2020-12-23 Brahmavihāras: Appreciative Joy (3 of 5)
5:01PM Dec 23, 2020
So, this is a third talk then on appreciative joy, muditā. And all these brahma viharās come along with an intentionality, or a sense of, or an intent, or a sense of purpose, or an inspiration to really kind of gather ourselves orient ourselves around these qualities. And rather than just appreciating them when they happen to appear, to make them a practice, make them an orientation for our lives, it's possible to choose them individually and spend like a week like we are now with any one of them. It's also possible to that the primary intent purpose is to one of keeping the heart open, or to say it a different way to really stay present, attentive, aware, to receive and register fully the experience of our life, as if in our present moment, as we go through our lives. Now, this is the most important time. This is the most important thing, regardless of what it is.
Because this is the only time, the only time in which you'll be conscious for this moment. Your lived experience is so valuable. And rather than being judging the present moment, by, you know, what your thing you're doing, or the thing you're involved in what you're not doing, and there's more important things someplace else, and you just want to get to the place in time that something wonderful is going to be - it's shortchanging ourselves, because it's another whole half at least what's going on is that we're conscious and aware and present and alive in this moment.
And there is a way of appreciating that and not not. So he's really being present for everything. And being an open heart towards everything is also a way of being present and open to ourselves and to the preciousness of this live moment here. So with that intent, the intent to live with an open heart, then as we go through the day, different ones of these brahmavihāras might get awakened or evoked.
When we just feel friendliness towards people and what their welfare and then it's mettā, loving kindness. When the people are suffering, in that open heart, we feel they're feel for their suffering or care for them, and want the suffering to end. We have our sympathy. And when things are going well, then we have muditā.
We celebrate with them, we rejoice we're happy for them and share and their happiness. And in a sense, their good fortune is giving us a chance to give to us, to feel the Yes, and joy and happiness, and our happiness and our joy in their success their good fortune is is a kind of gift to them - a mutual giving of joy. And what a great world it would be, if we had that is mutual circle of joy and delight that we give for each other.
So mudita so it also comes with a sense of intent and purpose. Now classically in doing muditā practice, the intention is, is captured in a certain phrase. And my favorite one is from a text that's from about 1500 years ago, called the "Path of Freedom" - not the path of purification. And the footnote here that when I was young, I wanted to be an archaeologist, and they dig in the ground to or to you know, old ruins and find things and long ago, and that's nice.
But now I read these Buddhist texts, but they were written, they're composed, you know, 1500 years ago, 2000 years ago, 2500 years ago. And it's some of those are written at a times when I was going to explore those civilizations in archaeology. And but now, I don't find the stones and ruins and material objects from that time those times. But rather you find these beautiful expressions of inner developing the cultivation - how these people in the ancient world develop their hearts and their minds, and their, what they valued and how they understood their set themselves from the inside out, something you can't really see so much from the archaeological stones that might be found. A little bit simplistic. What I said was, if you're an archaeologist, but still this archaeology of the soul, that kind of is found.
And so in this ancient 1500 year old text, the expression intentionality around muditā is said this way: 'Sādhu.' Sādhu is the Pali word for excellent, so "Sādhu, Sādhu, Sādhu" - "May this goodness, may this fortune, continue for a long time!" So this idea of excellent, 'Sādhu!' I like to think it's like the English "Yes. Yes!" And that's just a happy exclamation of joy and affirmation of something.
Yes. And may this continue for a long time. And this long time, for me is very important, because it's, you're celebrating something that's worthwhile having for a long time. If it's simply some kind of pleasure. If it's simply you know, that someone has a chance to go to the amusement park, and in they did just really delighted by all the wonderful things there. You know, after a few years of living in amusement park, it's not going to be an ongoing source of happiness for a long time. It's kind of a bit conditioned about the excitement of the moment of being there.
But there are some happinesses, and joys and goodness, which are sustainable, that nourish us and support us that are worthwhile having for a long time. And to really kind of affirm that, to celebrate and enjoy and may: "What's good in you; may what's good here, continue for a long time." The same text talks about this movement of open hearted affirmation of sādu, of 'Yes,' as being an antidote for fear, or it's a movement of non-fear.
