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Written by Brenda Shoop   
Thursday, 17 April 2008


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Immersed in Divine Contentment

by Laura Hyde

Baba Muktananda once said, "Contentment destroys the Ego." It's difficult to imagine how such a gentle virtue, how something so soft, can obliterate something so resistant as the ego. But think of the smile from a newborn and how it has the power to melt your heart. Or how only one sip of water can revive a person who has fainted.

The Sanskrit word for contentment is “samtosa.” The practice of samtosa is to learn to be content and satisfied in this moment, no matter what appears to be happening around you or in your life. Contentment is not passive. It’s not pretending to be at peace or content when it feels like everything is falling apart. Genuine contentment comes from knowing that you are with God and God is with you--at all times. Divine contentment has nothing to do with what is happening “out there,” from what might be occurring in your external circumstances. It comes from connecting with the deepest part of your Self. This entails taking time each day to meditate. It involves learning to place your full awareness on the present moment. A powerful mantra we use in a meditation class I teach is:


Try using it as your daily affirmation—all day long. There is a divine river of love and light running through you twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. The key is learning how to access it amidst all of the diversions and busy-ness of the world.

In her enlightening book Courage and Contentment, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda shares a story of a young student who went to see the great saint Father Phillip Neri. The student proudly tells the old man that he is going to study law.

“I’m really happy,” he said. “I have a good mind, and I’m going to study very hard and become an excellent lawyer.”

“Then what?” asked Father Phillip quietly.

“I’ll win all my cases and make a great name for myself.”

“And then what?”

“Then I’ll be rich. I will build a beautiful house for myself.”

The Father nodded and asked, “And then what?”

“I suppose I’ll get married and live to a ripe old age with the woman I love.”

“And then what?”

The student stopped. After some thought, he said, “Then like everyone, one day I’ll die.”

“And then what?” said the saint.

The young man was disturbed. The saint said nothing and the room became still. In this silence, the young man understood something great about himself and the purpose of life. Such deep silence is not passive; it is active. This kind of silence is where our happiness and contentment resides. 

Asking yourself, “And then what?” raises your awareness. For whenever you believe that the relationship, the money, the body, the project, is going to make you happy, you are projecting your inner power outside yourself.   Think of something that you believe will make you happy, and gently ask yourself, “And then what?” Will it truly bring you the deep and lasting contentment that you desire?

Most of us are born asleep, grow up asleep, have families and raise our children asleep, and then die asleep.  Most of us are never truly awake or free because we keep thinking our happiness will come from something “out there.”  It reminds me of the story of the Irish prisoner who dug a tunnel under the prison wall and managed to escape. He comes out right in the middle of a school playground where children are playing. He is so happy to be free that he can’t restrain himself and he begins to jump up and down crying out, “I’m free, I’m free, I‘m free!”   A little girl looks at him scornfully and says, “That’s nothing, I’m four!” 

Steps for Being Immersed in Divine Contentment:

1. Contentment begins now--Contentment is not a state; it is your deepest truth when there is no resistance to the present moment.  

2. Avoid negative forces. Unplug the TV, avoid violent movies, stop criticizing yourself and others. 

3. Smile. Thich Nhat Hanh says “Smile gently, even in the face of sorrow.” Smiling with compassion demonstrates that we are greater than our sorrows. 

4. Acknowledge the goodness in others, in yourself, in life itself. 

5. Meditate. Practice silencing your mind and give it some respite from the stress and noise of our culture. 

Love and Blessings,

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 April 2008 )
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