The topic of this article is specifically the joy, happiness, peace, contentment, humour, and relaxation to be found on this spiritual path.
While many of us might be more comfortable with reading about the subjects of the pain of separation, longing, tragedies of this world, or the necessity for disciplined endurance, the truth is that the teachings of the saints are about joy and hope. Joy and hope, not only when we ultimately merge back into God and the divine music, but also the happiness that can accompany us as we travel back to our spiritual home.
Maharaj Charan Singh says in Quest for Light:
Please remember there is no place for any disappointment or dejection in Sant Mat. It is a path of joy and hope. When the Lord has chosen you for eternal liberation, then what other power can keep you back for long in this creation?… The Master will see you back home. So give up all your worries and with love and devotion do your duty every day. Give time to bhajan and simran without caring as to how the mind behaves…. The Master is always with you and so is his love.
Hazur Maharaj Ji also says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, “Well, you can only break strong attachments by experiencing joy, joy from becoming one with the sound and light within.” And while we may personally know little about the laughter of God, in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Maharaj Charan Singh says:
You see, except for humans, nobody laughs. I don’t think you have seen any bird laughing, or any dog laughing, or any animal laughing! They may smile, but the privilege of laughter is given only to humans. So if we want to remain human, humour has to be there, just to help us relax.
Whether you are currently a laughing disciple or a weeping one, all human beings want joy and happiness. The English poet, Charles Williams summarizes the entire meaning of human life as the “intention of joy”.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I, Maharaj Charan Singh clearly explains this human intention for happiness, pleasure, and joy:
Mind is always seeking pleasure. And when it gets into the taste of a better pleasure, automatically its tendency becomes upward, inward. And that is the divine design by which the soul goes back to the Father.
Then the mind gets peace. Even the mind doesn’t want to live in misery; the mind also wants peace. When we are happy, it is our mind which is happy. When we are miserable, it is our mind which is miserable. The mind is seeking happiness. That is a characteristic of the mind-to seek happiness. The moment it finds a channel for happiness, it diverts to that side.
In seeking happiness, the mind is persuaded by happiness…. It wants happiness. It wants peace. It wants bliss. It is very, very miserable, being a slave of the senses.
When the soul merges into its own source, it is the most blissful and best happiness one can get.
Many people turn to the hope of spiritual happiness when worldly happiness doesn’t work for them. The secret, of course, is that happiness in the material world doesn’t work for anyone very well - or for very long. Worldly pleasure is always short lived and holds with it the potential for loss, sorrow, and pain. Maharaj Charan Singh says, “It can never be a pleasure. It’s only a question of time before it is converted to misery.” Why would he say this? In Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II, he explains further:
Without exception, everything we see is transient and perishable, and whatever little happiness we glimpse, is inevitably transformed with the passage of time into sorrow.
The Master tells us that there is only one place where we will find true joy and that is in relationship with the Lord. The achievement of happiness on a spiritual path means turning our attention away from the transitory world of pleasure and pain, which is followed by more pleasure and pain, and then followed by even more pleasure and pain. The Masters want us to move to a more joyful and stable country. Maharaj Charan Singh continues in Spiritual Discourses, Vol. II:
Just imagine if we go to a country where we have absolutely no friends or acquaintances, can we ever be happy or enjoy peace of mind? This entire world is a foreign land for each one of us, and our real home is the home of the Supreme Being, where our real self resides. We take this creation, this alien country to be our real home: we take what does not belong to us to be ours. How can we possibly attain peace and happiness in it?
If our desire is to attain joy, if what we want is lasting happiness, Hazur gives explicit instructions in the same selection:
If you wish to attain happiness, if you wish to find peace, you must return to your real home. This land is not your land, this race is not your race, this religion is not your religion. Your native land is Sach Kand, the true realm; your race is Satnam, the true Name; your religion is love for the Lord. You have come into this world as a foreigner, and now you are wandering around restlessly, never feeling quite at home.
But just in case you have reached the conclusion that joy in Sant Mat is postponed until after you reach the eye centre, or at the moment of death, or in some far off distant time when you finally become a better person, Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
You see, when you sit in meditation, whether you make any progress or not, you definitely feel bliss and peace and happiness within…. So you feel the effect of meditation before you actually see any progress within…. There is some form of contentment.
