Please welcome Modesto Briseno with a guest post on achieving peace and happiness through meditation.
Greetings. My name is Modesto Briseno. I look forward to each article that Svāmi Chityānanda gives us. We are longtime students of our beloved Guru, Svāmi Gurupremānanda. I thank Svāmi Chityānanda for allowing me to share some of my thoughts on the importance and benefits of the spiritual path. I thank Svāmi Gurupremānanda for his teachings and grace.
Quiet Karma begins with a discussion about “The Search for Happiness.” Svāmi Chityānanda says that true and lasting satisfaction is absent in “physical objects such as cars, clothing, or jewelry—or experiences such as careers, vacations, or relationships.” Looking back at my life I see that nothing lasts forever. But what does last, and how is lasting satisfaction achieved?
I ask myself, “What was before, what is now, and what will be after?” Whatever that is, it must be what lasts. The search for the everlasting begins when we ask, “Who made me? Who am I? Why have I come into this world? What should I be doing? Who created me?” By finding answers to these questions I believe we can find lasting happiness.
In order to answer these questions, we must make a practice of self-inquiry and use our reasoning. We should ask, “Am I this body? Am I the senses? Am I my name or nationality? Am I the waking, dreaming, or deep-sleep states? Am I these things or something different?” After asking these questions, we must explore the inner Self as much as we can through meditation. When I have a question that I can’t solve or if I think I’ve figured something out, I ask Gurudev so he can correct or confirm my understanding. Having a living Guru is a great benefit in this regard.
Meditation helps us realize that we are not limited, separate beings. We realize we are the witness to the body and the mind. Through the teachings of my Guru and the practice of meditation I know that I am not my name, my body, or even my mind. There is no doubt that I am the witness to all of these things. To think otherwise now seems absurd to me.
Many years ago, I coined a term called baseline temperament. This defines the quality of my attitude. It can be thought of as my inner state. My baseline temperament indicates how happy I am. Baseline is where we are, spiritually. This is what follows us no matter what. This is what lasts.
Good fortune or bad may cause a shift in happiness, but we always return to our baseline. The baseline is what concerns me and shows me where I am, spiritually. I want to spiritualize and elevate myself, finding lasting happiness and peace. Meditation has helped me improve my baseline temperament.
I’ve found other benefits of meditation as well. Meditation gives me a view of my mind and attitudes. I know when my ego acts up or when I start down a path of destructive thought or behavior. If I get into a useless debate that leads nowhere, I can quickly recognize the mistake and avoid trouble. If I get into an unhealthy relationship, I know it and can bail before there are bigger problems. When desires raise their heads, I flee from them and enjoy the contentment that instantly comes through renunciation.
I haven’t mentioned the many spiritual experiences that have come through meditation. They are described in the biographies and stories of Yogis. I’m grateful for these experiences, but I value simple, down-to-earth understanding more than seeing blue lights or hearing oceans or the divine music that is within all of us.
In order to reap the benefits of the spiritual path, it’s important to have a positive attitude. A positive attitude means keeping our sight on the goal and not dwell on negativity. The spiritual path should lead to a greater understanding our own true nature. I’ve seen too many good people suffer from doubt and self-created misery. Let’s always remember and rejoice in the knowledge that the divine dwells within us. This is the message of the enlightened ones who came before us.
The teachings I’ve received from my Guru and the insight I’ve gained through meditation are priceless. Quiet Karma is a treasure trove for seekers of wisdom and truth. Indeed, I feel that it’s God himself reaching out through Quiet Karma. I recommend the site for all truth seekers.
Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.
Dusty, very nicely expressed. Simple, to the point and right on target! I feel blessed that we are brothers.
Tu hermano, John
Hi John. Thanks for the comment. Brothers on the path are the best kind. 🙂
Good article Modesto! And well expounded examples for everyone.
I, too, find practice of meditation takes me within to explore the inner Self. It helps me to find the peace and clarity that I seek. Meditation can be so subtle and powerful that it brings clarity by cleaning the mind. It improves discrimination, making better choices in my life. It also improves the quality of thoughts, speech and actions making your field one of happiness not misery.
