Swami Kriyananda was a man of deep spiritual realization, and he also had a delightful sense of humor. His laughter helped us to understand that if God is joy, then the spiritual path should be fun, too. One of Swamiji’s favorite writers was the British humorist P. G. Wodehouse. Much to our delight, he loved to entertain his friends by reading a Wodehouse story. If you haven’t heard him read one, enjoy this video, “Unpleasantness at Bloodleigh Court.”
Sharing amusing stories was also a teaching technique that Swamiji used to drive home deeper truths and principles. One such example is a true story from the life of the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw. One evening Shaw, who was known for his dry wit, was attending a large high-society party. Apparently not interested in the social chitchat of the other guests, Shaw withdrew into a corner.
His attentive hostess, seeing him standing alone, inquired, “Aren’t you enjoying yourself, Mr. Shaw?”
“Yes, my dear,” he replied, no doubt with a wry smile. “That’s all I am enjoying.”
This witty reply actually reflects a deeper truth. Ultimately all we ever can enjoy is our own Self. Most of the time we experience life indirectly through our mind and senses. Our positive or negative responses are only reactions to the unreal world of maya, or delusion. No outward occurrence has the power, in itself, to affect us positively or negatively. It’s in our mind that we decide whether that experience makes us happy or sad.
The only thing that we can experience directly, unfiltered by the mind or the senses, is our own Self, and the nature of this Self is joy. We can find this joy in meditation when we still the mind and limit the input from the senses. There, in the quiet of our own being, we experience a joy that isn’t dependent on anything outside of ourselves — it just is.
Once awakened, this inner joy will be the filter through which we experience everything in life. Then, no matter what happens, joy will permeate our responses on some level. Swamiji once said that there is a joy appropriate to each situation. This doesn’t mean that we’ll be lighthearted if we lose a loved one or receive a serious medical diagnosis. What it does mean, however, is that no matter what happens, this inner joy will give us the understanding and strength to deal positively with the tests that inevitably will come.
Swamiji told us that he once was going through a period of great suffering in his life, and was reluctant to offer classes because he didn’t want to inflict his pain on others. Yet, to his amazement, during this time people invariably told him that what they derived from his lectures was a sense of deep joy. He came to realize that despite his suffering, there was a subterranean river of bliss flowing beneath his conscious mind — the joy of his own Self. This is what people were feeling.
So, my friend, I encourage you to keep meditating until you, too, find this hidden river of joy within yourself. As Yoganandaji once said, “Ask with all your heart, again and again: ‘Reveal Thyself!’ At last, like an invisible earthquake, He will suddenly make Himself manifest. And then you will be consciously face to face with YOURSELF at last.”
Enjoy your Self so that its bliss illumines everything in your life and drives away all darkness.
P.S. One of the most joyful people we know is Joseph Bharat Cornell, whose books on nature awareness have won awards internationally. These books, starting with Sharing Nature with Children, have helped people all over the world to experience God in nature. Deep Nature Play: A Guide to Wholeness, Aliveness, Creativity, and Inspired Learning, his latest book, is available now until Feb. 9 with a special offer of an additional six gifts. Here’s a link where you can check out Bharat’s book and the offer: https://www.crystalclarity.com/deep-nature-play/
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