by Michael Ketterhagen
“Happiness is not something that we can directly acquire.
It’s a by-product of something else.
It seeps into our consciousness and emotions
when we choose to do that right thing, the best thing.”
This 2023 will be a marvelous year to start or continue to listen to our conscience. Happiness will just flow out of us and into the world when we learn that our conscience is the divine voice within us, suggesting that we do what we know is right instead of responding to our fear or worry or our expectations of how others should act, or how we want them to act.
Yoga says that our core, from which our conscience flows, is the individual manifestation of Universal Consciousness, the Source of Life, our Divine Source. Judaism and Islam agree with the Christian biblical statement that we are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27). All we need do is stay in tune with our essential core. When we do, our thoughts, words and actions flow from the divine nature itself.
And what is that divine nature?
It is “embracing an attitude of friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgment” (YS 1.33) toward others. Specifically, we are to embrace an attitude of “friendliness” toward those who are “happy about what is happening in their lives,” an attitude of “compassion” toward those who are “miserable” or suffering, an attitude of “happiness” toward those who are “virtuous” and do good things, and an attitude of “non-judgment” toward those who are “non-virtuous” or do what is wrong.
It means, respectively, freeing ourselves from “animosity, cruelty, jealousy and self-righteousness.” (YS 1.33)
True happiness will then flow from us because these are the “right things to do, the best things.” They are in touch with our true nature. I have learned, too, that I need to teach myself to practice these attitudes towards myself as well. I need to befriend doing good deeds and kindnesses to myself as well as others. That means listening to my inner promptings, my conscience. When a voice inside says, loudly and clearly, to do or not do something, I must do it. Or when that voice is a soft, subtle whisper and don’t do it, I must not beat myself up. I must be compassionate towards myself and non-judgmental even when I do something nasty or wrong. I must forgive myself and refrain from cruel self-criticism. But above all, I need to learn how to like myself, not just when I am virtuous and others praise me, but even when I am non-virtuous and make unkind decisions.
After all, the source of my life, the core of my life, is my beloved Divine Mother.
These are hard practices—friendliness, compassion, non-jealous living, and non-judgment—but when we think, speak and act in these ways, we will truly know joy and happiness.
May 2023 be the beginning of or the continuation of that movement toward pure happiness, pure bliss.
I pray to the divinity in you!