Joy is to be found in a place of inner quiet, the point of light within – the divine spark? It is more the manifestation of a quality of spirit than an emotion, existing only in the ‘now’.
Back in 2010, when I started this site, this was my first attempt at a definition of joy.
Revisiting joy nearly ten years on it is interesting to see where this perception has led me.
I see joy as a momentary glimpse of absolute belonging within the flow of all that is, a moment of total connectedness.
Joy is not happiness. If anything, I think it provides a glimpse of the unlimited capacity to encompass both the ecstasy and the agony of living and being human, both heart-filling and heart-breaking.
I perceive joy to exist at the level of our essential being. Young children access it more easily than adults because they have not yet fully constructed ego’s walls.
Those with a deep spirituality often seem to radiate joy (the Dalai Lama comes to mind). Is this, perhaps, because they have worked to shed layers of ego, to access and stay connected with the depth of being, the flow?
Often when we experience joy it is as an incandescent flash, almost outside of time. It is not something we can hold onto, yet it nourishes us to the core. It is, in the words of Derek Walcott, an illumination, a benediction, a visitation.
Cultivating our capacity to experience joy is also a process of honing our ability to connect, as well as to contain and to accept every shading of existence. This encompasses both the ‘natural’ and the ‘human’ world, which in the end is simply another manifestation of all that is whether you define this spiritually or in terms of particulate matter.
It is interesting that, at least according to Buddhist academic and teacher Reggie Ray, if we go back far enough in time to archaic, pre-agricultural civilizations, life’s purpose was perceived not as ‘progress’ but to stay connected with the depth of being expressed in creation. It seems to me that joy re-opens that gateway to connection and to that ‘still wilderness’.
Here are links to some older posts exploring the nature of joy that I think are particularly relevant: