All of us want to be happy. Everything that we do (or not do) is to gain a greater fullness and joy than what we are feeling now. In fact, happiness is the ultimate goal of all human pursuits.
It’s funny how we never get enough of being happy. No matter how happy an experience is, we never say, “This is it. I’m totally happy. I will never need anything else ever again.’”
Vedanta tells us that happiness is our intrinsic nature.
If happiness is who we are, why are we constantly chasing after happiness outside?
The problem is that we have forgotten who we really are – our spiritual nature, that is. You and I are pure spirit, ever free and blissful.
But, since we think we are what we look like, feel and think, (our personalities), we look to people, things and experiences to satisfy this ever-elusive happiness. What we don’t realize is that nothing in the world outside is going to satisfy our deep inner yearning for true and permanent happiness.
Why? It’s because true and permanent happiness is within us, not any where else. We’ve simply forgotten it. It’s like looking for your key every where except in your own pocket where you had it all the time.
The truth of the matter is, things, beings and experiences in the world outside don’t make us happy. They simply trigger the spring of happiness within us and suddenly we are filled with joy.
Wouldn’t it great if we could all tap into the permanent source of happiness that is our nature? That’ll bring an end to our endless seeking and bring us the permanent happiness that we all so desperately want.
How to find happiness within?
To journey within ourselves and tap into that source of happiness there, we need to prepare our minds because the thoughts of the mind veil happiness from us. Happiness lies deep within and beyond the mind.
Right now, the mind is never still nor completely clean. It is constantly plagued with endless thoughts, worries, concerns and many negative emotions such as anger, greed, jealousy, hatred, etc. The mind has to be carefully and patiently cleansed of these so-called, ‘impurities’. Once cleansed, the happiness that was already there behind the mind shines forth.
Think of a pool of water. To see the bottom, the water must have two qualities – stillness and a clarity that comes from a lack of impurities in the water.
Similarly, the mind has to be made still and cleansed. This doesn’t happen overnight. It has to be patiently and carefully prepared for the inner journey through spiritual discipline.
Spiritual discipline to cleanse the mind
What is a spiritual discipline? A spiritual discipline is a practice that you cultivate to outgrow your ego and evolve spiritually. Growth begins by rehabilitating the mind.
To accomplish this goal, we have to start with one very fundamental and vital spiritual discipline – self-reflection. This is the discipline of taking some time everyday away from all our activities and reflecting on our daily experiences.*
Why is this important? Only when we create some mental space in our lives for self-reflection will we be able to better view our lives. Otherwise, where is the time to think? The mind is kept busy and running from one thing to another.
A daily practice of quiet self-reflection helps in becoming self-aware and looking honestly at our behavior, interactions and motives. It will bring the clarity needed to sieve away what is is unimportant and unnecessary and change what we are doing wrong. Once we recognize and accept our failings, we naturally want to do something about them.*
Over time, by steadily calming and improving the quality of the mind, we become ready to go behind the mind. This is done in meditation.
Meditation is the practice of consciously slowing down the thoughts until there is a peace and calm within. In this quiet, peaceful state, we can journey within to find the highest happiness.
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