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Inspirational Article


Finding the Joy in Life

by Paramhansa Yogananda

From Inner Culture, October 1936

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You want a thing as long as you are not able to get it; when you have secured it, sooner or later you will tire of it, and then you will want something else. Have you ever tried to find that will-o'-the-wisp of "something else" which you seek at the end of all accomplished desires?

No matter what you seek, you must seek it with joy, in expectation of having joy by possessing it, and you must feel joyous when you actually get it. When seeking different things directly or indirectly, in reality you are seeking joy. When seeking all things, it is really joy that you seek through all these things and the fulfillment of all desires.

Then, why not seek joy directly? Why seek it through the medium of material desires and material things? You do not want those things in life which bring you sorrow. Neither do you want those things which promise a little joy in the beginning but sink you in deep remorse and suffering in the end.

Why seek joy by supplicating the favor of short-lasting material things? Why depend upon short-lasting material things for short-lasting joys? Material things and fulfillment of material desires are short-lasting; therefore, all joys born of them are short-lasting. Joys born of eating, smelling fragrance, listening to music, beholding beautiful objects, and touching pleasing things are short-lasting. They last only as long as the sensations born of the senses of taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch last.

You do not want a tantalizing joy; you do not want a transitory joy which brings sorrow in its trail; you crave joy which will not disappear like the sudden flicker of gossamer wings beneath the flash of lightning. You should look for joy which will shine forever steadily, like the ever luminous radium.

Neither do you want a joy which has too much sameness; you want a joy which changes and dances itself in many ways to enthrall your mind and keep your attention occupied and interested forever. Any joy that comes by fits and starts is tantalizing; any joy that is monotonous is, of course tiresome; any joy that only comes for a little while and brings sorrow at last is undesirable. Any joy that comes for a little while then flits away, sinking you in a state of indifference, and thus deepens that state by contrast, is torturing.

The joy that rhythmically changes all the time like the different poses of an actor, and yet remains unchangeable in itself, is what all of us are seeking. Such joy can only be found through regular, deep meditation. Such an ever-new, unchangeable fountain of joy alone can quench our joy-thirst. If Nature gave to us all at once everything we wanted-wealth, power, and lost friends-we would sooner or later get tired of all of these, but one thing we can never get tired of, and that is Joy itself. By its very nature, ever-new Joy is the only thing that can never tire the mind or make it want to exchange Joy for something else.

In the pursuit of evil or good, you are always seeking joy. The former promises joy and gives sorrow; the latter may promise sorrow but will surely give lasting joy in the end. Lasting, ever-new Joy is God, and when you have found Him, you have the eternally elusive will-o'-the wisp "something else" which you always seek at the end of all fulfilled desires. Finding this "something else," you will not seek any farther. Finding this ever-new joy, you will find everything in it that you ever sought.

Material objects which give joy remain outside of the mind; they only gain entry into the mind through imagination. Joy, from its very nature, is something born of the mind and lives closest in it. External, material objects can be destroyed, but this joy within can never be destroyed if one knows how to keep it and unless the possessor of joy changes his mind and becomes sorrowful. This joy is ever-new and indestructible.

Do not seek joy through material mediums, or desires born of such contact. Seek the unconditioned, indestructible Pure Joy within yourself, and you will then have found the ever-conscious, ever-new Joy-God. This joy is not an abstract quality of mind, but it is conscious, self-born, and is the conscious, self-expressing quality of Spirit. Seek it and be comforted forever.

When you have attained this ever-new joy, you will not have become a cynic, hating everybody. Rather, it is then that you will be in a position fit to enjoy everything rightly. As an immortal child of God, you are supposed to enjoy everything with a lasting attitude of your eternal nature of perpetual joy. People who enjoy material things become materially-minded. It is a disgrace to behave like a discontented mortal when you are made in God's image, and when you are immortal.

When immortals behave like mortals, they experience the changes of joy, sorrow, and indifference in their natures. That is why you must destroy this grafted nature of changeability on your unchangeable nature of joy. And when you have found your own nature of unchangeable joy, you will be able to enjoy everything, either pleasant or disagreeable with your unchangeable, indestructible joy. Your joy will stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking earthly pleasures.