When you build a house there has to be a foundation, and an organized and planned structure on top of the foundation.
To build a happy life the same applies. Your life must be built on truth – spiritual truth, and there needs to be an organized effort to build this life.
The most important aspect of building such a life is a personal meditation practice, building a meditation habit. This is the ‘magic sauce’ that brings internal change and spiritual realization.
A couple of handy links to doing this which I mentioned in the talk:
Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
So tonight, I was going to speak about building a happy life. When we say building, it implies of course, a foundation and then some form of purpose-built structure. It requires some organization and planning. It requires some effort that you have to put in to get the desired result.
What sort of inspired me to speak on the subject, I was having lunch during the week with a friend, and she mentioned how her mum had just gone in for a scan; she had been having some problems and it turned out that now she, they discovered, she’s got a lesion on the brain. And this woman, her brother spoke to her (the sister) and was absolutely distressed and distraught, because for him his mum was like everything, and he couldn’t imagine if this is going to result in her death, what’s going to happen to him and his life. It was like this—it was a huge thing for him.
There is an inherent problem in taking shelter in that which is not eternal. The act of taking shelter, it means—a shelter, the Sanskrit word for it is ashraya, and false or bad shelter is called durashraya. And so, when a person takes shelter in that which cannot actually provide shelter it brings about suffering. It causes enormous distress and great, great sadness and suffering.
The foundational understanding or teaching in all spiritual life and all spiritual practice is the understanding that you and I, we are eternal spiritual beings. We are residing within a body that is not eternal, that is temporary. The time that we will spend in this body is limited. The body, it, like all organisms, it grows and develops, reaches maturity, and then begins to wane and goes into decline and comes to an end—that’s just the reality of things.
But because we are eternal, our desire for happiness is eternal. We seek eternal, perpetual happiness; that’s why we have that desire, that’s why we seek this. When we want to take shelter, we want to do it in a way that is perpetual. All the kids’ stories (I don’t know what it’s like nowadays, everything’s got so weird) used to be the ending “and they lived happily ever after.” And of course, that’s not true. But the desire is real, the desire to live happily ever after is real, and without even being aware of it, it actually arises from our eternal spiritual nature. It is the desire of the soul. It is the desire of the person who resides within the body. But we are overwhelmed by this illusion that the body is the self, and that is the limitless source of unhappiness. All unhappiness in the world arises from the misconception of the body as being the self, because then we will focus our entire effort and endeavor to look for happiness, to look for love, simply on that plane, the material plane, which is temporary, which is limited and subject to change. But our seeking, we are seeking that which is eternal, we are seeking that which is limitless—this is an inherently spiritual desire.
If we want to live a happy life in the time that we spend in this body in this world, we need to engage in a process, in a practice, that helps us with this vision, this clarity to see the reality of things, and to be focused on that which is actually important.
The overwhelming messaging that everybody gets is, you will find your happiness in material things, material experiences, and limited relationships. If you can just find how, the perfect combination of stimulation of the body and mind, where you’re having all of this, “Ooahh!” shudderingly good experiences that this will be perfection. No, you grow tired of everything. When you experience something over and over you grow tired of it. You grow tired of it for the single reason, it does not touch you in the core of your being—the soul itself is left untouched. It is left malnourished. It is left hungry and hankering, lonely, seeking actual fulfillment.
So, there are two things that we need to do in order to counter the amazing influence of materialism. In the ancient yoga texts, they talk about this illusory energy that pervades material existence so that people can easily become absorbed in that which is untrue. The idea that the body is “Me” is the classic example. In order to counter the influence of this pervasive material energy and the messaging that’s been pushed on you, you have to hear truth, you have to contemplate upon truth, you have to speak and live in actual truth, not this “your truth, my truth.” It’s just like, oh my gods, I find this heartbreaking when people lose sight of the idea that there is a higher truth, there is a higher reality that we actually are yearning for. So, we need to live in truth, cultivate it. It sorts of ties in a little bit to the talk last week which was about living or leading with gratitude—that’s part of a truthful practice.
