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.