation of the problem, often with no apparent or even remotely
probable solution in sight. Defeat overshadows the scientist's life for a
large part of it, until perhaps a breakthrough is attained, or until the
scientist moves on to another problem, leaving the one in hand, for
The musician will spend a
large part of her life, practicing the fundamentals of music on her
instrument. Often hours are spent on a daily basis, going over repetitive
motions for as long as necessary to master the piece. Composition is not
always spontaneous, nor at will. The creative process becomes illusive and
frustrating. Musical life can be self-defeating, at least until inspiration
hits, or one moves on to the next piece.
The surfer may get up every
day, looking at the ocean, either being stopped by the storms, or by the
calm. When in the water, the surfer may wait for wave after wave, until a
good one arrives. And not every good wave that arrives shall result in a
good ride. The surfer may fall in, lose his balance, or miscalculate the
timing of the good waves, time after time. And the process becomes an
exercise in patience. At least until that perfect timing and balance happen
to coincide with the good wave - on a good day.
Perhaps Zarathushtra was
considering all these factors when he said, " May the Lord grant him health
May the Lord grant us the
physical health to be able to utilize our gift, and the mental health to be
able to discern what is our uniqueness. And hence, give ourselves
permission, and have the courage to make use of the innate creative impulse
within us to manifest our gift, and thus contribute to our world.
And may the Lord grant us
the endurance to overcome all obstacles and all failures, real or imaginary;
as well as to not be swayed by the naysayer, the jealous or the resentful,
whether they are inside our heads or elsewhere.