Saturday, January 21, 2012
For various reasons, my life has been filled with joy lately. It's pretty wonderful, given how challenging the past few years have been. I wanted to share with you this post from the blog bodhi tree swaying, which offers 5 ways to increase joy in your life. With all the suffering around us, it's easy to dismiss joy as something fluffy, something that is, like chocolate, merely a treat to have once in a while. However, there is nothing in the Buddhist path, or any healthy spiritual path really, that precludes joy. Joy is our birthright. And anyone can experience it, regardless of current "outward" conditions.
One thing that appears to be missing in the post above has to do with handling difficulties or "negative" situations. It probably seems like an oxymoron to suggest that one can be joyful in the middle of conflicts or difficulties, but I have experienced just that. Just yesterday, I walked into a prep meeting for an Occupy project I'm involved in, and recognized immediately that folks were struggling. Events of the day had led to needing to make changes, and let go of some of the hoped for outcomes. And everyone in the room was handling it differently. As I sat at vthe table and breathed in each person's energy in the room, I felt a well of gratitude rise up within in. The agitation a few were expressing was ok. The worry another person expressed was ok. The confusion another expressed was just ok. It was all ok.
In fact, somehow it was more than ok to me. Beneath what was being said, the heart and passion of each person in the room was palpable. Beyond that, though, the simple act of being alive together where we were at that moment felt kind of amazing. How did we all arrive at this time and place together? What wild web of causes and conditions led us to share a piece of our lives, however fleeting it might be?
Even the difficulties have a certain beauty, and remembering that see that, it's possible for joy to arise. A joy that might tip the scales towards joy for others. Suffering need not be always matched with seriousness and solemness. Where you place your attention often makes all the difference.
*Photo is from a jam session held last night at the opening ceremony for the Whealthy Human Village project, which envisions a more earth-based, community driven world and is dedicated to setting up spaces to help bring that vision alive.