“The greatest of all miracles is the love of God. Through His love, He is always talking to you… You are not seeking God; God is seeking you. You are flying away from God through doubts; you are hiding from Him through material pleasure. If you do not find contentment in God, you will not find contentment anywhere.” – Paramhansa Yogananda, Praecepta Volume 6, Number 147
“Contentment is the supreme virtue,” this is said by Yudhisthira in the Mahabharata, one of the great spiritual epics of India. Master and Swamiji mention contentment often in their teachings, and explain it as the practice of cheerful, even mindedness at all times. Contentment or santosha in sanskrit, is also mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, in Ashtanga Yoga, it is one of the five niyamas, the observances of yoga, and those spiritual qualities we strive to cultivate in ourselves.
Why is contentment so important a quality for us spiritually? What does it give us? How are we affected by it? Master and Swamiji say it brings us calmness and tranquility, and “cheerful renunciation.” When you think of contentment, what comes to mind? Does it seem passive or indifferent, or self-satisfied? Contentment is completely the opposite of these states, contentment is a practice, it is a dynamic state of being that requires determination and concentration, and lots of practice. Master said we attain contentment; we are not born with it.
How then do we practice contentment? In situations that create reactions in you, whatever the reaction is, try to breathe and relax, consciously let go of tension, imagine yourself calm and tranquil. This simple practice can bring calmness because it literally resets your nervous system. Nevertheless, do keep on practicing, once or twice is not enough. Make this a new habit; try to bring serenity out of those things that used to upset you.
Our teachings suggest that we try to hold onto the effects of meditation after we finish our practice. Try to hold onto your calmness and balance a little longer each day. This is another simple but very effective way to maintain and persist with our practice of contentment.
Master in his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita describes Krishna talking to Arjuna and saying, “Ideas of cold and warmth, pleasure and pain, O son of Kunti, arise from the contact of the senses and matter. They come, fade away and are short lasting. Endure them, O Arjuna.” In sanskrit, “Tan titikshasya Arjuna.” Vedanta, also talks about this practice of titiksha, “Titiksha is the bearing with dispassion all opposites, such as pleasure and pain, heat and cold, expectation of reward or punishment, gain and loss…” the list goes on and is quite long.
Swamiji in his book Superconsciousness says, “Titiksha should become for you a basic life-attitude.” He goes on to describe resisting the temptation to acknowledge, heat, cold, pain both emotional and physical, all opposites, by affirming inwardly, “In my Self I remain eternally untouched… No outer circumstance affects who I am, inside.” Swamiji goes on to say that this practice does not make us dull or apathetic, rather we experience deep soul joy, because joy exists in the Self, and not in duality, therefore it has no neutralizing opposite.
Contentment is the manifestation of our complete trust in God. Knowing and trusting that God loves us and is working with us in every aspect of our lives. Whatever happens, God is overseeing it all, for our benefit and well-being. Thank you God, for everything.
“…Life will give you more than you ever dreamed, if only you will define prosperity anew: not as worldly gain, but as inner, divine contentment.” ― Master from How to be Happy all the Time