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How to Find Happiness

"It amuses me to hear Americans scoff at superstitions of all kinds, when they themselves are steeped in the greatest superstition of all..."

india Updated: Feb 26, 2004 12:07 IST
Swami Kriyananda
Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda is a direct disciple since 1948 of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi. He is the founder of Ananda Sangha, and of seven Ananda communities in America and Europe. Now 78, he has moved to India to make his Guru’s teachings known in the land of his birth: to teach the liberating meditation technique of Kriya Yoga, and to establish communities where householders and renunciates alike can seek God in the company of fellow devotees.

There is a classic, and well-known, story of a farmer whose donkey refused to pull a heavy cart for him. He solved the problem by tying a stick to the donkey's head, then dangling a carrot from the end of the stick.

The donkey strained energetically, but forever ineffectually, to reach that carrot. It didn't notice the cart dragging along behind it, with its heavy burden.

How much the majority of people resemble that donkey as they strain to reach their "carrot" of happiness! The carrot can never be reached through their senses. Happiness is a state of mind, not a thing.

An Indian friend of mine commented to me many years ago in San Francisco, "It amuses me to hear Americans scoff at superstitions of all kinds, when they themselves are steeped in the greatest superstition of all. I cannot imagine a greater one than this: the thought that happiness, which is a state of mind, exists in inanimate objects!"

People strain to reach the unattainable, all the while dragging along behind them a cartload of cares and worries! The way to find happiness is astonishingly simple. It is this: to be happy!

There is a story from Maine, one of the American states, of a town "grouch." Every town has one-not only one, of course, but often there is one person known particularly for his sour temper, and his inability to enjoy anything.

This man complained when a dog crossed his lawn; shouted when a child approached too close to his flower beds; grumbled at the neighbours who spoke or played the radio too loudly; protested if the train that bore him to work was late; quibbled over every slight detail with his fellow workers at the office - and finally, so one imagines, snarled at the news he heard on the radio after returning home in the evening, before he tumbled into bed and had nightmares!

Well, one day after years of this grouchy attitude, this same fellow came bounding out of his home in the morning, waved cheerily at a few passing school children, wished his neighbours a very good morning, was a ray of sunshine all day at the office, and actually phoned someone to share a piece of good news he'd just heard on the radio in the evening!

His fellow townsfolk observed this change in his behaviour for a week, marveling at it. Finally they could stand the suspense no longer. A group visited him and asked, "What on earth has come over you?"

"It's quite simple," the erstwhile "grouch" replied. "For years I kept waiting for something to make me happy. Finally I concluded that nothing ever would. So I made up my mind to be happy anyway!"

Happiness is self-generated. It depends on one's attitude of mind. The basis of happiness, moreover, is the simple fact that the deepest reality of our own nature is Satchidanandam: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy, as my Gurudeva put it in his refreshing refinement of the classic expression of Adi Swami Shankaracharya. You have bliss already. So why not determine, from today, to live in bliss?

Swami Kriyananda's programme appears at 2200 hours IST on the Sadhna Channel. (For more,

First Published: Feb 19, 2004 12:12 IST