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How To Live Happily: Advice by an Indian Yogi

While addressing a group of students in Chennai, India, Sadhguru answered a question on how to maintain joy and happiness regardless of the external circumstances. 

Questioner: Good evening, sir. I listened to a lecture of yours that talked about joy and happiness. You said joy depends on oneself, whereas happiness depends on others. I tried a little while to practice it but what I found was that I was not able to sustain those small moments of joy. I could experience joy when I was completely into it, very passionate about what to do, but somehow when an external person or entity recognizes what I do, the joy is just out of my life. So how do you sustain those moments of joy and not succumb to pleasures of happiness? If you could…it would be nice if you can share the difference between joy and happiness to this crowd too.

Sadhguru: Let’s say your Dean tells you, from tomorrow, what kind of clothes you should wear, immediately there’ll be protests in the college. If your Dean goes further and tells you, ‘everybody should get up at five o’clock in the morning.’ Let’s say he put ten different rules like this, physical things to do, you will think he’s trying to convert you into slaves and you will shout and scream for your freedom, isn’t it? But look at yourself and see.

If someone else determines what should happen around you, you feel like a slave, but right now somebody else is determining what should happen within you. Is this not slavery? Somebody can decide whether you’re happy or unhappy, is this not slavery?  Just because everybody is like that it seems to be normal; it is not. It is not normal. As a human being, life will never happen hundred percent the way you want it, and it should not happen; because if everything happens the way you want it, where do I go? I’m very happy it’s not happening your way.

And now that you’re a student? I believe about sixty, seventy percent is happening your way. When you get married, the percentage will get reversed. We don’t know. We don’t know whether which way it’ll go. Unless you’re living with machines, life will not happen and even those machines will freak on you, isn’t it? Aren’t the machines troubling you every day for something or the other? They do.

For pleasantness we have many names, we call it peace, happiness, joy, bliss, ecstasy. For unpleasantness we have many names – stress, anxiety, fear, tension, whatever else, madness, whatever. Pleasantness versus unpleasantness – if your pleasantness is dependent upon what happens around you, the chances of you being pleasant all the time is remote, isn’t it? In the very nature of things it’s not possible.

Only if you’re able to create a distance between this and that, it is possible, in the sense.

Whenever things don’t work, there is a habit in lots of people, they will look up. Hmm? Isn’t it? The whole world is looking up.

Looking up. See, you know the planet is round? You know this? Okay. The planet is round and you’re not sitting on top of the North Pole, you’re sitting in Chennai, here in the tropical climate and the damn planet is spinning, so if you look up you’re invariably looking up in the wrong direction isn’t it? Maybe at a certain moment of, whatever, Greenwich Mean Time, zero hours, when you looked up maybe you hit the heaven; rest of the time you’re always looking in the wrong direction.

So in this cosmic space, is there somebody who knows which is up and which is down? Nobody knows which is up, which is down, it’s just an assumption, isn’t it? Do you know really which is north, which is south? In the real sense do you know what is north and south? It is just for our convenience we just fixed it, isn’t it? Yes or no?

Do you know what’s east and west? No. Do you know what is forward and backward? You do not know. None of these things you know.

There is only one thing you can be certain of right now – you know what is outward, what is inward, and this is the only privilege you have. 

Just in case some day if you get enlightened you will lose that also. That’s what happened to me – now I don’t know which is inward, which is outward, which is me, which is not me, that’s why I’m all over the world because I don’t know whether this is me or that is me. So now you say, ‘I know what is inward, what is outward,’ let’s examine this a little more. Can you see me right now, all of you? Just point out where I am? Use your hands and point out. Can you see me? Oh, you got it wrong.

Now this light is falling upon me, reflecting, going through your lenses, inverted image in your retina – you know the whole story, right? Where do you see me right now? Within yourself. Where do you hear me right now? Within yourself. Where have you seen the whole world? Within yourself. Have you ever experienced anything outside of yourself? Everything that ever happened to you – darkness and light happened within you, pain and pleasure happened within you, joy and misery happened within you.

So what I’m asking you is – what happens within you, who should determine how it should happen? Somebody else? Definitely you should determine what should happen within this, isn’t it? So if you determine what’s happening within this, your whole experience of life will be determined by you, nobody else but you, isn’t it?

The events around you may not be determined by you, but how your experience of life is on this planet is hundred percent determined by you, if you take charge of this.

If you leave it loose, just about anybody will determine it. They will – not consciously, they’re also like you, by accident.

Video link here. Adapted from the original transcript here

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