Paramahansa Yogananda
The Secret of Life (1)

 

Enjoy Living

Whatever I do,
wherever I go,
I enjoy myself.

So the way to true happiness is to do your best in the role in which God has placed you, without creating further desires. Then you can be a king within, no matter what your outer conditions.

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The satisfaction of love is not in the feeling itself, but in the joy that feeling brings. Love gives joy. We love love because it gives us such intoxicating happiness. So love is not the ultimate; the ultimate is bliss. God is Sat-Chit-Ananda, ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss. We, as soul, are individualized Sat-Chit-Ananda.

"From Joy we have come,
in Joy we live and have our being, and
in that sacred Joy we will one day melt again."
(Taittiriya Upanishads 3:6:1)

All the divine emotions—love, compassion, courage, self-sacrifice, humility— would be meaningless without joy. Joy means exhilaration, an expression of the ultimate Bliss. (dr)

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The kingdom of God is not in the clouds, in some designated point of space; it is right behind the darkness that you perceive with closed eyes. God is Consciousness; God is absolute Existence; God is ever new Joy. This Joy is omnipresent. Feel your oneness with that Joy. It resides within you; and it encompasses infinity. Beyond the gross vibratory boundaries of matter, the Immutable Infinite reigns in all His majesty and vastness. Endlessness—that is the kingdom of God; conscious Bliss, eternal and boundless. When your soul has expanded and feels its presence everywhere, then you are united with Spirit. (jt)

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Material objects that give pleasure remain outside the mind. They, and the gratification they give, gain entry into the mind only through imagination. Joy, by its very nature - being the blissful consciousness of Spirit in man's soul - lives closest to the mind, and is born in it when the mind is inwardly tuned. When external objects of sense pleasure are destroyed, the happiness they give is destroyed with them. But the ever new joy of God inherent in the soul is indestructible. (dr)

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I am here to tell you that the very joy you are seeking in sex, money wine, love, fame—that joy is within yourself. You don't have to go elsewhere. (me)

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Just as the pianist is always thinking of music, so the lover of God is always thinking of Him. A divine joy feeds the brain, the heart, and the soul. That joy is God; He is ever new Joy. I remember when Master [Swami Sri Yukteswar] said to me: "If the whole world were given to you, you would grow tired of it. No power or miracles can compare with the joy that is God. That perennial happiness is what everyone is seeking. God is ever new joy unto eternity. If you have that joy, it will never grow stale." From that day, that joy has never left me. (dr)

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When you sit in the silence of deep meditation, joy bubbles up from within, roused by no outer stimulus. The joy of meditation is overwhelming. Those who have not gone into the silence of true meditation do not know what real joy is. (dr)

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The aftereffects of Kriya bring with them the utmost peace and bliss. The joy that comes with Kriya is greater than the joys of all pleasurable physical sensations put together. (me)

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If you find true joy in this life, you will have it now and in the afterlife too. Which do you want: God’s eternal bliss, which may be yours by denying yourself a few pleasures now? Or worldly happiness now, which will not last? (me)

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That consciousness of God-peace is never-ending. It is the real state of happiness. Everything else will fail you. Nothing else can make you happy because only the joy of His presence is real. (me)

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When the soul is identified with Spirit, it feels itself as one with the Joy of limitless space; when the soul, as ego, limits itself to a particular body, it is pitiably "cribbed, cabined, and confined." The soul, identified with the body, loses its consciousness of omnipresence and becomes identified with the trials and misfortunes of a small ego. (bg)

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The Lord wants us to escape this delusive world. He cries for us, for He knows how hard it is for us to gain His deliverance. But you have only to remember that you are His child. Don't pity yourself. You are loved just as much by God as are Jesus and Krishna. You must seek His love, for it encompasses eternal freedom, endless joy, and immortality. Experiencing the bliss of God, you see that there is no such thing as time, and know you shall never die. (dr)

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Forgetting time and space, let all of us expand the consciousness of our being. Be filled with peace and joy. Joy is the proof of the presence of God. As you go on meditating a deep joy will come over your soul. Feel that joy. Feel expanded in the spirit of Christ. (jt)

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In the Bhagavad Gita the Lord says:

I am the Source of everything; from Me all creation emerges. With this realization the wise, awestricken, adore Me. Their thoughts fully on Me, their beings surrendered to Me, enlightening one another, proclaiming Me always, My devotees are contented and joyful.
—The Bhagavad Gita X:8-9

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Finding the Joy in Life

… Even if life gave you at one time everything you wanted— wealth, power, friends — after a while you would again become dissatisfied and need something more. But there is one thing that can never become stale to you—joy itself.

