Your desire to be happy must include others’ happiness.
When we serve others, we serve ourselves. Do not think, “I will help others”—think rather, “I will help my own, my world, because I cannot otherwise be happy.”
The law of life is designed to teach us how to live in harmony with objective Nature and with our true, inner nature.
If you touch your fingers to a hot stove, they will be burned. The pain you feel will be a warning, put there by Nature to protect you from injuring your body.
And if you treat others unkindly, you will receive unkindness in return, both from others and from life. Your own heart, moreover, will grow shriveled and dry. Thus does Nature warn people that by unkindness they do violence to their attunement with the inner Self.
When we know what the law is and conduct ourselves accordingly, we live in lasting happiness, good health, and perfect harmony with ourselves and with all life.
A few years ago, I had a fine musical instrument, an esraj from India. I loved to play devotional music on it. But a visitor one day admired it. Unhesitatingly I gave it to him. Years later someone asked me, “Weren’t you just a little sorry?” “Never for a moment!” I replied. Sharing one’s happiness with others only expands one’s own happiness.
A lover and beloved can find happiness in each other if they live simple lives, not burdening their existence with opulence, artificiality, and hard-driving ambition.
When two selfish individuals become formally united in matrimony, they will still be separated mentally as long as each of them is walled in by self-love. Locked in prison cells of selfishness, they never achieve happiness and harmony together. In loving, not in being loved, lies the key that will unlock the doors of their hearts and bring them wedded happiness.
Self-love is self-confining. When couples learn to expand their sympathies, and give up limiting them to themselves—whether individually, or to themselves as a couple or a family—they may transform their relationship, and the emotional disharmony that selfishness has produced, into a relationship of selfless, divine love.
Selfless love is the key. Couples that at first defined their relationship in terms of “me and thee,” later, with the growth of understanding, learn to think united. Human love, thus, can expand into the love of God.
Without God, human love is never perfect. No marriage is truly fruitful without the “secret ingredient” of divine love. Earthly love that reaches not past the beloved to embrace divinity is not real love at all. It is ego-worship, selfish because it is rooted in desire.
True love emanates from God. Only hearts that have been purified by self-expansion can embrace the fullness of that love. In expansion, the heart’s feelings become channels through which God’s love flows out to all the world.
People who actually do find happiness in marriage don’t find their happiness from one another. Always, it comes from inside themselves. How sad it is to see the suffering people go through, just because they base their expectations of happiness in other people!
Swami Kriyananda describes the following experience:
A congregation member of one of the Self-Realization Fellowship churches came to Paramhansa Yogananda troubled by doubt. “Master,” she said, “some people claim that, with so much suffering in the world, it is wrong for anyone to be happy. Doesn’t personal enjoyment imply a lack of compassion for the sufferings of others?
“Jesus,” she added, “is often depicted as a ‘man of sorrows.’ I’ve never heard him described as a man of joy.”
Paramhansa Yogananda replied: “The Jesus I know is bliss-filled, and not sorrowful! He grieves for the sorrows of mankind, yes, but his grief doesn’t make him grief stricken.”
“Were he actually to embrace others’ sorrows, what would he have to give them, except an increase of their misery?”
“God’s bliss makes those who have it compassionate for the millions who have missed the point of their existence. But compassion only adds to their inner bliss; it doesn’t diminish it. For bliss is the cure all men are seeking, whether consciously or unconsciously. It is not a side issue, unrelated to suffering. The more blissful one feels within, the more he longs to share his bliss with all.”
“Divine joy comes with self-expansion. Suffering, on the other hand, is the fruit of selfishness, of a contractive ego. Joy awakens compassion in the heart. It makes one long to infuse divine bliss into those who are weeping in sorrow.”
Happiness itself, though a universal good, must never be imposed on others; in fact, it never can be reforms, if not undertaken in keeping with the divine will, create disharmony.
The good that we do must also be offered with love and respect for the free will of others. Our respect for them should be, above all, for the divine within them. Charity must never deprive its recipients of their divine dignity. When giving, we should encourage others to give at least something in return. We should make them feel our gratitude, too, for their assistance. They will not be benefited if they are made to receive our kindness passively.
When a diamond cutter wants to produce a beautiful stone, he knows that he must cut it along its natural cleavage. His cut must not be random, to satisfy some abstract fancy of his own. The same is true for bringing out the beauty in human nature: We must take into account the realities of others, and never seek to impose on them our own.
It is right and good that we do our best to make this world a better place to live in. God is not pleased with selfishness. If a devotee hoards selfishly even the grace he receives in meditation, he gives power to his ego, not to his soul. It may not always be possible for us to accomplish quickly, or easily, our altruistic ends. This fact should not deter us from doing what good we can. Made in the image of God as all of us are, we have potentially within us His hidden power. Let us then live and work from a sense of His guidance and strength within, and not from ego-consciousness.
The more we live in the awareness of His presence, by daily concentration and meditation, the more surely we shall develop our own latent powers. Those powers, born of our attunement, can be used to overcome every difficulty we face.
Practice shooting burning smiles at the target of sorrowful hearts. Every time somebody’s heart of sorrow is pierced with the bullet of your smile, you have “hit the bull’s eye.” Kill the blues with the blade of wisdom. As soon as you see a sorrowful heart, shoot into it sympathetic smiles and kind words. The minute you see somebody overcome with clouds of sorrow, disperse the clouds by the heavy, continuous cannonading of your courageous smiles.
When you see the gloom of hopelessness, shoot it at once with hope-awakening smiles. Do not form the habit of sorrowing, but form the habit of smiling. Make yourself adamant against taking offense, and freely forgive and forget those who offend you. Never get angry. Never allow yourself to become the victim of another’s anger. Do your best to overcome difficulties, but smile first, last, and all the time.
There is no better panacea for sorrow, no better reviving tonic, than smiles. There is no greater power with which to overcome failure than a real smile. There is no better ornament than a genuine smile.
There is no beauty greater than the smile of peace and wisdom glowing on your face.
O Silent Laughter, smile Thou through my soul. Let my soul smile through my heart, and let my heart smile through my eyes. O Prince of Smiles, be enthroned beneath the canopy of my countenance, and i will protect Thy tender Self in the castle of my sincerity, that no rebel hypocrisy may lurk to destroy Thee. Make me a Smile Millionaire, that I may scatter Thy smile in sad hearts freely, everywhere!
Beginning with the early dawn, I will radiate my cheer to everyone I meet today. I will be the mental sunshine for all who cross my path this day.
I will burn the candles of smiles in the bosom of the joyless. Before the unfading light of my cheer, darkness will take flight from the bosom of my brothers.
Mother Divine, teach me to love others and to serve others. Teach me to be true to my word, even as I want others to be true to me. Teach me to love others as I wish them to love me. Teach me, O Mother, to make others happy—to make others smile. Teach me, O Mother, to find my happiness in the joy of others.
Paramhansa Yogananda: Born 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.