In this monthly series on the Yamas and Niyamas, senior Integral Yoga teachers offer wisdom and reflections on applying these foundational principles of Yoga in daily life from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This month’s focus is on Santosha, contentment.
FROM THE YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI:
Sutra 2.42 “By contentment, supreme joy is gained.”
FROM SRI SWAMI SATCHIDANANDA:
“Contentment is golden. A contented mind is a golden mind. That’s what we should learn. When you keep your mind always still and steady, that is Yoga. Once you acquire that steadiness, the whole world is at your feet. And what is the whole world? Nothing but God’s manifestation.
“You don’t need to go after God if your mind is contented. When you are ready, God will be there with you, in you. You don’t need to call God. This is the secret of all the religions, of Yoga, and of success in any endeavor. A yogi achieves success. Aren’t we interested in success in life? The secret of success is: Don’t run after it, it will come to you. Success follows contentment.
“I have tried this in my own life. For some time I wandered around India without any money. I was tested. For a few days I went hungry. I just accepted it. Then the food came; everything I needed came. Why? Because when you don’t want, the things you wanted before will want you.”
FROM SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA:
“There is no end to craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.”
FROM SRI SWAMI VENKATESANANDA:
“In the Yoga Vasistha, it is said that contentment is one of the four gatekeepers to enlightenment. Contentment, therefore, is not a negative attitude of shirking one’s duty, but the positive one of aspiring for liberation from the shackles of ignorance. It leads to peace of mind and the greatest achievement possible.”
FROM THE HOLY BIBLE:
“Do not live for money; be content with what you have, for God has said, ‘I will never leave you.’” — Hebrews 13.5
FROM THE DHAMMAPADA:
“Live in joy, in love, even among those who hate.
Live in joy, in health, even among the afflicted.
Live in joy, in peace, even among the troubled.
Live in joy, without possessions, like the shining ones.
The winner sows hatred because the loser suffers.
Let go of winning and losing and find joy.
There is no fire like passion,
No crime like hatred,
No sorrow like separation,
No sickness like hunger,
And no joy, like the joy of freedom.
Health, contentment and trust
Are your greatest possessions;
And freedom, your greatest joy.”
FROM THE TIRUKKURAL:
“Fortune will, herself, seek those
Who, wise and virtuous, are not greedy.
Thoughtless greed leads to ruin,
Sublime content to triumph.”
FROM THE SOUTH INDIAN SAINT AVVAIYAR:
“Kitaa dayin vetena mura.” “If you don’t get it, immediately forget it!”
“Atradhu patrenil utradhu veedu.” “Drop wants; then you are home.” (Or, “If you remove attachment, immediately you are liberated.”)
These verses were often quoted by Swami Satchidananda. He even encouraged us to make posters and hang them where we could view them often.
- “To get a taste of contentment, try this for one week: Make the entire week a ‘Don’t Want Week.’ Think, ‘This week I don’t want anything. If anything comes, I accept it. If anything goes, I accept that, too.’” —Sri Swami Satchidananda
- When a desire arises in the mind, ask yourself: “Will the fulfillment of this desire bring benefit to someone, harm to no one, and leave the mind in tranquility?” If your tranquility could be disturbed, overcome the desire by repeating the phrase, “Contentment is golden.” Go for the gold!
- Control desire by reflecting on the impermanence of all things:
- “And this too shall pass.” — etched on King Solomon’s ring
- “All things must pass, all things must fade away.” — George Harrison
About the Author:
Swami Priyaananda is a senior disciple of Swami Satchidananda with thirty years of experience in the practice of Integral Yoga. She served in the Integral Yoga Health Services division and the Distribution Department at Satchidananda Ashram in Connecticut, as well as Executive Secretary and Coordinator of the Living Yoga Training program at the Ashram in Virginia. Currently, she is Vice President of the Office of Spiritual Development and Manager of Satchidananda Archives.