The Bhagavad Gita says that, “your mind is your best friend or your worst enemy”. Self-inquire.
Hi Sue. It’s great that you bring up the Bhagavad Gita quote. “your mind is your best friend or your worst enemy”
Our mind can be like a beautiful, we’ll-tended garden or a patch of weeds. Do I fill the mind with stuff (news, tv, gossip, etc.) or do I keep it clean with meditation? Is my mind my best friend or worse enemy? This is worth some serious thought.
Well done! I like how you get straight to the point and how you expressed your experience on the simplicity of what is to gained by meditating. I to, appreciate what wisdom I have attained by my daily practices. The ability to make better choices and to see how certain choices can be lessons I need to learn about myself. Moreover, to know that all this seems really isn’t. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom.
Hi Nakisa. Thanks for your comment. You mention simplicity. There’s something to be said for simplicity and economy of thought. Simple is good.
Yes, meditation is key. Right meditation on Guru God Self opens “doors” along the spiritual path.
Hi Tosh. Thank you for the comment. You speak the truth.
Hello Modesto. You write with admirable brevity and punch.
You gave us example questions to inquire into our essential nature, along with several benefits of meditation: “The spiritual path should lead to a greater understanding our own true nature… Let’s always remember and rejoice in the knowledge that the divine dwells within us.”
That last sentence about rejoicing is what amazes me about yoga and meditation: whenever we escape the ego’s clutches, from within bliss and happiness erupt spontaneously.
Thank you for your reminder.
Hi Rob. Re: whenever we escape the ego’s clutches, from within bliss and happiness erupt spontaneously.
This is really the whole thing Rob. I really like what you say. Each of us is a well-spring of God’s bliss and happiness. When we are around Gurudev, we easily experience that love. Sometimes it’s not so easy when we are confronted with ‘the world’. It’s takes practice … Right?
Bravo! Your essay is clear and sensible. Through it all you project a very solid and grounded life-style. I am inspired.
Hi Brother Richard. If the essay is clear and sensible, it is because Gurudev taught me good sense. If my life style is solid and grounded, it is because Gurudev was kind enough to put up with me and teach me. Having a mentor (Guru) is inspiring. It is the greatest blessing.
Thanks, Modesto. Nice article. I’ve often heard you talk about your daily battles with your ego. You say, in this post, that “meditation gives me a view of my mind and attitude. I know when my ego acts up ….”. This sounds like a desirable quality to cultivate. How long does it take you to figure out which is the right path and what corrective actions do you take?
Hi James. I know that the ego has acted up when I’m irritated about something or someone. I correct it by calming down (meditate) and then I reason things out. There’s always “that person” who will through a brick in my path. I must be constantly vigilant in order to keep my cool.
It’s good to review the basics. Peace and happiness come through meditation. Thank you!
Hi Roxie. Re: It’s good to review the basics.
I agree with you about reviewing basics. Reading your comment, practice comes to mind, And then jazz piano great Hank Jones came to mind. Mr. Jones was an iconic musical figure who practiced six hours a day until he passed away at the age of 91. We could surely get happiness and peace through practice of meditation.
Hank Jones said: “I think the way you practice has a lot to do with it, If you practice scales religiously and practice each note firmly with equal strength, certainly you’ll develop a certain smoothness. I used to practice a lot. I still do when I’m at home.”
Dear Modesto, I really enjoyed your article. The statement which sang out to me is, “enjoy the contentment that instantly comes through renunciation.” I resonate with many of your ideas, especially the importance of a positive attitude.
Hi Elizabeth. The first question I ever asked Gurudev was about attitude. He said that attitude was very important. I have found that when we have a good attitude, we soar towards our goal. A positive attitude attracts good things.
Hi Elizabeth. One of the first questions I asked Gurudev was about attitude. He told be that a positive attitude was very important. I’ve learned that I can choose to have a positive attitude. If a bad attitude sneaks up we can just say, “I don’t want to be this way”. Yogis have the strength to change a negative into a positive.