Summer is a tranquil time of the year at the Yoga Retreat. Our warm, crystalline Bahamian waters are often glassy calm, an invitation to swimming, snorkeling and long beach walks. As always, the ashram offers many opportunities for healing, self-improvement and deep sadhana through the practice of yoga, meditation, kirtan and numerous special courses and workshops. This month, in celebration of Guru Purnima and Swami Sivanananda's Mahasamadhi, we share with you some inspiring words from Swami Sivananda on happiness, and a short story about Swami Vishnudevananda from Sambasiva. We hope to see you in Paradise soon!
Om Shanti, Om Peace,
Staff of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
“In Him only you will find lasting happiness and perennial joy.”
Swami Sivananda on the Source of Happiness
There is no happiness at all in any of the objects of the world. There is not an iota of happiness in objects, because they are insentient. Even the sensual pleasure is a reflection of the Atmic bliss only. It is sheer ignorance to think that we derive any pleasure from the sense-objects or from the mind.
When there is a desire in the mind, the mind is filled with Rajas. It is in an agitated condition. It is restless and unpeaceful. It will be restless till the desired object is attained. When the object is attained and enjoyed, when the desire is gratified, the mind moves toward the Inner Soul. It ceases functioning. It is filled with Sattva. All thoughts subside for a split second; the mind rests in the Soul within. The Soul's bliss is reflected in the intellect. But the ignorant man thinks that he is getting the happiness from the object; just as the dog which is biting a dry bone imagines that it is getting the pleasure from the bone, that the blood is oozing from the bone, whereas in reality, the blood comes from its own palate.
Real Happiness Is Within
Real happiness is within you. It is in the Atman. It is subjective. It manifests when the mind is concentrated. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from the objects outside, when the mind is one-pointed, when there is Vasana-kshaya and Manonasa, when you become desireless and thoughtless, Atmic bliss begins to dawn, spritual Ananda begins to thrill.
Sensual Pleasure and Spiritual Bliss
Spiritual bliss is the highest bliss. Spiritual bliss is bliss of one's own Soul. It is transcendental bliss. It is independent of objects. It is continuous, uniform, and eternal. It is enjoyed by the sage only.
Sensual pleasure comes out of emotion. But bliss of the Soul is self-delight. It is the innate nature of the Atman. Pleasure is temporary and fleeting. Bliss is eternal and everlasting. Pleasure is mixed with pain. Bliss is unalloyed happiness. Pleasure depends upon nerves, mind, and objects. Bliss is independent and self-existent. There is effort in attaining sensual pleasures, but there is no striving in experiencing the bliss of the Soul. The drop joins the ocean. The Jiva floats in the ocean of bliss.
Though surrounded by pleasurable or painful objects to disturb your equilibrium of mind, remain immovable as a rock, receiving all things with equanimity. Be always cheerful. Laugh and smile. How can a mind that is gloomy and dull think of God? Try to be happy always. Happiness is your very nature. This is termed cheerfulness. This spirit of cheerfulness must be cultivated by all aspirants.
Keep the mind in a state of moderation or happy, golden mean. Never let it run to excesses. People die of shock from extreme depression as well as from extreme joy. Do not allow Uddharsha to crop up in the mind. It is excessive merriment. Mind always runs to extremes, either to extreme depression or extreme joy. Extremes meet. Extremes bring about reaction. Mind can never be calm in excessive joy. Let the mind be cheerful, but calm.
This world is a mere appearance. Mind and the senses are deceiving you every moment. You have mistaken pain for pleasure. There is not even an iota of happiness in this sense-universe. Abandon these selfish struggles and schemes for amassing wealth. March directly to that wire-puller who is moving these toys of fleshy human bodies, who is keeping up this big show, who is behind this show. In Him only you will find lasting happiness and perennial joy. Merge in Him by practicing daily meditation and Japa.
Excerpted from Bliss Divine, a collection of Swami Sivananda's writings.
Tangled Up In Orange, by Sambasiva
One day after a satsang with Swami Vishnu on how to become a swami I was daydreaming on a bench, thinking how much I love yoga and that I wanted to become a swami. I visualized myself as a swami with lovely ladies washing my feet, fanning me with ostrich feathers, dripping gold leaf on my head and just so much adulation from all these beautiful women. I was immediately disgusted with my carnal impressions and embarrassed at my own thinking and I realized on the spot that I was not swami material, what a shallow person I was, and if I was to become a swami what a phony I would be. I also thought that it's a good thing nobody can read my thoughts as this would be very humiliating for people to see just how shallow I was.
As I snapped out of my daydream, realizing just how silly and shallow I really was, I looked to my left and who was sitting next to me shaking his head side to side, with a scowl on his face? It was no other than Swami Vishnu himself. I was so shocked and of all the people to be there next to me reading my most intimate thoughts ... he looked at me and said, “Sambasiva, you can't wear my clothes so don't even try or think about it.” He then said, “You can be a good yoga teacher though, and you can teach yoga after work at the YMCA, can't you?” I replied, “Yes Swamiji, I can do that.” He said, “That's all I want you to do,” as he touched my shoulder with his hand very lovingly. He then said, “Stay here as along as you can, learn as much as you can, and share everything you learned with all those you meet.” He stood up and walked away.
After my stay at the ashram of several months, I found myself teaching yoga at the YMCA after work and I thought of how Swamiji knew more about my future than I did, as I was doing just as he had predicted. I always remembered him saying how I couldn't wear his clothes and not to try, this was such a relief and I feel he set me free of any guilt I may have had for thinking my shallow thoughts on that bench that day. Swamiji knew just what to say and to this day I really love and admire his greatness and his ability to say just what each individual needed at the time.
Sambasiva works as staff at the Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas and at the Yoga Ranch in New York state, teaching asana, baking bread and chanting Om Namo Narayanaya with his guitar before Satsang every evening, among other things.
First May TTC and Theta Healing Courses
We had about 40 students graduate from our most recent Teachers Training Course (our fifth TTC this season!), which was offered at the ashram in May for the first time and was very successful. We also had many students from all over the world come for Vianna Stibal's Theta Healing courses, including a group of students from Japan (who had full simultaneous translation to Japanese and special yoga classes in Japanese). We are looking forward to offering these programs again next year.
Full program and new A/C for meditation room
With a full June program, our many guests enjoyed inspiring talks on Energy Healing, Homeopathy, Yoga Therapy, the conquest of fear and the inspiring teachings of the Viveka Chudamani, with perfect beach weather throughout the month. A new air conditioner was installed in the meditation room, allowing guests and staff to enjoy satsangs and yoga classes in the well-cooled and welcoming environment.
Birth of a Baby Boutique
The Bala Boutique (a new “mini boutique” by reception which has a Baby Krishna theme) recently celebrated its grand opening and is now open for the summer months. It features selected books and CDs as well as cold drinks and snacks.