Paramhansa Yogananda explained that everyone in the world is driven by the same motivation: the desire to be happy and to avoid suffering. What makes life so complex is the variety of ways we chase happiness. There is a kind of Happiness Cycle that works like this:

  1. We have a desire.
  2. We act in an attempt to fulfill that desire.
  3. If we succeed, we experience a period of happiness, but that happiness inevitably wanes. If we don’t succeed, our desire is frustrated and can either flame into anger or become a vortex of subconscious longing that may cause us to reincarnate.
  4. Either way, we experience suffering.
  5. During those times that we aren’t chasing a desire, we become bored. So . . .
  6. We create another desire.
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Desire union with God.

This endless cycle governs everything from fleeting desires that are fulfilled without our even being aware of them, to lifelong yearnings that cause us to be reborn over and over again. A momentary desire might be something like scratching an itch, while a lifetime one might be seeking to become rich or powerful. Eventually, before we can achieve spiritual freedom, all desires must end and be replaced by the single desire for union with God.

So often we’re cautioned against being “worldly,” but don’t really understand what that means. It simply means that we seek our happiness “in the world,” rather than within ourselves. The more we depend on something outside us, the more we become entangled and enslaved. That is why wise men warn us to resist the three great temptations: money, sex, and intoxicants. It is not that these things are evil in themselves, but rather that they are lures of maya and can easily become compulsions or obsessions.

Can we break this cycle? Yes! But only by realizing that fulfillment lies not in things, but is a state of mind. Desires ever fed are never dead. Can we simply decide, then, to be happy all the time? In theory yes, but in practice subconscious desires and old habits hold us back.

Spiritual freedom comes when we reverse the cycle that takes us outward. Try these steps:

  1. Fill the mind with the desire for God.
  2. Meditate, do sadhana, and practice His presence as much as possible.
  3. As you feel His joy (true happiness), do your best to hold on to that experience.
  4. The more we hold on to this ever-new joy, the more we will, as Patanjali tells us, “rest in our own true Self.” In this state there is no longer any desire, boredom, or suffering.

To put it very simply: Don’t chase after happiness. BE joyful.

In joy,

Nayaswami Jyotish

12 Comments

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    1. Loyalty:
      The only way to attain salvation is to have complete loyalty to God. This dream of life will be taken away from you one day; the only thing that is real is the love of God. Nothing else; all are false dreams. Get away from them. Every minute I see how necessary that is. He has tied me to the SRF work, and so I tell Him: “”I shall work for You alone.”” Then I feel within His supreme joy.
      — PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA
      The Divine Romance

  1. Dear Divine friend Jyotish . . . thank you for your constant, loving wisdom.
    It’s just that this little self which I call me, is just so needy for love!
    I give her all sublime things!
    I give her beautiful divine music, beautiful divine paintings and poetry.
    This little self only eats healthy beautiful food,
    thinks beautiful thoughts,
    meditates in a beautiful temple . . .
    But this little self seems always seeking more and more beauty!
    I tell her, give all that you are to God and God will love you!
    This little self is like a child waiting for her mother that she thinks is earthly!
    I tell her no, not earthy . . . it’s Divine Mother you want and who will love you!
    My little self is so strong in her refusing to listen to my Soul Self,
    who already has touched God’s love in eternity.
    But I know that any moment now, the little self will give in . . . she will give in
    and find love in God.
    Jai Guru,
    Mariana

    1. Thank you dear gurubai devotee for writing this. I feel happiness, joyfulness and love in reading what Jyotish wrote. So beautiful!

  2. Dear Jyotish, Thank You ! So True And strong words Full of Love , is so easy to be catch in the spiral of this material world and as a result unhappiness ,sorrow and suffering , thanks for remind us Only God and Gurú can give us the real happiness we have to pursue …Namaste! …Light And Love

  3. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for the lovely article 🙂 Such an amazing thoughts put very simple. “Don’t chase after happiness. BE joyful.”

    God & Guru bless us to be in Divine Joy always 🙂

    Aum,
    Prem

  4. Thank you, Jyotish. How succinctly this post “cuts to the chase” of the essence of the spiritual path. Worth reading many times. . .

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