One student recounted how she used to feel a sense of joy and happiness when she 1st started visiting buddhist centre and participating in buddhist practice.
However that kind of happiness started to fade over the years. Nowsaday, it has become just like another to-do task on her weekly calendar.
She asked teacher what happened. Why has the dharma joy faded ?
Dharma joy actually does not fade. It is always present whenever the mind is synchronized with Dharma.
However, many people are mistaken about the word Dharma and the word joy.
Foremost, Dharma refers to the ultimate truth. That will also simultaneously mean a freedom from the worldly or mundane stress. Since one is free, a joy from that freedom arises.
Many people confuses the euphoria of experiencing a new culture, a new activity or new sensory stimulation as Dharma joy. They are in reality just mundane joy set in a religious environment. Therefore the joy of experiencing, a Tibetan or Chinese or Thai or Japanese ritual are just mundane in nature. Such joy are impermanent because they are not the ultimate happiness. Consequently, we see Buddhist seeking such joy by visiting different temples, attend different rituals or participate in different chanting session to experience new melody or rhythm. It becomes a worldly pursuit.
Some people experience intense deja vu when they encounter certain Buddhist practice for the 1st time. This could signal a warming caused by familiarity obtained in one’s previous lifetime. Although slightly more spiritual, it is still mundane because it is akin to revisiting one’s childhood hometown and meeting childhood friend. Still mundane in nature.
When one practice and feel a joy associated with letting go of the 3 poisons ( craving,hatred,ignorance), then that is more similar to dharma joy. For example, when we 1st volunteer our time to help the less fortunate, or when we practice meditation and learn to let go of the worldly concerns. When we first donated money. Those are glimpse of dharma joy associated with letting go of selfishness, mundane worry and clinging.
What happen next is our mind fighting back against that kind of altruistic happiness. Instead of recognizing the altruistic joy as precious. Our ignorance turn us away from it and chase after mundane objectives.
For example, if we practice meditation, we aspire to be the 1st one in class to achieve samadhi or meditate the longest. When we volunteer, we aspire to be the leader and be well respected by all.
We mistaken activities such as giving or sitting motionless as the source of the joy. In reality it is the turning of the mind that is the cause of the dharma joy. Although the activities can result is leading the mind to the Dharma joy, it is just a mean. Not the goal.
So what effectively happened is that our mind had become deluded again and turn a spiritual activity mundane.
Therefore, the dharma joy becomes short and elusive over time. Simply because we are no longer turning the mind away from the 3 poisons.
If we feel our dharma joy dropping, then it is time to take stock and examine our mind.
Or perhaps we had misunderstood Dharma joy from the start?
May all be well and happy.