JOEL S. GOLDSMITH ON HAPPINESS

Association of Spirituality and Psychotherapy
Michael S. Isaacs, LCSW, NCPsyA, JD
San Francisco, Ca, November, 2007
michaelisaacs@sbcglobal.net
www.michaelisaacs.net
415-566-1884

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Everyone wants to be happy. But what does “happiness” mean and how does one achieve it? Happiness is a relative term with everyone following his or her lens as how to get there.

If you read the writings and listen to the tapes of the mystic Joel Goldsmith, you will rarely read or hear the word “happiness. For him, the usual understanding of happiness- striving for it by seeking it first in the external world of materialism, human relationships, name, and fame was too superficial. Instead of happiness he talks more of inner peace, freedom, and joy.

In the only book that he wrote, THE INFINITE WAY (the forty four other  books are based on his talks throughout the world between 1954 and 1962, as well as monthly letters that he sent to his students), he sheds light on his views about happiness: “Happiness or unhappiness in human existence, what does it matter? Happiness must be known of the Spirit!” (1)

If one pursues happiness in its usual connotation, the fear of and experience of its opposite, unhappiness, will surely follow. The karmic wheel of perpetual swings between happiness and unhappiness is inevitable.

Is there a way to transcend the slavery of the dualism of opposites, a place beyond the senses, rooted in the Spirit of happiness that Goldsmith was referring to?

Goldsmith is in the tradition of those who have realized that true happiness is achieved by first seeking and realizing the Kingdom of God within. Among those that have experienced this state are enlightened sages and luminaries throughout history such as Buddha, Krishna, Shankara, Lao-Tzu, Ramakrishna, and Jesus and many that have followed their paths. They realized that goodness, wholeness, perfection, infinity, and eternality can be spiritually discerned.  From this experience of non-duality, true happiness follows - better relationships, health, and abundance in the outer realm.

Goldsmith, who incidentally had no formal education beyond grade school, at first admitted that he did not understand the BHAGAVAD GITA (Song of God), when he first read the eighteen verses of this sacred ancient Indian scripture. He was determined, however, to grasp its central ideas. He decided to learn Sanskrit and was permitted to enroll in a class at Harvard for that purpose. He read it hundreds of times. I suspect that he was particularly influenced in his ideas about happiness by these two verses where Lord Krishna says:

“Content with what chance brings him, passing beyond the dualities of      pleasure and pain, of hot and cold, void of envy, indifferent alike to gain and loss, even in action he remains unfetteredSuch a one, being without attachments, is liberated, possessing a mindestablished in wisdom.” (2)

“That happiness which arises from the contact of the senses …is like nectar in the beginning but is like poison later on.” (3)

In the preface to THE INFINITE WAY, (4) Goldsmith quotes Lao-Tsu the Chinese sage of Taoism:

“There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being.”

He also invokes the poem by the English poet Robert Browning:

“Truth is within ourselves.
There is an inmost center in all,
Where the truth abides in fullness; and to know
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without”


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