By Paramahamsa Yogananda
If you aspire to wisdom and unalloyed happiness, keep the feelings of your heart free. Don’t over-react to life’s ups and downs. Don’t, in other words, when fortune visits you, dive boisterously into sparkling streams of excitement. Resist the temptation to sink despondently into a bog of despair when the trail before you suggests no way out of present difficulties.
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.
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 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.
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.
Life will bring many ups & downs. If you let your feelings rise up & down with the waves of circumstance, you will never attain that inner calmness, which is the foundation of spiritual progress. Be careful, not to react emotionally. Rise above likes & dislikes.
Let not your possessions possess you, nor the petty details of worldly life invade with hordes of worry – the stillness of your heart. Man’s greatest trouble is egoism. He takes everything that is happening to him, personally. Why be affected? You are not the body. You are He! Everything is being or spirit.
Objective conditions are always neutral. It’s how you react to them, that makes them seem as sad or happy.
Work on yourself; on your reaction to outer circumstances. Be ever happy inside. You can never change things outwardly in such a ways to make them every pleasing to you.
It requires only shallow wisdom to be disillusioned with life. See God’s changeless beauty at the heart of the change & in every good thing. Nurture your high, spiritual potentials, taking care not to scatter them in worthless pursuits.