By Swami Rama
Inner peace and happiness is a subject that concerns everyone, It concerned the ancients, and it is our concern today as well--to understand how we can be happy. We always think that people somewhere else are happier than we are, but that is not true. Everyone is restless; everyone is unhappy. And the reason is that human beings have not understood the source of happiness. No matter where you live, no matter what you have in the external world, no matter how many things you own, if you do not have peace within, you will never be happy.
To understand this, you will have to understand two things. One is called "within" and the other is called "without." Accordingly, there are two concepts for living, One is: make yourself happy in the external world, and you will be happy within. The other is: make yourself happy within, and you will reflect that happiness outside. But there is also a middle path: you can do both. You can make yourself happy in the external world through your attitude as you perform your actions and speech in that world, and at the same time you can maintain happiness within by being constantly aware of the Reality that is beyond body, mind, and senses. Actual knowledge comes when you start understanding both.
We all expect to be peaceful; we all expect to have happiness within us; and that is why we like to enjoy things. Even the smallest enjoyment comes with the hope of finding peace within. But we sometimes find that the enjoyments of the world create more turmoil than going without them would. Try to think of a single pleasure of the world that brings you lasting happiness, that brings you lasting enjoyment. You cannot. Suppose, for example, you have a watch. That gives you pleasure; but if you lose the watch, then that same watch becomes a source of pain. You depend too much on the things of the world. You think that after having this thing or that thing, after acquiring this thing or that thing, you will enjoy life and finally have peace. But it never happens. The things of the world cannot bring happiness; peace of mind does not depend on anything external, and without peace of mind you can never be happy.
So first of all let us try to see how our peace of mind is disturbed, how our mind remains in turmoil; for if we really want to understand our emotions, we can learn to be happy. There are many people in this world who enjoy life by being cheerful, by being in a state of tranquility. They maintain that state because they have learned to create a bridge between the external world and the internal world. People generally fall into one of three categories. Those in the first category do not understand the cause of their own turmoil. Those in the second category analyze the cause, but they cannot handle it, they cannot remove it. But there is a third category of people who know and understand the cause of turmoil, and who then remove it. These people remain free from inner and outer conflicts.
The Vedas, the most ancient scriptures, say that when our senses are not a source of distraction, when our mind is calm and quiet, when there is no inner turmoil and conflict, then we have attained the highest state of wisdom. Actually, the path of enlightenment is very short, but it is difficult to tread because we always expect that someone from outside will come and enlighten us. But this does not happen. Unless you are prepared to take responsibility for yourself, to understand your own inner being and your own internal states, you will not find happiness. You have to learn to do that.
Bridging the Two Worlds
Though the worlds within and without are different, they are not totally separate. So you will have to learn to create a bridge between them. If you do not know how to live in the external world you will never have happiness. You cannot, for life and relationships are one and the same. You cannot separate them. Somehow, somewhere, everyone is related to something, to someone. Even a swami is related to his practice. He has no worldly relationships, it is true, but he is concerned about his students, about their progress. We should learn to deal with these relationships. This is very important, for if we do not do that, then we are constantly blasting our inner peace. If we leave our duties, if we run away, we will still have problems because we carry our mind with us all the time no matter where we live, and the source of our problems is in our mind.
Some of you will say you have done your best in the external world, yet still you are unhappy. You should remember one thing: it is the ego that comes in the way of your relationships. For example, two people may have decided to live with each other, but most of the time they are on their own ego trips. "I want this," one says, and the other says, "I want that." That I and that want come between the two of them and create a problem. So in relationships ego stands as one of the biggest barriers. Modern egos are very strong because people do not get training in taming the ego. We all have different wants, and if we try to fulfill them without regard for others there will be conflict.
You should not expect to gain happiness from others. Everyone asks, "Do you love me?" But there is no need for doing that. You can find out within how much you love a person, and that is exactly how much that person loves you. Do not ask, "Do you love me?" That is not love, but expectation. You are expecting too much from others. Just love, and you do not have to ask the question. The whole world suffers because everybody says, "Do you love me? Do you love me?" You expect others to love you, and yet you do not love. Love does not mean expectation, love means awareness. If you are aware that in everybody's heart, deep within, there is eternity, you will love that. You will be able to say, "I love you not because of your body, senses, and mind. I love you because you are an eternal shining flame. We are like lamps, and your eternal flame is shining the same as the one in me. I love that flame." Saying "I love that flame" means that you are loving yourself when you love others. It becomes very easy. So you should learn to change your concepts, change your attitudes toward life a little bit and make it into a poem, a thing of beauty.
