What is the meaning of life? | How can we experience true freedom? | What is happiness really?

The contents on these Our Teachings webpages are reproduced from the book “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy”  compiled by Swami Sitaramananda. Below is a testimonial for this book.
A concise guide to Yoga in all of its aspects, healing, mantra, pranayama, asana and meditation as taught by one of the most important Yoga lineages of the modern world, Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy is a helpful resource that all serious Yoga students should keep close by for regular study.
David Frawley

Author of more than 30 books on Yoga


Life is God in expression.  Life is joy.  Life is flooding of the bliss of the Spirit.  Life is like a river.  All rivers are restless until they meet the ocean and become one with the ocean.  In the same manner, we will be restless until we find the truth about ourselves.
– Swami Sivananda in Bliss Divine

Life is a voyage in the infinite ocean of time, where scenes are perpetually changing.  Life is a journey from impurity to purity, from hatred to cosmic love, from death to immortality, from imperfection to perfection, from slavery to freedom, from diversity to unity, from ignorance to eternal wisdom, from pain to eternal bliss, from weakness to infinite strength. Life is a great opportunity provided by the Lord for His children to evolve into Himself.
– Swami Sivananda in Bliss Divine

In this section of our website you can read about:

  1. The Meaning of Life
  2. True Freedom
  3. Liberation
  4. True Happiness
  5. Happiness is Within
Swami Sivananda sitting by the Ganges in deep contemplation about life
Swami Sivananda sitting by the Ganges in deep contemplation about life.

The Meaning of Life

The true goal of life is to get back to the source from which we came.  The sole object of life is the attainment of Self Realization or absolute freedom.   Life in the Spirit is the only real, eternal life.  The modern life of rush and hurry, with fear, insecurity, illness and action is not real life.  A life of material luxury, of wealth and power, is not the end of life.  Such a life does not produce peace of mind and serenity of soul.” “Sensual pleasure is like honey mixed with poison.  Sensual enjoyments are attended with various defects, sins, pains, attachments, bad habits, and mental restlessness.

Mundane life

Mundane life is full of sorrows, pains and bondage. It is full of hatred, selfishness cares, worries, fights, quarrels, despair and dejection.  Any number of zeroes has no value, until you add number 1 before them.  Similarly, even if you possess the whole world, it is nothing if you do not lead a spiritual life.

Life Means Pursuing the Truth

Embrace the life of the soul; you will be made pure and free.   To live means pursuing the Truth, and surmounting all obstacles with courage.  The greatest joy in life is devotion to God, and meditation on God in one’s own heart.

Life is a school

To live is to fight for the ideal.  Life is a school.  The world is your best teacher.  There is a lesson in each experience.  The world is the best training ground for the development of various divine qualities, such as mercy, forgiveness, tolerance, universal love, generosity, patience, strong will, etc.  Give up the lower nature, which consists of selfishness, lust, anger, hatred and jealousy.”

Life Advice

Sure Way for Success in Life and God-realization: “Make life a perpetual joy.  Lead a simple life.  Lead a regulated life.  Lead a hard life.  Live in the present.  Forget the past.  Give up hopes of the future.  Life is thy greatest gift.  Utilize every second profitably.”

Unity of Life

Unity of Life: “See life as a whole.  The Lord breathes in all life.  All is one.  The world is one home.  All are members of one human family.  Separation is death.  Unity is eternal life.  Cultivate cosmic love.  Recognize the worth of others.  Destroy all barriers that separate man from man.  Then this world will be a paradise of beauty, a heaven of peace and tranquility.”

Life lessons

There was a lady living in a thatch hut without electricity.  She lost her needle while trying to mend her cloth and went outside of the hut, looking for it desperately.  When someone asked her where she lost her needle, she replied, “I lost it in the house”.  “So why do you look for it outside?”  She said, “Because inside it is dark, and outside there is light!” Check out our foundational courses to see how you can learn more >>
Three ladies smiling compassionately expressing true freedom
Three ladies smiling compassionately expressing true freedom.

True Freedom

In yoga, it is said that freedom can only be attained through self-discipline.  True freedom is realizing our inner ruler, the immortal Atman, which is the one without a second. Freedom is the birthright of man.  Freedom is the very nature of the Eternal Soul.  Freedom is knowledge, peace and bliss.  The so-called freedom that we enjoy is in fact dependency, or slavery, on our desires and mind. By self-discipline, we control our mind’s projections and find true freedom, which is our true nature.

False freedom

Loose life is not perfect freedom.  Eating anywhere, sleeping anywhere, aimless wandering, liberty of speech, to be a king, to have plenty, or to possess immense wealth is not freedom.  To shirk responsibility is not freedom.  Material independence will not give you perfect happiness or freedom.

Real Freedom

Real freedom is not merely political or economic.  Real Freedom is Lordship over oneself.  It is the Freedom of the Soul.  It is attainable only through slow and painful stages.
  • Real freedom is freedom from birth and death.
  • Real freedom is freedom from the trammels of flesh and mind.
  • Real freedom is freedom from the bonds of Karma.
  • Real freedom is freedom from desires, wants, likes and dislikes, attachment, lust, anger, greed etc…
  • Real Freedom is identification with the Supreme Self.


