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Contentment Is the Supreme Virtue
March 6, 2012

swami kriyananda

Whatever comes of itself, let it come, but I am ever content in my inner heart.

—Swami Kriyananda

“When you can be happy in the present,” Paramhansa Yogananda said, “then you have God.” I experienced this truth one day after losing my way in the mountains.

It was late spring, and snow still covered the Sierra Nevada high country. While hiking back to my car, I went down the wrong side of a ridge and into unfamiliar territory.

When I realized my mistake, there wasn’t enough daylight left to retrace my steps. I didn’t have a coat so it was imperative that I get to lower elevation and warmer, snow-free ground. I knew that continuing my present course would eventually bring me to a road—if not that night, certainly by the morning.

Fortunately, in my early twenties I had learned in dramatic fashion the importance of staying centered in oneself. In Death Valley, friends and I were staying with the chief naturalist at the national park. I went for a long walk late one afternoon, going much farther than I intended. I realized that I couldn’t make it home before dark.

I wasn’t afraid, but I was embarrassed that people might have to look for me, so I began to jog back.

Twinkling lights soon appeared from the park staff’s residences; I was still miles away. Then the night enveloped me, making it impossible to see my immediate surroundings. I had traveled cross-country, so there wasn’t a trail to follow. I continued to run toward the far, distant lights.

Suddenly, the sandy, pebbly soil gave way to hard rock. I immediately stopped; solid rock, I knew, might mean a cliff ahead. Peering into the darkness, I inched forward and tossed a rock in front of me. It took the stone too long to hit the ground: a rocky precipice was just ahead.

I realized how close I had come to disaster and was glad that I’d been paying attention. After feeling and searching with my feet, I found a steep ravine and carefully made my way down the thirty-foot high cliff face.

After descending the rocky precipice—and breathing a sigh of relief—I had a revelation: I couldn’t afford to worry about inconveniencing others. I needed to concentrate completely on my current surroundings and situation. Once I become clear on this, the rest of the trip was uneventful.

Now, descending the unknown ridge in the Sierra Nevada, I drew on my previous experience in Death Valley and felt completely relaxed. I realized that I might have some challenges ahead and may be bivouacking for the night. I focused my mind on God and offered myself into His hands. Knowing that fear and imagination often cause unwise decisions, I was determined to remain calm and centered in the presence of God. As I did so, I found my walk becoming more and more joyful, even though the daylight was nearly gone and the outcome uncertain.

Well after sundown I reached a large lake and began walking along its shore. When it was almost dark, I saw in the distance two men fishing from a boat. I wanted to ask them where I was but since yelling such a long way would disturb my inner peace, I kept on walking, feeling God’s presence, which was only thing that seemed important.

When I came to a small cove, I saw another a fishermen on the far bank. Now I was able to ask him in a calm, normal voice the name of the lake. “Spaulding,” he replied, as he and his other fisherman friends walked away. I was familiar with this lake; I now knew where I was.

Minutes later, as I cautiously made my way in the dark, I heard one of the fisherman ask, “Why don’t you know the name of the lake?” To his direct question, I calmly explained how I had come to the lake by mistake. The man exclaimed, “But your car is twelve miles away, and it’s nighttime! We’ll drive you there.”

My fisherman’s friends disagreed with this plan, and I couldn’t blame them. I was feeling so free and blissful inside that I didn’t want the night to end. I sat in the backseat of their car, comfortably letting things unfold, as they discussed quite energetically whether to drive me or not. I was totally fine with whatever they decided.

My friend and advocate eventually convinced his friends to drive me to my car. While driving my own car home that night, I felt deeply grateful to God for helping me experience the joy of accepting life’s circumstances and not allowing time-consciousness to destroy my serenity.

Thoughts on Contentment and the Eternal Now by Swami Kriyananda

  • The more non-attached you can be in yourself the freer you will find yourself to be. The more you completely accept the present, the more energy will be released for you to enjoy the present.
  • How much is lost in life by people who perennially wish things other than they are! Who complain unceasingly, and tell themselves that the world owes them more than it is giving them!
  • Only by living properly right now, at the changeless center of the moment, can we arrive at that point where we exercise complete control over our lives.
  • Contentment has been said to be the supreme virtue. Contents means living behind the present moment.
  • In God, no time exists; there is only now. The illusion of space and time is produced by movements of thought [restlessness]. Without movement, Absolute Consciousness alone would remain.

Paramhansa Yogananda, in his poem Samadhi, stated:

Present, past, future: no more for me, but ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere!

Through stillness we experience our unity with creation. The following simple nature meditation can help you unite more with the life and beauty around you.

Nature and Me Meditation

Dear friend: Please share with us a practice that helps you live joyfully absorbed in the eternal present.

May you always live and rest in the Eternal Now.

