The Science of Happiness (48 min)

There is a science to happiness and you could think of that as the whole yoga science but there are two really main functions of everything in yoga and I believe it’s also at the roots of all great spiritual traditions. It sounds a little odd or abstract, but there’s two things, it’s like two directions – one is that all the teachings and all the techniques are to help us relax, they are to help us to quiet down, they are to help us to learn how to listen and learn how to feel and experience our own nature, our own consciousness. But we’re still lost until we understand that there’s a directional nature to it. Peace is just like a passive thing, it’s like removing all the distractions and so there’s some peace there. You could almost equate that to lying in bed and just kind of turning your mind off and trying to pass out, but that’s not real peace, but it’s a step in that direction. But there is a much higher level of consciousness related to Joy. And it’s not something that we adopt, it’s never something that’s conditional, it’s not something that comes from outside. It has nothing to do with what we believe or what we think, really, but it has to do with our level of consciousness. We have an energetic system inside our body that corresponds with the physical backbone, but it’s the astral spine, the chakras and all that. You could think of the chakras having the different colors, something like a rainbow – the hotter, more vibrant orange, red, yellow colors are down near the bottom of the spine and then the brighter or the let’s say higher vibration, like blue and violet are up near the top of the spine.

Think of a dog – a dog has a tail. We don’t have tails, but when a dog is all happy, it’s going like that and its butt’s all going all over the place. What Yogananda said is that it’s because he’s vibrating down at the base of the spine. I think of different kinds of cultural dances that human beings do and some are all down in the hips and so it may be a more sensual, even sexual kind of dance and so the vibration is in the lower spine. And then maybe in other traditions or cultures or social groups or whatever there’s other kind of music and dancing that’s up in the higher chakras, right? And it’s a little bit different, it’s a different feeling, it’s not so sensual, but it’s uplifting. And then you look at a young child, one that hasn’t learnt to mask his feelings yet and when he’s happy and enthusiastic, he has an erect spine and he even wants to jump, right? and then if he’s got something really weighing down on him and he’s unhappy, he slouches, he’d be all folded up on the couch like this and Mom would be like “What’s wrong?”. You can see it from the outside – the movement of energy inside the body.

Let’s say we believe that and some of those examples make sense. Then you can think of meditation and yoga and also just the attitudes and the thoughts that we embrace as a way to calm down, feel what is happening inside of us and then lift it up. I’ve had this experience. When we’re doing higher meditation techniques, when people are ready and when they’re tuned into it, you can actually feel these vibrations of energy inside your body. Let’s say I’m having an issue and something’s upsetting me. I’m really unhappy, I’m not fulfilled at that moment, I’m grumpy or whatever and because I’m a meditator and I meditate regularly, I can close my eyes and I can feel that right here. And because I’m using yoga techniques to work with that energy, to understand that energy and move it, I can put my mind on it. I can still feel that I’m right and I’m valid in whatever is upsetting me, whatever I heard that’s making me mad, right?, whatever it is that I can’t accept and then I can feel the energy of that lack of acceptance, that desire for things to be different than they are – which is just a losing battle – but I can’t, even though I feel it and I know it’s there, I can’t talk my mind out of it at that point because I’m vibrating at a low level. But I can use breathing and meditation techniques to draw that energy up and put it right at the front of my brain. And when I do, my understanding of the problem changes.

And it’s no different, it’s absolutely no different than being like an inner city kid in Los Angeles in a bad scene, in a bad neighborhood, in a bad family and with no support and almost like a hopeless life and being a person that lives in maybe South L.A. or something, that’s never even seen outside the boundaries of their little barrio where they live. And then someone, like I don’t know, maybe a friend or a volunteer from an organization or maybe someone from the local church or something, comes and scoops those kids up and takes them out to the mountains for the first time. You’re still in L.A. and you’re going up Angeles Crest Highway and pretty soon you can’t even see where you live, but you can see the buildings, you can see the town, but your perspective as you go up in the mountains changes completely and the little place where you live, kind of like that little sweaty hell that you grew up in, let’s say, is a very small part of what is available to you because you’ve changed your point of view.