One of the sages I met in the Himalayas said to me, "I don't know why people are bothered so much; it is very easy to enjoy life." So I said, "What is the formula, sir?" And he said, "Life needs adjustment. Its goal is contentment, but those who do not know how to adjust--how can they attain their goal?" When you cannot adjust yourself in the external world, the whole problem lies with your inner understanding. So learn to study your inner processes, and then you will be happy.
But modern people have no time for insight. They do not want to sit calmly even for a few minutes. And if they do try, then they start thinking, and this leads to turmoil. But it is not our thinking process that creates the disturbance, that makes us petty and small. It is something called emotion. No matter how much wisdom you have, no matter how much you understand, it will not help you if you have not organized your emotional life. No amount of book learning can help you do this. Even if you know the scriptures, you cannot be happy if you have no control over your emotions. So you should learn to study where the emotions are coming from and why they are creating problems for you. You have to find the way to divert and channel these negative emotions.
One way to do this is to learn to control your attitude as you perform your actions and speech in the external world. Nobody knows how you think; people know you because of your actions and speech, and this is how you relate to the external world. So if you know how to direct your speech and actions, you can know how to live peacefully in the external world. The wound from a bullet can be cured, but the wound from a word is not that easy to heal. If someone is very harsh to you, or if someone has spoken something that you cannot forget, that wound is still there. Speech is very powerful; action is also very powerful. So only those who know how to conduct their actions and speech can be happy in the external world. Behind our actions is that which motivates us to perform them, and that force is called desire. If you are always saying, "I don't know why I did that, and I am sorry," then you are lying to yourself. You know why. Even if you do not consciously remember the reason for being compelled to do something, you still know it. Many of your actions are controlled by your unconscious mind, but any part of you that motivates you to do something is also yours, and you can learn to control it, too.
For Me, but not Mine
How do we perform actions in such a way that they do not become a source of problems for us and for others? If we learn to change our attitude, we will be happy. When we have to do something, we should find out how to do it in such a way that we are not attached to it. All the things of the world are meant for us to enjoy--but they are not ours. All of our pleasures and joys are marred when we start owning things, for if we try to possess things we become attached to them. Nothing belongs to us. That which gives us problems is our "my" business: "My house, my car, my bank, my this, my that." Wherever our my is attached, that gives us problems. We get attached to these things--and attachment brings misery--and then we cannot enjoy them.
Do you know that the words we use most the whole day, from morning to evening, are I, my, and mine? All the time we tell people, "I have done this; I am sad; I am happy; I am rich; I am poor...." Whatever we do we always use that I. But suppose someone were to say, "Well, sir, you are talking of your I all the time. Can I know what that I is?" You would have to keep silent. If someone were to say, "Is that body your I? you would say, "No, it is merely my body." So where is the I that you want to express all the time? What is that I of which you are talking all the time? Have you known that l? Where is that l? When you start studying yourself, you become aware that you have to know one thing: you have to know the I that is within you. And there is only one way of knowing it. You must ask yourself the question, "Who am I?" If you ask other people, "Who am I? What are we trying to do? What is God? What is Self? What is Self-realization?" they will think that you are crazy. But for knowing yourself and your I, you do not have to consult others. You have the power to find out for yourself.
If you put yourself in a completely dark chamber away from all light, then where are your hands? You cannot see your own palms, yet you know that they are there. What is that which tells you? Who tells you that your hands are there? Who tells you that you still exist? For knowing your own existence, you do not need any outside light. You have the capacity to find out within yourself. So first of all, you should learn to know yourself, and the ancients say there is a way to do this. If you were to ask a sage, "Who am I? Am I this body?" the sage would say, "No, you have a body, but you are not the body." "Then am I the senses?" "No, the senses are different from you." "Then am I the breath?" "No. Body, senses, and breath are not at all you." "Oh, then I think I must be the mind." "No, the mind goes through modifications--through the thinking process, through thought patterns, through analysis--it is constantly fluctuating. So you are not the mind." "Then who am I?" "You are seated behind body, senses, and mind. That which is peeping through the mind, senses, and body, that you are."
