Welcome to Part 18 of The Seeker’s Story, where Namit continues his exploration into yoga philosophy. This week – our final instalment in this series – he discusses happiness and how it relates to enlightement.
Chapter 1 & 2 – Yoga Sutra – A Seeker’s Story Part 1
Chapter 3 – What is Yoga?
Chapter 4 – Yoga’s Theory of Creation
Chapter 5 – Happiness and Oneness
Chapter 6 – Does Magic Really Exist?
Chapter 7 – Who is God?
Chapter 8 – What is Karma?
Chapter 9 – What is Spirituality? What is Spirit?
Chapter 10 – What is Prana? Is it the Same as Breath?
Chapter 11: Why do We Do Postures in Yoga?
Chapter 12: What’s the Point of Meditation?
Chapter 14: What are the Eight Limbs of Yoga?
Chapter 15: Is Yoga a Religion or a Philosophy?
Chapter 16: What is Maya, or Illusion?
Chapter 17: Does Evil Exist?
Chapter 18: What is the Ego?
Yoga Sutra – The Seeker’s Story
What is Happiness and What Does it Have to do with Enlightenment?
Yogi ji was resting on his shoulders with his legs crossed above him whilst holding onto his knees with his hands. What a marvellous balancing feat this was. I admired what yogi ji could do and resolved not to want to be like him but to be good at what I could be both in terms of practising yoga and in terms of being a good human being. I also resolved to sharing what I could with others.
Yogi ji came down with a big smile on his face. We walked together to the lovely lake.
‘Your last day today Jake.’
‘Yes it is yogi.’
‘Time for your last question’ said yogi ji.
I knew it was time for my last question so I decided to make it a big one.
‘What is enlightenment yogi ji?’
‘Excellent last question Jake. You have been a fantastic student you know.’
‘Thank you yogi ji’ I replied.
‘Enlightenment, Jake, begins when you overcome ego and see that everything is connected.’
‘What do you mean by overcoming the ego yogi ji?’
‘When you stop thinking that you are better than other people. Remember how we talked about the ego yesterday?’
‘But sometimes I can see that I am better than others yogi ji’ I interrupted. I had been doing some thinking and I did feel that sometimes and especially when I am stressed I get frustrated easily and feel that I am better than other people and know more than other people.
‘You are better in certain things only Jake. Everyone is good at different things. Eventually you will see that we are designed to work and play together. We each have things that we are good at.’
‘So this is overcoming the ego? Seeing that we are all good at different things?’
‘Well yes part of it. All of us have to see that we all have goodness inside us. If we see this then we work together really well and the world becomes a better place. We are happy. Obviously the other part of overcoming the ego is filling ourselves with pride.’
‘And then wanting to share what we are each good at with everyone else.’
‘Well it is obvious just thinking on from yesterday’s lesson’ I replied. ‘So the meaning of enlightenment is happiness then yogi ji? And we get this happiness from seeing what is good in ourselves and also what is good in everyone else.’
‘Yes exactly Jake. In our natural state we are all happy. This is what we are all seeking, our natural state of happiness.’
‘So the meaning of life itself, the search for enlightenment, all of this is just to bring us to happiness?’
‘Yes Jake it is all as simple as that. The meaning of life is happiness. So simple.’
‘Yes is it. I am feeling simple happiness sitting here next to the lake’ I said. And the honest truth is that is exactly what I was feeling. I was feeling happy just looking at the nature around me. And those villagers walking by us looked so happy, so content with the simple things in life, just smiling at each other, not bothered about any of the material things life has to offer. Could the meaning of life that I had always been looking for really be as simple as that?
Yogi ji was still looking at me as I was relaxing into my thoughts.
‘You do not feel like you are better than others but that we are all connected. You see that we are all made of the same stuff. You see that your happiness is related to my happiness and that your sadness is related to my sadness. You then start to really want for everyone to be happy.’ He continued.
But by now I was so completely lost in the simplicity of it all. I just kept staring at the fish in the lake, at the flowers and the plants around the lake and there seemed to be a harmony to it all. Could it all really be this simple? Could the meaning of life really just be about seeing that there is something that connects us all? And that experiencing happiness is all that life is about?
The yogi continued talking.
‘Life is just about enjoying things Jake. It is just about enjoying everything. It is not about trying to prove you are the best or that you are better than everyone else. Everyone is good at their own thing. We are all here to live together. But live life in order to enjoy it Jake. Do not live life in order to prove anything. Every moment is here to be enjoyed.’
Ever since this moment I really started to enjoy my time with other people. I argued less and understood that they all have their own points of view based on their experiences in life. I listened to their points of view and I understood that essentially they all wanted the same thing. They all just wanted to be happy.
Since listening to the yogi I have just felt so connected to everyone and yes I have felt so happy.
My life has changed for the better in many ways. When I came back to England I thought a lot about what it means to live a life in balance. I quit my stressful job which had demanded every ounce of energy I had. I then had time on my hands to think about what I wanted to really do in my life and I realised that I, like the yogi, loved teaching.
I was not about to earn a fortune but I would earn enough to live the type of contended life that made me feel happy. I am still teaching today and absolutely love it. I think I just enjoy sharing things with others including knowledge. Of course I had a friend who had inspired me to share.
I had decided to work part time too because of what yogi ji had said about living a balanced life. I had made time for exercise. I had started learning the yoga exercises at a class at a place near my house. I now have time to cook healthily and enjoy my life. And because I chose a job that I really wanted to do, it feels more like a hobby than work.
On my final day yogi ji wrote down some words for me as a going away present. I keep the note he wrote for me everywhere I go.
‘Imagine this picture of the world. Imagine if everyone in the world did what they enjoyed the most and lived out their individual gift. Imagine if every painter painted the most beautiful picture they could, imagine if every musician made the best music they could, imagine if every carpenter carved the most beautiful shapes they could. Imagine if they were all happy. What a beautiful world would we live in then?’
I have missed the yogi every day since but I know he is still there in that village just being happy and enjoying everything simple in life. I think that secretly he is in every one of us. I think he just spoke what we all know deep down inside. That life is essentially about happiness and it is this happiness for which we all search but if we look hard enough we see that it is has been there all along.
[That was the final instalment in this series. You can find the entire Seeker series here.]
About Namit Kathoria
Namit Kathoria has a Bachelors Degree from King’s College London in Pharmacy and a Masters Degree in Clinical Pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast. He is also a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and has worked the Pharmacist Advisor to NHS Direct. He hence has a vast knowledge of health which he applies to his yoga teaching. He has studied yoga across the world including various parts of his native India including Dharamshala, Rishikesh and Mysore. He currently teaches yoga retreats in Spain at Yoga Sutra Shala in Sayalonga. To read more please visit www.retreats-yoga.com.