In divine joy,
Nayaswami Bharat

 

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22 Responses

  1. ashis biswas says:

    Excellent piece ! Articles like these remind us of the real value of the advantages we already enjoy , but rarely appreciate because we are not conscious enough ! Many thanks to the writer.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I draw strength from Yogananda’s words “…I will receive what I need at the time that I need it.”

  3. Paula Jones says:

    Two things especially were received from your article. First is the incredible life and beauty all around us that we miss by not being still enough to see then.
    Secondly, the natural emotion of missing one’s children can cause one to jump to the conclusion that they do not even care.Thanks for the words that ‘fear and imagination often cause unwise decisions Determine to remain calm and centered in the presence of God’. Rather than wish relationships were other than they are and overreact, the parent can simply rest in the presence of the Lord. One day or one year, grown children may begin to notice that growing serenity within us, which will speak louder than a thousand words.Thank-you! Paula

  4. Chantal says:

    When I am most blissful, I find it is because I find the beauty and oneness in everyone and everything. This has become the way of life for me and I am happier and more fulfilled than ever.

  5. Terry Strom says:

    Dear Bharat,
    Yours is a wonderful story and similar to my experience alone in the Shasta mountains when I ran out of water after a long day of hiking in the sun. Daylight was descending and I didn’t know how much further I needed to go to reach a lake where I could camp. Panic descended and I unknowlingly passed a small creek. The thunder of discontent in my head was so loud I did not hear the small trickle of the water. I stopped and curled up in a sleeping bag on the ground, seriously dehydrated. At daybreak I walked twenty yards back the way I came and discovered the quiet little stream. And I saw that I had given my contentment and success away right when God had provided what I had needed. If I had stayed centered without noise in my head I certainly would have heard the water. It taught me to be present in the moment. It was such a good laugh on me!

    • Bharat says:

      Dear Terry,

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful story how God is always taking care of us. It is a good reminder that we just have to pay attention and have more calm faith in Him!

      Blessings, bharat

  6. Eva says:

    Very nice article

  7. Econolodge Dumfries VA says:

    Well written for Past, Present, and Future

  8. Janice Freebern says:

    Blessings to you Bharat!

    What a beautifully inspired writing. So many deep truths… Thank you so much for sharing..

    p.s. just finished watching your Sunday Service from Palo Alto;. Your message, smile & laughter are such a gift to all:)

    Joy,
    Janice

  9. Priya says:

    Dear Bharat,
    Your story illustrates the point so well. . . practicing the presence and then trusting. Thank you!

  10. James Swafford says:

    I have been in a few situations like that but I wasn’t as centered as you were. However, I believe my trust in God led me to safety. Thank you for posting this article.

  11. Raaj says:

    Thank you for sharing this life experience of yours. I am currently in a similar situation and by reading this I just want to focus on god now and let things happen admit should. Keep myself and the surrounding in peace.

  12. AK Tiwari says:

    The importance of staying composed is amply brought out.
    Its all God’s will and He knows far better than me.

  13. Diana Barrett says:

    I remember Swami Kriyananda saying he would not compromise his inner peace for anything (forgive my wording, it’s the meaning I’m trying to convey). When you wrote that you were too far from the fishermen to (keep from yelling-) I so connected. I am so grateful for this insight!!! Thank you Bharat! I am a parent of 2 young teens, drawn out to a noisy world moving competitively in fast forward. I will hold fast to this mental picture of walking in contentment and ease until I reach the spot where I can communicate calmly and without strain. This so simplifies my life to easily identified states- worry/calm, hurried/relaxed, strained/peaceful, frustrated/content. Thank you so much!

  14. Raj Loomba says:

    The happening in the life of Yogananda Ji is so moving and so much to learn from. It is a priceless gift to mankind. If I can live in present time and remember HIM at the same time, I shall be one.

  15. lakshmi says:

    very interesting. i realized how important is the present.this is the eye opener for people like me who always worry about feature. thank u for sharing such a great experiance.

  16. Vikas Dixit says:

    Now is the Eternity and is beyond the realm of time.

  17. Lokesh Joy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful experience and beautiful thoughts, dear Nayaswami Bharat ji!

    God Bless You!

  18. niru says:

    (rare) are the days when i don’t find inspiration on this website, its the daily dose of sun i need to keep my energy and spirits high!!

    wonderful article, thank you.

  19. FRANCO & JAEJE CORONA + says:

    Thanks for the course … Also commencing Meditation-Hong-Sau course on 26th April … With Thanks, — FRCJJY +

  20. M says:

    beautiful article, and the points on contentment and now by swamiji bring instant peace to your heart.

    jai guru

  21. leslie degeorge says:

    I love the photo in this meditation (Nature and Me). Can you tell me where I could copy it from to use on my desktop as a screensaver, please ?
    Thank you !

 
Nayaswami Bharat

Nayaswami Bharat

Director of Meditation Support

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