The Glory of Contentment

Aug 13th, 2017
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When one is pure in mind, pure in speech and pure in body, there is a contentment arising from oneself. There is Santosha. It is very essential that one should be happy under any circumstance. This is very important. If a person is weighed down heavily with some grief or sorrow, and he becomes melancholy and moody, and gets into a state of weeping and crying, and is not able to sleep because of the sorrow that is eating into his vitals, how could he do any meditation? How is it possible for him to practise Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara?

Though it is well said and easily said that one has to be happy, it is not easy for people to be always happy. It is a very difficult thing. And we know very well the reason why we cannot be happy always. The world is a terrible ogress. And, hard it is to live in this world; very problematic is the situation in which we find ourselves everyday. How could we always smile, even when we are thrown into the hell or the pit of sorrow in life’s mill which grinds relentlessly? But, there is a way whereby we can keep ourselves happy. That way is to keep the goal before our eyes. Finally, in the end, in the last resort, we shall succeed. We may now appear to be suffering, sorrow-ridden, and feeling helpless in every manner, but a day must come in the life of every one of us when we must succeed. Failure is not the goal of any person. The ultimate goal of life is success only. The whole universe is moving towards a great Cosmic Success. Any individual is a part of this cosmos, and therefore, he is also moving towards the achievement of a success par excellence, though it may appear that he may have to bear the brunt of tentatively confronting sorrows, and those sorrows have to be taken in their true spirit and judged against their true worth.

“Even this will pass away”: many of us have read a poem of this kind in our younger days. A king of Persia wrote on the signet of his ring: “Even this will pass away”. It is not a mere story-poem, but a great teaching to every one of us. Even the worst of things will pass away, and no one will always be in the same condition. One may be downtrodden, and may feel about to be crushed under the weight of this grinding mill of the world. Yet, no one can be ground completely. There is something in everyone which is imperishable. All these sorrows, whatever be the intensity of them, will pass away one day or the other. Even if they are not likely to pass away in this life, they will pass away in another life. Why should anyone think that he is bound to achieve every blessed thing in this little span of physical existence which is nothing but a second, as it were, or even less than that, in the large expanse of the time process? The universe does not think as we think. Its time calculation is something very vast, and our little span of a hundred years or even less, is something which is almost a zero before the vast astronomical cosmic perspectives of time.

There is a story recounted by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in a humorous way.

Narada was passing one day by the side of a garden, and the gardener asked the sage Narada: “Master, where are you going?”
The great sage said, “I am going to Vaikuntha, the Lord’s Heaven, to have His Darshan.” “Oh! You are going to have Darshan of the Lord! Please ask Him when I shall attain liberation.” He was a gardener planting various fruit trees. Narada said, “I shall certainly ask the Lord, and when I come back, I shall let you know what His answer is.” So, Narada proceeded further and on the way, he met a farmer. The farmer put the same question: “Lord, O great sage, master, where are you going?”
The sage said, “I am going to Vaikuntha, the Lord’s abode.”

And the farmer also made a request similar to the gardener’s:
“Please ask the Lord when I shall attain liberation.” Narada gave the same reply as before: “Yes. I shall come back to you with the Lord’s answer.” So, after several days or so, Narada returned from Vaikuntha and he met this farmer. Immediately, the farmer asked very eagerly.
“Did you meet the Lord?”
“Yes, I met the Lord,” replied Narada.
“Did you ask Him about my liberation?”
“Yes, I asked.” “Did He give you the reply?”
“Yes, He gave the reply.”
“What was the reply?”
“You will take another fifty years to attain liberation.”

The farmer was very sorry to hear this. “I have been chanting God’s Name, I have been doing prayer, I have been meditating, I have been practising yoga, day and night I am absorbed in God’s thought. Still I have to wait for fifty years! What a wretched thing!” He cursed himself. Narada passed on and met the gardener. The gardener asked, “What is the reply from the Lord?” “You will take as many thousands of years to reach God as there are leaves in this tree.” And Narada pointed to a nearby tree. The gardener’s joy knew no bounds. He was so happy. He jumped in ecstasy. “So, after all, I am fit!”

His way of thinking was quite different from that of the farmer’s. The farmer cried because he had to wait for fifty years more, and this gardener was in joy, in ecstasy, was bursting with the love of God, because he got the reply from the great Master, the Supreme Being, that he was after all fit to gain salvation even if that salvation was to come after as many thousands of years as there were leaves in the nearby tree. The story goes that his ecstasy of joy was such that it burnt all his sins in an instant, and he had divine vision at that very moment, whereas that poor farmer with fifty years’ sorrows had no experience of the kind.

This is just an illustration given by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to explain the human situation in general in regard to the love of God, practice of Yoga, and the way in which one can be contented even under conditions which may appear to be very poor, unsatisfying and terrific. Truth triumphs – Satyameva jayate. And if we tread the path of truth even in a minute measure, to the extent that we do so, we are bound to succeed in this world. And if there be anyone who has a little bit of honest devotion directed to God-realisation, and the practice of yoga in its essentiality, surely he is treading the path of truth, and therefore, he is bound to succeed to that extent.

Nobody is destined to go to hell for ever and ever. Everybody is destined to reach the Supreme Absolute finally. The little sorrows, the pinpricks, the skirmishes through which we pass in life, are the effects of our previous actions. We have done something in the past, and the reactions come as thorns under our feet when we walk on the ground today. So, we should not be unnecessarily worrying over the little difficulties that we have in our life. They shall pass away, because they are reactions to our own actions. And when they exhaust themselves in their momentum, we will be free.

So, we have reason to be happy, to be content, to be satisfied. Yadrischa-labha-santushtah, as the Bhagavad Gita puts it. Let us be satisfied with whatever circumstances we are in. Let us be happy under any condition. Otherwise, we will be brooding over unnecessary things; the mind will be distracted, and we cannot concentrate. Yoga will not be for us afterwards. Inasmuch as one is a student of Yoga, contentment is necessary; one must be satisfied inside and one should not be a complaint-master. The yoga student must not complain about anything. This is another Niyama or discipline, an observance which is enjoined upon all students of Yoga, by Patanjali in his system.

About the Author Swami Krishnananda is a highly respected philosophical writer, especially on metaphysics, psychology and sociology. Swamiji’s books are known the world over as excellent presentations of answers to the daily questions that arise in the day-to-day confrontations of a human being. Swami Krishnananda was the General Secretary of The Divine Life Society from 1961 until 2001. Swami Krishnananda was a direct disciple of His Holiness Swami Sivananda, founder of this Institution. Swamiji was a rare blend of karma yoga and jnana yoga and a living example of the teachings of the Gita. He was a master of practically every system of Indian thought and Western philosophy. “Many Sankaras are rolled into one Krishnananda,” Swami Sivananda would say of him. Swamiji continued his service to the Ashram for forty years as it grew from a relatively small organisation into a spiritual institution widely known and respected throughout the world. Swami Krishnananda attained Mahasamadhi on 23 November 2001. Swamiji’s website is at http://www.swami-krishnananda.org.

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