The value of being joyful.
Joy is not restricted to our thoughts and emotions. It is like an invisible current that permeates every aspect of life. It has the power to bind us together. However, our lives are not uniformly joyful. In some aspects, there may be an oversupply of happiness. In other areas, there may be a scarcity. We spend considerable time and energy in increasing the level of happiness in areas of our lives where it is missing.
Joy is like an invisible current that permeates every aspect of life. It has the power to bind us together.
Wealth is a proxy for happiness, and it can transform the external aspects of life and fill gaps in the fabric of joy. However, this type of happiness is limited in scope. Wealth primarily works on thoughts and emotions, uplifting them. However, wealth can lose meaning when there is no contrast, either with past circumstances or with the lives of others. It is also dependent on factors that may be out of our control.
Unless joy originates within and grows organically independent of external props or influences, it won’t last. The happiness that we associate with objects and experiences of everyday life is manufactured happiness. It has a finite shelf life, as this form of happiness is a product of thoughts, which we know are very transient phenomena.
The joy that emerges from within our being is valuable. Such joy quickly saturates all our thoughts and emotions. When the mind overflows, joy then spills into the physical body. A byproduct of a happy mind is better physical health. Once happiness saturates the body and the mind, it freely spreads outwards into the world and positively influences others. Then there is scope for both inner and outer transformation.
In contrast, happiness that comes via outer experiences is fleeting and transient. Such happiness depends on thoughts. We cannot rely on thoughts to stay in one place, and they don’t easily yield to our command. This is not a downside or a weakness of thought-forms. On the contrary, their ephemeral nature can be a great blessing.
Imagine if individual thought-forms end up staying permanently in the conscious mind. However pleasant a thought maybe, once they overstay their welcome, they cause discomfort in the mind, ultimately becoming unwelcome guests. Moreover, there will not be any room for new ideas.
As thoughts that bring happiness disappear from the conscious mind, so do the waves of joy they bring. Joy gets washed away by a new stream of thoughts, leaving us with the task of manufacturing new forms. The mind, as a result, cannot fully relax.
As thoughts that bring happiness disappear from the conscious mind, so do the waves of joy they bring.
The mind is continually trying to hold onto one thought or another in the hopes of garnering lasting happiness. Consequently, it will not allow us to share this limited happiness with the world. We become insecure and begin to seek out more experiences to shore up the stores of joy in the mind.
Would it not be nice to have a steady inner state of happiness that does not vary from day to day, moment to moment?
Some days bring happiness, while others bring misery. There is a continual struggle for a steady state of joy. Everyone is involved in this struggle.
The reason we rarely succeed in maintaining a high and stable level of happiness is the tool we use — the mind. It can either be an obstacle or a facilitator of happiness. It obstructs joy that wells up from within, while it tries to facilitate happiness from the external world.
There is a joy that continually escapes from the center of our being. We cannot explain it, but we indirectly experience it in deep sleep when the mind is no longer a disturbance. Upon waking up from deep sleep, we feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and the mind is full of energy and spontaneity.
Where does this energy originate?
We can compare the subjective center of our being to the earth’s core. If we take a cross-section of the earth, there are many different layers before we get to a homogenous molten core. The heat from this molten core helps create the earth’s magnetic field, which extends out into space, protecting us from harmful solar radiation. Living on the earth’s surface, we are beneficiaries of natural processes occurring deep inside the earth.
Likewise, if we take a cross-sectional view of our being, the outer layer is the body. Below this is the mind. Still deeper is the essential center of our being, which is not accessible from the mind. The joy that originates from there influences the subtle aura, our ‘magnetic field’ that others can pick up when they are around us. If the mind is overactive, it becomes the predominant influence on the aura, and if it is not in the way, we come across as deeply blissful beings.
Imagine if we could carry that fragrance of joy that we experience upon waking up from deep sleep throughout our waking hours. Much of our perceived problems of daily living would disappear. Like the earth’s magnetic field, which shields us from harmful radiation, this aura of happiness that comes from within will protect us from the unpredictable nature of daily life.
In many ways, happiness is a choice. The fundamental question we must ask of ourselves is whether we want real or manufactured happiness? Both cannot coexist. The presence of one negates the other. Since we are so accustomed to the world of thoughts and experiences, it becomes difficult to sacrifice a familiar source of happiness, the external world, for something unknown and distant.
Manufactured happiness can be bought, but it will diminish with time. Real happiness cannot be purchased, and it grows over time.
Once we decide to let go of manufactured happiness, it may feel like we are on our own in a strange and mysterious place. It is almost as if we are groping in the darkness of the mind. The easy way out is to return to the familiar world of thoughts and look for ways to continue deriving a ‘passive income’ of happiness through dependence on the world.
The more challenging way is discovering a new route into our being that cuts through all that the mind holds dear. This involves hard work on our part. The first step is to empty the mind so that it can no longer be an obstacle or a distraction. This cannot be done in an instant.
Emptying the mind is like cleaning a vessel that has accumulated years of dirt and rust. It takes considerable time and effort. As we clean and polish a vessel, it may not begin to shine right away, but regular cleaning will prevent new deposits from accumulating. Likewise, daily efforts in keeping the mind relatively light and empty will bear fruit over time.
To empty the mind, we must not take the contents of our thoughts seriously. This frees up mental energy that would otherwise be involved in cataloging and storing thoughts in memory. The conscious mind has limitations. There isn’t an endless room for ideas. If too many thoughts accumulate, at some point, their contents will need to be emptied. Our involvement with those contents determines their entry into our memory.
The conscious mind has limitations.
Memories have their advantages and disadvantages. One of the benefits of happy memories is that they are readily available, like prepackaged, ready to eat food. At any time, we can reach into them and enjoy the happiness they bring. However, our memory is not selective to only happy thoughts. There may store an equal or higher proportion of unhappy thoughts. These undesirable memories may tumble out into the conscious mind as we sift through the memory, looking for happy thoughts.
The mind is like a begging bowl. We take it everywhere we go, and it eventually overflows. The mind that was once overflowing becomes empty as we get less entangled with thoughts. As we begin to clean the mind of the old residue of thoughts, there is a temptation to add new information. Unless we keep the mind empty, happiness that emanates from the inner depths of our being cannot percolate into the mind.
The mind may become like a dark empty cave as we let go of manufactured happiness. However, the ‘dampness’ of joy coming from the depths of our being will begin to trickle into a mind that remains empty. It cannot remain vacant for long. This pure crystallized happiness, when it enters the empty mind space, nourishes the seeker and will draw him or her into deeper states of bliss.
However, just as we may never find the primary source of water in a cave, we may not be able to come in direct contact with the source of happiness within our being. Tasting even a few drops of untainted inner joy will help wipe the stains that disfigure the mind from years of suffering and misery at the hands of undesirable thought-forms.
When we empty the mind, it becomes a peaceful place. Just as the temperature in a cave remains very stable, unaffected by the changing weather outside, such an empty ‘cave’ like mind will manifest a steady state of peace and happiness unruffled by the happenings in the outside world.
A daily practice of setting aside a few moments periodically throughout the day to observe the mind can help empty the mind.
Witnessing the mind will help prevent the accumulation of pent up energy within it, and eventually will create an opening for the contents of our thoughts to harmlessly flow out and evaporate. Joy fills that void, and its value is immeasurable.