• India Sacred Journeys

Embrace Joy - Your Happy Buddha Nature

The Himalayan Yoga tradition teaches us that happiness is always available to us, no matter our circumstances. This is symbolised by the laughing Buddha, a wandering monk from many centuries ago, who was always joyful. Bhakti, my spiritual sister, and saint, who lives in the high Himalayas also taught me that even discomfort and pain can be embraced in the joyful loving presence we truly are.

The only person between you and terrible joy is you! Learn to get out of the way!

One summer when she made her way from the lower reaches of the Himalayas to her abode at Tapovan in the high mountains, Bhakti discovered that all her possessions in her mountain abode, meagre as they were, had disappeared. In short, she had been robbed! There was nothing that she could do but crouch under a rock in the snow, trying to keep warm, without any shelter, and without a stove, gas, mats or blankets. However, with great dispassion, realising that her attachment to these possessions was simply an aspect of mind, she centred herself in the heart and continued to radiate a joy, unchanged by these challenging circumstances. Previously, she had made a vow to write a single mantra millions of times, but this had long been completed. However, she continued to immerse herself in the pleasure of writing the name of God.

When we begin to look within, and connect to the wellspring, which is the source of our joy, life organises itself around us

I stayed in a cave near Bhakti’s humble dwelling. My cave was even more primitive and I was struggling with the challenge of living simply, with few distractions around me. Bhakti, recognising my situation, told me in no uncertain terms, “The only person between you and terrible joy is you! Learn to get out of the way!” She taught me that when we detach from neediness, we can allow ourselves the experience of total well-being, where even discomfort and pain are embraced in joyful surrender. In observing her life I learned that when we begin to look within, and connect to the wellspring, which is the source of our joy, life organises itself around us.

I observed this principle in an incident that happened to Bhakti not long after she had been robbed. A mountaineer, returning from his ascent, came to her for blessings. On observing her plight, he proceeded to build a shelter around the rock and then left her with all the necessary provisions she was lacking: his stove, gas, sleeping bag, insulation pads and down jacket.

To awaken to our natural joy, it’s essential to consciously prioritise our intention to be happy. The practice of loving kindness is of great benefit. So too is remembering to be grateful to ourselves for who we are, grateful to others for every little blessing they bring and even for the myriad of difficulties we experience in life. If we consciously let go of grudges, we find that the sludge (that builds up around the heart and keeps joy away) is cleared and we can access our true nature. Particularly important is becoming aware of the stories we tell ourselves. This process leads to deep monitoring of our thoughts and how they can create painful inner states. In this way we use the creative power of the mind to create inner states that are conducive to joy.

This joy has the presence of inspiration, spontaneity, gratitude and love. This love and this joy can never be taken away from you. It is beyond any circumstance. It needs no reason at all. It is the joy of existence and you are that!

Written by Savitri (Jenny Cottingham)

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