the yoga of happiness

In the first verse of the Bhagavad Gita, the blessed lord Krishna said: “Although you mean well Arjuna, your sorrow is sheer delusion.” This should well be made part of daily yoga, not just in practice of asana, but in the practice of all limbs of yoga in one’s life. I, through the experience of yoga, have come to the realization that we can indeed fill ourselves with happiness.

We can wash our souls with the joy and purity that comes with a simple, spiritual life. But just as when washing the stagnant remains of decay from the belly of a grain barrel, as we fill ourselves with pure, clean love, the remnants of flotsam must rise and spew forth in order to be purged from that barrel which is our soul. Though the sorrow is clearly visible, it is impermanent. I propose that this impermanence of sorrow is what Krishna was referring to here.

We will soon talk more about the cleansing of the grain-barrel soul, but let us first clarify some terms here. Delusion is said to be an idiosyncratic belief that is maintained in spite of being contradicted by that which is generally accepted as true. Sorrow, as a noun, is defined as a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or by others. So what Krishna was saying here, in my humble understanding, is that Arjuna, despite having the best of intention, still found himself in a state of distress as a result of the delusion that there was no happiness. For only in lack of light can there be darkness, and it must be so for darkness to take up residence in one’s soul.

So now we look at happiness. By nearly every account of happiness throughout the long history of the world, it is spoken of as a lightness, or brightness of spirit. Brightening up a room with your smile, being lighthearted, the examples are endless in both modern and ancient literature. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” So again we find ourselves in the trial which first faced Arjuna. Sorrow is as impermanent as darkness. They are both transient in their nature, and don’t actually exist as a true state of consciousness. However, they do exist as a volume of energy which is held by the vessel of that consciousness.

This brings us back to the barrel analogy. In this case, the barrel is the construct of our consciousness. We will view the water flowing into the barrel as the essence of light which we choose to bring into ourselves.  The scraps of old decay and non-useful material is the darkness in our lives. We all have some of this darkness. It is often buried deeper than we realize, and only after many treatments of cleansing does it work its way loose. If you can imagine the hardened crust of years-old grime which has taken up a home on the weathered wooden walls of oak, and imagine its reluctance to release, you can apply this to your own healing.

There will, as the water washes away the spiritual creosote, inevitably be a purging of that which is dark and unsettling. In my case, this manifested itself in the bubbling up of insecurities and destructive emotions. I made some poor choices, and was washed about by the debris that came spewing forth from inside me. I had some long held darkness break loose and cause me grief in my life as it fought leaving me. I chose to keep feeding in purity though until the water cleared, and the bits of debris weren’t nearly as treacherous.

This, to me, is my Yoga of Happiness. It is not a sublime, blissful state that I strive to achieve while in meditation, but a peace with myself as the world washes around me. A comfort in the purging of old pains and the learning of a new living way are my way to salvation. Happiness is grand if we allow it. Happiness can fill our spirit with light, and force out the darkness. Happiness gets easier. Don’t let it elude you for as long as it eluded me, but even if it does, let it eventually find you and root itself deep within you. Beauty grows from beauty. Peace grows from peace. Happiness grows from happiness.

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