In 1937 Yogananda wrote to his most advanced disciple, Rajarshi Janakananda, “I used to come home, my hair saturated with smoke and my eyes burning after luncheon talks. I felt even suffocated. One day I made up my mind, Divine Spirit was smoke and light, and I was never bothered since. Mind is everything, whichever way you train it.”
Mind is everything. What a powerful truth! It is almost as if the entire spiritual path can be reduced to this concept: The essential spiritual battle is to see that fulfillment lies within, rather than by changing outside conditions.
The world of the senses and maya (illusion) constantly tries to trick us into focusing outward, on things and circumstances. This is the lesson of the famous gambling scene in the great epic, the Mahabharata. Yudhisthira, who represents discrimination, and Shakuni, who represents material attachment, play a game of dice in which Yudhisthira loses his kingdom. With every roll of the dice, Shakuni proclaims, “Lo, I have won!” Of course he wins. He cheats! We, too, gamble with delusion, but delusion always wins. As Yogananda put it, one thing you can be certain of is that delusion never keeps it promises.
“Mind is everything, whichever way you train it.” With a puff of smoke, Yogananda gives us a universal solution to the problems in our lives.
So how can we train ourselves to be happy regardless of circumstances? Here are several ways that have worked for me, although you may well have other strategies that work for you.
1) Reframe the problem. Yogananda couldn’t change those smokey rooms, so he reframed the problem. He realized that smoke was not the real difficulty, but rather his seeing smoke as something other than Divine Spirit. As soon as he reframed the problem as one of perception rather than conditions, the battle was won.
2) Practice our techniques. There are many techniques that can help us choose to be happy in spite of what is happening. In tense moments, we can gain control of the mind by controlling our breath through regular breathing. We can use affirmations to help us turn our thoughts and reactions in a positive direction. We can focus our energy powerfully at the spiritual eye. For those who know them, both the Energization Exercises and Kriya are very powerful, even life-changing.
3) Shift to the here and now. Many problems, such as worry, judgment, or disappointment, exist only in the mind. By focusing in the present we can stop these mental tapes from cycling through their incessant repetitions.
4) Divert the mind. The first step toward reversing negative reactions is to introduce a positive flow of energy. Sometimes, the best short-term solution is just to do something fun. Take a walk in nature, have a good laugh, paint, cook, dance, or sing. It doesn’t matter what you do, only that you enjoy it. During enjoyment, you forget yourself and your problems for a little while.
The most important thing of all is to realize, I can choose! I can choose to be happy in all circumstances. I can choose to be loving regardless of how I am treated. I can choose to be calm and peaceful no matter what storms howl around me.
Joy, love, peace, calmness are all different aspects of the Divine. By choosing these, we choose to swim in the sea of Divine Spirit. Then, as Yogananda said in his great poem, “Samadhi”:
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.
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Thank you Jyotish ji.
A blessed Guru Poornima to you🙏💐
Thank you for this helpful and essential guidance. I would like to gently and respectfully note that even though one can recognize the Divine in everything, including smoke, to make things tolerable, when there is real danger, such as inhaling smoke, one has to also recognize that divinity within the physical temple requires leaving that environment. Or working to stop smoking indoors. I understand the analogy but it is exactly which leads me to the story of the yogi who went around repeating, ‘Everything is Brahma.’ As he entered another section of the trail he was on, an elephant came charging towards him and the mahoot (elephant driver) was shouting, ‘Out of the way!’ The yogi kept repeating as he watched them charge straight for him, ‘Eveyrthing is Brahma.’ but he did not move. The mahoot did his best to steer the elephant out of the yogi’s way but it still trampled the yogi’s leg. He came to a halt and lept down to help the yogi asking, ‘Why didn’t you get out of the way?” To which the yogi replied, ‘Everything is Brahama.’ And the mahoot answere,d ‘Yes. And so why didn’t you listen to Brahma telling you to get out of the way?’
We have to have subjective approach (internal recognition of the Divine interconnection) and objective adjustment (ability to adjust to objective circumstances in a way that is practical and upholds spiritual and ecological values.) This is the meaning of the Shiva yantra – the downward triangle is subjective, spiritual, internal approach and the upward triangle the objective adjustment. I give thanks to guru Anandamurtiji for this idea which I have, in my experience, found to be extremely valid. What do you think?
In peace and love Divine,
grazie con affetto Carissimi. una volta i piccioni mi disturbavano, oggi mi sembrano solo creature di Dio.
certo (pensando alla risposta di Amala), la volpe deve essere consapevole che il lupo esiste.
Buona Vita nei Maestri e in Dio
Thank you Jyotish for this wonderful reminder. Even when we’ve been on the path a long time, we still keep falling back into delusion and the belief that, “If only I did this…then everything would be alright”. Thanks again for the reminder that we need only focus on our present moment contentment, gratitude, and connection, surrendering to Divine Mother’s will.
It’s unbelievable how often I open and read an article by you or Devi or another kriyaban, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear in that moment!! I’m in awe. My endless gratitude!
Very often I read an article that I just got from you per email and it seems like it has been written for me, as an echo to the specific circumstances and moment I go through. This is very strange. You could say that what you write is general enough to accommodate many situations, but no, this speaks to me very personally and very specifically. I don’t know how to explain this, I just believe that when you pay close attention, all the answers are already there. This does not mean that we have the strength and wisdom to take them into account – it takes time, it is difficult, we struggle – but at least we can see where to go, it’s like a little light shining in the distance and that we must try not to lose sight.
Thank you for being the mediators of this wisdom which is always there even if we do not see it.
It’s a great episode of great value to everyone, enlightening, guiding and fulfilling all we need to live and remain happy for ever and ever. 🙏👌♥️🙏
Blessings Jyotish, thank you for these practical reminders that the solution is always within so we learn to raise our consciousness and grow closer to God!
Thank you, Jyotish, for this wonderful blog! How simple and to the point. The epitome of Master’s teachings and blessings for us all.
Such a welcoming message of hope and gentle guidance to start the day!
Choose Happiness is our first school rule at Living Wisdom! I will try to practice this valuable teaching! Thank you, Jyotish!
Thank you Jyotish. The Course in Miracles states “You can choose again”. The main difference between course in miracles and yoga is the belief that humanity projected the manifest world when they separated from God. The smoke that Jyotish brings up for a course in miracle student is a projection of the ego. The goal of the two systems is the same – generating “inner peace and tranquility – equanimity”.
Divine Gratitude dear soul. I will go forth in perfect faith…Namaste
Thank you so much for perfect words.
Like many of them said, it seems to be exactly for me.
Started feeling divinity everywhere and in every thing.
Thank you so much once again
When everything is perceived as the Divine’s Leela a certain peace n calm descend around us and life’s patterns all arrange themselves around us in a harmonious fluidity like the pieces if a jigsaw puzzle…
Thank you for yr guidance Divine Masters!!!
Om. All that is true. This all is working. The main thing we forget is to remember of it when troubles come.
Very good article.
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you for this wonderful blog. Very useful points and helpful suggestions to practice
I really enjoyed the “Reframing of problem”