The Gift of Joy
The late comedian Joan Rivers, when explaining how to diet, used to say, “If it tastes good, spit it out.” This sums up a philosophy that some people seem to live by: If you’re having a good time, or if you are experiencing pleasure, beware – the axe is about to fall. It’s inherent in the so-called work ethic that values toil, thrift, and efficiency over enjoyment, and in the guilt many of us feel if we are thinking we’re having too much fun. Many individuals naïvely assume that they are mostly bad and had better be careful because God will strike them down sooner or later. They go through life, hiding in their foxholes, picturing God hurling thunderbolts at them, without ever believing that joy coming from the Lord can be a part of their human experience.
But just as we can enjoy a healthy diet that includes tasty foods, there is a way to experience happiness in this life despite its unpleasant, painful, or scary aspects – through meditation. As initiates of a fully realized living Master, we can contact the source of real joy and happiness – by following his instructions to calm our mind, raise our consciousness to the eye centre, and go within. As we read in Spiritual Gems, the Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh Ji, wrote to an initiate:
I am anxious to see you go inside, truly, and find the great light and joy which awaits you there. There is nothing equal to this way, and it gives more real joy and satisfaction than all else in the world. But to get that you have to go inside. It cannot be realized outside. All the world is seeking it in books, holy places, and association with people; but it has to be found inside. That is gained by steadfast meditation and holding your attention in the eye focus, without wavering.
He expands on this explanation in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. IV:
If our ears cease to hear the outer sounds and our eyes cease to see the outer sights, then we can hear the call of the Lord. When in this way our thoughts cease to wander out, we begin to hear the inner melodies and to relish the celestial joy. And then the secrets of the Lord begin to be revealed to us.
When Great Master talks about finding real joy, he means receiving the benefits of hearing the holy Sound – the Shabd, the Word, the universal vibration – and experiencing the jyoti – the inner light or flame, as described by Saint Matthew in the Bible: “If … thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” These manifestations of the Lord kindle joy in the one who perceives them, and that joy overflows into daily life.
A philosophical outlook of impending doom may help to keep us in line, but it doesn’t leave much room for joy. When Mother Teresa was recruiting nuns to work with her in her ministry to the poorest of the poor in India, she said she always looked for people who could transmit uplifting, positive energy to those suffering souls, along with the care and feeding that they needed. In other words, she wanted those who could share what she called “the gift of joy.” She knew that everyone needs more than medicine, food, and clean sheets. Everyone, no matter their station in life, needs love.
We are fortunate to be on a spiritual path that will lead our soul back to its true home with the Lord. Why not lead a relaxed and happy life? Maharaj Charan Singh explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
Everybody wants to be happy in this world. Nobody wants to be miserable. So why not be happy? Why not lead a relaxed and happy life? Why worry about the past and the future? Why not live in the present? Relaxation comes only when you’re happy within. When you are able to obtain that peace within, then wherever you go, you radiate peace…. We can never get that from outside, from worldly and sensual pleasures. That has to be obtained from within. Then your whole attitude towards life becomes relaxed. Then you will attend to everything in a relaxed manner, with a relaxed attitude.
The Masters encourage us to do our meditation to detach from worldly objects and desires, and to rise to a higher spiritual level where we can merge with our divine source. As this occurs, we become more familiar with feelings of spiritual bliss and joy. In Spiritual Gems, Great Master recommends that we give as much time as we can to concentrated simran. “As your concentration increases by repetition,” he says, “you will get more peace and greater joy.” This is a good reminder that our feeling of joy doesn’t depend on our thoughts – it arises, like cream from milk, as we do our meditation. We can’t simply think ourselves joyful. It comes through our meditation, through stopping time by means of concentrating our mind at the eye centre and experiencing inner bliss.
Once we are firmly established in our meditation and our love and faith in the Master, the joy we feel will be so strong that it will not be shaken by the ups and downs of daily life. As we work on following the spiritual path, we should remember that we are making room for joy by simply doing our meditation. The Shabd will do its work, and then we will experience the highest level of happiness and peace and be able to manifest the gift of joy.