Jonathan Foust

November 10, 2008

Non-Sensual Joy

Filed under: Meditation, Observations — jonathanfoust @ 12:49 pm


Morning Light on the River

Morning Light on the River

I’m just back from teaching in New England at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, in Western Mass.  My program started on a Thursday night and Tara arrived to lead her program on Friday night.  She rolled in with a pretty rotten head cold and over the weekend I’ve picked up similar symptoms.

I’m writing a talk on “Increasing Your Capacity for Joy.”  How does one increase one’s joy when one is snuffly, weak, achy and with a grinding headache?

This was my inquiry as I squatted by the river this morning with Tara and the dogs.

I wondered whether I’d have the strength to teach tonight.  Whether I should try to find a sub for my classes at the World Bank and for yoga and meditation tomorrow.  I thought about the garage I had to clean out for the construction crew.  On and on and with the churning worry, a deeper sense of dread.  The more caught up I got in anxiety, the more and more I felt rotten.

Something in my awareness shifted to where I was.  The sun on the side of my face.  The happy look on the dog’s faces to have the pack together again.  The geese bottoms turning up to the morning sun as they scraped the bottom of the river for edibles.

I remembered a phrase from the Third Zen Patriarch:  

The Way is not difficult – for those with no preferences …  Make the slightest distinction between good and bad, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If I let the future and past fall away, all that remains is a moment that has the potential to be suspended from any label of good or bad.  

As I squatted in the sun, dropping into the details of ‘here and now,’ there emerged a sense of well-being – a sense that in the moment, all is already OK.  

The joy I felt was not bouncy and vibrant, but complete.  Spacious. Free.

Buddhism talks of two forms of joy.  One is conditional.  You win the lottery, you’re happy.  The other form of joy is unconditional and non-sensual.  This form of joy suggests we can be happy regardless of what is going on around us.


I still feel lousy.  But a lot lighter.


1 Comment »

  1. That’s a pretty picture

    Comment by Brian — November 18, 2008 @ 10:21 am

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