I should for clarity restate how I defined “joy” in that earlier posting, for it is not the dictionary definition. I said that for me, joy is “a lightness of spirit, feeling nurtured, experiencing something that brings a smile to my face ... whether it’s the beauty of nature, watching a small child, listening to a good piece of music, crawling into bed, or the companionship of a friend.”
I felt good, positive, satisfied when I did what I judged to be good work, but joy was a feeling that with rare exception was not present. That raised the question, why does my spirit remain weighted down by the past. After a few months of further meditation I can answer that question.
I began by going deep within myself during meditation. I visualized going down deep into my interior on an elevator, like in a mine ... past my thoughts, past my learned experience, past my ego, to finally reach the core, my true Buddha nature.
And when I was embraced by my smiling true Buddha nature, I realized that while at one level I knew that my experience of the past was an illusion caused by a variety of factors and that the labels that were applied to me and which I then applied to myself were illusory, I had not literally relived my past in my mind. I had not revisited the past through the eyes of my true Buddha nature, seeing it as it really was, and so the burden of past suffering was still with me. I had not replaced the old image with my new understanding of reality.
By happy coincidence, around this time, I turned my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature. (I wrote about this in another posting,) Several years ago I had surrendered my ego to my true Buddha nature, but I had not turned my life over to the care of it; that may seem like a distinction without a difference, but that is not the case. When I finally did that, its body became my body, its breath became my breath, its senses became my senses, its eyes became my eyes.
And it was through those eyes and senses that I was now able to revisit my past, especially my childhood, and see it for what it really was. I saw my father as being the unconditionally loving and compassionate father that he was, rather than the father whose love I had lost through various faults of mine. I saw his admonitions to me as being an expression of his love, of his wanting the best for me ... it was his way based on his upbringing and culture, even though in my child’s eyes it seemed that he was angry with me and did not love me; that he thought I was faulty. And I saw the countless unmistakable expressions of his love and compassion for me which at the time did not break through the barrier of my pain.
Again, I had come to this realization many years ago. The difference now was that I was actually reliving the past through the eyes and senses of my true Buddha nature. I witnessed the various things he did and I saw what they truly meant, not what I had thought they meant.
I then went through the key high and low points in my life and saw with the eyes of my true Buddha nature that I was frequently the recipient of much love and respect throughout my life, and that when I was “low,” I was acting on learned negative habit energies, not in control of my actions, and I had compassion for the pain that I inflicted on myself and others.
This process continued for several weeks. Little by little as the weeks went by, I could tell that throughout the day I was smiling more, that I was taking more joy in little things. At the end of perhaps a month, between having turned my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature and having relived my past and seen the truth, most importantly that I was loved unconditionally and with compassion by my father at all times, I now feel a lightness of spirit and am able to experience joy on a regular basis.
This is not to say that I go around 24/7 with a smile on my face. There is still much pain in the world, both immediate and distant, that pains me, just as others’ joy is my joy. But as a general matter, I do now take joy when I am engaged in activities or am just in repose.
Another lesson in practical Buddhism.