2020-12-20 Muditā-Rejoicing in Others
6:41PM Dec 20, 2020
Hello everyone and welcome to this Sunday morning talk and this morning I'm going to talk about mudita brahma vihara. It's a Pali word for abiding in the divine quality of rejoicing, rejoice meant the word is often translated into English as sympathetic joy or as appreciative joy. And I think it gets both said in a single word single word very nicely with the English word rejoice. And maybe we're a little shy to use the word rejoice in the Vipassana world because it's maybe feels a little bit too emotional or excited and to rejoice but, in fact, it's nothing wrong with being have some strong energy of delight and joy coursing through us that is rejoicing rejoicing also the quality of clearly recognizing something appreciating something valuing something and almost maybe even rejoicing is kind of naming it or or feeling a certain surge of happiness. In very particularly in relationship to it. There's a wonderful term and that in Pali called a new mode add on no more none more than a bit probably, I can pronounce it well today. I know Mona and more nada. It moral covenant commonly translated as rejoice, and to celebrate wonderful things that happen in the world to celebrate the goodness of others and their generosity, their success, they're good things to happen to people, and to really set happy you know, kind of rejoice and celebrate has also a contagious quality to it. That may be a little bit different than delight, which maybe isn't that can be calmer and more personal. The word mudita this word is translated that often is sympathetic joy comes from the verb moda t, which means the dictionary definitions is to rejoice to in to enjoy oneself with and to be happy. And, and so this is one of the four places to abide, because vihara means a place of abiding to dwell. And so the idea is to dwell in the light, the rejoicing, just as we can dwell in compassion. And we can dwell in loving kindness and kindness or goodwill. And last week, Joe Zen Gibson gave a talk on compassion. And it was wonderful that many ways I was happy to you can meet him. He's a wonderful new teacher. But also he was setting up the theme of compassion during the 7am sittings that week. And today, maybe inspired by him, I'm going to talk about sympathetic joy, because that's the topic for the 7am sittings for the next week. And now, it's kind of a coincidence that this worked out. But for some people, this is a season two for joy, this type of time a year. And so it's nice that in Buddhism, we can also focus on this particular wonderful quality. One of the reasons I like rejoicing as a translation and bodhisatta is that, in my mind, I connected to the topic of generosity, in the sense that when we rejoice or celebrate, we are giving joy, it's a gift of joy. So it's one thing to, you know, rejoice privately in oneself to feel the light and happiness. But I think of it just like compassion is something that is meant for the world to share. goodwill is something to share with the world. So this mudita is something we share with the world. And so it's something we offer and to give joy gives a very different feeling for what mudita is then of just say, appreciative joy, but to, you know, celebrate and offer joy or expand joy or spread joy and in our delight, maybe it's contagious, a little bit to feel, to express this and to do it.
And so it certainly joy happiness well being gladness. There's many words for this, these quality of qualities of well being in the teachings. The Buddha. And there was a real expectation that this was a very important part of the path. And it's a wonderful kind of, I don't know, if it's a paradox maybe doesn't have to be, but that, that the Buddha's path is a path to the ending of suffering. And that path along that path, there is joy and happiness, delight, gladness, that are stepping stones on that path, that's part of that path, that we address suffering in a very honest way in Buddhism, but not so that we can suffer better, but so that the suffering can we can find our way through it. And that way through it goes through a phase of all kinds of experiences of joy and happiness and delight. That Buddho was when the epitaphs for the Buddha was the happy one. And the and it was often not often but we know we have record so that the ancient times, people commented on the joyfulness of the Buddhist community that the followers of the Buddha. So joy is an important part of all this. But I think it's a nice principle to understand that a crowded mind has very little room for joy. And it's very easy to go through a day in the life with a mound mind crowded with concerns and complaints, and troubles and challenges, and resentments and jealousies, and planning and rumination. And it's easy to kind of get caught up in all our concerns and ride them and review them and revisit them and churn them out. Kind of a whirlpool of concerns that the mind thinking mind can have. And some of those concerns are certainly valid. But when we're in the whirlpool of thoughts around those concerns, I don't know how useful it is, when the mind becomes crowded with preoccupations, I don't know how useful that is certainly useful to deliberately unintentionally address our challenges. But to be in the whirlpool of them, I don't think it's so good. But the most important thing I want to emphasize here is a crowded mind has no room for joy, has no room for appreciation, that if you go into your kitchen, like I did this morning, to make breakfast for my that I have a choice, do I think about the different things that I have to do today and my concerns and do I spend my time filling my mind with thoughts about a talk on appreciation and joy and rejoicing? Or do I make room in my mind to really be there and the experience of making breakfast and, and to appreciate the things that are there to appreciate just the clarity and the moment of this particular thing. And I have a particular bowl that I eat breakfast from and that bowl was I know the person who made the bowl and, and it was a gift that my wife gave me and, and I it's a beautiful bowl, it's was made with one of my favorite colors. So it's just like, there's just kind of was there on the counter and kind of sparkling clean and, and just picking it up and touching it then I just felt this in the moment it kind of clarity kind of delight, appreciation, a kind of a pleasure of just this bowl that it wouldn't have felt if I had been busy thinking about my concerns of the day and my became preoccupied. And it turns out, there's a much more many more opportunities for appreciation for delight for beauty, for well being for respect for gratitude in our lives, than I think most people availed themselves. I think that because of this crowded mind. Now one of the things that gets in the way of appreciation of joy delight, is some idea that we're not supposed to experience those things, some idea that if we're really serious, that we would be serious, that we would be preoccupied and angry and concerned and worrying about things and that we're guilty and, you know, the world's
