We humans often look for happiness in all the wrong places. The salve to feeling tossed around by the presence and absence of worldly objects presents itself in the ancient philosophy of Yoga. Yoga, which is not just a technique of stretching the body but an invitation to live with internally sourced wisdom and higher awareness, explains how this everlasting joy, known as “Ananda” in Sanskrit, lives inside us. It is always within us, but our mental state in each moment determines whether we feel it or not. An over-expressed, dull, agitated or ultimately spiritually ignorant mind blocks our inner joy (or Ananda) from its true and pure expression.
Ananda is unconditional.
It is absolute happiness you can access from within your own being without regard to your outer circumstance. With just one drop of inner joy, you will be saturated with inner bliss. All your worldly desires will pale in the face of this inner fullness and wholeness.
If you pay attention, everlasting inner joy makes itself known all around us. Have you ever observed how newborns and infants are inherently joyful? No wonder they attract everyone to them without having to lift a finger. They become joy magnets! Even the most somber and worried among us begin to crack a genuine smile and become relaxed and even happy in the presence of such shamelessly joyful bite-sized beings!
Clearly the baby owns no property to be happy about. It is neither aware of any happiness-giving cars, houses, possessions, or lovers. It possesses no ambitions nor even understands its most fundamental relationships or place in the world. Yet the blast of joy that emanates from little ones is unmistakable.
Worldly happiness is ephemeral.
We can ask ourselves this simple question. Is Ananda the thrill we get when we finally possess what we have yearned to possess all along: the happiness we experience at the touch of a secret lover, or when we taste something delicious, or even smell the aroma of flowers that bloom at a special time of the year? Or is it something we bring with us and can find only inside us?
Indeed, the former, worldly happiness that you obtain via your senses is also a dimension or reflection of your inner joy. But it is ephemeral and expires quickly. It is dependent upon a pleasure-giving objects’ presence or availability in your life. Naturally, pursuing happiness in this manner will be intense and evoke pleasure. It will also be forever fleeting and temporal because no happiness-giving object in this world, even the living ones (like lovers and pets, or even ice-creams and orgasms), are everlasting. What gives you happiness in this moment may become the cause of grief or attachments in the future.
Everlasting inner joy permanent.
Ananda is your innermost nature, the essential quality of your true Self. It transcends any limitations or dependence upon presence of absence of external objects. Hypothetically, then, the presence of the cheesecake your tongue craves or the lover whose touch makes you deliriously happy can increase your quota of momentary pleasure.
With Ananda inside, those objects’ absence, explains ancient Indian wisdom, can only momentarily set you back but cannot entirely or in any real way dent your inner joy. Say you were to meditate or sit quietly with your hands on your heart and breathe deeply. Almost instant, even inexplicably, you may find that suddenly, despite your gloomy mind earlier, an inexplicable experience of inner joy emerges out of nowhere! This joy is Ananda, spontaneously emerging from within.
On the other end of life as the newborn, have you seen how the aged, who are close to death, have accepted their fate without a fight? Have you seen people who have peacefully accepted a terminal prognosis and radiate a deep, inexplicable happiness? Many people feel transformed just in the presence of one who has accepted the fact of death. This may strike you as counter intuitive. But joy is something we bring with us and take back with us – because joy lives inside us. It is always within us, even in the face of the end of the earthly lives. Our mental state or attitude in each moment determines whether or not we feel it, and that mental state is within our control.
I decode Yoga’s source texts in my newest book Sovereign Self to describe potent ways to connect with our inherently joyful inner nature. Perhaps more importantly, I uncover how we can set aside the many erroneous notions that hide our TRUE HAPPINESS from us. Everlasting Joy or Supreme Bliss comes to an awakened one. Their mind is peaceful. Their compulsive addictions for worldly pleasures become quiet through understanding. An awakened one enjoys uninterrupted contact with the joyful Self within.
In my latest book Sovereign Self, I share rarely known insights to purify the mind for union with our (hidden but ever present) everlasting joy.
Guided Practice: Decoloring Contemplation
I am happy to share a guided practice from my forthcoming book, Sovereign Self: Sit outdoors or near a window with a view of the sky. Notice any clouds, fog, play of light, birds, or objects moving across it. Observe the expansive, open, clear quality of the sky as a canvas for all these things. The sky itself is constant while the clouds, changes in light, and anything passing are temporary.
Now breathe and connect to your inner joy ANANDA. Notice that your inner everlasting joyful awareness through which the fluctuations of your mind move. Close your eyes, or keep them open if you prefer, and give yourself this autosuggestion:
I am enough unto myself. I am joyful right now. I am where I need to be. I am wholeness infinite.