I have written several posts over the years about happiness and joy. I came to believe that joy in the Buddhist context was really “just” happiness, and that happiness was really the absence of suffering. Because I rarely felt what I thought “happy” should feel like, I deduced that my ego-mind was doing a number on me and so I wasn’t feeling happy even when I was doing what I knew in my heart was all I needed to be happy. That in fact I was happy. This could be classified as a reductio ad absurdum.
Recently it came to me in a meditation that I truly wasn’t experiencing happiness. I wasn’t experiencing joy, not because my mind was defining it a certain way but because I really wasn’t experiencing it. Why? There was background level “noise” still emanating from my ego-mind that put a pall over all my experiences, that placed a layer of clouds between me and the sun, my try Buddha nature.
I knew when I looked at the pictures of me as a toddler that I saw years ago as my true Buddha self, that true joy is possible. It is my birthright. It is in my heart.
What I needed was a meditation tool to break through that last subtle layer of clouds, that low level of discontent “noise” from my ego-mind, throughout the day. This required more than opening up my heart to embrace all aspects of my being and experience. This required completely coming home and being at one with my heart, with my true Buddha nature free of my ego-mind.
As related in my post, “Meditation - Coming Home, Releasing, and Being at Peace,” when I sense that cloud, which is surprisingly often, I start chanting to myself (usually an “om” chant, often “om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum”). After chanting that several times, I am always brought back home, to my heart, and I experience joy and freedom, I am grateful and happy.
One of the Vietnamese Zen monks that taught me many years ago used to say, “Take joy in every moment, in every thing you do.” I now know that he truly meant “joy” and not some denatured version of it as I had thought in earlier writings. And I am grateful that after 20+ years, I have finally found that gate to experiencing pure joy. When I am in that space, I experience things, especially all aspects of nature and people, in a very different, immediate way. There is no barrier between me and my experience.
Experiencing this Buddhist joy does not mean one is oblivious to all of the problems and suffering in the world. But that awareness does not overwhelm your heart, creating a barrier between you and your heart. I am aware what is happening in the world, but when I am present in the moment, at one with my heart, I am nevertheless able to experience the joy of life. As a book I recently read said, "Seriousness serves no function."