On Contentment

By Glenda | November 16, 2010

“The first sign of your becoming religious,” says Vivekananda,”is that you are becoming cheerful.”

Christopher Isherwood writes, in his commentary on the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali:

“It is well worth analyzing the circumstances of those occasions on which we have been truly happy. For as John Masefield says, ‘The days that make us happy make us wise.’ When we review them, we shall almost certainly find that they had one characteristic in common. They were times when, for this or that reason, we had temporarily ceased to feel anxious; when we lived–as we so seldom do–in the depths of the present moment, without regretting the past or worrying about the future. This is what Patanjali means by contentment…

“Logically there is no reason why contentment should cause happiness. One might–if one had never experienced it–reasonably suppose that an absence of desire would merely produce a dull, neutral mood, equally joyless and sorrowless. That fact that this is not so is a striking proof that intense happiness, the joy of the Atman, is always within us; that it can be released at any time by breaking down the barriers of desire and fear which we have built around it. How, otherwise, could we be so happy without any apparent reason?”

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