And so yoga is a science. If we understand it, if we choose to practice it this way, yoga is a science. Everything that we practice is designed to help us calm down, so that we can experience ourselves more directly, and consciousness and energy and then bring that energy up to the higher part of our let’s say physical and spiritual anatomy, so that we can understand. It’s the same thing like if you have a really big test to do like you’re doing a college exam or something like that you would not want to eat a big carb-loaded Chipotle burrito right before you take the exam. Why? Because it’s hard to think, you go into a food coma because all your energy is trying to digest the darn thing and there’s no energy left to think. So the science of yoga is just understanding these basic life things and meditation, learning how and when to move that energy up and how to hold it up there because what happens is that at the very base of the spine our lower energies are about or can be about rigidity versus flexibility, control of others versus the desire to control ourselves. Like a good fight or a bad fight, it’s like a worthy battle or a not worthy battle. There’s no point in trying to control other people, but we can control ourselves right? and then as you move upward through the spine, there’s another direction. So one direction is upward but then when you get up to the heart, the heart needs to be expanded or the consciousness needs to be expanded also for us to be happy. In other words, we don’t want to be alone. That’s why we want connection, that’s why we want family, that’s why we need friends, because it’s just in our nature to be with other people, to connect with other people, but it’s not about the people. You can’t put all of your eggs in the basket of that one relationship or that group of friends or your particular church or your particular social group. It will never work out or I mean it won’t work forever, because there’s always going to be limitations, but the key is understanding that not only do we need to bring our energy up, but you also have to offer it out in expansion. Think again of a child living in a very difficult situation, with very little choices where life feels almost like it’s just about survival, it’s literally about survival and it’s about competition with others who are also trying to survive. But that’s just not a happy place, that’s surviving, but what that kid also wants is just inherent in human nature. Every one of us wants to be part of something bigger. And you know, for one person is joining the Christian church or one of these churches. And for another person that’s joining a gang. And in a lot of ways, there’s almost no difference. It depends on how you do it. And it depends on where it’s taking you, because the thing is that there may be something from that perspective, in that gang that you absolutely need to survive and there may be something in this world offered by some spiritual tradition or a church or a lineage that you absolutely need.

To go deeper, to learn how to meditate, to get the inspiration on Sunday or whatever it might be or to have a meditation group, these are really valuable things and these organizations try to provide them in their own way, right? But again, at the end of the day, it can’t end there. At the end of the day, freedom, the ultimate happiness comes from the ability to lift our energy, to be an integral part of something bigger than us, but as long as that thing that we identify with that is a bigger, that is part of our self-identity, as long as that has a limitation and we’re unable to see over our fence line or beyond the border of our own particular preference, then there’s still a part of our heart that is held back. In other words, if it becomes a sectarian, pride or pride of national origin or pride of something, that says that my way is the right way and the other way is the wrong way (because that other way that’s the wrong way, with all the millions of people that are involved in it is still a part of who we are – the science yoga is union and it’s to help us, for those who want to, to move in the direction through meditation through conscious living and thinking and experimenting with our relationships and the way we connect with others in the world). But our hearts will never be completely happy, we’ll never be completely fulfilled, I believe, until we can sincerely accept and love and appreciate everyone and ourselves, with all of our faults and all of their faults and all of our shortcomings.

That’s the thing that I think is driving humanity. Who am I to say?, but that’s my understanding of yoga. As long as there’s somebody in this world that if they cross my path that I can’t open my heart to them at least inwardly, to that degree I will not be happy. And that’s it. And so, does anyone have anything to say about that? Does that sound creepy or is that alright? But it’s human nature. Don’t we all feel that inside, that we want to be able to embrace and we want to be able to love? But what if what if there is some specter, like something rises up in our awareness that we can’t embrace. I don’t know, did anybody run into any of those lately? Never, right? But what do you do? Any thoughts or has anybody ever had that? What I’m saying is from my own experience, if there’s anybody that I cannot accept, that I cannot love, let’s say people…

“- Yes, difficult people”

If you want to call them that, it’s a slippery slope. Are there difficult people? What’s the difference between a difficult person and a person that’s not difficult?

“- Difficult people are aggressive, mean and selfish, self-centered.”

Who isn’t difficult?

“- There’s degrees.”

And so what if the reality of what I’m experiencing is that I live in a world where there’s good guys and bad guys, there’s creepy people, there’s manipulative people, there’s mean people, there’s all this horrible stuff happening in this world all the time, right?, people littering, whatever it is. What can I do that’s going to make it better? I can’t change them. I can vote, I can protest, I can go to war, I’m not against any of that. Yogananda was great, he said you could even kill people. You can do anything you want, but don’t hate.

