So I’d like to talk a little bit about happiness, our search for happiness.
We all strive for happiness in this life. But what we consider happiness varies as we age, it varies with what drives us, and our personal likes and dislikes.
Of course, as with everything, Psychologists have done studies, and they say our perception of happiness appears to change in a systematic way every 5 or 10 years. Not surprisingly, what we perceive to make us happy when we are young children is different from what we perceive to make us happy in old age.
Researchers found that what makes us happy in early childhood and teen years can be discovery and excitement, this then leads into ambition, balance and good health in the 20 to 30 year olds. Then in middle age we find happiness in more selfless activities; caring for others, friends and family. As we get older these researchers say we seek a more tranquil happiness, which comes from contentment and from being connected to others.
So if I follow this through my life, when I am first starting out I think I will be happy if only my friends will play with me, or if only I can catch and throw a ball well.
As I get older….ahhh the happiness of my first love, how amazing is that? If only that girl or boy would look at me. Then, if only I can pass these exams and get into university then I’ll be happy. Then, if only I can get that job I always wanted, but then I find it comes with a boss who makes my world a misery.
Next I’m looking to find a partner, a partner where we love each other. Then I’d be happy if only we had children. Oh no! If only the divorce goes smoothly, then I’ll be happy! And the children, I’ll be happy when they leave home. Now if only I can beat this cancer, then I’ll be happy! (I think I’m giving away too much of my life here!). Anyway, there are so many examples through each of our lives where our idea of happiness continues to change.
So these researchers and psychologists have looked into happiness, but they have only looked at temporary happiness. We know that these different experiences of happiness are only short lived. The highs and the lows of the roller coaster of life continue to be there. But if we are fortunate we generally have more ups than downs. But sadly, that is not always the case.
So these temporary experiences of happiness relate to these bodies. We identify with these bodies as the self, ourselves. Therefore we think if I can just make my body happy, my mind satisfied, I will be happy. But every spiritual path will tell us we ARE NOT these material bodies. In the ancient Vedic scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, it describes how We are SPIRIT in essence. We do not have a soul; we ARE the soul inside these bodies.
The Bhagavad Gita also describes how we are never alone, because the Supreme Soul is with us in our heart, he never leaves us. This basic truth, that we are spirit in essence, is something that is repeated in every authoritative scripture.
If we want an analogy; we are this person inside, in charge of this large robot. We have a skeleton as the structural framework, to attach muscles to move our arms and legs like levers. We have senses to send us feedback on what it’s like on the outside. We have lens we can look through to see what’s going on, and audio to hear. Also we have a computer, a brain, so everything functions in unison, and a mind that is a memory chip. We have been inside this robot for so long we start to believe we ARE the robot, not the controller and driver.
So we start to relate that we ARE this robot, so it stands to reason we then think, “If I make this robot function well, I will be happy”. So I buy the good oil to make sure my arms and legs work well. Then I satisfy all the senses, because I think if they are happy, I AM happy.
BUT….I am NOT this robot…I am the spirit soul INSIDE this body! The only way I can be truly happy, truly satisfied, is if I, me, the soul, the self, inside this body, is truly satisfied.
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘YUG’, which means to unite, join or link up. The real meaning of Yoga is the linking of the soul with the Supreme Soul. We can call this Supreme Soul by various names; the Father (as Lord Jesus did), or Abba, Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Govinda, Krsna, the Supreme Soul who is our constant and dear friend and companion.
I prefer the names Govinda, Gopala and Krsna because these names mean all attractive. They encompass all aspects and qualities of Supreme.
As I said previously, in the Bhagavad Gita it describes how the Supreme Soul, Krsna, is always with us in our heart. I just need to reconnect to him, my dearest friend. This is the ‘Yoga of Happiness’. To satisfy my true self by uniting once again with my true Father, the Lord in my heart, my dearest friend, Govinda, Gopala, Krsna.
So the aim of Yoga is to find true, lasting happiness. There are different Yoga paths; Jhana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga that help achieve this linking up to the Supreme Soul. But by far the easiest way in this age is Bhakti Yoga.
That is what we practice at the Mantra Room. This Kirtan meditation is a form of Bhakti Yoga. These sounds, these timeless sacred mantras are not just MATERIAL sounds, they are sacred SPIRITUAL sounds that are eternal. These Sacred Spiritual sounds have a direct affect on us, the self, our SPIRITUAL self.
The singing of kirtan has an amazing potency. It has a spiritual cleansing effect, gradually wiping away material pollution from the soul. It wipes away pollution that has built up over lifetimes from different desires and actions. We gradually begin to see clearly who WE are, that we ARE spiritual in essence, and see our relationship with all other living entities, and our relationship with the Supreme Soul. Gradually, over time, becoming self-realised.
When we hear these words, self-realised, we think of the great swamis from India, or we think of Yogis performing great austerity, but it is very simple. To become self-realised all we need to understand is that we are NOT these material bodies, and that we are NOT our minds. That is, we realise, ‘the self’, who WE are, our true self.
By hearing, saying or singing these mantras harmony develops from within, harmony that produces the fruit of inner peace, the fruit of happiness. So we see who we are, see the world clearly, and see other living beings for who they are, our brothers, our sisters. It’s a truly enlightening experience when we look at the world this way!
When we practice this kirtan regularly, it does not mean that we will not experience the ups and downs in this world, BUT it will mean that we will be become less affected by them. We will not be relying on worldly happiness to sustain us. Our real happiness can come from within, our relationship with The Supreme Soul, our constant dearest friend.
So the Yoga of Happiness is simple….sing kirtan and be happy!
I can understand that some may appear skeptical. How can we be happy just by singing a few mantras? Well, to those who ask this I can only say I cannot ‘prove’ this to you scientifically. There is no way I can dissect these mantras with scientific machines, and then point to you and say “Ahhh there, see, they are different, they are more than just material songs”. Because any measuring apparatus is material, and material cannot measure the spiritual.
But I can say to you. Concentrate on these words, concentrate on these sounds, sing with a little enthusiasm, see, if after that, you are more relaxed, more content within yourself. Then, feel the atmosphere around the room; see how everyone has been influenced by these mantras.
This is a genuine Yoga path that has been around for thousands and thousands of years, actually for all time. The only way you can prove to yourself if this kirtan works is to experience it yourself. The more you experience kirtan, the more you and the people around you will notice changes in you, changes for the better.
When I was in Melbourne recently I talked to a few people going to kirtans there, one was a 40 something guy who had been coming for a few months. His wife wasn’t coming along, just him. He initially came for some stress relief. After a while his wife said to him, “What have you been doing lately?” Then she said “It doesn’t matter, whatever you are doing, keep doing it!”
Even if you are not looking to change, no problem, participate in these kirtans and have fun. You will be a much happier person! What is there to lose?
There is another aspect to this subject, and that is the connection between love and happiness. But that can be expanded on another time.
If you change nothing else in your life, simply add this kirtan. You will find it the most rewarding activity you can do.
So to summarise, when people think about happiness they consider only the temporary happiness that changes as our bodies change. But REAL happiness comes from understanding our spiritual nature.
So let’s just kick back and experience some kirtan. Lets experience the Yoga of Happiness!
Thank you very much.
You can read more from Caitanya das on his blog