A westerner wanted to understand eastern philosophies. So he went to the Himalayas, and started to travel along Ganges. On his path he meets a Shadhu. He looked sad. So the westerner went to him, and asked the reason. He said he left all the pleasures of life and have been searching the true meaning of happiness. He said, all these years of searching for spiritual enlightenment through many different methods and scared books didn’t help him find the answer.
Confused, the westerner continued, and he came across a fishing village. He saw an old woman, playing with her grandkids. She looked like the happiest person on earth. The westerner went to her, and asked, whether she is spiritually enlightened? Confused, the old woman told him that he did not understand the question. She replied that she is having the time of her life and she has no time for things like spiritual enlightenment.
The westerner ran back to the Shadhu, and told how he wasted all his life. He told him that he found the answer through a fisherwoman, who lives just miles across the river.
The Shadhu looked at him and said, “You can attain happiness through ignorance or through knowledge. What you saw was through ignorance, and that’s not permanent. Today she is happy because she has food on her table, her grandkids to play with. Tomorrow if one of those instances doesn’t occur she will be sad. Her life is an action based on environment. What I am searching for is happiness through knowledge, which Buddha called Nirvana.”