Mind is the cause of bondage and salvation of man.  The egoistic mind is the cause of bondage.  Where there is no mind, there is no bondage.  Mind imagines, through indiscrimination and ignorance, that the soul has been confined and located in this body, and hence, it perceives the soul to be in bondage. The non egoistic mind is the root of Moksha – or liberation. You have created your own bondage through your desires, attachments, egoism and cravings; you cry for emancipation.  Attachment is the most powerful weapon of Maya (cosmic illusion). The first attachment starts with the physical body, and then all other attachments come, attachments to body, food, wife, sons, friend etc…  There is no end to cares and worries.  Man creates for himself all these cares.  No one is to blame. When there is no I or egoism, there is liberation.  It is liberation when the mind is not attached to any object. It is bondage when the mind desires or grieves over anything, rejects or accepts anything, feels angry or happy at anything. Liberation is release from the bondage of the little ego and its desires and cravings.

Real Divine Nature

This is a story of a baby lion who, growing up amongst sheep, thinks that he is a sheep.  He stays baaing like a sheep until a lion comes and brings him to the river to see himself in the reflection of the river. The sheepish lion has mistakes himself to be a sheep, until he sees himself as the same as the lion and realizes his true nature as a lion.  He then roars like a lion for the first time, liberating himself from his false concept of himself. The purpose of Yoga is to free oneself from all false concepts about oneself and realize our immortal Self. Consider signing up for our Teacher Training Course for a one-month immersion >>
Swami Sivananda and disciple laughing hysterically showing real happiness
Swami Sivananda and disciple laughing hysterically showing real happiness.
Swami Sivananda sitting cross leg during sadhu years smiling
Swami Sivananda sitting cross leg during sadhu years smiling.

True Happiness

“Happiness comes from within.  It can not come from without.” – Swami Sivananda in “Bliss Divine Just like the story of the woman looking for her needle, we fail to look within for happiness and continue to search for it in the world of the senses. We become so restless.  Why are we restless? It is because we think that there are a lot of things to do, a lot of experiences to have. We have a lot of desires because we think that happiness will come from the satisfaction of desires.  But, we constantly find ourselves disappointed as the desires, once fulfilled, leave us empty and unfulfilled. Then we wrongly assume that it is the fault of the object and go on changing the object (like changing husbands and yet not finding the perfect one because perfection is within), not realizing that this process is unending and that the true problem lies in our mind that is looking outside for happiness.

Happiness is within

Happiness is within, but we look for it in sensual objects.  Yoga and meditation help us to calm down, to stop that process of running after desires, and to look within to find the answers. Relaxation in yoga is important.  Relaxation means ceasing to be restless, and letting go of our attachments and desires.  It is also surrendering ourselves or accepting our inner self, and realizing that all is perfect. In the yoga class, we combine breathing, and relaxation to help people turn inward, relax, slow down, and become aware of themselves. There is a story of a monkey who put his hands into a jar to get some cookies. He grasped a handful of cookies and tried to pull his hand out of the jar, but his hand was stuck.  He became very unhappy and frustrated, jumping a round with his hand stuck in the jar, still grasping to the cookies, not realizing that the only way for him to get out of his plight was to drop the cookies. In the same manner, we need to let go of our desires in order for us to enjoy the freedom and happiness that are already here. Learn more through our certification courses >>

Yoga Teacher Training Course

Check out our 200-hour Yoga Alliance certified Yoga Teacher Training Courses offered twice a year in California, 3x in Vietnam, once in China and once in Japan.

Foundational Courses

Choose from upcoming courses for beginners and intermediate level students.

Yoga Vacation

Rejuvinate your body and mind. Experience and progress with daily Yoga classes. Learn the 12 basic asanas and pranayama. Enjoy daily meditation, chanting, and organic vegetarian meals.

Check out our Blog

Our Sivananda Yoga Farm Blog has numerous articles, videos, and talks given by our senior teachers over the years.


The contents you will find here are reproduced from the book “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy”  compiled by Swami Sitaramananda.


What is Satsang?  What is Meditation? What is Kirtan Chanting?

5 Points of Yoga

Exercise,  Breathing, Relaxation, Diet, Positive thinking and Meditation


What is True Health?  What is health of body, mind, and spirit?


What is Prana?  How can I access prana? What is kundalini energy?

Raja Yoga

What is Raja Yoga? What are the eight limbs?  What is ashtanga yoga?

Jnana Yoga

Who am I?  What is Vedanta Philosophy?  What is Sat-Chit-Ananda?


What is a mantra?  What is sanskrit?  How do I get a mantra?

Yoga Poses

What is in a basic Sivananda class?  What are the benefits?  What are some guidelines?


What is Yoga?  Where did Yoga come from? What is Classical Yoga?


What is the meaning of Life?  What is Freedom? What is Happiness?


What is the mind?  How does the mind work? Am I my mind?

Positive Thinking

What is thought?  What are techniques to practice positive thinking?

Karma Yoga

What is Karma? What is Karma Yoga?  How to practice karma yoga?

Bhakti Yoga

What is True Love?  Who is God?  What is an inner Bhava?

Kirtan Chanting

What is Kirtan Chanting?  How does it work?  What do the chants mean?


What is ayurveda?  What are the 3 doshas?  What is disease according to ayurveda?