In all your seeking among different things, directly or indirectly, you are in reality seeking happiness through the fulfillment of your desires. …

Then why not seek joy directly? Why seek it through the intermediary of material pleasures and objects?

When you supplicate the favor of short-lasting material things, your happiness depends on their short-lasting pleasures.

Material objects and the satisfaction of material desires are temporal; therefore all happiness deriving from them is temporal. Eating, smelling fragrances, listening to music, beholding beautiful objects, touching pleasing things—these are evanescent pleasures, lasting only as long as the sensations of tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing, and touching last, or until the mind becomes bored with a sensation and is tempted by a new stimulus.

You do not want a transitory joy that leaves sorrow in its trail when it vanishes. You crave joy that is not merely tantalizing, disappearing like the sudden flicker of gossamer wings beneath a flash of lightning. You should look for joy that will shine forever steadily, like the ever luminous radium. …

Happiness that comes by fits and starts is only tantalizing; pleasures that become monotonous are tiresome; mirth that lasts just a little while and brings sorrow in the end is undesirable; joy that comes momentarily and then flits away, sinking you in a state of deepening indifference by contrast, is torturing.

Joy that rhythmically changes all the time and yet in itself remains unchangeable, like an actor who entertains with different roles and poses, is what all of us are seeking. Such joy can be found only through regular, deep meditation. …

God is everlasting, ever new Joy,
and when you have found Him, you need no longer pursue the eternally elusive will-o'-the-wisp "something else" that has always eluded you in all fulfilled desires.
God is that "something else." Finding Him, you will need seek no further. In ever new Joy,
you will have everything you ever sought.

Material objects that give pleasure remain outside the mind. They, and the gratification they give, gain entry into the mind only through imagination. Joy, by its very nature—being the blissful consciousness of Spirit in man's soul—lives closest to the mind, and is born in it when the mind is inwardly tuned. When external objects of sense pleasure are destroyed, the happiness they give is destroyed with them. But the ever new joy of God inherent in the soul is indestructible. So also, its expression in the mind can never be destroyed if one knows how to hold on to it, and if he does not deliberately change his mind and become sorrowful by nurturing moods.

So do not seek fulfillment through material mediums, or through desires born of such contact.

Seek the unconditioned, indestructible pure Bliss
within yourself, and you will have found
the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Joy — God.

Unlike material pleasures, this joy is not an abstract quality of mind; it is the conscious, self-born, self-expressing quality of Spirit. Seek it and be comforted forever.

When you have attained this ever new joy, you will never become a cynic, hating the world and condemning its human inhabitants. Rather, you will then be in a position to appreciate God's creation rightly. As His immortal child, you are supposed to enjoy the good and the beauty of His handiwork with the lasting blissful attitude of your eternal nature, which is perpetual joy. But people who delight in material things without knowing the superlative inner joy of God become materialistically minded. It is a disgrace to behave like a discontented mortal, chasing one desire after another, when you are made in God's immortal image of all-desire-quenching ever new joy.

When immortals behave like mortals, they experience the alternations of pleasure, sorrow, and indifference in their natures. That is why you must destroy this changeable nature grafted to your unchangeable, immortal nature. When you have found your true soul-nature of everlasting joy, that indestructible bliss will remain with you throughout all experiences of life, whether they be pleasant or disagreeable.

Your joy will stand unshaken amidst
the crash of breaking earthly pleasures.
You will enjoy everything with the Joy that is God.

"Unattracted to the sensory world, the yogi experiences the ever new Joy of Being, His soul engaged in the union with Spirit, he attains indestructible Bliss."* [* Bhagavad Gita V:21] (dr)

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View Life as Entertainment

If God had not created the triple qualities* that pleasurably and excitingly and painfully affect man, His cosmic-dream play would be meaningless.

