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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cultivating Joy

Peace and Harmony

There are two aspects of individual harmony: the harmony between body and soul, and the harmony between individuals. All the tragedy in the world, in the individual and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony. And harmony is best given by producing harmony in one's own life.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan

In the spirituality group on Wednesday night, we grappled with defining “joy.” Like harmony, its definition varies from person to person. In my world view, harmony is synonymous with balance—all things in moderation, equal work and play, opportunity to exercise one's creative expression, enough food but not too much, enough sleep, intellectual challenges but not intractable problems, good friends, soul connections and so on. Internal harmony, for me, comes from living in balance. This is not to say that I always achieve it. I'm far better at defining it than practicing it, which is true for most of us.

Joy, on the other hand, creates a conundrum. The first thing that pops into my mind is an excessive state of glee—the Hallmark version of joy! The over-the-top, I'm madly in love sort of adrenaline rush one feels when something wonderful happens. As great as that is, I don't think it's the kind of joy that is called a “gift of the spirit.” The spirituality group decided that the spiritual definition of joy is peace. When one is at peace within, one feels joyful. I'm sure there are people who simply are born peaceful—people whose very nature is joy. I can honestly say that I don't know any of them. In my experience, which is admittedly limited, one works to achieve inner peace, and sometimes it takes a lifetime.

The work of peace-making, based on personal experience, and from study over the decades, is a product of learning to accept life on its own terms. Which, like Reinhold Niebuhr's serenity prayer—“grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...courage...wisdom...” sounds easy, but is probably the greatest human challenge of all. To achieve inner balance, peace, harmony, and thus joy, one must allow life to unfold in its own way. Acceptance of self and others, exactly as we are, and confronting the vicissitudes of life without being turned upside-down and inside-out is the path to inner peace. That simple, yet difficult, practice allows life-energy to continuously flow through your body/mind and produce feelings of peace and harmony. Sounds good, doesn't it? Let's practice that today.

                                                               In the Spirit,


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