Spiritual balance is the ability to be happy in spite of circumstances. Spiritual balance is the obvious answer to the obsession that sometimes accompanies religious practice, occult practice, philosophical understandings. The obsession, the assertion that one is right, that something that you’re doing is better than something somebody else is doing, that the way you’re doing it is better than the way someone else does it.

Spiritual balance is how you deal with opposition, opposition outside of yourself and opposition within yourself. Spiritual balance is tai chi. It’s the center of things. It’s the place where yin and yang meet, where all things come together. In the chakras, it’s considered the heart chakra, anahata, the central chakra—three above and three below—which symbolizes happiness and love, psychic oneness, spiritual understanding.

Pure and simple, balance is happiness—happiness in spiritual practice, happiness while meditating, happiness while working, while playing, in pleasure and pain, in sickness and in health, in life and in death, in all circumstances. That’s balance.

How do you do that? How can you be balanced in a world like this? You’ve got to be kidding, right?

Well, the world has always been this way, at least in one form or another. I mean, I’m sure in the Middle Ages, or in the ancient Chinese civilization or the mystery world of Egypt, ancient Atlantis—you pick a universe, a cosmos, it doesn’t matter—there’s always something going on. There is always somebody on your case. Dogs have fleas; people have each other. We’re born to die. Life is a continuing tragedy, tragicomedy. Everything and everyone we love suffers. We suffer. How can you be happy? Life is a horror show, isn’t it? Well, sure, certainly, I mean, yeah, obviously. Anybody who doesn’t see that has not grown up and known life.

Spiritual balance is the ability to—in spite of all that—remain happy. Not to be hostile to your neighbor when they’re being hostile, not to get caught up in the trivia. Spiritual balance, in other words, is the ability to climb up the mountain and be in a world of light. The lack of spiritual balance is to get so hassled by the details of life and trying to get everything so straight to climb up the spiritual mountain that you never really do.

You wanted to have a great run today. But there were so many things you had to do first, and running is your favorite thing—it’s when you feel best, your body’s alive, your mind is awake, everything’s great. You had to make the bed, you had to meditate, you had to work, you had to clean. And by the time it came, your moment for running came, you were so tired that you didn’t run. That’s the lack of spiritual balance.

Spiritual balance is the ability to get above it all, to see that there’s something more noble—call it divine, happy, bright, brilliant—to this thing we call life. Spiritual balance is the ability to be straight with yourself. The purpose of life is happiness. What else could it possibly be? The purpose of life is something that, of course, that we choose. Life doesn’t have a purpose. Don’t be absurd. The cosmos just is. But by choosing a purpose, in yoga, in Buddhism, we learn that by choosing a purpose, we choose an outcome. Our purpose, our intent, is the outcome immediately. If you feel that the purpose of life is happiness, enlightenment, understanding, then that’s what you’ll experience. If you feel the purpose of life is struggle, Darwinian fitness, you know, dog eat dog, then I guess you’ll be eaten by a dog, I don’t know what will happen. Or you’ll eat a dog. You experience or you become what you focus on—this is one of the principle rules in yoga.

Balance is to choose happiness, to feel that the purpose of life is to love—not necessarily to be loved—to be happy, to be conscious, to be aware, to be fulfilled. And if that’s what you seek, that’s what you’ll find. Yoga and Buddhism are simply a methodology, a way of becoming one with the part of us, with the part of ourselves, that is happy. There are other parts of us. There are parts of us that are miserable. There are parts that don’t care. There are parts that hate. There are parts that love. There are parts that are cruel. There are parts that are kind. There are parts that are reasonable. There are parts that are unreasonable. You know, you live inside your mind. Who are you kidding? You’re not fooling anybody. You know what’s going on inside your mind. Everything—everything. The more moral you pretend to be, the less moral you are. The less moral you try to be, the more moral you are. You know how it is. We all do. We all live in it.

And everybody’s experience is about the same. Frustrating. Sometimes happy. But some people have found a secret to living, a secret to happiness. They practice yoga and Buddhism, esoteric Buddhism, esoteric yoga. Not just going to the temple and being there at a ceremony and dressing up. That’s the church Buddhism. Real esoteric Buddhism, real yoga, is to move beyond this world. It involves the use of the mind—to take the mind from the plane of the earth and transpose it into planes of pure and perfect happiness, to transpose your awareness field beyond this life, beyond this moment, into the planes of light.

The planes of light exist, just as the earth exists, just as the oceans exist, just as the ages exist, the planes of light exist. They are just beyond this dimension, just a little way down the street. Yoga is a method of unifying the energies of the body, the mind and the spirit and directing them towards infinity, towards the planes of light, towards the one perfect creation that is inside your own mind.