It shouldn’t surprise any disciple that the key to experiencing happiness in Sant Mat is through the meditation practice, even when it seems to be a dry and difficult meditation practice. Hazur, in the same volume, explains:
Daily attendance to meditation definitely gives you some bliss and peace and happiness within yourself. You can go through your routine of the whole day without losing your balance much if you are attending to your meditation every day…. Even if a blind man cannot admire the beauty of the flowers, definitely he can enjoy their smell, and when he’ll get eyesight, he will enjoy the beauty also.
Even if all we see is darkness within, we can remember that we are in the Master’s presence. That sweet fragrance is available in meditation, while we are doing simran or attending satsang. If the Master were to walk into your room right now, imagine the smile that would be on your face! Imagine the joy that would soar in your heart! Why? Because his happiness is contagious, unstoppable, all powerful.
The Masters share their joy with us, primarily through meditation, through the help they give us within.
All the help that we need, we always get within. We are never left alone. We are not orphaned. There’s somebody to guide us, somebody to lead us, somebody to pull us forward, somebody to push us forward within.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
With the fragrance of the divine garden from daily meditation, in the presence of one whose essence is joy, there is at least one more way that we can find happiness in the material world: doing unselfish service that pleases the Master.
The Master said recently that even he needs to do his seva, because it pleases his Master. Seva means offering our service, our gifts, our capabilities to God. We are told that nothing pleases our Master, nothing pleases the Lord more than meditation, offering our attention, and loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul. But we are also told that we are here to help one another, to love our neighbour. If we can serve others with kindness, compassion, charity, forgiveness, and generosity, we are pleasing the Master. And remembering this can perhaps make us a little happier.
Count on the Master to lovingly teach us how to become a happier person. And it is not by forced cheerfulness or fake smiles. The joy of this path is not a form of intellectual discipline or a result of a personality of unending optimism and cheer. Being happy is neither an intellectual decision, nor a preference of temperament. Maharaj Charan Singh explains that we cannot calculate happiness, manipulate it, or command it. Happiness will come naturally. He says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
For example you say: I’d like to be happy today, I’m going to smile today - no matter how miserable you may be within… If you are miserable within, your face will reflect that, your face will betray your feelings. I mean, we try to give smiling looks sometimes to people when we are miserable within. But our looks betray us. And people who are happy - even if they don’t say a word - their face betrays that they are happy, howsoever they try to become serious. This is a certain expression which you can’t conceal.
In the same volume, he gives us some hints as to how we can improve our chances for experiencing some happiness here and now.
[T]ry to learn how to laugh. You must relax from within. When there is a weight on your conscience, when something is always weighing on your heart within, you can’t laugh, you can’t relax. You can only be humorous when you’re relaxed within.
That is a state of being worth looking forward to!
The nearer we are to him, the happier we are becoming every day. The real happiness will come only when you merge back into him after meeting him face to face…. The nearer we are to the Lord, the nearer we are to our destination, the more contentment we feel within; the more bliss, the more peace, the more happiness we feel within.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
Rumi, the thirteenth-century mystic poet, asks:
Isn’t it strange, that we are being dragged out of our fiery furnaces and smoky hell and we are being dragged into the fragrance of the eternal rose garden, and all we are doing is howling and lamenting?
Rumi, as quoted in Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin
For those of us who think this path is very long, and very difficult, and that God-realization is a result of a lot of karmic pain and suffering, it is good to be reminded that we are destined for joy. We were created for bliss and peace and contentment. Even now we are coming closer to our home, and our particular story has an extraordinarily happy ending.
It is not that the material, illusionary world can’t offer us some glimpses of happiness. Here, in this world we can find some pleasure. But the moments of happiness and respite won’t last. The world is always changing: sometimes with comfort, sometimes with pain. Sometimes there is birth, sometimes death. Sometimes we are given companions, sometimes loneliness. But eventually we have to say good-bye to every person, every pleasure, every possession, and every project. That is the transient world. Our spiritual path offers the alternative. Seek that which does not change. Go within. Find the truth and the joy that will set you free.
Maharaj Charan Singh concludes in the Epilogue of Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
I think that after discussing happiness we shouldn’t discuss anything else.