“As the body becomes steady and at ease, the breath begins to come under control, the mind begins to experience peace and the journey to our true self begins…”

Our Search For Lasting Happiness - by M (Part 2)

Since we started with the understanding that happiness is found within, not without (outside), the search naturally has to be within. So the ‘Sadhana’ (spiritual practice) has to be turning inward; so from extroversion to introversion.
Now, believe me, this does not mean that the saadhak (spiritual aspirant or student) who turns within to find the truth which is its own self, neglects the world or runs away from it. This search for happiness, this search for one’s true identity or consciousness, is not reserved for renunciants or monks (sanyasis).
It’s for every human being, every human being like you and me who lives in this world, works for his living and who has a family, who cares for other human beings.
But, then the daily activities of the world are often distracting, so distracting, that to practice sadhana, one needs to find certain times, certain periods when one can sit in solitude and practice. Once one becomes an expert at it, it can be done anywhere in the world.
Now, this practice of sadhana is what is known generally as meditation. This meditation that we are talking about is not some kind of mumbo jumbo, done behind closed doors, it is merely a method taught to a student by a spiritual teacher who has himself practiced it and it is based on the kind of student. What stage he or she is in and how much he or she can practice regularly? 
Therefore, to study and understand this meditation which is called sadhana, requires contact between the teacher and the taught, between the student and the teacher.
There is no common formula by which millions of human beings can touch their inner self and find true happiness, because everyone is made differently – physically, mentally and psychologically.
Now, there are so many ways and so many methods of sadhana, depending upon the person’s background, personality and psychological makeup.
In this regard, I’d like to mention a great sage, teacher and saint, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who was the spiritual teacher of Swami Vivekananda. We are all familiar with Swami Vivekananda. He is well known and he was one of the first spiritual teachers from this country (India) to go west and speak about the Indian Philosophies and the practice of yoga.
Now, Ramakrishna Paramahansa had many disciples and each one he treated and taught in different ways and every one of them, at least most of them, turned out, at the end, to be sages in their own right. Not one technique was the same as the other. The approaches were different.
So what I mean to say is there has to be an contact between the teacher and the student so that the teacher can discover what kind of a student one is and teach accordingly, so that he may proceed at his own pace and come finally to one’s true inner self, which is the consciousness deep down in us which by its very nature is full of bliss.
Ancient Indian Texts in Sanskrit (the language of the seers)

The Vedas (a large body of texts originating in ancient India) have called it 'sat-chit-ananda', which is actually one word made of three syllables, which are sat – the truth, chit - consciousness and ananda – happiness. So slowly and gradually by the practice of sadhana, under the guidance of an expert teacher, the student moves inwards, goes deep within and realises that his very nature is happiness. He doesn’t have to look for it anywhere outside.
When this really happens, not theoretically but as an experiential thing, then one becomes a perfect yogi. Then one is ready to teach not before that. But the question often asked is, ‘If we take to the practise of sadhna, how can we work in this world and do we have to go away to a quiet cave and meditate to find the happiness that you are talking about?
It’s not true, although short periods of solitude are required. Ultimately one comes out of it and mixes with the world. If you go to the caves of the Himalayas and meditate for twelve years and say that I am free of anger and jealousy and all the emotions normally associated with undeveloped human minds, I really can’t be speaking the truth because there is no way to test it.
I can’t get angry with the cave, I can’t get upset or jealous with the grass growing outside. It’s only when I come out and get into a bus and somebody kicks me on my foot that I am able to find out if I am really free of anger, jealousy, so on and so forth.
So while it’s required to spend some period in solitude, especially in the beginning, Ramakrishna Parmahamsa used to say that in the beginning of the sadhana, one should protect oneself like the little sapling which is protected by surrounding it with a ring of thorny bushes, so that the cow doesn’t eat it up before it grows. But once it grows, there is no need of any such protection.
One can come back into this world and lead a life which is quite, to all intents and purposes, looking the same to others. Deep down, one is a changed person and the change which is within, that is absolute peace and happiness, is reflected in one’s dealings with the outside world. 
Now this process of finding one’s true self which is one’s true consciousness, which is happiness, unalloyed happiness, independent of anything of the outside world, this is what is meant by the spiritual journey.
So you would have understood by now that it’s not cut off from day to day living. In fact it complements day to day living. One who practices meditation and lives in this world will soon discover even the workings of this world or his relationship with this world or the way he functions in this world is much more perfect than it was before.
Now, one has to start somewhere and that starting point is not far away but right here and now. One can start with ten minutes of introspection daily and then slowly proceed to the more important and intricate aspects of meditation.
So now we can deal with what is meditation, what are the different kinds of meditation and so on and so forth. 
- To be continued 

Our Search For Lasting Happiness - by Sri M (Part 1)

We at M Yoga Center are happy to share with you the transcription of Sri M's talk on "Our Search for Eternal Happiness".


