Joy

by Dennis Bradford

in spiritual well-being

Who wouldn’t like more joy (bliss, beatitude)?

There’s plenty to go around; it’s not in short supply. It’s abundant.

Furthermore, it’s not only possible but even simple to help yourself to as much as you want!

Since all bliss comes from Being, it is available right here right now.

Taking my word for anything, especially anything important, is not a good idea. I’m not a sage.

It is, though, a good idea to consider taking the word of a sage. I don’t recommend assuming that everything every sage ever said is correct. However, if you believe that living well or wisely is possible, that some have done it, and that you may know who they are, then why not at least take seriously what they say?

Jesus, for example, is considered a sage, a spiritual teacher. According to Luke 17:21, he said that heaven is available right here right now.

What always struck me as odd is that, though I pointed that out year after year to my undergraduate students, they never seemed to take it seriously. It’s as if they thought “Impossible!” and let go of that idea as soon as they heard it.

Yet Jesus was right.

Why is it so hard to believe?

I’m not sure, but it may be because we spend so much time being dissatisfied that it seems wildly improbable that there could be another way. After all, how many people do you know who lead lives filled with joy? Probably very few.

That, though, just shows that sages are few and far between — and that may be only because few of us listen seriously listen to them!

There’s another problem, namely, it’s impossible to think about Being. We are trapped in time or Becoming and, so, unable to conceive timeless joy.

Even if we could think about Being, since all language is in the domain of Becoming, it would still be impossible to talk about it!

When sages use words and analogies from Becoming in an effort to point towards Being, they must fail. That makes it even easier to fail to take them seriously.

Nevertheless, Being is as real as it is inexhaustible. So is the joy available from it.

Please reconsider the assumption that something must be an object (a form, something singleoutable) to be real. It’s true that Becoming is populated with objects and some of them are real (existent, entities). What’s not true is that only objects can be real.

Even though Being is unthinkable, it is nevertheless real. In fact, you have probably apprehended or been aware of it many times!

Because it wasn’t an object, however, you probably paid little attention.

The good news is that, once you are aware of what might be, there are ways to open to it. I have mentioned some of those ways previously in these posts.

Furthermore, in my post on mini-meditation and my post on body practice I’ve presented the idea that every act can be an opening to Being. If so, that means that everything you do can be infused with joy!

The more you suffer constantly, the crazier that idea will strike you. You may think it just nuts that you can replace incessant dissatisfaction with the joy of Being!

I appeal to your own experience to undermine your attachment to dissatisfaction.

Think of a time when you did something without thinking. If you put your mind to it, you can probably remember many such experiences.

Have you ever mastered a movement in a sport such as shooting a jump shot in basketball or firing a wrist shot in hockey?

Have you ever mastered a musical instrument so well that, at least once, “it” happened?

Have you ever momentarily been struck thoughtless by some awesome spectacular event in nature?

Have you ever experienced culture shock to such a degree that even the hum and buzz of an ordinary moment in a wholly different culture left you speechless?

There could be many, many different kinds of such examples.

All involve total, temporary awareness to such a degree that time seems suspended. All are wholly without ego.  All occur without thinking (conceptualizing).  All are full of genuine joy – not the kind of peaks and valleys of ordinary happiness or unhappiness.

The more you let go of attachment to thinking, the more joy you will experience.

This is why, for example, I have claimed that even just walking down a hallway can be full of joy when you are fully attending to your walking.

When a sage walks down a hall, do you think his or her focus is on the goal or purpose of the walking, in other words, the destination?

Notice that that goal is nothing but a thought!

All goals are just thoughts!

This is why Sengcan, the third Zen ancestor in ancient China, wrote: “The wise do not strive after goals.” Of course, they set goals, because otherwise, in the case of walking, they wouldn’t know in which direction to walk.

However, once set, goals are forgotten in favor of the walking, the doing. Do you want to walk with joy? That is possible every time you walk!

All you have to do is to let go of thinking while you are walking. Just be aware of walking and what is around you without conceptualizing (classifying, labeling, evaluating) it.

You will fill your life with joy if you always act that way.

Don’t worry: if there’s an occasional problem that demands thinking through, you won’t lose your ability to think. You will, though, stop incessantly thinking, which is what is obscuring the joy of Being that is right here right now.

It’s simple to find this out for yourself. That does not mean that it is easy. It’s not easy to break an addiction to thinking.

If you want to lead a life filled with joy, just break that addiction.

All the sages have.

They didn’t have anything that you or I lack.

I happen to believe that your True Nature is to be a sage. It’s just that you haven’t realized it yet.

If not now, when?

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