There have been a few things happen this week that have caused me to be joyful, but by far the most moving one for me was seeing the picture of Malala above.
What is lovely is that in the picture we see a normal, intelligent 22 year-old, having been 'trashed' by her friends and classmates in celebration of her graduation.
Of course what makes this picture so special is the story behind it, of the young 15 year-old Malala Yousafzai speaking out to ensure young girls received an education, and being shot in the head and left for dead for that. And the story of her recovery, her Nobel Prize and her continued courage in speaking truth to power.
When asked about her graduation, she expressed her “joy and gratitude” and added “I don’t know what’s ahead. For now, it will be Netflix, reading and sleep.”
I have spoken a lot about Joy (Mudita) in the lase few months. The reason for this is that as we look around it is easy to see how the challenges and hardships of the current times can cause us to focus more on anger, hatred and division. We don't need to look far around us to see plenty of that. And yet in all of this we can choose to be joyful. The key here is going beyond the reactive. I started this piece talking of the 'things that have caused me to be joyful.' This is the natural way to talk about it, but what we (I) need to do is to turn this around - to choose to be joyful independent of what is going on. This is where our practice comes in, specifically the practice of Mudita Bhavana - Cultivation of Joy.
And this isn't just for our temporary well-being or happiness. This is a key part of our path. The Buddha said:
Here, O, Monks, a disciple lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of unselfish joy, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, everywhere and equally, he continues to pervade with a heart of unselfish joy, abundant, grown great, measureless, without hostility or ill-will.
So a core part of our practice should be to cultivate this joy, unconditionally. I have linked below a fully guided audio meditation on cultivating joy. I would encourage you to practice this powerful form in this difficult time. You can, of course, listen at any time but a few of us have committed to press 'play' together at 7pm PT on Sunday June 21st - it would be lovely to have you join us.
Please feel free to forward this to anyone who you think would appreciate it, and do let me know if you have any comments or questions - I love hearing from you.
If the above player doesn't work for you please click here.