Humour Therapy

Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati

The one thing that most people who are sick have in common is unhappiness. Very few can accept disease with equanimity and perceive the hidden design within the illness, lacking understanding of cause and effect and the science of healthy living. Santosha, or contentment, is at the core of recovery from all dis-ease, tension, worry, stress, and ill-health. When we can view all our problems as obstacles on our path to make us strong, mature and healthy or whole, then we gain contentment or cheerfulness. We can see life as it is, and with a humorous sparkle in our eye.

Indeed cheerfulness and humour are an absolute necessity for anyone traversing the yogic or spiritual path. Too often we get bogged in the morass of seriousness, intellectualism, speculation and heavy thinking about the future, the past, or this, that and the other, so that we lose our perspective of the present and cannot live life with a relaxed and free mind. We have a tendency to take ourselves and the whole ‘trip’ too seriously, worrying about unnecessary things that never will take place anyway. The remedy for this dis-ease is humour.

Happiness – the key to good health

We should be able to see a humorous side to everything, for humour is a divine quality and happiness the key to health. It includes freedom from expectations, conditioning, desires, limitations. It is the very stuff of enlightenment. All spiritual masters possess it, and radiate it to those who come in contact with them. Their life is cosmic humour or lila. They play divine games with us and laugh at the folly of our seriousness.

Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the humorous side of a situation that we are involved with, especially since we believe that certain things are invested with importance and should be respected as such. When we journey on the spiritual path we are endeavouring to lift this burden off our shoulders, to remove the weight of life so that we can flow freely. We have to transcend our beliefs, assuming new ‘truths’ until we can transcend them. Then, when we reach masterhood the things we once saw as important and serious have become as so many pebbles or insects, and a true perspective of our priorities dawns. One of the important things that we keep foremost as of the ‘new order’ is humour and happiness, contentment with life, a cheerful attitude of mind and a positive outlook.



What Life Has Taught Me

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

It was by a flash that I came to the conclusion early in my life that human life is not complete with its observable activities and that there is something above human perception controlling and directing all that is visible. I began to perceive the realities behind what we call life on earth. The unrest and feverish anxiety that characterize man’s ordinary existence here bespeak a higher goal that he has to reach one day or the other.

When man gets entangled in selfishness, greed, hatred and lust, he naturally forgets what is beneath his own skin. Materialism and scepticism reign supreme. He gets irritated over little things and begins to fight and quarrel; in short, man becomes miserable.

The doctor’s profession gave me ample evidence of the great sufferings of this world. I was blessed with a new vision and perspective. I was deeply convinced that there must be a place – a sweet home of pristine glory, purity and divine splendour – where absolute security, perfect peace and happiness can be enjoyed eternally. Therefore, in conformity with the dictum of the Srutis, I renounced the world, and felt that I now belonged to the whole world. A course of severe self-discipline and penance endowed me with enough strength to move unscathed amidst the vicissitudes of the world-phenomena. I began to feel the great good it would do to humanity if I could share this new vision with one and all. I called my instrument of work ‘The Divine Life Society’.

Side by side, the stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century had their effects upon all keen-minded people. The horrors of the past and possible wars and the consequent suffering touched people’s minds. It was not difficult to see that the pains of mankind were mostly brought on by its own deeds. To awaken man to his errors and follies, and to make him mend his ways so that he may utilize his life for attaining worthier ends, was felt to be the urgent need of the time. As if in answer to this need, I saw the birth of the Divine Life Mission, with its task of rescuing man from the forces of the lower nature and raising him to the consciousness of his true relationship with the cosmos. This is the work of bringing man to an awareness of his essential divinity.

Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught or understood. Not by precepts or canons of teaching alone can you make one religious. It requires a peculiar affinity with one’s vast environment, an ability to feel the deepest as well as the vastest. It requires a genuine sympathy with creation. Religion is living, not speaking or showing. I hold that whatever one’s religion, whoever the prophet one adores, whatever one’s language or country, age or sex, one can be religious provided the true implication of that hallowed term ‘tapas’, which essentially means any form of self-control, is made capable of being practised in daily life to the extent possible for one, in the environment and under the circumstances in which one is placed.

Real religion is the religion of the heart. The heart must be purified first. Truth, love and purity are the basis of real religion. Control over the baser nature, conquest of the mind, cultivation of virtues, service of humanity, goodwill, fellowship and amity constitute the fundamentals of true religion. These ideals are included in the principles of the Divine Life Society, and I try to teach them mostly by example, which I consider to be weightier than all precepts.

The beauty of divine life is its simplicity and applicability to the everyday affairs of the ordinary person. It is immaterial whether one goes to a church or a mosque or a temple to offer one’s prayers, for all sincere prayers are heard by the Divine.

The average seeker after Truth is very often deceived by the caprices of his mind. A person who takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey. He is naturally tempted to relax his efforts half way. Many are the pitfalls, but those who plod on steadily are sure to reach the goal of life, which is universality of being, knowledge and joy. I have laid great emphasis in all my writings upon the discipline of the turbulent senses, conquest of the mind, purification of the heart, and attainment of inner peace and strength, suited to the different stages in evolution.

