05.21: Happiness through a perpetual tickling machine?
When children are tickled, they start laughing immediately. Does their laughter indicate that they are happy? Not really. If happiness could be had just by tickling, then all of us who want to be happy could get a perpetual tickling machine for ourselves and be happy for the rest of our lives.
We would dismiss such an idea as absurd, because we know that the laughter produced by tickling is merely an automatic bodily reaction to a physical stimulus; it is superficial and peripheral to our actual happiness.
Gita wisdom urges us to recognize that all bodily pleasures are similarly superficial; the fragrance of a delicacy enters our nose and the tongue starts salivating. Even the overhyped pleasure of sex is a mere bodily response to a physical stimulus. The sight of a sexually appealing form enters our eyes and the body starts secreting certain chemicals that create a titillating sensation. Does such a sensation deserve to be the stuff of our fantasies? Is an adult’s getting turned on due to a sexual stimulation any different from a child’s laughter due to tickling?
Such serious unsentimental contemplation can make us indifferent to all superficial bodily sensations, as the Bhagavad-gita (5.21) indicates (bahya-sparsheshv asaktatma) and enable us to focus on cultivating authentic inner happiness (vindaty atmani yat-sukham). This happiness comes from the love that touches and transforms our innermost essence, our soul: love for Krishna. When we cultivate devotional remembrance of Krishna and render affectionate service to him, then we feast on a happiness that goes far beyond bodily sensations. The more we experience this happiness, the more we can love everyone – not for the bodily sensations that they provide us, but for who they actually are: beloved parts of Krishna eternally related to us in his spiritual family.