* Triple Qualities (gunas):

— sattva (good, truth, purity, spirituality)
— rajas (activity, the activating quality)
— tamas (evil, ignorance or inertia)

By these triune influences He tests His children; and by such tests guides them in the right use of their free choice that, after manfully and successfully playing in the dream-drama, they might find their way back to Him. He created this cosmic-dream play to entertain Himself and His children. He never meant for it to hurt His offspring. They injure themselves by not properly playing their parts. If they enact their roles intelligently, they will find happiness in this life and eternal bliss in the great hereafter.

Know thou that all manifestations of sattva (good), rajas (activity), and tamas (evil) emanate from Me. Though they are in Me, I am not in them.
— The Bhagavad Gita VII:12

The ultimate message of this stanza of the Bhagavad Gita is that man, made in the image of God, must learn to be transcendent like his Maker.

The triple qualities of cosmic delusion, and the cosmic dream tinged with those entangling attributes, all proceed from God; but as He remains unaffected by them, so man may learn, through constant yoga communion with God,

how to remain uninvolved in maya and

how to view the panorama of life's experiences as sheer entertainment.

beam of ligthAll good and evil dream-pictures are projected by the cosmic motion-picture beam. Yet these illusory dream-pictures, made manifest by God's light, do not reveal His essentiality. They cannot exist without the underlying beam of Cosmic Consciousness, but Spirit remains ever changeless beyond the flux of phenomena.

A man may dream good, worldly, and evil dreams, yet discover on waking that his consciousness is unaffected by them. Similarly, a yogi on waking in cosmic consciousness finds that God's dream of creation, through the action of the Lord's own power of cosmic delusion (maya), produces myriads of good, worldly, and evil men without any involvement of Himself in the triple attributes of Nature.

Though the cosmic dream does not condition the transcendental consciousness of the Lord, the divine Dreamer, yet what of man? The cosmic display of the triple qualities undeniably affects him on whom this dream is imposed. Why does the Lord thus test man?

The answer is:

God knows how to remain unaffected while participating in this cosmic dream that is tainted with the binding attributes; and because He made man in His image, He expects him to use his discrimination and
to play his part in this cosmic dream of good and evil without being inwardly affected by it.

When God created the mayic dream of entangling attributes, He hoped that man would use his divine free choice to resist the insidious evil influences. Through the storm of cosmic delusion, the Lord created soul-waves in order that He might play with them. (Chapter VII)

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See Reality as It Is

This world of mortal beings does not perceive Me, unchangeable and beyond all qualities, because they are deluded by the triple modes* of Nature.
— The Bhagavad Gita VII:13

* "good, activity, evil" — gunas: sattva, rajas, tamas.

Emotional moviegoers are too intent on beholding motion pictures to notice overhead the picture-causing beam.

beam of maya

Similarly,
worldly men are too deeply engrossed
in God's dream pictures of life
to perceive His taintless omnipresent Beam
that is the sole Creator,
the only Doer.

As a dreamer engaged in viewing his dream of good and evil experiences cannot capture the consciousness of his wakeful state, free from the excitation of dreams, so

the people of the world are so much engrossed in viewing and participating in the triply affecting cosmic dream that they fail to observe it,
with unattachment, as a divine spectacle.

The cosmic-dream delusion is imposed like a hypnotic spell on men from their birth; they remain unaware of its insidiousness. If God made His supreme blessedness evident to all men (as He does to the tested and victorious supermen), they would not be influenced by the lesser lures of the senses. God, the perfect ever-new unending Bliss, is the greatest temptation to the soul of man. Therefore He tests His children first with inferior temptations of the senses; when man has rejected those in a proper spirit of wisdom, the superior divine treasures are revealed to him.

The secret of the cosmic game is that
God hides His surprise,
His bliss,
behind the temptations of the world.

He knows that man—made in His image, with supreme joy hidden within him—will not forever wallow in the mud of the senses. Disillusioned by unsatisfying sense pleasures, man is haunted by the memory of his lost soul peace. Harmed by the poisoned honey of pleasures, he ultimately seeks the pure divine nectar. God's game of hide-and-seek with His sons in this cosmic dream would be pointless if He had not made it hazardous with pain and pleasure. He blindfolded men with ignorance and hid His perfect Face. The surprise goal to be achieved by His children, one by one, is consciousness of identity with Him. (Chapter VII)

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References:
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines