The vedas have termed the subjective experience of the true self as Sat-cit-Änanda. It is actually one word made of three syllables–Sat meaning truth, Cit meaning consciousness, and Ananda meaning happiness.
Gradually, by the practice of SÄdhanÄ, the student moved inwards under the guidance of the teacher, goes deep within and realises one’s very nature is happiness. Happiness is something one doesn’t have to look for anywhere outside.
When this happens, and I mean it in an experiential way and not theoretically, one becomes a perfect yogi. One also becomes ready to be a teacher after this experience. However, the question often asked is, if we take to the practice of SÄdhanÄ, how can we work in this world? Do we have to retreat from the world to a cave and meditate to find the happiness that is being discussed here?
It is not required, although short periods of solitude are indeed required. Ultimately, one emerges from that into the world.
If I go to the Himalayas, and sit meditating in a cave for years and then say, I am free of anger, jealousy and all emotions related to an undeveloped mind, it may be a bit difficult to believe. One can’t be really speaking the truth because there is no way to test it in a cave.
Obviously, under any condition, I can’t get angry at the cave; I can’t get jealous or upset with the grass growing outside. It is only when I emerge from the cave and get into a bus, where somebody steps on my foot that I am able to find out if I am really free of anger, jealousy, so on and so forth.
So, while it’s required to spend some time in solitude, especially at the beginning, not much of it is required once we grow into the practice. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say that in the beginning of the SÄdhanÄ, one should protect oneself like a little sapling, by surrounding it with a ring of thorny bushes, so that the cow doesn’t eat it up. But once it grows, there is no need of any such protection.
Spiritual journey is all about this process of finding one’s true self, one’s true consciousness-which is unalloyed happiness, independent of anything in the outside world.