The planes of light are inside your mind. Infinity is inside your mind. Eternity is inside your mind. Happiness, the Grinch—everything is inside the mind, all heavens and hells and anything in between or outside of them. Nirvana is inside the mind—not the brain, not the cell structures—the mind. The intelligence principle, bodhi, consciousness, awareness, that which we are, that which we seek to be—everything is inside the mind. The question is, where is it? How do you get there? Will it fulfill you? Is there a greater ecstasy, a greater happiness?

Balance, spiritual balance, is the principle that allows the mind to be still. You can’t expect the world to settle down, everything to work out, in order for you to practice meditation and to be happy. If you are waiting for the perfect person, the perfect meditation, the perfect day, there’s no such thing. You’re the perfect person. This is the perfect day and this is the perfect meditation. Life is what you make it. But you have to do something. You have to get control of the mind. You’ve got to get your power up and do something and not just sit around.

As Dr. Seuss says, “You can’t just be sitting in that waiting room.” Everybody in the waiting room of life in Oh, the Places You’ll Go, in his final, if not final books. Everybody is waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for everything. You’ve got to go do things. Yoga is not a waiting. It’s a doing, today. And balance is the hardest part. Of all the things in yoga, all the things in Buddhism, self-discovery and the enlightenment cycle, balance is the most difficult thing because it’s overlooked. It’s not intrinsically the hardest thing. It’s no harder than anything else. But because it’s underestimated, because we don’t really consider it deeply enough, it’s overlooked. That’s why it’s life’s hardest thing. We think, in other words, that it is not important to be balanced.

In martial arts, one of the first things that you learn, one of the most important things, is to be balanced. If you’re not balanced, anybody can knock you over. If you’re balanced, then you’re in pretty good shape. You know you can defend yourself.

Balance is a central principle in all building, in architecture and design. If a thing isn’t balanced, it falls apart. It falls over. It’s a principle. It’s a way of trying to talk about being at the center of things, to use that word. To be balanced is to be happy. When you’re happy, you are the center of things. When you’re happy, it’s pretty tough to knock you over. You can handle whatever comes along in life. You can handle the bright days, the dark days and the intermediate days.

Happiness is found, then, principally in meditation. When the eyes are closed, when the mind is still, when you’re fixed on a chakra and you go through that magical doorway into the inner world where everything is still and beautiful and perfect, and let your mind relax and flow out into eternity, into light, into brightness, into happiness, it’s there. But you have to connect with it. You have to exert some effort. Then you’ll notice a subtle smile will form on your face; a lightness will fill your being, a brightness.

All the fake, dull thoughts that you think, all the ridiculous philosophies, the necessities, all the things that won’t matter a bit when you’re dead, but boy, do they seem to be overpoweringly important when you’re alive—these things fade away for a while, for a few minutes. For a while the heaviness, the awesome responsibility of being human goes away. And you get to play in fields of light. You get to play in eternity, in the brightness. And that brightness is powerful. It’s not simply a transient happiness that you experience in meditation which creates balance. It’s a transformative light. Light transforms—inner light—very powerful. The inner light is the most powerful thing there is.

You know, sometimes it’s hard to see something in human life. I mean, we see what we see. If the fog rolls in, we can’t see anything. If it’s there for a while, we forget that there’s anything to see in that wall of fog. A couple hundred yards away is the perimeter of our vision, and the mind automatically adjusts and we forget that there’s anything else. We deal with what we can see between here and the bank of fog. I’m sitting here looking at a bank of fog and wondering whether I can get increased interest on my checking account there. I don’t know.

Along the bay the speedboats are passing by and the fog’s rolling in. And a little while ago I could see for several miles, when I just started this tape. But now I can only see a few hundred yards. That’s what we call maya, illusion, symbolically represented. The fog prevents us from seeing what’s right there, and we forget about it.

Most people get so caught up in life that they forget that the purpose of life is to be happy, that happiness is something that is wonderful. They spend so much time trying to be happy that when it’s time to be happy, they just forget. It just rolls away. There’s nothing anybody can do about it except that person. Nobody can make you happy but yourself. Things occupy us, people occupy us, but they don’t make us happy if we’re honest. What makes us happy is to have a spiritual experience, to experience spirit, something not so gross as all this matter around us. Matter is fun for a while, but ultimately, it’s the spiritual experience, the ecstatic transcendence, where we leap—beyond what we know and call the world—into the eternal light where nothing is for sure, nothing is certain, that experience of ecstasy in the deepest meditation. That’s happiness or whatever you want to call it—peace, stillness, something beyond the transient frustrations. The pain of the body, the despair and disillusionment of the mind, the sorrow of the heart—beyond all that nonsense, there’s brightness.