There’s a time for war and some people will feel that war is a good thing to do at a certain time and it may be. But to hate the people that go to war or the hate the people that don’t go to war, to hate the people that want to fight or to hate the people that don’t want to fight.

It’s the inability to accept other people’s realities that hurts us. And so in meditation, all I’m suggesting is that for each one of us – Bibiana’s reality or my reality or Gabriella’s reality, is our own and I’m not here to define your reality or your battle, OK? I’m not going to tell you how to vote or where to buy your groceries, alright? But for you personally, to meditate and kind of get quiet and let those thoughts arise and see which ones take you up to a higher level of peace and understanding and which ones take you down where you can only see inside of your own property and you can’t see the neighbor’s yard anymore, right? you don’t care about it. This is like a really weird world we live in where we buy pieces of land, we mark them out with fences and we have a piece of paper and we say that it’s ours. It’s like the biggest joke. I mean I owned a house back in those days in Torrance and everything and I was raising my family in the perfect neighborhood, in the perfect school, I thought and I’d watch how everyone tries to defend their own front yard from the neighbor dogs that pee and poop on your grass and it’s the most ironic, ludicrous, crazy thing. I’m just saying, I think it’s a little crazy. When you die, you don’t own anything! I mean I love my son, my son so great, he’s grown up now and he’s really doing well, he’s happy, he’s successful and he’s like: “Dude, I got to buy a house, I got to like leverage myself out, I got to get it while the economy is going up, I got to invest my money. “ And I’m like I remember being you and I’m so glad I’m not you anymore. I don’t own anything, I don’t want to own anything. I own a 2001 van and I love it.

So when we meditate, everything I’m trying to say and do with you guys when I’m guiding the meditation, is trying to lead you in a direction where you can experience your own boundaries of happiness and if you choose to, expand them. So that’s why oftentimes not always, maybe not tonight, but I usually try to end the meditation with some kind of a prayer visualization for the world, think of the people that that you want to pray for, but then I say to include the others too, because it’s up us, it’s up to each one of us how we want to live this life. There’s a whole bunch of philosophy behind all what I’m trying to say, but at the bottom line, every one of you deserves to have inner peace and freedom and the only person that takes that away is you. It’s not Donald Trump. And it’s not Hillary. OK? It’s not. They’re not taking your inner peace away. It’s us. And we give it to them, we give it to them by reacting to the things that we don’t approve of.

Any teaching with karma and reincarnation, they always say we’ve all been pirates, we’ve all been thieves and the reason we don’t do it now is because we learned from the past, from our own actions. Well I learned some of that in this life so I get to remember it. I don’t have a problem with judging other people. And it’s not hard for me to feel compassion for them, because I know suffering directly, personally myself – the suffering of being like in my ego and thinking I know it all and being angry and all that kind of stuff – I still have it too, I mean, I’m not free OK? If I’m in the car at a left turn lane and you’re in front of me and I see your window come down while I’m waiting at the light and you take your cigarette butt and you drop it on the street, it takes a lot of self-control for me not to get out of the car and hand it back to you. Because that’s what I used to do. That was my way and so you know I go to the beach and I pick up trash and it used to piss me off that people would just litter the world that we live in, OK? It doesn’t piss me off anymore. Because having that consciousness doesn’t help anybody, right? It brings my ability to understand down, so rather than lecturing people about littering or about vegetarianism or whatever it might be – I was like an activist kind of a guy, I was the guy that jumped on you when you came out of Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I did all that OK?, but what I found was I wasn’t bringing joy.

And then I learned how to meditate and I thought Oh my God. And so that’s why I teach meditation. So now I finally have something worthwhile to offer, instead of a petition and information about genetically modified organisms and all that stuff. It’s all out there and we can all read it and get all excited about it, but the end of the day it’s really cool if you can put it down and just feel your connection like what you’re saying with nature. Maybe you can’t feel it with all the people, you do not have to, it’s not a law, it’s up to you, it’s your choice. It’s a hard thing to do, it’s aggressive, it’s a big thing to be able to say I can love everybody. Maybe we can’t, that’s OK. But feel the love and the beauty in the sky, see the flowers, see the clouds, there are reminders all around us and also most importantly the inspiration inside of you, whatever it is that drives you to be a good person and to keep getting up every day and just try to be a good guy or a good girl. It’s pretty awesome. Human beings I have not given up on. Human beings are good. People are good. So let’s meditate.

Recorded at Yogananda Meditation Center on June 26, 2017.
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