The Attitude of Joy in Life

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali describe four bhavanas or human traits that are essential for our spiritual growth. Two of these traits – compassion and friendship – were discussed in previous articles. This article focuses on the third trait – Joy.

The particular sutra that encourages us to acquire and remain in a state of joy is

मैत्री करुणा मुदित पेक्षाणां
सुख दुःख पुण्यापुण्य विषयाणां
भावनातः चित्तप्रसादनम्

maitrī karuṇā mudita-pekṣāṇāṁ
sukha-duḥkha puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ
bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam
(Patanjali – Samadhi Pada, 33)
The traits of Friendship (maitrī) and Compassion (karuṇā) are perhaps to be developed before the trait of Joy (mudita) can be felt in our heart and spirit. The literal meaning of mudita is to be delighted, joyful, or to rejoice in something. But what brings us permanent and everlasting Joy? It surely cannot be all the transient material objects that we strive for and work hard for – these may bring us some temporary happiness, but nothing of an everlasting nature.

A state of Joy is perhaps better described by the word ananda (अानंद) – a state of bliss that comes from knowing that the Divine is our source of permanent and everlasting Joy. You may be familiar with the tri-fold concept of becoming Satchidananda – Sat (Truth), Chitta (Heart) and Ananda (Joy) – immersing our hearts and spirits in a state of Truth and Joy!

This discussion of Joy reminds me of a brief bhajan or prayer that I used to sing as a child –

prema mudita man se kaho ram ram ram
ram ram ram bhajo, shri ram ram ram
प्रेम मुदित मन से कहो राम राम राम
राम राम राम भजो श्री राम राम राम

Let us chant the name of Lord Rama with our loving (prema) hearts (man) full of Joy (mudita). Let us repeat Lord Rama’s name again and again.

The reason I quote this brief bhajan is that it captures the essence of one way in which a simple act of devotion – chanting Lord Rama’s name – can help us connect with Joy and be full of mudita.

I hope you discover Joy as you become more aware of it in every action that you perform with compassion and friendship.

What do you think? How can we attain a state of Joy? Or is happiness enough for the most part?

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