Yoga is fulfillment—sitting, meditating, leading a compact, fun, bright, tight life, blowing your ego out the door and your self-importance, letting go of the things that hurt you, as they hurt you, holding onto things that are happy. When they change and they start to hurt you, you let them go. But I mean, what else would be intelligent? What else can you do?

You love someone, and you love them because it’s happy and then suddenly you’re unhappy loving them. What do you do? You get burned. You stop loving? Well, no, if you stop loving them, you just move the love someplace else. If you’ve got your money in the bank, and the bank’s credit rating drops and it’s a problem, you don’t give up banking. You just move your money to a bank that’s better.

Love has very little to do with a person. It comes from us. You can love a surprisingly great number of people. They just have to fit the right parameters. Love comes from ourselves, not from someone else. You can love infinity, eternity, Scottie dogs, sports, work, play, the feelings of being alive, the earth, the sky, the fire, the wind, fancy cars, swimming pools, challenging experiences, technological understandings. There’s a lot you can love. To love is to be balanced, to extend one’s self beyond just the sense of self, of what matters to me today, of what I think is going to please me, of avoiding what I think is unhappy. That’s balance. That’s happiness.

If you become obsessive in your spiritual practice, if you just try and try and try and try, and you push and push, you’re not going to be happy. You’re going to be obsessive. If you try and make everything work out perfectly, try and just make everything come together the way you want to, once in a while that’ll happen. That will be pretty, but sometimes it’s nice when it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s nice when unexpected things happen. What is perfection anyway, in the physical? It’s an idea that we have. And when it doesn’t happen that way, we get all bent out of shape and frustrated and angry and then unhappy, and we take it out on everybody else, including ourselves.

On the other hand—there are five fingers—on the other hand, the possibilities of perfection, beyond the conception of limited order that an individual might have, the possibilities are greater. Take chaotic mathematics, for example. The universe is chaos, I guess. You could see it as chaos, but chaos is wimping out. It’s wimp talk. It’s sniveling. Snivelers say that there is chaos, friends. There’s no chaos. There are just people who don’t understand what’s out there, and they have a label for it, and they don’t want to deal with it, so we’ll call it chaos when it gets over their chip size. There’s no chaos. There are just different levels of order in the universe. Chaos, chaotic mathematics, is essentially the study of chaos, that is to say it can’t be chaos if you can study it and it has an order. There are just different types of order.

Don’t be a sniveler. Don’t say you can’t be happy, you can’t be enlightened. How do you know? “It’s all chaotic. Nothing ever works out.” Sure, all kinds of things work out every day, and then they dissolve and it’s another day. There’s growth, maturation. Watch a plant grow. Tell me things don’t work out. All those cells working together, striving toward the light, putting out new buds, new leaves. Life’s a miracle—all that RNA at work. Life’s a miracle, miraculous. We’re miracles. So don’t deny yourself the possibility of the miracle of happiness, because then you’ll be balanced. You can approach anything and everything, or nothing, and all will be well.

I’ve been teaching yoga for a while, and Buddhism, many, many, many lifetimes. I’ve had lots of students, disciples. A long time ago, many lives ago, I had great teachers, radical, radically wonderful teachers who brought me through the enlightenment cycle like I’m bringing some people through the enlightenment cycle in this and other lives. And the thing that I’ve noticed, that I learned from my own teachers a long time ago in another universe, the thing that I’ve observed in the successful students that I’ve had over the lifetimes, is a quality which I think you can develop. I think it’s something that’s in each of us, and it’s a quality of gentleness but strength, silliness but maturity, optimism but a sense that it’s not going to be easy, if not impossibly difficult, but we’re going to get it done anyway, a kind of quiet fortitude which is renewed by a person’s love of light.

People come and people go in spiritual practice, like in anything. And then there are those who stay and grow and really make it, really develop, really become transcendentally happy and ecstatic, bright beyond conception. The ones who do that, I think, have a love of light that they allow to develop. I think most people are chicken, snivelers, and like we say in East L.A., “Snivelers, man! They’re snivelers!” They’re afraid, afraid to experience their brighter side.

You have to be courageous in life to allow a lightness to engage your being. It’s easy to be a jerk. You know, just look at the world—meaning, to be unhappy when you have so much to be happy about, that’s what I call a jerk. When you’re given this human body in this weird, interesting world, the possibilities of exploring so many things, not just yoga and Buddhism but there are so many interesting things to get your mind and body into and your spirit into. To be unhappy with all this weird stuff around us just seems to me to be such a waste—that’s a jerk.

