2020-07-07 Dharma Samadhi (2 of 5) Gladness and Joy
3:10PM Jul 7, 2020
So the title of the talks this week is Dharma Samadhi. And Dharma Samadhi is a teaching from the Buddha of five different mental, emotional qualities that we enter into as we would enter into a stream and be carried by the current. And so there's a way in which we practice and sometimes it can feel a little bit like practice is a lot of work and sometimes it is. Especially when we first start. But at some point, we enter into a stream, into a momentum. That's not of our doing and not part of our effort, but rather it's something begins to move through us. This can be as simple as when we sit down and we don't do much except maybe be present, we can start feeling that things begin to shift. That maybe our shoulders relax a little bit. And the belly softens, wasn't necessarily that we initiated that, it just happens on its own. Some people notice that in the course of a 30 minute meditation, by the end, things are much more settled in the body, more ease and relaxation.
And it wasn't that we did any of it so much. We just stayed present, stayed with the breathing, stayed out of the busy mind that's get stressed out. And things just kind of shed and relaxed. And so that's kind of the stream of relaxation. We allow and we allow that, we want to get out of the way. As we relax, then there can be a feeling of pleasure or goodness or rightness in that. They can give a sense of gladness or joy or sense of Yes, this is good. And that sense of gladness that can come from that can be seen as not something we intentionally create or do, but almost a byproduct of the settling in there that goes on and can go on in practice.
So this idea that there's something else going on here besides what we are engineering. That we're allowing for something. And the stronger our practice is, the more regularity, the more we know how to really show up and be in the present moment, the more we're capable of also opening up and allowing this flow to happen, this unfolding to happen that is a Dharma flow. And it's intentional to use this language of flow because the Buddha himself use the metaphor that at some point, the practice puts us in a current and we're carried along by the current, the current in the river. And the word for current is sota in Pali, s-o-t-a. And it's often translated into English as stream. And in the terms of someone who's really entered into the flow of the Dharma has become a stream enterer.
But this word stream enterer doesn't quite capture the idea of being now being carried by a flow. And that is lost by choosing stream, when the word literally means current. So someone has entered the current. And so this Dharma Samadhi is beginning to enter a current that has five different things. It has gladness, joy, tranquility, happiness, and concentration. And the flow goes from one to the next. And it's a remarkable thing to these wonderful positive states of mind are our potentials are capacities that are within us, that the practice creates the conditions for this good stuff to kind of begin to flow. Kind of like the practice has the capacity to help us relax and let go. And it's almost maybe connected to that the more we can let go, the more that feels good.
So today the topic is the first two of these Dharma Samadhis. This is what I'm using the translation of gladness and joy. There are other choices for these two words, the Pali is pàmojja and pīti. And some people, sometimes it's translated as the first one is not gladness, but is the word joy is used. And the second one is rapture. There's the idea that from the ancient times that the first one is the weak form of the second one.
And so there's, you know, so joy then rapture is much more strong and tense, tense vacation of joy. And I offer you both possibilities, as a kind of a kind of you'd like kind of an assignment is maybe you can think about and then reflect and have conversations with people about what words you would choose for these first two, Dharma Samadhi qualities, would you use gladness and joy, joy and rapture? would you use something else? And, but maybe you want to reserve happiness, for the fourth quality that we get to. And the idea that you can find your own word or find what works for you, is a very important principle in this practice. Because if it doesn't work for you, the language the ideas, then you know, it's a little bit more difficult for us to open in you or to live in you or to unfold in you.
And so don't take English translations of Buddhist terms as being the fixed idea, this is has to be that term. There might be it's kind of, it's more like a general suggestion, and you can kind of begin finding how it works for you. But in any case, the first one is gladness. And I like the word gladness because gladness to me, is a little bit, it's an appreciation. It's a little bit evaluative. It's a little bit understanding of the context of something, this is good. Whereas the second, joy, can also be that, but it's much more the delight, the pleasure, the joy that comes from really being absorbed and engaged in meditation itself. In the activity we're doing. It's the self enjoyment, the self enjoying, the self enjoying feeling, the self image enjoying joy, of being engaged and present for what we're doing. And it's not so much that it's an evaluation in comparison to something else. But it's just kind of the joy of the activity itself. Whereas gladness is the more evaluative and it's in comparison to other things. So, for example, to have been really caught up in the hindrances for a long time, and caught and swirling around and desire, ill will and so forth.
And then finally, the fantasies, the illusions, the distractions of these things settle away, and it feels like oh, I'm back. I myself finally again. I'm here and I'm no longer being pulled away by all these things, and this feels good. That feeling of good there is more of a gladness in comparison to being caught or being lost. The Buddha talks about a variety of things that give rise to this gladness. And that's one of them, one of the predominant ones is no longer being caught by the hindrances. And that can be a long slog, takes a long time, sometimes years for people to have the hindrances abate, that we start feeling entering into the river, the flow of gladness that's there, ah, this is nice. An interesting other one is that he talks about virtuous behavior, living a virtuous life. So that our conduct, what we actually do, is not harming anybody else intentionally with violating the precepts.
