Since the earliest of recollections, happiness is the most sought after thing in our lives. So, where do we find “true” happiness?
Most of us can relate to the childhood experience of our parents telling us not to give money to the raggedy looking street person because, “They’ll only use it to buy alcohol”.
These days we could substitute drugs for alcohol, in some cases, but the point is the same. We may naturally feel the inclination to do good for someone, but doing good for them doesn’t necessarily mean that we should give them whatever they want.
We need to know what is actually good for them and ourselves, and what it is that they and we actually need in order to be truly happy and satisfied.
Yes, the person wanting alcohol or drugs may experience a temporary and superficial type of happiness, but most of us know that it is not the real deal. If it were we would not only be giving them money so that they could purchase lots of alcohol or drugs and be so-called “happy”, we would also be drinking and drugging ourselves without restraint so we could also be ‘happy”.
Yes, there are many who do this but they are not generally considered to be very intelligent and any happiness they do experience is artificial, inferior and short-lived.
In this way, it is not difficult to appreciate that there are all kinds of varieties of happiness available to us, and that some are higher and some are lower.
One teaching that often masquerades as a spiritual one is that we should just pick whatever turns us on and just “go for it”. This approach may sound like the liberal and enlightened way to go, but if we consider it for a moment, especially in light of the alcohol and drug examples, we can easily see that it is not the enlightened way to go at all.
The real solution? Knowledge! We need knowledge so that we may choose our path and our approach to life wisely.
Yoga or spiritual knowledge informs us that there are many levels and kinds of happiness, but spiritual knowledge is the greatest. We may not be fully aware of this, but it is what we all secretly long for and what we really need.
This simple message has spanned all kinds of cultures and has been taught by all kinds of great saints since time immemorial. It is the one ever-fresh constant in a world, which is changing so quickly that we can hardly keep up.
Many of us don’t even bother to try and keep up, not seriously at least, because we have firsthand experience of an old cliché. That being, ‘that for all the great technological advances of the modern age and all the previously unimagined material opulence, which is now available to us as a result of those advances, people in general are not actually happier, satisfied, peaceful, or more relaxed and at ease with themselves and their place in the world, than they previously were’.
They sense that perhaps a serious dose of simple living and high thinking is the real answer to the chaos, quarrel and confusion, which seems to be everywhere, both within and without all of us.
Once a person can learn of his true essence, true position and true function, in the spiritual sense, then and only then can he experience true inner peace and be relatively unaffected by the world around him.
The goal? Be in the world but not of the world!
This is easier than it sounds. There is a simple breathing meditation technique that works well. It is called, Gore – ra – un –ga (spelled phonetically) Breathing. Here’s how it works: Sitting or lying comfortably, begin to take slow deep breaths. As you breathe in, say Gore–ra–un–ga in your mind for the duration of your inhalation, like Gorrrrrr- raaaaaaa –unnnnnn–gaaaaaaaaaaaa.
As you exhale say, Gore-ra-un–ga softly for the duration of the exhalation. Repeat this for 5 or 10 minutes and you will notice that stress is gone and you will be extremely relaxed. This can be done anywhere at anytime. Gauranga means The One With The Golden Effulgence.
Like happiness, everyone is looking for true love. The greatest happiness a person can experience is to love someone and to be loved by them in return. But looking and finding are two different things and at times the finding is found in the most unlikely place. The perfect lover and beloved and therefore the perfection of love are to be found in a harmonious loving relationship with the Supreme Person.
This, then raises a question: If perfect love is to be found in my relationship with the Supreme Person, can I have real love for other living beings? The answer is, yes! You can love another living entity and loving the Supreme Person can bring out real love in you.
When we find spiritual happiness within ourselves and our relationship with the Supreme Person, we will be able to actually experience caring for and loving others. If we love the Supreme Person our love will simultaneously expand to others because everyone is part and parcel of Him. In other words, every living being is His child. As such, loving Him will cause us to love others and to desire their happiness.
In the same way that watering the root of a tree spreads nourishment to every leaf of the tree, by cultivating our love for the Supreme Person, we will begin to love others more. This is the essence of spiritual life.
As our spiritual love grows, we develop greater insight and clarity of vision. We are able to see others for who they really are. Instead of just seeing that person’s body, we see the real person, the eternal spirit soul. We then realize that the body is merely a shirt, if you will, with different labels like male, female, black, white, Jewish, Catholic, American, Hawaiian, etc.
Remember, every person belongs to and is loved by the Supreme Person and needs to love Him to experience real inner peace, satisfaction, happiness and security. When you begin relating in this way, it brings about a change in the relationship.
The development of pure, all-expansive love within the heart satisfies one’s spiritual hunger. Being fully satisfied you no longer “need” another person to fulfill you. So, instead of having a relationship based upon lust where you are thinking: “What can I get from this person”? Your relationship is based upon love where you desire the other person’s happiness. This leads to the true connection with another living being.
Lust can be transformed back into its natural condition of spiritual love through the process of Bhakti yoga – the linking up with the Supreme Person through devotional service to Him.
What would be the initial process to begin some sort of service to Him? Offering things out of love like food and flowers that have a fragrance. Here’s how:
In the ancient Vedic scriptures God tells us to eat only plant-based foods. So, before we eat grains, fruits and vegetables in any form we offer it to Him first. Why? Every action has a reaction. When we partake of plant based foods and we eat the remnants of what was picked, we basically are a part of the killing of those plants. That action creates a karmic reaction. But, by offering those foods to Him first, He will remove the karma from the death of those plants allowing us to eat purified and karma free foods, thereby softening our hearts and redirecting our consciousness to Him first. The ripple effect is unbelievable.
Think about the karmic chain of eating flesh foods. Since He will not accept them, anyone that partakes of them undertakes the acceptance of that karmic chain.
Through this process, our hearts and minds are gradually cleansed of self-centeredness, allowing our real nature as a spark of love to glow brightly letting us taste the spiritual love we are longing for. And as this lust is transformed into true love we not only taste this sweet flavor of love, but also its handmaidens like kindness, patience, forgiveness, tolerance, humility, etc. Tasting these qualities finally allows us to taste real happiness as well.