Intelligence, on the other hand, is the apprehension of the newness of each moment and being creative, not just sitting there and if there’s nothing good on TV being frustrated, but shutting the thing off, disconnecting it, you know? And going and taking up kayaking or cross-country skiing or something. Do something. Don’t be in the waiting room—waiting, waiting, waiting for the perfect person, the perfect career, the perfect meditation teacher, whatever it is. Just go do something, something fun, something bright. Learn something. Be a student of life.

But if you’re a sniveler, a whiner, a complainer, you’ll never be happy. We all have that side, but we get it under control. Get a little stoical and just, you know, take the pain. But then turn your attention with your will. Study the great teachings of the teachers, read books that expand you, that are bright. See films, plays, art forms that elevate your consciousness, that bring you into a sense of how beautiful this world is, how beautiful other worlds are, how beautiful nirvana—the transcendental—is.

You know, chill out. Life is hard work no matter what you do. There is always going to be pain. There is always going to be pleasure. But what is not always going to be there is balance, happiness. That’s a personal decision.

That’s what I’m trying to tell you, my young friends. To be happy is not something that happens to you because you’re born and you live on this earth. Nor is it something that happens to you because you’re rich. I have a lot of, you know, wealthy students. They’re not necessarily happy. I know a lot of wealthy people in West Los Angeles. They’re not necessarily happy. And in other places. Money doesn’t make you happy. You might as well have some if you can, but that’s not the ticket. Health is nice. It doesn’t make you happy. You only notice it if it’s not there. Fame doesn’t make you happy. It just makes you look in the mirror a lot, worry about how you look today for your audience. They are fun things to pursue if you get a kick out of them, but what makes you happy is not being born, it’s not having a human body, it’s not this world. It’s a decision. It’s a decision that you make every day, and that you renew, that you strengthen.

You decide to be happy. You find out how. You find the happiest person you know, but not happy in a facile sense. We’re not talking Rodney Dangerfield who makes me laugh, but I have no idea if he’s personally happy. You find a special teacher, someone who doesn’t just look majestic and say the right words, but someone who themselves is obviously intrinsically happy in a very deep and quiet way. Someone humorous, someone you can see if you probe their depth beyond just the external caretaker personality they may choose to manifest, someone who is really at peace with themselves. They’ve got it wired. You learn happiness from someone who knows it, like you learn mathematics from someone who knows it.

It’s a way of being. It’s a conscious decision, and the shortcut to happiness, spiritual balance, is to meditate. If you meditate twice a day and not just sit there but actually meditate, raise your attention with your willpower to a brighter sphere of consciousness, learn the discipline of meditation and practice it in, hopefully, a very beautiful way—if you do that, and you have a teacher to direct you who is happy, not just someone who has good PR, then you will find happiness. But it doesn’t just come. Otherwise everyone would be happy in the world. Hardly anybody’s happy, for a moment. Take a walk today and look at how many people smile. Not many. Look at how troubled they are. Look at how unhappy, how stressed out. Whether we go through the ghetto or we go through Beverly Hills, they’re stressed out. They’re not happy out there.

And even the ones who are happy, what they call happiness, are just looking at the fog bank. And they can see a hundred yards and that’s all. Real happiness is something most people never know. What we experience in yoga, in deep meditation, that ecstasy is beyond what human beings call happiness. Yet it’s human beings who experience it, who practice yoga.

If you’re interested in happiness, if you want to be balanced in life, if you want to be able to handle death and life, success and failure, then I would suggest that you practice yoga and Buddhism, not just go through the motions, not just do what everybody else does. But that you find a teacher who is happy, focus your life on happy and beautiful things, put a smile on your face even if you don’t feel like it.

Don’t just sit there. Go do something. And don’t expect that it’s going to be fun unless you make it fun.

You’ve got to work on things. That’s when you’re happy. Work on things not just with obsession but with a smile, with a sense of brightness. There’s pain in any endeavor. Happiness doesn’t just mean, you know, everything works out. Usually nothing works out, but you get a kick out of it anyway. It’s fun to push it sometimes, to use your will to see how far you can get in life. In college and high school, you get A’s. That’s the game you play. If you don’t play that game, you’re missing all the fun. How many can you get? In the human world, it’s how much money can you make? If you miss that, you are missing the fun.

There are ways to creatively use your will. When you sit down to meditate, it’s how high can you get, how bright can you be? When you work out, it’s how clean a workout can you do, not pushing so hard that you hurt your body and you can’t work out the next day, but within that parameter, how hard can you push it? When it’s relaxing, it’s to relax completely and let go. When it’s loving, it’s to love completely and then move your love around, of course, if you get hurt. Change S and L’s.

Balance is wisdom. Balance is the ability to be happy in the midst of the most chaotic or even boring or transient circumstances of any type. Put a smile on your face. Do it.

Don’t sit in the waiting room of life. Go do something, happily. Hopefully, it will involve meditation and yoga and Buddhism.