A few weeks ago I was doing a contemplation on the highest aspect of God that we can know. I tried to go to the consciousness beyond all time and space, beyond the billions of galaxies, beyond what we can imagine. And I got the answer: “All you can know of me is that I am joy!”
Then it hit me. That is what all living beings are looking for — for a turtle bathing in the sun on a log, for people having sex or dancing or singing. Why do people take drugs? It gives them joy, however fleeting.
In essence, we need to find how to meet our needs for joy and happiness without relying on external things or people. We want a continuous flow of happiness, and the outer world is subject to change and cannot always be relied upon to provide that.
What sparks our joy? For some, daily meditation may be the key; mindfulness walking may be better for another. Chanting mantras can help still the outer mind and direct it to the heart. Praise of God or singing to the Divine is a great way to have that figure eight flow with that Source of all joy. Sometimes I go to local kirtans to experience Eastern devotional singing and be a part of an entire audience that is in a state of ecstatic bliss.
There is a yin-yang flow to life. You can’t always maintain an intense state of being blissfully happy, perhaps not until you are enlightened. During down times, keep to your spiritual sadhana or practice, going in full faith that the feelings of joy will again return.
I work a lot with patients with depression or anxiety, and often I find that there are old traumas lodged in the brain. People are seeing the world through the lenses of the old patterns. Healing methods or psychotherapy can work on those levels.
I often use perspective to constantly keep aware of that feeling of awe at the miracle of life. We are on this sphere floating in space and it is full of amazing life forms that we haven’t found anywhere else in the universe. Be grateful for that. Be amazed. Be in awe. Everything we can see or touch was once an exploded star billions of years ago. That cell phone in your hand was once stardust, as well as your neurons in your brain or the gold in your ring.
So don’t take life too seriously. It is a dream world, quite illusory and temporary — and only the joy is real. In India, they say God is Sat Chit Ananda: eternal knowledge and bliss. As the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy!”