When you start understanding yourself, when you begin to cease to identify with your body, senses, and mind, then you will find that your own self is an eternal wave; your own self is a child of immortality. That which creates problems for you is your mind, because you are constantly identifying yourself with its thought patterns. You do not know, you do not think, that there can be something more, something deeper, higher, and stronger than the thinking process. You think, for example, "My husband said I am a bad woman. So, I must be a bad woman. My son also says I am bad. And my friend the other day told me I am bad. I am definitely bad." You have accepted these suggestions from outside. But you have not cared to make the effort to truly understand; you have not cared to look within. So you feel guilty, and you are suffering. This happens with everyone. You should sit down some time and think about it. Do not blame all these things on God, saying, "God made me like this, so I am like this." God made you beautiful, but you make yourself miserable. And you also have the power to make yourself happy. Both are of your own doing. You can transform your personality by understanding this.
Beyond Body, Senses, and Mind
How will you transform your personality? By being constantly aware of the Reality within, which is not body, senses, breath, or mind, but beyond that--that flame, that light, that life. Remind yourself: "I am not body, I am not senses, I am not mind--so who is there to create problems for me? This body, these senses, these thoughts have no power to create problems for me, so why am I suffering? I am suffering because of my association with the body, senses, and mind. It is all right to have them, to use them and enjoy them, but when I become attached to them and identify myself with them, I am bound to suffer." Suffering comes when you have something and you do not know how to use it. If you are aware of this, you will quickly come to realize that you have all the things you need; you simply need to learn how to use them. That is all.
So you should know the technique for using the instruments that you have. And that is, you should be constantly aware-- inside--of the Reality. "I am beyond body, senses, and mind. Who is there to make me suffer?" If you say "God," then that poor God should suffer more than we because he would be responsible for having created a whole world of suffering. If you believe that God has created such a miserable world, then there is no need for believing in God. But God has not created a miserable world; it is we who have created a miserable world for ourselves. All the miserable conditions in the world have been created by us, and we can remove them and be happy. So constantly be aware of the Reality that is beyond body, senses, and mind. And when you do your actions, think that all the things of the world are meant to be used and should be used--they should be enjoyed. But know that they are not yours. Then you will be happy. Happiness is not something that we cannot have. It is our right; it is our birthright; we are working for that; we live for that; we hope to continue to live for that.
You talk of other worlds, other dimensions, unknown things. You should not do that. You should understand the nature of the known. You are not satisfied with the things of the world, but it is the nature of the world that nothing is permanent. Everything is subject to change; everything is decaying; everything is dying. Accept this fact--and then live in the world. Do not talk. about the unknown. Do not expect the unknown to come and enlighten you; do not expect the unknown to suddenly drop in and make you happy. Make yourself happy by understanding that the light of lights is within you.
That which is called God or the Lord is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. If he is not within you, then he is not a great Lord, he is not omnipresent. If he is omniscient, then that means that the knowledge of God IS within you. And If he is omnipotent, then the Lord in his full majesty must be within you. So that which you consider to be God is within you in his full majesty. You do not know that because you rely on your body, which is subject to change. But there is something that does not change--something beyond the body, senses, and mind. It is that light, that flame, that eternity--which is within you--that does not change. It is called God within you.
So remember, you are not so miserable as you have made yourself out to be. You are God, too, and cultivating this constant awareness within you will help keep you from false attachments, from identifying yourself with your body, mind, and senses. So you must say to yourself, "Body, mind, and senses are mine, but they are not me, for I am that eternal flame which is not subject to change, death, and decay." This awareness should always be with you.
So how do you live in the external world? How do you find inner peace and happiness? By creating a bridge between the internal and external worlds, by adjusting your attitude when you perform your actions and speech, and by being constantly aware of the Reality within.
This website is devoted to sharing the teachings
of Swami Rama of the Himalayas