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santoṣād anuttamaḥ sukha-lābhaḥ

Due to the realization of santosha, contentment, there is the attainment of unparalleled happiness.

PYS 2.42

Our thoughts often go to places of wanting a happiness that is unparalleled to all others. We know we have experienced happiness on many levels but they may have been fleeting, or eventually disappointing.

But let's imagine here a happiness that is so great that it surpasses all other states of happiness you have ever felt! It is the kind of happiness that we believed in once upon a time but with time, worries, illnesses, deaths, debt, and life in general we may have given up those thoughts and have become more pragmatic about life. We think be happy with what you have, no complaints! But, is there another way to experience life’s happiness completely, is it possible?

We already know that when you are feeling happy and joyful about something or of life itself, we also know that the feeling may be fleeting. We usually experience the ebb and flow of happiness, as it seems to be caused by a change in the situation that you believe created the happiness in the first place. This fallacy is the cause of much human suffering. Our day-to-day happiness that is created by outside influences will never last, since the nature of the thing is temporary. So you see finding this never-ending state of happiness can not possibly be attained?

The second of the Niyamas is Santosha, which means contentment.

Patanjali gives us the practice of santosha as the second niyama mentioned in sutra 2.32. The Sanskrit word ‘santosha’ means something like ‘real contentment’ in English: The prefix ‘sam’ means completely or entirely and ‘tosha’ (from the root ‘tus’) means contentment, satisfaction, and acceptance. Niyamas are positive observances or duties to guide us in living a healthy and fulfilling life with ourselves. The yamas are important because they create positive habits so that you can incorporate them into your lives as a normal daily routine.

Let me try to explain the concept of Santosha better…..From Hindu mythology, santosha is personified as the son of the god Dharma and the goddess Tushti. Dharma means “that which holds together” and is defined as duty, law, and by living according to inner wisdom. Tushti means contentment. So santosha is an experience of contentment that comes from wisdom and duty on a deep level, not just the things that bring us contentment on a superficial level. Dharma is the basic essence of existence and wisdom and is stable because we are speaking of the wisdom of the universe, which we are part of, not the wisdom of age, since we are ageless. So santosha is a deep happiness, that can not be changed when finally achieved.

The scripture says that Santosha, contentment is one of four soldiers who guard the gates to liberation - moksha (the others are patience, self-inquiry, and association with the wise). So, to reach liberation, you must first befriend contentment. The state of liberation is often described as ‘the oneness of being’ and what is experienced there, is identification with the true Self (the atman), which is different from identification with the small, ego self. It is said that santosha is “the state where you are missing nothing, total and complete, feeling OK, the ocean of nectarine”. (unknown author…to me)

When we are continually practicing one of these observances, we finally begin to see the results which is creating positive habits instead of going back to old negative patterns of behavior. The sutras say that consistent practice of santosha is “supreme, or unparalleled, happiness”.

So then how do we practice contentment when we may not feel content with ourselves or our lives? The answer is not easy, but it is to create a mind free of cravings and desire and focus on finding inner peace with where you are and who you are. Doing this even when you don't feel it will eventually create it as a reality. By doing this you begin to accept the world as it is you become more grateful for what you already have and always have had.

By releasing “wanting” more or something else than you have, you begin to create exactly that. This is similar to Abhyasa, mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita. It says that the key to calming the restless mind lies in non-attachment or disinterest in worldly objects. This does not mean we don't care but we view them as temporary and do not hold on to them. We then begin to see that the source of happiness lies with us, so there is nothing to grasp hold of outside of ourselves. Contentment is created from the inside out. What lies within, you will create outside. The law of attraction.

“Whatever happiness there may be in enjoyment in this world, and whatever greater happiness there may be in the celestial world, they do not amount to one-sixteenth of the happiness attained from the cessation of desire.”

From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

None of this is easy, but the rewards of trying and practicing Santosha is worth the effort, considering that the alternative leaves us always wanting and wishing for more, and stealing from ourselves a happiness that has always been there to begin with.

Hari Om Tat Sat

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