The Vedas have termed the subjective experience of the true self as Sat-cit-ānanda. It is actually one word made of three syllables—Sat meaning truth, Cit meaning consciousness, and Ananda meaning happiness.
Gradually, by the practice of Sādhanā, the student moved inwards under the guidance of the teacher, goes deep within and realises one’s very nature is happiness. Happiness is something one doesn’t have to look for anywhere outside.
When this happens, and I mean it in an experiential way and not theoretically, one becomes a perfect yogi. One also becomes ready to be a teacher after this experience. However, the question often asked is: If we take to the practice of Sādhanā, how can we work in this world? Do we have to retreat from the world to a cave and meditate to find the happiness that is being discussed here?
It is not required, although short periods of solitude are indeed required. Ultimately, one emerges from that into the world.
If I go to the Himalayas, and sit meditating in a cave for years and then say, I am free of anger, jealousy and all emotions related to an undeveloped mind, it may be a bit difficult to believe. One can’t be really speaking the truth because there is no way to test it in a cave.Obviously, under any condition, I can’t get angry at the cave; I can’t get jealous or upset with the grass growing outside. It is only when I emerge from the cave and get into a bus, where somebody steps on my foot that I am able to find out if I am really free of anger, jealousy, so on and so forth.
So, while it’s required to spend some time in solitude, especially at the beginning, not much of it is required once we grow into the practice. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say that in the beginning of the Sādhanā, one should protect oneself like a little sapling, by surrounding it with a ring of thorny bushes, so that the cow doesn’t eat it up. But once it grows, there is no need of any such protection.
One can come back into the world after the initial period of solitude and lead a life that is in appearance, to all intents and purposes, the same to other people. But deep down, one is a changed person and the absolute peace and happiness within is reflected in one’s dealings with the outside world. Spiritual journey is all about this process of finding one’s true self, one’s true consciousness, which is unalloyed happiness, independent of anything in the outside world.
So, we have now understood that none of it is cut off from day-to-day living. In fact, it complements day-to-day living. One who practices meditation and lives in this world will soon discover that even the workings of this world or one’s relationship with this world or the way one functions in this world are much more perfect than it was before. One has to start somewhere and that starting point is not far away but right here and now.
One can start with ten minutes of introspection daily and then slowly proceed to the more important and intricate aspects of meditation.
– Sri M