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Promise of Joy

[August 2023 – Dharma Center Mindfulness Tip]

Our society holds the promise of joy out in front of us like a carrot on a stick. We’re told we can be happy when … when we finish our degree, when we land the high paying job, when we buy the house, when we find the perfect relationship, when we do something. But the truth is, joy is already here, now.

We’re taught to use the idea of future happiness as an incentive to work hard and be productive. What people don’t realize is we are much more effective when we are happy. We’re better at every aspect of life when we embrace joy.

Our minds are sharper and it’s easier to concentrate. We’re more creative and we can see solutions beyond the problems in our world. In a state of joy, we’re content yet we can still see areas of improvement. When we act from a place of joy, we’re more confident and can be honest in our relationships. Our communication is clearer and we see the benefit of helping others.

Think back to the last time you were really happy and remember how gracefully you were able to handle any issues you faced. We all know the truth of this, yet we still buy into the carrot and stick routine. This is the mental conditioning that keeps us in a state of suffering.

We’ve been sold a lie that if we’re happy, we will become lazy. Or even worse, we’ve been told people who express joy are fake.

Embracing our unreasonable joy does not mean we’re bouncing off the walls laughing – although sometimes that happens! Nor does it mean everything in our lives is sunshine and roses. Mostly there is a serene, quiet happiness permeating our being. We still struggle with challenges and we still feel all the human emotions.


There is a phenomenon I’ve seen of saccharine sweetness in the spiritual world.  In some circles, there’s a whole lot of “stuffering” going on – where people stuff their feelings behind a wall of denial and silently suffer, all while forcing a smile. They pretend to be happy because they’re confused about what spiritual success means.

On the Path, to be successful we need to be real. To reach our innate, unreasonable joy, we have to break through our mental conditioning. We cannot go around it or bury it. If we want to be free, we must be willing to face all that we are. This includes the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly parts of our being.

As we meditate and open the Pandora’s box of our mind, everything spills out. In the course of learning how to meditate, we learn concentration and control. We learn how to focus on a single point to the exclusion of everything else. But this is only the beginning. We then learn how to be still as thousands of thoughts and feelings pass through us. Through the fire of meditative practice, we discover how not to cling to any of it.

If we deny what we feel or what thoughts are parading through our mind, we wind up clinging to those very thoughts and feelings. They become a barrier between us and our true nature. Stories about who we think we are spring up. Justifications for our blocks drag us into suffering. Thinking we are not allowed to have these emotions forces us to stuffer.

Be Real with Spiritual Community

This is where our teacher and our spiritual community help us. By being brave and willing to admit where we are stuck, our companions provide a mirror. We can then see our hang ups and attachments with more clarity. They help us get a close look at the mental conditioning preventing us from experiencing our unreasonable joy. In a true spiritual community, we help each other be real and be blissed!

The more internal baggage we release, the more compassionate we become. There’s no longer a need to be anyone special, or anyone at all. We are here, exploring this wild and wonderful world together. We’re able to be fully present with those we encounter, without judgment or expectation. In this joyous state, we can respond to the suffering of others with genuine concern and care. We then become the mirror for others who are ready to be free.

Are you ready to stop stuffering and embrace the promise of unconditional joy within you? Join us at Dharma Center, through our classes and as part of our Member community.

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Published inBuddha Lessons / Mindfulness