The Buddha taught that all sentient beings seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. Other wise teachers, both religious and secular, have understood this truth, and recommended becoming happy by bringing joy to others. Jesus of Nazareth taught “Do to others what you would have them do to you;” the Jain scriptures advise, “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, regard all creatures as you would yourself.” When “The Great Agnostic” Robert G. Ingersoll was asked what his creed was, he said, “Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.”
Of course, any thinking human being intuitively understands that the desire for happiness is universal; she needs no sage to tell her so. How can yoga and meditation contribute to our happiness, making us better equipped to make others happy?
I’ve found the holistic spirituality path to be a source of great happiness indeed. As yoga releases the physical knots that make us suffer, meditation releases their emotional and mental counterparts. In my last post (https://www.yogaflavoredlife.com/meditation/the-benefits-of-the-metta-prayer.html), I talked about the Metta Prayer, a guide for meditating on joy for ourselves, our loved ones, those neutral to us, our “enemies,” all humans and ultimately all sentient beings. This is a very deep and liberating practice, one that allows you to see your own happiness as inextricably linked to that of others. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Happiness is not an individual matter.” We are all connected; one woman’s joy is the joy of all, one man’s grief is universal. When deep meditation brings us to the conclusion that our separateness is largely illusory, applying “The Golden Rule” becomes second-nature.
Of course, yoga itself was never meant to be a purely physical practice; it viewed mind, body and spirit as one. The ultimate goal of early yogis was not physical fitness, but enlightenment. Compassion—literally “feeling with” others—is the heart of enlightenment. To be fully awakened human beings is to have compassion for all beings, realizing that all seek happiness and avoid suffering just as we do.
As we go through our asanas and breathe mindfully, we release chi, allowing it to flow freely throughout our body/mind. As this life force suffuses us, we become more aware of ourselves, other people, and our environment. A daily yoga and meditation practice is immensely helpful in making us happier people, caring deeply for other people and for the other beings with which we share the planet. It makes us more genuinely compassionate, which makes us more attractive to others. Both children and animals can sense alive-and-well compassion in fully-awakened individuals, and are drawn to them as moths to a flame.
All the best,
William K Ferro