But apart from the constant connection to truth, (which means hearing from spiritual authority, my frequent, or not just frequent, daily, I bathe in the instructions of my spiritual teachers, I bathe in instruction from transcendental or spiritual literature.) But the thing that brings the big change is the adoption of a meditation habit, a daily habit, because you can cultivate understanding but it remains as a mental exercise until the veil is lifted and you begin to see everything with clarity. This is called self-realization and the experience of God-realization. And so, you need something to help move things from just being a mental understanding to actually seeing things with clarity. And that shift comes about through the practice of meditation.
And beautiful chanting here tonight, and everybody feels inherently that, yeah, this, it’s kind of like home. It’s a safe place. It’s a place where your heart can actually rest; it’s a place where your mind can actually let go; you can let go of stuff and just immerse yourself. To me, the image of—if you see in India, in the sacred rivers when people bathe, and they walk out in the water waist deep and with folded hands saying some prayers or mantras, they immerse themself in water; or just the idea of going out on the beach and just lying into—flopping into the water, that immersion in transcendental sound.
This spiritual sound actually is not like material sound. Material sound you can just say it over. I could say mango, mango, mango, and it just—it doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t produce a flavor, it doesn’t produce an experience; it becomes boring really quickly. This sound, because it actually descends from the transcendental platform, it is a window into a world of spiritual experience and realization, that, if you engage in this process, it purifies the heart and mind. It lifts the veil. It lifts the fog. The fog becomes dissipated, and your life becomes filled with clarity.
So, I would like to invite you to—for those who don’t have a fixed meditation practice, to actually give it a go. They have a word in Sanskrit sadhana. Sadhana, it means a process, a spiritual process that actually gets you from A to B. B being this transcendental or spiritual goal. It actually moves you there.
So sadhana means—we can refer to it as a means to an end, and it, the foundation of any real sadhana, spiritual sadhana, is the use of transcendental sound in your meditation.
So, to that end, I have a lot of resources online, which is my humble contribution to try and help people in this journey. And please do avail of it at acharyadas.com. But there, and what I’m going to suggest, I have like a 27-minute guided meditation, which I’ll give you a link for. I put this up down the back. I got some links or—and I’ve got QR codes, somebody wants to take a picture or—use it to open, just to link where this is.
The practice begins with just some breathing, a little bit of nadi shodhana. This is alternate nostril breathing that brings the balance to the body into the mind; and then the use of that Gauranga chant; and then part of it is also japa. This word japa, it means the recitation and repetition of a spiritual mantra, and usually we use like beads, because it involves the tactile senses of touch, of speaking softly, and hearing. So the three of the five senses are engaged, and it helps bring the mind into focus. There’s a second link here to—for those who have never tried this before, how to—it’s basically learning japa meditation. So, it’s part of this 27-minute meditation which ends with some kirtan.
And what I’d like to invite you to do is try this. For the people that are going to be watching later online, I’ll post the link along with the video. Give it a try. Try it for 10 days. Allocate some time where you are not going to be disturbed, you don’t have your phone on, you’re not being distracted; and you just thoughtfully and in a relaxed and a thankful way and humble way, you engage in this practice. Do it for 10 days and see what it actually does for you.
At the end of the day what we are promoting is something that is experiential. It’s not a belief system. It’s not about believing. It’s about actually trying it and see if it works. And if you find it works, then you are inclined to adopt it.
I ran a lot of programs in Auckland prison, in maximum security there, and one of the feedback I always get from the guys—I teach some mindfulness and meditation. I ask them like on the third class, “So why do you guys keep coming?” And the overwhelming response from all of them over the years is “Because it works.” You actually put it to the test, and they experience the benefit of it. It works.
So, I really humbly request that you try this for 10 days, and you will experience some benefits. I’ve got a lot of other resources online on how to deal with different personal issues, going through crises in your life, which everybody will be faced at different times, How to Weather a Storm, it’s a whole series on things that you can do and ways that you can look at your life and life’s experience, and develop a spiritual understanding and appreciation, a spiritual outlook. You can build a happy life. I absolutely promise. It’s real. You can build a happy life, but you need to engage in the process to do that.
Okay? Thank you very, very much for giving me the opportunity to share. And of course, we will chant. I will use the Aum Hari Aum mantra.
After—I really have a massive aversion to intruding into people’s life and their space, and so—but if anybody wants to ask anything, or share something, or talk about anything after we’re finished, please, you would be most welcome if you wanted to come and sit and have a chat. Okay.