Seeking to live a life of enlightenment brings to mind a joyful life for most people, and rightly so. There is so much in the emotional lives of most people that is destructive and dangerous that can and should be eliminated. Without being simplistic, this alone can bring about a life that is joyful as opposed to the ebbs and flows of stress, anger and sorrow experienced by billions today.
Does a joyful life mean a life without sorrow at all?
No, it doesn’t. I’ve known several people that underwent religious awakenings that resulted in what appeared to be a constant stream of ebullient happiness that eventually went through periods of near manic states. When it finally ended, the individuals spoke of experiencing a fear that if they succumbed to sorrow that they had failed. “God would be disappointed in me for not maintaining my joy through trials.”
This stems from an unrealistic view of what joy is. Happiness differs from joy in that it is about an event or the general surroundings someone experiences. Joy, on the other hand is more of a pervasive state of satisfaction and serene well-being that permeates ones whole being and experience and existence.
How do you then reconcile sadness with a constant state of satisfaction and serenity? Aren’t these irreconcilable?
No one an argue that there are things that occur in life that are very sad. We lose people to sickness and death as a matter of course, and it would be the equivalent of insanity to expect anyone to be happy about that. To expect yourself to feel anything except sorrow over these events would be equally ridiculous.
It is not just appropriate, but right to feel sadness over the loss of a loved one, or over any tragic event. When that sorrow overwhelms all aspects of life, that is another matter.
Sadness, and even mourning need not be experiences that take us out of our peaceful and serene state if we don’t view these as attacks on ourselves.
When I lost my mother six years ago, I definitely experienced a period of sadness as she had succumbed to a chronic illness and her life had been tough for a long time. The sadness was an occasion for recalling the closeness that we had shared over the years, and I allowed it to occur naturally without resistance. I didn’t fight it at all…
Think about that for a minute: Who, or what could I possibly have been fighting?
On the other hand, if I had allowed myself to view the experience as an attack on myself, the sadness would have taken a very unhealthy turn. Since there is no antagonist to grapple with it is an impossible struggle to win, and becomes an unending cycle that eclipses all else in ones awareness.
By experiencing the sadness, or in this case mourning I was able to allow it to run it’s course without marring my memories of someone very special to me. My peace and serenity remained intact and in retrospect even the sadness I experienced is recalled with a sense of peace and a form of satisfaction.
Getting to a place where this is possible doesn’t require years of therapy, or that you relive all of the past conflicts in life either. All that is necessary is to give up attack thoughts.
Attack thoughts are those stray negative emotions and inner dialogues where we view what goes on around us as constant competition (or yes, attacks).
Let’s be totally candid here and ask if we really believe that we have a real conflict with the person that has 25 items in the express lane at the grocery store. You get the idea I am sure. Let them go. They are stealing your joy.
It is really quite amazing what a feeling of setting down a very heavy load you will have. A very heavy load that never needed to be lifted, let alone carried any distance at all!
When I find myself at all feeling any form of attack thoughts about anyone or any situation, I simply recall the NLP assumption:
“Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources available to them.”
This makes it quit easy to also realize that whatever conflict I perceived was an illusion, because the way other parties experience the same incidents have no resemblance to my own.
Letting go of whatever residual tension is within me becomes much simpler now. A brief bit of meditation, and usually a Ho’oponopono prayer and it is gone…
Living a life of joy means being willing to let go of conflict and attack thoughts. The periods of sadness and mourning will take care of themselves as long as we don’t resist them, but allow the to be experienced as they are. Nothing more… Nothing less…
You may be surprised to find that they add to the richness of your emotional life and that you can recall them in a positive light.