And this idea of living from wholesome qualities, feeling inside of us also that we have wholesomeness, we're dedicated to being wholesome and skillful and, and living a good life. And that leads he said to a feeling of non regret and this non regret for not having a regret for not doing anything harmful. That is a source can be a source of gladness.
And there's plenty of people I know who are really living basically good life lives. But there's such a strong kind of inner critic that many people have, that they don't avail themselves, they don't appreciate that actually, they haven't killed and stolen and, you know, engage in sexual misconduct or lied or, you know, you know, intoxicated recently, and that in that time that we haven't, that's a good thing. And that gladness of that the joy of that is something that the Buddha says you can avail yourself of, that you can open to allow or that can just be recognized. This is good.
It's interesting that this emphasis on experiencing gladness or joy from our ethical life is omething that scholars have said was also a prominent among the ancient Greeks, and also the early Christians. That there was an understanding that an ethical life was the source for a kind of joy or happiness that was lost with in Europe around the time of the Protestant Reformation and the rise of capitalism, where there was a greater emphasis on the individual.
And in the modern 20th 21st century, that a lot of the emphasis on joy and happiness I think, in kind of European centric currents of our modern world, had been focused on personal psychological well being in the, in how we can kind of impersonal terms, psychological terms what happiness is. Whereas the ancients, including the Buddhists had a very clear sense of that it was something that we did in community, and that how we behave in community ethically, is also a source for our joy or gladness.
And the other thing that Buddha talked about gives birth to this kind of gladness, is having an upright mind, or often translated into English as a straight mind, but an upright mind, an honest mind, honest heart. And to really feel that we have a goodness inside, and we're honest, is one of the products of mindfulness practice, because mindfulness is a practice of being honest. And learning how to be more and more honest with ourselves in our world. And then that can bring a sense of gladness that we have uprightness or this dedication to being honest We might not always be completely ethical to our standards or always as upright as we'd like to be. But one of the sources of joy and gladness is that we're dedicated to it. That it's our intention to keep doing better keep trying again. I'm so glad that I'm trying that this is my inspiration.
And so, and then the last thing I'll say, which I mentioned yesterday, is Bhikkhu Bodhi translated as inspiration in the Dharma can give a source of joy, of gladness, that we read the Dharma, we hear the Dharma, and which is so glad to be connected to it to know if this feels right. But the actual word is not, I don't think is inspiration, a word is more like to have a feeling for the Dharma. And this idea that not so much used to read and Dharma and think, Oh, this is really right. But to have some intuitive or felt sense, feel this is what it's about. This kind of ease or freedom or peace, or openness or compassion. This is good.
So there's all of these different things that we can appreciate, we can open up to, we can spend time connecting to what's inspiring, so that some feeling of gladness arises. And the gladness is not so much manufactured as really connecting to what inspires us and then allowing it to live there and recognize it. As the practice deepens and gets stronger than that gladness is a support or a fuel or a foundation for the next Dharma Samadhi quality, which is joy, pīti. That some people translate as rapture because it's very physical and it can be sometimes quite intense with a lot of, you know, a lot of energy that's there. Technically, it's considered to be a mental phenomenon, mental kind of delight and joy. Kind of mind, the mind has been lit up with delight and the engagement and the practice and doing it. And generally this happens when people can really stay in the present moment. And then there's a gladness with that, and a joy and delight in it, in the involvement in the staying present with the breath and staying in the present moment with experience. And it's not necessarily something we have to make happen. But it is something that as we start feeling, getting a sense of relaxing, of letting go, of just the simplicity of a mind which has not caught up in unfortunate mind states and activities, that we avail ourselves, we tune into the well being, the joy, the goodness of that.
And this is part of the art of Dharma practice is the art of opening up our attention, not to deny what's difficult, but to include what is not difficult, to include where the gladness is, and where the joy is, where the delight is, to include the delight of engagement, delight of being here, delight of not being caught anymore, delight of the goodness of being honest and having an upright mind or being deeply connected.
And this this willingness to open and say yes, to what is good. Without denying what is bad and wrong or difficult, is the door to which this flow, this current can begin moving within us. And we're waiting or looking or we're kind of allowing this current of the Dharma, the Dharma Samadhi current, to move through us.
So, gladness and joy, or other people called the first one joy and the second one rapture. Or maybe you have your own two words for what you'd like to call these and then think about. And that then tomorrow we'll talk about the third factor that flows out of, or continues this movement of the flow into tranquility.
And, in the meantime, for today, for this next period until tomorrow, please spend some time looking for this Dharma, gladness and Dharma joy. See if it's here for you. See if maybe there's a way of saying yes, and open to your experience, that even when things are difficult, that allow some kind of some kind of spark some kind of little tingling or little something or a big something of joy, of delight of gladness to be part of your day for the next 24 hours.
May you enjoy your day. Thank you