Bringing Peace to Ourselves and Our World
When I listen to or read from other Dharma teachers, there is a piece of wisdom that they frequently offer as a foundation in bringing peace to life. They inform us that, without connecting with others through our intention, behavior, and action, we remain separated, distanced, alienated, and removed. This unhappy state unfolds as the “lonely heart.” A “lonely heart” often misunderstands others’ deeds and intentions, mistaking them as harmful, aversive, angry, and biased towards us.
We get caught in what has been known as a “monkey trap,” as the Buddhist story makes clear. Many years ago, when hunters put out traps in the jungles, they filled them with tar. Then when a monkey inadvertently stepped in, one foot got stuck. When the monkey tried to lift the foot out, he went off balance and the other foot also was caught. As he kept trying to free himself, one arm was submerged, and then the other — until he was really trapped. This is a metaphor for how we get imprisoned in negative mind states, we don’t see them, we cannot get away, and we get lost and cannot free ourselves.
One of the most potent practices for liberation from the “lonely heart,” merging with others, and deeply connecting is Appreciative Joy or mudita (Pali). Mudita is the third quality cultivated in what is called the Four Brahma Viharas, also known as the Four Immeasurables or Boundless States of Mind.
Appreciative Joy is known as a rare and beautiful quality that brings happiness. To take delight in the happiness of others of others and celebrate their success, prosperity, and good fortune without envying, begrudging, or comparisons is the state of mudita.
When others are happy, when another rejoices in our happiness, we feel overjoyed, abundant, and grateful.
Mudita means “to be pleased and have a sense of gladness.” We are connected through this real bonding. As the Dali Lama says …“Everyone wants to be happy, just like I want to be happy.” And he also informs us, “happiness is my religion.”
Cultivating Appreciative Joy is one of the few golden gateways in Buddhist practice to connect with others and bring peace into our world. When we understand each other, avarice, prejudice, jealousy, and dislike dissolve, and friendliness and love are engendered.
You can find out more about this by enrolling in my Wednesday night classes at TCMC called “Real Kindness: Appreciative Joy and Equanimity” — there is still room.