Inner Freedom and Joy

Paramhansa Yogananda

For the unwary, the material world is an uncharted wilderness, fraught with peril. Occasional success—whether one’s own or someone else’s—lures the unpracticed hiker down countless trails of false hope. Too often, alas, the path vanishes into a desert of broken dreams. Success alternates with failure, like ridges and valleys on a mountain range.

The rules for a fruitful, happy life are not many, nor are they difficult to follow. They must, however, be studied carefully, by putting them into daily practice.

Toil and struggle are the norms of life on earth. They are blessings, not misfortunes, for they provide us with a testing ground for our own inner development. As we hone our peace of mind— its pure metal forged in meditation—on the abrasive surface of outer difficulties, we develop the clear discrimination with which to slice through to delusion’s heart. Eventually we arrive at that blessed state where the very luster of our peace protects us during all our activities.

The most important condition for lasting happiness is even-mindedness. Remain ever calmly centered in the Self, within. As a child’s sand castle disintegrates before invading waves, so does a restless mind, lacking strength of will and perseverance, succumb to the pounding it receives from the waves of changing circumstance.

A diamond, however, retains its strength and clarity no matter how many waves crash down upon it. The man of inner peace, similarly, his consciousness made crystalline by inner calmness, retains his equanimity through even the storms of mighty trials.

A good rule in life is to tell yourself simply, “Whatever comes of itself, let it come.”

Life will bring you many ups and downs. If you let your feelings rise and fall with the waves of circumstance, you will never attain that inner calmness which is the foundation of spiritual progress. Be careful, therefore, not to react emotionally. Rise above likes and dislikes.

A good rule to live by, and one that will take you sailing through many tests in life, is, under all circumstances, to remain even-minded and cheerful.

Be neither elated nor depressed at anything outside yourself. Behold the passing spectacle of life with an even mind. For life’s ups and downs are but waves on an ocean, constantly in flux. Shun emotional involvement with them, while remaining ever calm, ever happy at your inner center in the spine.

The end result of emotional extremes is extreme emotional dissatisfaction. Perfect happiness lies not at any of the extremities of outer experiences, but at a point of calmness midway between them all.

Let not your possessions possess you, nor the petty details of worldly life invade with hordes of worry the stillness of your heart.

The wave protruding from the ocean bosom is still a part of the ocean. This is God’s body. If He wants to make it well, all right. If He wants to keep it unwell, all right. It is best to remain impartial. If you have health and are attached to it, you will always be afraid of losing it. And if you are attached to good health and become ill, you will be always grieving for the good that you have lost.

Man’s greatest trouble is egoism, the consciousness of individuality. He takes everything that happens to him as affecting him, personally. Why be affected? You are not this body. You are He! Everything is Spirit.


Objective conditions are always neutral. It is how you react to them that makes them appear sad or happy.

Work on yourself: on your reactions to outer circumstances. This is the essence of yoga: to neutralize the waves of reactions in the heart. Be ever happy inside. You will never be able to change things outwardly in such a way as to make them ever pleasing to you.

Change yourself

It requires only shallow wisdom to be disillusioned with life. World-weary metaphysicians pride themselves on their ‘aloofness from it all,’ and turn up their noses at a 180-degree angle at the mere mention of anything beautiful. Granted, life is riddled with inconsistencies. Earthly fulfillments are, in fact, short lasting. Recognition of these realities is not, in itself, any proof of profundity. Nothing of value is ever attained by negativity alone.

Wisdom must be approached with a positive outlook. Why sneer at the world? Accept, rather, the pure joy you feel in outer stimuli and feed it into the soul’s joy, within. Use outer happiness as a reminder of the inner heaven. This inward absorption of sense stimuli actually increases the joy felt in outward experiences, for it reinforces joy at its true source.

Be neither elated nor depressed at anything outside yourself. Behold the passing spectacle of life with an even mind. For life’s ups and downs are but waves on an ocean, constantly in flux. Shun emotional involvement with them, while remaining ever calm, ever happy, at your inner center in the spine.

World-weariness—the meta physician’s dour alternative to emotional excitement—is inadequate as a cure for life’s sufferings, for it fosters an attitude of indifference, the progenitor of spiritual laziness.

Neither brood, then, on life’s disappointments, nor yet revel in its fleeting victories. Trust not in riches, but, on the other hand, don’t spurn contemptuously life’s generous bounty. Nurture your high, spiritual potentials, taking care only not to scatter them in worthless pursuits.


See God’s changeless beauty at the heart of change, and in every good thing. Seek, above all, that which the wise have: God-consciousness, immortality in Him. Release into the Infinite every attachment—even the least of them.

Let the world shout in outrage, or leap up and down in a hysteria of false joy. What does it matter? It is all a parade— entertaining, colorful, but for all that only a parade, passing endlessly.

Inner_Freedom_4_YoganandaBorn in India in 1893, Paramhansa Yogananda was trained from his early years to bring India’s ancient science of Self-realization to the West. In 1920, he moved to the United States to begin what was to develop into a worldwide work touching millions of lives. Americans were hungry for India’s spiritual teachings, and for the liberating techniques of yoga. In 1946, he published what has become a spiritual classic and one of the best-loved books of the 20th century, Autobiography of a Yogi. In addition, Yogananda established headquarters for a worldwide work, wrote a number of books and study courses, gave lectures to thousands in most major cities across the United States, wrote music and poetry, and trained disciples. Yogananda’s message to the West highlighted the unity of all religions, and the importance of love for God combined with scientific techniques of meditation.

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