It is the foremost duty of man to learn to give, to give in charity, to give in plenty, to give with love and without expectation of any reward, because one does not lose anything by giving – on the other hand the giver is given back a thousandfold. Charity is not merely an act of offering certain material goods, for charity is incomplete without charity of disposition, of feeling, and of understanding and knowledge. Charity is self-sacrifice in the different levels of one’s being. Charity in the highest sense I understand to be equivalent to Jnana Yajna, the sacrifice of wisdom.

Similarly, I consider that goodness of being and doing constitute the rock bottom of one’s life. By goodness I mean the capacity to feel with others and to live and feel as others do, and be in a position to act so that no one is hurt by the act. Goodness is the face of Godliness. To be good in reality, in the innermost recesses of one’s heart, is not easy, though it may appear to be simple as a teaching. It is one of the hardest things on earth, if only one would be honest with oneself. There is no physical world for me. What I see I see as the glorious manifestation of the Almighty. I rejoice when I behold the Purusha with thousands of heads and thousands of eyes and feet, that Sahasrarasirsha Purusha. When I serve persons, I see not the persons, but Him of whom they are the limbs. I learn to be humble before the mighty Being whose breath we breathe and whose joy we enjoy. I do not think there is anything more to teach or to learn. Here is the cream of religion, the quintessence of philosophy that anyone really needs.

The philosophy I hold is neither a dreamy, subjective, world-negating doctrine of illusion, nor a crude world-affirming theory of sense-ridden humanism. It is the fact of the divinity of the universe, the immortality of the soul of man, the unity of creation with the Absolute that I feel is the only doctrine worth considering. As the one all-pervading Brahman appears as the diverse universe in all the planes of its manifestation, the aspirant has to pay his homage to the lower manifestations before he steps into the higher. Sound health, clear understanding, deep knowledge, a pure, powerful will and moral integrity are all necessary parts of the process of the realization of the ideal of humanity as a whole.

To adjust, adapt and accommodate, to see good in everything, to bring to effective use all the principles of nature in the process of evolution towards Self-realization along the path of an integrated adjustment of the human powers and faculties are some of the main factors that go to build up a philosophy of life. To me, philosophy is not merely a love of wisdom, but actual possession of it. In all my writings I have prescribed methods for overcoming and mastering the physical, intellectual, mental and vital layers of consciousness in order to be able to proceed with the sadhana for self-perfection. To behold the Lord in every being or form, to feel Him everywhere, at all times and in all conditions of life, to see, hear, taste and feel everything as God is my creed. To live in God, to melt in God and to dissolve in God is my creed. By dwelling in such union, to utilize the hands, mind, senses and the body in the service of humanity, to sing the names of the Lord, to elevate devotees, to give instructions to sincere aspirants and disseminate knowledge throughout the world is my creed, if you can call it one.

To be a cosmic friend and cosmic benefactor, a friend of the poor, the forlorn, the helpless and the fallen, is my creed. It is my sacred creed to serve the sick, to nurse them with care, sympathy and love, to cheer up the depressed, to infuse power and joy in all, to feel oneness with each and everyone, and to treat all with equal vision.

In my highest creed there are neither peasants nor kings, neither beggars nor emperors, neither males nor females, neither teachers nor students. I love to live, move and have my being in this realm indescribable.

The first step is often the most difficult one. But once it is taken the rest becomes easy. There is a need for more courage and patience. People usually shirk, hesitate and are frightened. All this is due to ignorance of one’s true duty. A certain amount of education and culture is necessary to have a sufficiently clear grasp of one’s position in this world. Our educational system needs an overhaul, for it is now floating on the surface without touching the depths of man. To achieve this, cooperation should come not only from society but also from the government.

Success is difficult without mutual help. The head and heart should go hand in hand, and the ideal and the reality should have a close relation. To work with this knowledge is karma yoga. The Lord has declared this truth in the Gita. I pray that this supreme ideal be actualized in the daily life of every individual. I pray that there be heaven on earth. This is not merely a wish – this is a possibility and a fact that cannot be gainsaid. It is to be realized if life is to mean what it ought to mean.




Paramahamsa Satyananda

To kill time is to kill ourselves. To pass time is to pass ourselves away. We never actually waste our time but only succeed in wasting ourselves. The value of time grows clear only in retrospect. That life is barren without self-realisation is a truth which dawns upon us when it is too late for us to achieve it. Therefore, every moment should be a beginning, and nowhere in the heart of time should we reach our end.

Never keep anything pending or try to consign any programme to the future. Your tomorrows are uncertain and distant. Act in the living present! Delay is the greatest enemy of any kind of progress. You almost assume that you have the power of clairvoyance, and that you can see the future as if it were in a crystal ball of a magician when you decide that the action will be done later. Our motto should be “HERE AND NOW”!, and not “Thereafter and Then”.