And certainly, we can reflect how many times maybe the unwillingness to appreciate others or to celebrate, or, and really enjoy and affirm what's happening, is it socially, it's challenging the implications of it, Or will they take advantage of us. So it's embarrassing for us to do that, or it's inappropriate, and there's fear there. But to discover this way of living intent, purposeful life of mindfulness that's really here. We also with time, learn how to be safe here, how not to pick up and react and judge and take in so much of what goes on in the world.
And it's easier then to feel non-fear and just Yes standard holder standing on our own two feet, not leaning in, not expecting anything, not pulling back. But kind of like this, maybe the wrong term and modern United States, this idea of stand your ground, but stand your ground with a big - your arms are open like this, like wide open. And and you're certainly a safe person for people. And: "Yes, yes, how wonderful. May this continue for a long time."
So in in this more classical period of Theravādan Buddhism, then, that as one does muditā practice, one then repeats this phrase, "May this success continue. May the good fortune, go on for people" - something like that.
And, and so there's an intent there, of support of hope of aspiration for this person to keep experiencing it. When I do it. It's not so much like this particular good fortune continue or, but rather that this capacity that they had that lead to it. This inner deeper place that makes this possible for them to feel joy and happiness and wellbeing: "May that place stay awake. May that place still operate in them and be supported and recognized."
And so part of muditā practice is having this intent, this intention to do motivation, intend for something or maybe an aspiration, or this wish, for this goodness, for this good fortune to continue - for the happiness of others to continue.
But that also makes appreciative joy a little bit more complicated. It's wonderful to do this. But it also is a little more complicated, more cognitive, something a little bit more has to wake up in the mind to have that wish. In the teachings of the Buddha, he talks about the practice of muditā without any reference to establishing a clear intention or aspiration or a wish, that could be encapsulated in a phrase. But rather, it just feeling joy, rejoicing in the good fortune of others. So you don't have to even be in the person's presence. They don't have to know that you're wishing that to continue. But it's simpler. It comes from a simpler place inside.
It's just that we're open and available, to ready to say yes, and to: "Ah, yes, this is wonderful! How nice. This is good." We don't even say those words. But there's a resonance. There's a way in which our hearts are in our life. In being open and present, and not preoccupied in our thoughts that we can experience. We kind of are affected in a nice way, by the good things we see in the world, the good things people are doing their success that they have, the happiness they have. And, and it's just there's a feeling of abundance, then that happens, oh, yes, this is great.
And this kind of movement of feeling joy, it's things that around us that our joy producing, requires the mind to not be crowded. A crowded mind cannot feel much love cannot feel much joy and delight in the world around us. And so as part of the function of meditation and mindfulness is to not crowd the mind with thoughts, ideas, reaction reactions, judgments, commentary, which are more often than not, not about the present moment. But learn to quiet that enough. So it's not so crowded, or not so fast. One thought after the other, like we're just jumping around from one to the next.
Also, it requires that the mind is not so scattered, or random or purposeless, like we're just giving over to our mind to just jump around and do whatever it wants. And kind of it's like kids who have free rein of, I don't know, the house, because the parents are gone. So the so to cultivate a life of purpose and intent in Buddhism, is to begin cutting through or stabilizing, the crowded mind, the scattered mind, the agitated mind. So that some of the really most wonderful parts of who we are, have a chance has room to be there for us.
And one of the wonderful parts of our lives is appreciative joy - our capacity to say, "Sādhu, Sādhu, Sādhu - Yes, yes, this is wonderful. Yes, I rejoice in this. Yes, may this good fortune, continue for you for a long time."
So a life of intent in for this day and next 24 hours, you might see if you can have a little more sense of intent, or sense of purpose or heightened value in living the day, with muditā, with appreciative joy ready to rejoice and notice what's worth appreciating, appreciating what can be appreciated. And to remind you, you might tie a string around your finger or put a sticky note on someplace where you see all the time and right just, you know: "Rejoice," or "Appreciative Joy." And, and, and have conversations with people about this.
May you spend a day with appreciation, even in the midst of whatever challenges you have. Not instead of. So thank you and I wish you well.