Recently while meditating, I had a further awareness about joy. The way I, as well as many others, had written about joy, was that there are things out there to take joy in, to find happiness in, and we must put ourselves in a space where we are open to receiving that joy. We must be mindful of those things and never forget them. We must focus on them, not on the negative things in our life.
I understand now that was fundamentally wrong. Instead, the point is that we carry joy within ourselves. It is part of our true Buddha nature, it is our birthright. That is why I started experiencing joy on a regular basis after I connected directly with my heart, my Buddha nature, as related in that post. I felt joy spontaneously because it emanated from myself.
I am joyful regardless what is going on around me, even if I were in the direst of circumstances, because I am in touch with the joy within me. That joy is inviolate. In that state I will be able to also take joy not just in the lovely weather or nature or things that would generally be considered pleasing. I will find joy even where none is apparent. For example, I will find joy in the knowledge that all the people on the subway whose suffering is so evident have the true Buddha nature inside them, waiting for them to be aware of the light and start the journey to rediscover their true self. That they all have that potential.
My reaction to that daily experience in the subway is no longer sadness, which it had been, combined with compassion, in the past. I truly now experience joy when I observe my fellow subway riders through the eyes of my true Buddha self. Sadness is the veil, the filter, the ego-mind places over the awareness of the heart that everyone has the true Buddha nature inside them. Free of my ego-mind’s intervention, I don’t feel sadness.
Some might consider what I am describing as callousness. But it most certainly is not. I am very aware of the struggles people have; that knowledge is inescapable observing their faces and their body language. But as a book I once read said, there is no virtue to sadness or seriousness. Indeed, if my purpose in life is to offer others joy, I cannot offer someone joy if I am sad. I can only offer joy if I am joyful myself.
And so when I look at people with nothing but joy in my heart, occasionally I’ll get a smile in response. That tells me that I have touched someone; they have received the joy I offered. And at least for that one brief moment, they were taken out of their struggles and were able to experience kindness and joy, and know that they were deserving of such.