going up in flames and, and the only thing that we're allowed to do is to be anxious and preoccupied and caught up in it and, and or feeling guilty that we're not doing enough and, you know, and just in this world, a swirl of of thoughts and ideas. And that you know, to stop, to quiet the mind to pause, and to notice the details of our life that we can appreciate the particular things that go on and what's here for us right in front of us in here and present, to take the time to go shopping, to, to notice the checkout clerk, and to notice and appreciate the person and take time just to notice and see, can you you're not gonna let the person know you're doing this, but can you take in the person, so they are not just a, you know, take them for granted. So it might as well be a robot, but really to take in the, this is a human being with a background history and challenges and joys and, and really kind of take in and try to get a fuller sense of the person so that there can be some appreciation not after all the person is doing a service for you. So a crowded mind has very little room for joy, a mind that is not crowded with thoughts and ideas, has a lot of room for a lot of things. And, and delight, appreciation, gratitude and joy is what I want to emphasize today. And for this week. There could also be the protests that it's selfish, and self centered to be involved in joy and, and there's so much suffering in the world. And so, you know, we should be cut serious and maybe suffer ourselves because of it. And, and not really allow ourselves to feel joy. on the path to the liberation from Joy's beautiful path. It is a path that allows us to really feel and experience suffering much more strongly, more openly, strongly, members not to read word read more clearly. And we as the practice deepens, most people who do this meditation practice, become much more sensitized, aware and open to experience the suffering around them, and also to experience our own suffering and deeper way and fuller way. So what I'd like to propose is that the ability to be open to joy open to delight is exactly the same ability to be open to suffering in a useful way. It's kind of like it's the same door in our heart. And whether we want to be make sure that door can swing open, and the hinges are well lubricated. And it's easy to open. And, and, and so if you learn to do that for joy, then the doors also learning to do it for suffering. If we're learning to do for suffering, then appreciate how that open doors opening. There's non resistance, non clinging, non resentment non pushing away, it's just openness to it. And then as we go through our lives, without the mind being crowded, that open door policy that we have in our hearts, when you see a beautiful bowl, that was a gift on your counter kitchen counter, then there's joy and delight and happiness in that. And when you see when you encounter someone who's suffering, then there's compassion for that. When you're walking down the street, and you see, you know, someone that you'd maybe you don't know, but you know, the person greets you. And so you offer your your open door offers a greeting back and goodwill and friendliness. And so this ability to have the doors open, this is what allows for these things to go on. So rather than focusing on needing to be delightful and appreciate appreciating and grateful or needing to be compassionate, the mindfulness practice, has no need of what we're supposed to be, has no requirement you're supposed to be loving or compassionate. What mindfulness is about out is noticing where we're stuck where the door doesn't open, and helping us to relax and open to release. So the doors of the heart can swing open easily and anytime. And then we can talk more seriously about and if that's the right word more seriously, about joy about rejoicing.
So this idea of sympathetic joy or rejoicing in the fortune well being success of others, and for oneself as well. Is can't be selfish because selfishness is a is a symptom of a closed door. Pre self preoccupation is a crowded mind which is conceded. And that mudita is actually seen as an antidote to conceit. It's an antidote to selfishness. It's an antidote to self preoccupation. Because it's with the ability to open up the door, and appreciate and delight in other people's success is not an easy thing to do. It's often been said that this third brahma vihara, sympathetic joy is the hardest one for people to experience or to have. Seems like maybe there's easy to feel resentful other people's success or be jealous of their success envious of them, or to feel somehow that their success is says something about ourselves. If they're being successful, well, I'm not and therefore I must be lousy. And so it becomes a self concern again, back to concede back to self preoccupation back to that crowded whirlpool of thoughts Oh, poor me, and I'm not really up to it, they're doing really well. And I'm not I've been left behind. And, and so, you know, it's so easy to get caught up in self concern around all this, and, or ideas that they don't deserve it. I remember when I was in Burma meditating, when there was a group of one of Americans meditating there. And there was a didn't talk hardly at all. But there was one man that we showed up the same day. And we had a few little bit of conversations occasionally, very occasionally. And remember, as many months into it, there was a woman who had some really deep kind of realization experience. And, you know, something that people go meditate to experience and to have happen. And something to celebrate. And when this person I knew, heard that this woman had this experience, he got upset. And he said, No, I can't be I knew her back in the United States, and no way that she could have done that. He was just all kind of upset and angry and resisting the very idea of, rather than celebrating her good fortune, appreciating it rejoicing, wow, it is so great. She came here for this and, and she got what she wanted. So this thing about the doors of the heart, being able to open is very important principle. Because I think of many spiritual traditions, not just Buddhism, he points out that to it's easy to pursue happiness, the wrong way, to actively credit, manufacture happiness, or be happy, doesn't really work very well or to put together the pieces in our life that will make us happy, the right relationship, the right job, the right home, the right thing, the right anything, this, then I'll be happy. And and sometimes people confuse pleasure with happiness. And pleasure itself is often many spiritual tradition, not just Buddhism, as I just said, also, that pleasure is often considered to have a dual edge, certainly pleasure is pleasurable. But it often can come to get come along with disappointment, that discomfort, suffering, because pleasure is often a temporary, and it you know, unless the object is bringing pleasure continues, we'll we'll lose the pleasure. And then we don't have that piece of caffeine, that piece of delight, or that piece of energy that we were holding on to or expecting or kind of, depending on. Also too much focus on pleasure is an alienation for something deep in ourselves. So deeper sense of well being something that's more enduring. And this is what spirituality is often looking for, is a more enduring, deeper feeling of well being of happiness and joy. That doesn't so much depend on what's going on in the world around us. The conditions of life don't have to be just right so we can be happy. But we have this wellspring of happiness that can be there even if the conditions of life around us are not going so well.
