Surprised by Joy

My meditation this morning felt heavy, but afterwards, sitting with Pat and sipping coffee, out of nowhere a lightness came over me. It was palpable, visceral, a definite felt sense.  I was taken aback.  The realization came upon me forcefully that it was OK to enjoy life. Yes, living life and living it abundantly is our God-given birthright.  Why this should be a shock to me, I’m not sure, but I was sure that on a felt level somewhere deep in my awakening consciousness this fact, that it is OK to enjoy life, was new to me.  I slowed down and took this in. For me, a big deal.   If this reality has been as evasive for you as it has been to me, I invite you to slow down and likewise take it in.

So I paused and asked myself about what the experiences are that I enjoy?  Long walks in nature with Pat, meals out with Pat, being of service to others, bringing joy to others, conversations of all sorts (especially related to spirituality and the meaning of life), wild-flower photography, reading and recording Pathwork lectures and working with similar material, intimacy and emotional connection with Pat.  I realized that if I allowed myself to take it in, my life is full of joy. But I have been missing the pleasure of joy though I am swimming in a sea of it.  I wondered where I got the idea (“image,” we would say in Pathwork) that joy was somehow wrong or selfish or simply not available. But this morning I interrupted that thought by just taking in the joy I was feeling in the Now.

There was great freedom in this awareness.  A feeling of relief, a great release even.  My mind reflected back on Pathwork Lecture 45 which I was recording yesterday.  This lecture seems to touch on this.  As I recall, it suggests that in knowing what I desire, in knowing what brings me joy, and what my motives are in these desires, in knowing why certain experiences or people bring me joy, I shall come to more truly know myself.  And this lecture goes on to speak of the many feeling and thought currents, often counteracting and at different levels, that are all flowing within and through me. Nothing in the feeling or thinking world is static or fixed.

Pat chimed in reminding me that happiness comes from doing our personal development work.  I agreed.  Happiness is not why we do our work but rather happiness is a natural byproduct of doing our work of self discovery and purification.

I realized that there is so much opportunity for joy in each day — joy in observing life, including its pains and anxieties.  I was reminded of Pathwork Lecture 75 that speaks to facing our fears, pointing out that fear is an illusion most of the time.

Pat said she was coming to terms of endearment with her life, getting a glimpse about what life is all about.  “It’s like I have been confused my entire life about what life is all about!”  She referred to Almaas’ writings dealing with life being about returning to a basic trust in the Cosmos, recovering our connection with the Divine.  “It is even progress for me to see my distrust!  I was blind, but now I see,” Pat observed.

To me this is the true gospel.  The “Good News” is not that we go to heaven when we die but rather that we can trust the benign nature of the Cosmos, even through death.  The Pathwork lectures use the word benign often in referring to the reality and truth of the Cosmos, the Divine.  What does benign mean? In our culture it seems to relate to cancer and is the opposite of malignant. Often our inference is that malignant is BAD and benign in NEUTRAL.  But benign’s true meaning, from its root, is much more actively positive and life-giving than what we may think.  The definition of benign includes the following words and phrases: “having a kindly disposition; gracious; showing or expressive of gentleness or kindness; favorable; propitious.” So a benign Cosmos is a Cosmos rich with positive support for all that brings meaning to our lives. When we suddenly come to realize this, it is a profound waking up experience. The benign nature of the Cosmos on all levels of consciousness, now that is good news.  And it is not a belief about the Cosmos but rather a building up of faith in this reality of the Cosmos’ benign nature experientially as we live out our life in this reality, step by step. Always in the Now.

I realized that this joy I was experiencing this morning was not to be clung to.  It seemed rather that I was to take it in fully as one of the feeling flavors flowing through me in that Now moment.

Perhaps I have not done this experience justice, but suffice it to say it was quite a shift in me. Perhaps a taste of the Divine, of Truth, of Love. Just perhaps.

PS  And it did hold for much of the day.  The day was somehow lighter, uplifting, joyful.  A good experience to remember.  But more important is that I increasingly open to a life where this benign nature of the Universe is experienced more and more deeply as the Truth it is, beginning in the little things and working up to the big things, including death.  This experiential faith, in contrast to clinging onto a wishful-thinking mental belief system, is perhaps what truly sustains us in the hardest of time. Just perhaps.