What is happiness? Why does it seem so elusive? I think the fleetingness of the goal called “happiness” is due to happiness being attached to outer circumstance. Things and experiences cause the high-energy feeling of happiness. Since life often doesn’t go according to plan, and happiness is dependent on a favorable experience, happiness disappears when a less than desirable situation arises.
There is good news for the feeling of happiness though. Happiness is an outer reflection of a powerful state of being. States of being cannot be dissolved, they are unalterably present, but can be obscured and covered up by layers of identification with thoughts and feelings. The state of being which happiness pales in comparison to is joy. As Tolle and many other teachers maintain, states of peace and joy, which are our natural states of being, are always available within, regardless of situation.
When I received this week’s “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” I felt like Swami Satchidananda was offering permission to be happy. Allowing yourself to enjoy a situation helps to uncover the state of joy within. When Swami Satchidananda talks about joy and happiness it is clear that regardless of terms, and even though he talks about Yoga practice in particular, that the truth towards which he points is the key to a higher state of consciousness available in all of life’s situations. Experiencing life from the state of joy is a profound spiritual lesson:
“You forgot to be like children. You may think that spirituality means to be serious, morose; that you can’t smile or laugh. That’s not spirituality. Your spirit should [be] filled with happiness, joy, dancing, singing, and dancing. Don’t be gloomy. That’s not the kind of spirituality we want in the name of Yoga. You should always be exuding happiness and joy—a positive spirit. Work itself should be a play. The Yoga practices should be playful and uplifting. There’s nothing overly serious about it all. God created the world as a playground. Allow the joy to come out. What is serious in this? We all come, gather together, live for awhile, and when the time comes, say goodbye and go. Within that period, can’t we be happy? God bless you. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.” Swami Satchidananda