I posted about the importance to smile quite some time ago. This practice of silently bringing a smile onto our face and then synchronizing our heart to “smile” along has an emotive effect on the mind. This practice helps to stabilise an agitated mind and also lend strength in challenging moment.
Recently, I found the joy of smiling at the Buddhist shrine too. It is an inner joy arising from Dharma. In Buddhism, we take ownership of our minds and practice various mental training to position our minds positively. This leads to a positive outlook in life and happy thoughts. In short, that means we learn how to generate happiness in our minds. The following may start off as a guided way to think and feel positive, but as our practices gain strength, it becomes natural. Our minds will automatically be prone to positive thinking.
Here’s about generating the joy of Dharma.
The joy of finding our way.
Before adopting Buddhism in life, I had also asked about the purpose of life. What is the meaning of living? What happens after death? Such questions are silent lamentations in the minds of many. There is this sadness about impermanence.
After discovering Buddhism, there is peace of mind because Buddha had found the answer and He had taught us how to realise that answer (Dharma) and there are people who successfully attained the same after following the Dharma (Sangha).
In short, there is a sense of direction and purpose. This is because Buddhist practices are not about praying to an imaginary entity but involve specific step-by-step practices that are methodical and almost clinical. (refer to my post on Kevatta sutta for examples) Enlightenment is not a myth but an attainable goal.
That sense of purpose in life creates a sense of joy because we no longer feel lost.
The joy arising from confidence
Once we understand the Triple Gems, we become confident with our decision. We take delight with our refuge in the Triple Gems. We know that we had made the best decision in life. That sense of confidence lends us strength and gives us that spring in our every step.
This is also because Buddha taught about karma. We are confident that the right actions will ultimately produce good results. That also removes doubt and helps us to focus. In that manner, we can perform better in life too.
The joy of practice
Buddhist practices are all about doing the right actions, saying the right speech, and thinking the right thoughts, including adopting the right frame of mind. All these have positive effects on our situations in life. Although these are mundane results and not enlightenment, they contribute to our overall sense of well-being.
In that manner, our spiritual practices are intertwined with our mundane experiences. That further reinforces our confidence and sense of purpose. Thus, we experience joy with our practices.
The joy of result
In the previous paragraph, we discussed mundane achievements made possible by our right actions. The ultimate result of practice is enlightenment. Although enlightenment is a big achievement, we can catch a glimpse of it along our “journey in life”. For example, we experience how letting go lessens the stress in life.
Experiencing the positive changes in our minds isn’t some hocus-pocus. We are gladdened by it and we experience spiritual joy too.
Recollecting our joy in Dharma is like taking vitamins. They are intimate experiences derived from our practice and each of us will have our own unique experiences. The next time we go to a temple or sit at the altar, let us remind ourselves of our joy in dharma and smile.
May all be well and happy.