So the this, so rather than pursuing happiness directly, there's a movement towards opening the doors learning this process of not clinging, not holding on not resisting, not being assertive and grabbing on and wanting and but being available. being available, we show up at the kitchen counter for the bowl that's there being available, as we eat our breakfast, to appreciate that this is pretty special, this food and how it got to us and what we're doing, we're having or eating, to appreciate to have room and openness to notice when someone is celebrating someone has success and happiness. Or to notice the things about other people that can be appreciated. Things that only take the things that take a little bit of time to study and look at and be present for. If we're in the whirlpool of thoughts and concerns, we're not really able to take in another person fully. But it taken the other person more fully. And enough, so we started appreciating people. And if we appreciate people, maybe we can be grateful for people, or we can start feeling some delight and joy and people, perhaps we've been we can rejoice in others, just because we know them just because they are who they are. In addition for whatever success they have, and that traditionally the idea of rejoicing in the good fortune of others, is not only for spiritual success, you know, that somehow they become happier and more open and more loving, and, but also for any kind of success, healthy dharmic success dharmic meaning that doesn't cause any harm to anybody. And any any success, it doesn't cause any harm. And that could be that they receive gifts or resources or all kinds of things, that that, you know, maybe you don't receive. But rather than feeling like oh, you know, why did they get that and I don't get it. You know, they won and I didn't win. Celebrate, they're winning, rather than rather than suffering over the loss. Wow, they won. It's not fantastic. I have I haven't to lose the race. But, you know, but how wonderful that they won. There's a wonderful little teaching, I think that when the sun sets for you, it's rising for someone else. When it's winter, in the Northern Hemisphere, it's summer in the southern hemisphere. That if you're in a kind of maybe you're in a playing a game, it's about winning. If you lose guess what someone else has won. Rather than looking at everything from the point of view only of me myself in mind and the impact for me and how it is for me and my comfort and well being and my success and my status. To have the doors open, the mind not crowded with self concern. And to be available to be to really appreciate and delight and how it is for other people. And paradoxically, doing this is a phenomenal vehicle for your own happiness. Turns out that doing something like this can bring more happiness than if you celebrated your own win. If you won the game, there is a kind of joy or happiness that comes with winning. But you might look next time you win something or gets the benefit of something, but at the expense of someone else, like they lost the game. I believe that there's a more lasting my experience more lasting, deeper, more satisfying sense of well being, that you will benefit you when actually in some kind of way. If you really appreciate and rejoice and celebrate their win. Your loss maybe is incidental. You don't have to be so concerned about whether you're not you're lost and what it means and how people see you or something.
Play the game well, but then rejoice in how someone else wins. And I suspect that as I said, you feel better, more at ease and be more enduring, to celebrate that weight and someone else than to celebrate your own wins. If you if you did. So it's a fascinating and wonderful and profound way to live a life is to have your doors able to be well lubricated, well able to open, to be at ease to not cling and to walk through the world and then respond with or have the heart response with friendliness when friendliness is called on compassion when compassion is called on and with rejoicing, when rejoicing is called on don't shortchange yourself. Allow yourself to rejoice more often. Allow yourself to have this joy, sympathetic joy, appreciative joy. Let go more, so that you can rejoice and appreciate and delight in the good fortune of others. And in the goodness of others, beauty of others the wonderfulness of all beings May your rejoicing be your gift to the world, the gift of joy that helps others people feel more at ease and safe and happy and so it's easier for other people to feel also has settled joy and happiness and well being May all beings be happy and they we contribute to that happening. Thank you