It is easy to lose something and say that you have lost. It is equally easy to feel sorry for what you have lost, but it is difficult to bring it back. You lose a gold ring, fountain pen or handkerchief. How much that disturbs you! But they cease to matter as the hands of the timepiece move on and the calendars change their dates. The state of unrest at such a loss of things is not permanent when you realise that you are losing your life itself.


When you realise that you are losing your life itself, then comes an unrest which endures all the movements of time. It is this unrest that you need in abundance. It is this shock, arising out of the sudden realisation that you will be shorn of the glory of being alive, that you need.

The spiritual aspect of yoga
Many people stop here, but there are some who go further, to the spiritual aspect of yoga. The meaning of spirituality in Yoga is defined as experiencing the spirit, the energy. Spirit is not a form of ghost that we find haunting houses and wharfs at night, but the energy, the driving force, the motivation behind every action and experience in life. Some people are a ware of it and some are not, but there is a driving force behind our every thought, feeling, attitude and action, and it is becoming aware of that which is the spiritual aspect of Yoga.
There are times when we become highly active. There are times when we become highly sensitive, passive or dynamic Dynamism, vitality, energy is a definite force known as “prana”. The fluctuations in our mood, in our experiences, represent low forms of energy that govern and direct the whole of our life.
Being passive, analytical, intuitive, aware, having a broad view and vision are the expressions of a different type of energy. This second form of energy is known as “chitta”. Combining these two energies, prana and chitta, the physical aspect and the mental aspect, we are able to experience life in its totality, and that is the ultimate aim of yoga. Some people may say, “No, realisation is the ultimate aim of yoga”. That is their view, but when we have to live in society when we have obligations and commitments to fulfil, yoga means “unity of the physical and mental energies”. The development of the personality then takes place from there.




Inhale you inspire, exhale you relax. Balancing the breath is balancing the mind. Yoga
without breath is simply exercise, unconscious but beneficial. Breath is the single most
transformative element of Yoga. Listen, watch, monitor and focus on this alone and there
will be an incredible change in your life. Always breathe through the nose, the mouth is for

In keeping with many traditional schools of Yoga, we believe that the single most important
element of Yoga asana is breath. Breath links body and mind. Every movement of the body
can be linked to the breath and every breath to a state of mind. This flow, the connection
between body and mind consciousness, is one of the most beneficial elements of Yoga
practice. This is the essence of asana and the preparation for deeper practice.

Breath affects strength, stretch, endurance and balance. Breathing techniques are critical in
the development of whole lung breathing instead of the typical half breath or shallow breath
we develop through our unconscious lifestyle. Breath is the fuel of life. Ninety per cent of
our physical energy comes from breath, our mental state is influenced by breath and, as
Yogis believe, the length of our life is determined by the length of our breath.

By using the breath, and not the mind, to guide us through asana we are able to surrender,
soften, strengthen and develop awareness more easily.
A full breath is a full life.

Yoga school

New Year Message

New Year Message

We spend our time eating, drinking and making merry. But there comes a moment when the awakening begins from the depths of our consciousness and we begin to question our existence.

“Man is a seeker, you cannot deceive him for all time. He is an adventurer. He has always tried to search for the purpose of life on this planet. Maybe, for some years we do not think about it.

The simplest, but not exact answer is, ‘From God we come, to God we go’. The exact answer is very complicated. It is a very technical answer. But if it is experienced, it is so simple. At the same time, if we want to realise our own personality, our real Self, we have to work very hard.

The experience of this present ‘I’ is covered with the notion of duality and multiplicity. There is no unity. As long as you have the experience of the present ‘I’ you cannot experience unity. You can only experience duality and therefore conflict. Multiplicity and diversity do not bring unity. Unless you experience unity, you cannot experience true love. Love is a much misused and abused word.

Love is the greatest, the highest experience in life, but you have never experienced it, have you? The saints have said, ‘Love is God’. What they meant was not the lower form of love which we know, but that experience which is a result of unity, born of the experience of the Self and inner peace, when you have come completely devoid of the lower ego. This inner peace cannot be bought in any supermarket. Of course, sometimes you may find one packet of chocolate, marked, ‘Inner Peace’ in beautiful golden letters, but that cannot be inner peace, because inner peace cannot be had from outside.

Inner peace is an expression of what is already in you – your being, your centre or nucleus. There is a reservoir of peace deep within you. It is not an idea, it is not a philosophy. There is some place, some point, some spot where there is a fountain of joy and we should be able to tap that source. This experience is homogeneous, that is, all experiences are experienced at the same time, and although you stay separate, you begin to realise and understand that you and the macro cosmos are one.

It is the destination which we have to reach sooner or later, and it is to achieve this greatest experience of life that throughout the world hundreds and thousands of people, irrespective of their religious faith and political ideologies are working.”

Rishikesh Yoga



A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labours are unnecessary and altogether fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine. Belief and love will relieve us of a vast load of care. O my brothers! God exists.

There is a soul at the centre of nature and over the will of every man, so that none of us can wrong the universe. The whole course of things goes to teach us faith.

Remember Him and attain immortality and Eternal Peace right now.

Tattvaa Yoga Shala