The question that has been asked for centuries is a question we ask even today. What are we searching for?
What is it that human beings look for? Search for? All the time we are working, looking for more, collecting things, trying to become – Now that’s the catch word – trying to become ‘what’?
I think, and this is not just my thought, it’s been what has been recorded in the ancient scriptures. This search, this constant search of the human being is for happiness. Happiness is one thing that all human beings – irrespective of caste, creed and religion – search for.
We search for happiness all our lives, in our own way, whatever we have – (as our) ideas of happiness. A child has his own idea of happiness. As we grow up, we have our own ideas of happiness and then we are middle aged and we have our own idea of happiness; and then we are retired and we have our own idea of happiness.
How much money should I have in the bank when I retire? How am I going to continue with my life and be happy and keep my luxuries still with me? And so on and so forth; we know the whole thing. This search for happiness leads us on, goads us on to live a life. The question is do we really find it? It has a very simple answer. Somebody says ‘Yes’ I can find it in this, somebody says I can find it in that. But if one finds it finally then why does one go on looking for it, searching for it constantly?
One answer suggests itself for this question which is perhaps – although we search for happiness all our lives in things external, thinking that by acquiring this or by acquiring that or having a big bank balance or a beautiful wife – you know the whole theme, so on and so forth – we will find happiness but it looks like we don’t.
We don’t find real happiness because we are not satisfied ever with anything that we have. Maybe there is satisfaction for a short time but in the long run we are still looking, searching, sometimes grabbing. The main thing is that the happiness we seek seems to evade us, seems to be so slippery that the moment we get hold of a little bit of happiness, we try to hold on to it with all our life. Why? Because we know that it is so rare and it can vanish at any time.
Now, suppose I have defined happiness as finding A or B or some such thing, I have found it. Okay! So I think I am happy, but deep down my subconscious mind knows that it is going to go away very soon. So what do I do? I try to hold on to it as fast and as firmly as I can, fearing that it might slip away! If I hold on to something and there is at the back of my mind the fear that it will slip away, where is the happiness now? There is insecurity.
Can insecurity produce happiness? Can I ever be happy wondering when this happiness is going to slip away from my mind? So this is not happiness really; so then I search again and the search continues endlessly. Mind you, I am not saying that we should not enjoy the little joys that we find in life day to day. Please do it. We should, because that’s the greatest, most wonderful  thing that the world can offer us. These little joys of life, but then also I think we should remember that the lasting happiness that we seek is not to be found outside oneself.
So the question is, If it can’t be found outside oneself, can it be found inside oneself? Is there some happiness in each of us which can be tapped? Is there a happiness which is independent of anything external? Is there some way by which we can remain happy deep inside us, fully satisfied and yet continue to live in this world and do the right thing?
The great books – the great scriptures of this country (India) – The Upanishads and the Vedas seem to suggest that there is a way to find lasting happiness within, which is independent of all external things; and the great sages who have experienced it are on record saying that ‘that’ happiness when it comes, is an ecstasy that is so beautiful and all embracing that you feel like sharing it with the entire humanity.
Then life becomes joyful. Every little thing is full of joy. The dew drop you find on the grass in the morning, the breeze that blows in quietly, bringing in the perfume of the jasmine, the smell of the earth after the first rains. The ice clad peaks of the distant mountain, the laughter of the child, the song of the peasant. Everything becomes the festival of joy and the root of it is within oneself.  It’s only when the inner being becomes full of joy that the world becomes full of joy.

Kabir Das
You must have heard of the great weaver, singer and saint called Kabir Das, who lived in Benares.  In one of the beautiful songs of Kabir, there is a beautiful example of man’s search for happiness – humankind’s search for happiness. He gives the example the musk deer. This musk deer whose habitat is usually the Himalayan regions, the foothills of the Himalayas, carries kasturi (musk) in a little bag just under its tail. In the breeding season, the musk exudes a lovely perfume which attracts the females. So Kabir Das says, when the season comes and the lovely perfume comes forth from under its tail, the poor deer goes around searching in the forest, trying to find the source from which this beautiful perfume is wafting in and he does not find it. Because he looks everywhere, except right under its tail. So there we are!
This is a perfect example. We search for happiness like the kasturi deer, all over the world, forgetting that happiness can be found within and only when it is found within, does one derive complete satisfaction that one is looking for.
There is a beautiful word in Sanskrit for completeness –‘poorna’. Upanishads say poorna which means fulfillment,  fullness, completeness, this is the essential characteristic of one’s essential being which is one’s  own consciousness, free of all distractions, which is called the ‘atman’. It is when this atman or the real self , which is the center and core of the consciousness of every human being is found, that one reaches the state of prefect happiness and realises that this is in every single living being, although untapped.
This center of our consciousness can’t be exclusive to anybody. All human beings have it deep down and that is the true consciousness. The process of finding it is what is known as ‘Sādhanā ‘. If there is something, there must be a way to find it. Its futile to say that there is no way to something, because if there is no way, it doesn't matter if it exists or it doesn't exist.  The Rishis (sages) have thankfully, fortunately for us, discovered that there is a way by which this happiness can be found, can be tapped. It can be taught and it can be shared with other human beings. 
(To be continued in subsequent parts).