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Happiness and the Art of Being

  1. Introduction
  2. The Contents of Happiness and the Art of Being and HTML copies of each section
  3. First Print Editions (October 2007)
  4. Second Print Editions (March 2012)
  5. Kindle Edition (March 2012)
  6. PDF Editions for Free Download
  7. Spanish Translation
  8. Czech Translation
  9. French Translation

Introduction

Happiness and the Art of Being: front cover

Happiness is our true nature, our essential being. The transient happiness that we seem to derive from external experiences actually arises only from within ourself, and is experienced by us due to the temporary calming of our mind that occurs whenever any of our desires are fulfilled. So long as our mind is extroverted, attending to anything other than our own essential self-conscious being, we can never experience perfect, permanent and unqualified happiness. To experience true and eternal happiness, we must attain the experience of true self-knowledge — that is, absolutely clear consciousness of our own essential being, ‘I am’. Such is the truth revealed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

The philosophy of Sri Ramana derives solely from his experience of true, absolute, non-dual self-knowledge, an experience that transcends all thought, both rational and irrational. However, since we imagine the existence of duality, multiplicity and relativity, we seem to lack the non-dual and absolute knowledge of our own essential self-conscious being that Sri Ramana experienced as his natural state. Therefore he presented his philosophy to us in terms of a rational and logical analysis of our present experience of ourself as a finite individual consciousness, in order to enable us to be firmly convinced of the absolute reality that underlies and supports this finite consciousness that we now mistake to be ourself.

However, the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana are not only a rational philosophy, but are also a precise science and art. He intended his philosophy to serve only as the theoretical foundation upon which we should practice the empirical science of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), which is the art of keenly self-attentive and therefore perfectly thought-free being.

This book, Happiness and the Art of Being: An introduction to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, is an in-depth exploration of both the philosophy and the practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Though it is intended primarily to be an introduction to his teachings, it is not a brief one, because in a clear and simple manner it provides a very detailed and deep insight into their core. Therefore though it has been written with the intention that it should be easily understood even by readers who have no previous acquaintance with any form of spiritual philosophy, it should also be useful to readers who already have a good understanding of his teachings.

Like the aim of the teachings that Sri Ramana has given us, the aim of this book is to prompt each one of us to think more deeply about the reality of all that we as a seemingly limited individual consciousness experience and know, to help us to understand that the only absolute reality in our entire experience of duality and relativity is our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, ‘I am’, and thereby to reinforce our love and effort to attend keenly and exclusively to this essential self-consciousness ‘I am’ in order to discover its true nature.

The author of this book, Michael James, spent more than eight years studying the original Tamil writings of Sri Ramana and of his foremost disciple, Sri Muruganar, in minute detail under the clear guidance of another close disciple, Sri Sadhu Om, and since the passing away of Sri Sadhu Om in 1985 he has continued to study and practise the spiritual path revealed by Sri Ramana.

Therefore the central focus of this book is on the teachings of Sri Ramana as expressed in his own original writings, and hence it contains accurate and carefully worded translations by the author of the whole of Sri Ramana’s prose treatise Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) and of most of the verses of his philosophical poems such as Upadēśa Undiyār, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Ēkātma Pañcakam, Āṉma-Viddai and Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ.

The Contents of Happiness and the Art of Being and HTML copies of each section

The contents of Happiness and the Art of Being, which include an introduction, ten chapters and other sections, are as follows:

    Introduction
  1. What is Happiness?
  2. Who am I?
  3. The Nature of Our Mind
  4. The Nature of Reality
  5. What is True Knowledge?
  6. True Knowledge and False Knowledge
  7. The Illusion of Time and Space
  8. The Science of Consciousness
  9. Self-Investigation and Self-Surrender
  10. The Practice of the Art of Being
  11. Bibliography
    Transliteration and Pronunciation
    Glossary

Each of the links above connects to an HTML copy of the relevant chapter or other section, and the follow link connects to an HTML copy of the entire book: Happiness and the Art of Being, which is probably too large to be read conveniently online, but which may be useful for searching for any particular words or passages.

First Print Editions (October 2007)

After I posted the first PDF edition of Happiness and the Art of Being on this website in December 2006, many people expressed their eagerness to have a printed copy of it, so I carefully revised the entire book and added more explanations about various important aspects of Sri Ramana’s teachings, after which the first print edition (which is almost identical to the third PDF edition) was published in October 2007 both in India and in Canada.

The formerly Canadian (and later US) version of the first edition of Happiness and the Art of Being (ISBN: 978-1-4251-2465-6), which is published by Trafford Publishing, is no longer available, because it has now been replaced by the slightly revised and much cheaper second edition published by CreateSpace. Likewise in India the first edition, which was printed twice, has been sold out, so I am now looking for a new publisher for an Indian publication of the second edition.

Second Print Editions (March 2012)

Since the publication of the first print edition in October 2007 I have corrected a few printing errors and other minor mistakes, and I have also thoroughly revised the transliteration of all the Tamil and Sanskrit words in it, using diacritics to make it more precise, and added an explanation of my transliteration scheme and a detailed glossary. In March 2012 this revised version was published as the second print edition (which is almost identical to the fourth PDF edition and the Kindle edition) both in US and in India.

American Publication (by CreateSpace)

The US version of the second edition of Happiness and the Art of Being (ISBN: 978-1-4751-1157-6) is published by CreateSpace, and can be purchased from any of the following pages on the various regional Amazon sites:

Indian Publication

I am currently looking for a new publisher for an Indian version of the second edition of Happiness and the Art of Being, so whenever it is published in India I will provide information about it here. In the meanwhile, if anyone reading this has any contacts in the Indian book publishing world or any suggestions about a suitable publisher, please inform me by email.

Kindle Edition (March 2012)

In March 2012 a Kindle edition (which is almost identical to the fourth PDF edition and the second print edition) was also published, and it is available from any of the following pages on the various regional Amazon sites:

In this Kindle edition the transliteration table and the special Unicode characters used for Latin diacritics, Tamil and Devanagari characters will all display correctly in some Kindle readers but not others. However, this should not seriously affect its readability, because whenever any Latin diacritic does not display correctly, its non-diacritic equivalent should display instead. In order to read this Kindle edition on a PC or Mac as it would appear in print, readers can download the Kindle Previewer application from the Amazon website.

PDF Editions for Free Download

Besides being available in print and Kindle editions, Happiness and the Art of Being is also available here for free download as a PDF. In order to download this PDF edition, you can either left-click on the following link to open it in your web browser, after which you can save a copy, or you can right-click on this link and select ‘Save Target As...’ from the pop-up menu:

Happiness and the Art of Being – fourth PDF edition (March 2012)

This version of the PDF is its fourth edition, which I posted here on 31st March 2012, and which is almost identical to the second print edition and the Kindle edition. For archival purposes, copies of the first, second and third PDF editions are also available here, and can be accessed by clicking on the following three links:

Happiness and the Art of Being – first PDF edition (December 2006)

Happiness and the Art of Being – second PDF edition (March 2007)

Happiness and the Art of Being – third PDF edition (August 2007)

A detailed list of the major additions and modifications that I incorporated in the second PDF edition is given in New enlarged e-book edition of Happiness and the Art of Being, and a similar list of the major additions and modifications that I incorporated in the third PDF edition is given in Third e-book edition of Happiness and the Art of Being.

Spanish Translation

Happiness and the Art of Being has been translated into Spanish by Pedro Rodea, and is available both as a PDF and as a printed book. The PDF can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

La Felicidad y el Arte de Ser:
Introducción a la filosofía y la práctica de las enseñanzas espirituales de Bhagavan Sri Ramana

Printed copies of this Spanish book (ISBN: 978-8496808645) can be purchased on the Editorial Sanz y Torres website by clicking on the following link:

La Felicidad y el Arte de Ser – printed book

Czech Translation

Happiness and the Art of Being has been translated into Czech by Rudolf Skarnitzl, and a PDF copy of it can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

Štěstí a Umění Být:
Laický úvod do filozofie a praxe spirituálního učení Bhagavána Šrí Ramany

French Translation

Happiness and the Art of Being is currently being translated into French. So far only the introduction and the first two chapters have been completed, and a PDF copy of each of these can be accessed by clicking on the following links:

La Félicité et l’Art d’Etre – Introduction
La Félicité et l’Art d’Etre – Chapitre 1: Qu’est-ce que la Félicité?
La Félicité et l’Art d’Etre – Chapitre 2: Qui suis-je?

As in the second English edition, in this French translation all the Tamil and Sanskrit words in italic type have been transliterated accurately according to the scheme that I describe in the PDF document on transliteration that can be accessed from the Transliteration, transcription and pronunciation section of the Books page.