Filled with Joy
This week I read a beautiful quote from Lama Zopa Rinpoche that I would like to share with you:
There’s Only Space for Joy...
If something is difficult—think of the benefits. You should take difficulties as an ornament, not a burden. So in life there’s not one second to be depressed, no place, no space – only joy, happiness more than the sky.
With everything that is going on at the moment I keep on coming back to the importance and centrality of joy. I have already written a couple of articles about this, and I guess I will do so again. The more that we are challenged by what is going on around us the more that we need to return to, and choose, the four immeasurable qualities of Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity.
We see around us many people being overcome with fear, division and anger - even turning into outright hatred. It is easy to see why, and I am sure that we have all felt some of this ourselves as we have been challenged by all that has happened this year. It can be hard to be joyful.
Rinpoche gives us a clue to how we should approach this, by only allowing space for joy. We can choose to allow ourselves to be driven into negative states, or we can be so full of joy that we have no space for them.
Of course this is easier said than done, and I know that I am much less than a ray of sunshine some of the time! Yet we can all set an intention to cultivate more joy, even in these times.
The wonderful teacher and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a beautiful piece titled 'This Silence is Called great Joy", which you can read here. In it he contemplates this old Buddhist gatha:
All formations are impermanent.
They are subject to birth and death.
But remove the notions of birth and death,
and this silence is called great joy.
In this piece he speaks directly to how we might work in the current troubled situation. He encourages us to look at things in this way:
So it is crucial to look deeply at your thoughts and your views. What are you holding on to? Whether you are an artist or a businessperson, a parent or a teacher, you have your views about how to live your life, how to help other people, how to make your country prosperous, and so on. When you are attached to these views, to the idea of right and wrong, then you may be get caught. When your thinking is caught in these views, then you create misunderstanding, anger, and violence. That is what you are becoming in this very moment.The story here is the same -- that we can allow negative emotions to arise by clinging to an idea of how things 'should' be, or we can choose love, joy, compassion and equanimity.
When you are mindful of this and can look deeply, you can produce thoughts that are full of love and understanding. You can make yourself and the world around you suffer less.
As I am writing this (on Friday evening) I have just learned that RBG has passed away. Of course my initial thoughts are sadness at the loss of such an important and inspiring individual. And then comes the fear of what the outcome may be, the ways that this can lead to more division and strife in our country. But I can choose to be filled with joy that she was here on this earth, and for all we have gained from her life and example.
I'm going to choose to be filled with joy. Hopefully there won't be room for anything else.
I have linked below a fully guided audio meditation on cultivating joy. A few of us have committed to pressing 'play' together at 7pm on Sunday, September 20th. You are welcome to join us if you wish.
If the above player doesn't work for you, please click here.