Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Intrinsic Joy


One of the things I have learned over the last five years of my life is that we are capable of achieving an inner state of joy that cannot be produced- or influenced- by external events.

Perhaps we could refer to this as intrinsic joy. It isn't born out of the things we do, or what we own, or how things are generally turning out in life. It is organic, that is, it arises from and resides within the organism itself. It's a substance that flows within the body, not an idea in the mind. It's part of the machinery of our lives, not part of the concept of them.

It occurs to me as I write this that this word "organic" is being used overly-much in today's world, and that I am officially one of the guilty parties. However, in this case it is difficult to think of another word that could mean "of the organism."

Intrinsic joy is not achieved through a better understanding of our psychology. It cannot be attained through the application of self-help programs, exercise classes, or any other external factor. It has to be sought and cultivated within the context of the body itself in its relationship with life.

That may sound peculiar to you. "What the hell does he mean," you are perhaps thinking. "If I can't get it by doing yoga, going to weekend retreats, seeing my shrink, winning at golf, or buying a terrific plasma screen television, why even bother discussing it?"

I think we need to discuss it because it's important for people to understand that the attainment of real inner joy is not dependent on materialism of any kind, at least not in the sense that we usually understand the word. The only material it depends on is the material of the impressions of our life and how we receive them. That, and Grace, which is a real and material force on the planet.

This work we call spiritual work- whether it's Dogen's work, Christ's work, Gurdjieff's work- is all about learning how to rightly receive and value our lives. It's within the development of that understanding that this joy I speak of can arrive. It may take years to discover, but it is available.

The atheists, agnostics, pessimists, and naysayers on this subject are all welcome to their own worlds. God bless 'em.

My world is a world where you can seek a flower within yourself, let it bloom, and understand that joy is something that flows upwards from the roots of the universe , downwards from the blossoming light of the galaxies, and into every body that prepares a place to receive it. Every human being has these flowers within themselves. Most people never even know it. They may even see pictures of them-Buddhists love to make pictures like that- and not know that the pictures are pictures of themselves.

Even a trickle of this joyful lightness of being is transformational. It takes some work, I won't deny it. But it's worth it.

So- two worlds. Take your pick.

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