Contentment

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

We want to become good people. We want to become pure and sattwic, and sometimes we try for our upliftment, purification and the attainment of sattwa. Sometimes we fail to even try. So what is the way out?

The secret of becoming good, pure and sattwic lies not in the pursuit of a desire, but in developing the faculty of contentment in life.

Human destiny

There are many people who want to be good, but they are not content and their mind is going through a lot of conflicts, confusions, expectations and needs. Their desires are being expressed by the mind. These mental expressions take us away from the state of harmony and balance of the mind which represents the state of contentment.

Therefore, we should not make an attempt to become pure, sattwic, good, happy and joyous, but to become content in life. In fact, it is the training that we need in order to fulfil the destiny of human life.

The destiny of human life is not God-realization, the attainment of peace, or being happy and joyous. Happiness and peace are only expressions of the state of mind which is experiencing contentment all the time. If we are content we are at peace with ourselves, we are blissed out. If there is no contentment, every effort and attempt that we aspire for in life will be futile for there will never be any satisfaction in that. Absence of contentment will never give any satisfaction. Satisfaction will only be attained if we are content.

Santosha, contentment, is a quality and a niyama which we try to attain in yoga through observation and adjustment in life. The destiny of human life is to discover the source of contentment, and as a result of discovering contentment we will find peace, happiness and joy. However, in order to become established in the state of contentment we have to go through a process of sadhana.

Sadhana

Sadhana is self-training. Training ourselves to be responsible for our actions and behaviour in life is the yogic concept of drashta, the witness.

Many times, when we study yogic literature, we are told to become the witness of ourselves. We have to observe ourselves, we have to become aware of ourselves. This witnessing and observing that yoga talks about is actually the discovery of our nature. In this discovery we become aware of our needs, expectations and desires. We are able to differentiate and distinguish between the just and the unjust, the appropriate and the inappropriate, and by developing willpower we can adopt a path which is appropriate, without necessarily giving us pleasure.

When we think of something appropriate we should not think in terms of pleasure and displeasure. The idea of pleasure and displeasure has to be taken away from the concept of appropriateness. Appropriateness is only an awareness which allows us to discover what is beneficial for us and what is not.

With this understanding, if we walk on the path of yoga, it becomes possible to experience the symptoms of purity and wholeness in life. This is the direction of yoga.

—25 July 2001, Ganga Darshan, Munger