A Great Talk by Swami Sarvapriyanandji

In our spiritual quest to realize the Brahman–Existence Consciousness Bliss(ECB), we understood what divinity means according to Advaitha philosophy and also had a deeper discussion on oneness of all existence.

If you’re following this blog, you know I deeply resonate with the ideology of Swami Vivekananda and greatly cherish the Vedantic talks of Swami Sarvapriyananda (a monk of Ramakrisha order from Belur math). In fact, the inspiration for writing this blog is derived from Swami Sarvapriyanandji’s talks shared on his YouTube channel. In particular, I’m spellbound by Swamiji’s reasoning power and deeper knowledge of Vedanta.

Today morning alarm broke at 4 a.m. to wake me up. The goal was to get up early and wash clothes. Unfortunately, the morning was too cold to touch the water. I woke up, brushed my teeth, wore the sweater and got back to bed. Sleep got flagged out and I was searching options to spend the time productively.

An idea struck to read a spiritual book. As I was assessing that idea, I thought why not watch Swamiji’s talk instead which packs tons of awesome information with great examples. I took out my Sony Experia T2 and searched for Swamiji’s latest talks. What I found was something magical and the next two hours was a roller coaster ride into the depths of spiritual ocean. There I was sitting on my bed, covered fully with rug and with headphones on my ears listening to Swamiji’s joyous discourse on “Living with Purpose” and Vedantic analysis to achieve it. As I finished listening the talk, savoring the spiritual nectar within my being, morning golden-yellow rays of the Sun started flowing into my room through my bedside windows. I truly felt as if I was in heaven🙂.

Here are the important points discussed in the talk.

Positive Psychology

Swamiji started the talk with Martin Seligman’s famous equation on Happiness,

Happiness = p + e + m

where, p => pleasure, e => engagement & m => Meaning

Pleasure: We get immediate happiness by satisfying our senses — see, hear, smell, taste and touch. The problem with pleasure-oriented happiness is that it’s fleeting and extremely momentary. After only a few iterations the pleasantness of the pleasure ceases. This depletion of pleasure with each exposure is termed in economics as the law of diminishing marginal utility. People caught in the vicious cycle of pleasure often get addicted to it and cross the boundary of decency, only to again get disappointed. The pleasure-chasing living is called in Sanskrit pamara or instinctive living in which the individual wants pleasure right here, right now at any cost. A way that tragically leads to contempt and regret.

Engagement: As people realize the impermanence of pleasure, they seek a higher and much more sustainable form of happiness through achievements in their careers, professional & personal lives, and also in their hobbies. This to me what happiness really means. Stretching myself beyond my comfort zone and achieving something bigger. The process of achieving fills one with a greater sense of happiness and a feeling of accomplishment. However, we will hit the wall after a few years of chasing our goals and dreams.

Meaning: Beyond pleasure and engagement, there’s a far more sustainable form of happiness which can be found in attaching meaning to the work we do. Or living with purpose and a sense of contribution and impact. In other words, we are the happiest when we live for others. And the feeling of selflessness we derive when we serve the company, community, and people through our deeds lasts forever.

After explaining this equation, Swamiji maps the common spiritual phrase in India “Dharma Artha Kama Moksha” directly onto the Seligman’s happiness equation.

Dharma => Meaning, Artha => Engagement, Kama => Pleasure

A noteworthy observation here is that the phrase starts with Dharma (meaning) and then Artha (engagement), and Kama (pleasure). The wisdom is apparent. True happiness can only be experienced on the foundation of Dharma. Once you follow Dharma, the other forms of happiness makes sense.

Typically, all of us want success in life but also want to lead a meaningful life. Most of us are dharmika vishayi.

The Hindu philosophy goes beyond Dharma and promises us the Infinite Happiness, the eternal joy in a realization called Moksha. Moksha is nothing but the realization of Existence Consciousness Bliss, the Brahman, within us. We talked about the Brahman or Atman a while ago.

Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are called the four purusarthas in Sanskrit. We’ll briefly look into each of them as they are the basis of Hindu philosophy.

Shrinwantu Vishwe Amritasya Putra

“Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasm the next, rolling to and fro at the mercy of good and bad actions? Is there no hope? Is there no escape? —was the cry that went up from the bottom of the heart of despair. It reached the throne of mercy, and words of hope and consolation came down and inspired a Vedic sage, and he stood up before the world and in trumpet voice proclaimed the glad tidings:

Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! Even ye that reside in higher spheres! I have found the Ancient One, who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: Knowing Him you shall be saved from death over again. This bold exhortation by Swami Vivekananda, spoken at the Chicago Parliament of Religions, was itself inspired by a passage in the Svetasvatara Upanishad which begins, “Hear, O children of immortal bliss, you are born to be united with the Lord.”

This bold exhortation by Swami Vivekananda, spoken at the Chicago Parliament of Religions, was itself inspired by a passage in the Svetasvatara Upanishad which begins, “Hear, O children of immortal bliss, you are born to be united with the Lord.”

Swamiji gets us deeper into the realms of the law of karma, the transition of Narendranath into Swami Vivekananda after the meeting of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the ways of divinising one’s life through everyday worship through work, and much more deeper insights of finding permanent peace and happiness. In the Q&A session, I liked the emphasis of common sense in spiritual practice. No ideas and principles can be accepted if it defies our common sense. In fact, most of the spiritual ideas strongly follow common sense and intuitional inferences.

Enough of me, over to Swamiji’s insightful and transcending talk.

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