Grateful for gift of half-day retreat with Gil, yesterday. During my interview with him, I shared the joy of my progress. How concentration is becoming easier and easier. Earlier during sitting, I had been able to welcome pain in stomach with relaxed openness, neither trying to transform it, nor hoping for time in near future without it. As a result, pain had transformed into another sensation, higher up in the chest and head. Things were moving . . . We talked about my travels, and how that experience had served to make me more aware. I was pleased, and so was Gil. I left, giddy with delight, and a touch of doubt also. Dwelling in joy with my teacher seemed almost too easy.
At the end of the retreat, Gil talked about the conditions for delight and joy. Here are my notes:
How can we avail to opportunities for joy more often? I used to think joy was the product of something that gave me reason to be joyful. With Dharma practice, I have learned to recognize that joy can bubble up from inside, independent from outer conditions in the world.
One of inner conditions for joy is being relaxed and at ease. Joy is like an open window, and hindrances such as fear and resentment act as blinds that obscure the window of joy.
The other condition is appreciation. Like joy, appreciation does not need and external reason. Also the ability to appreciate deeper things in ourselves, allows us to appreciate others more deeply.
Barriers to appreciation include: being afraid of each other, not trusting, thinking appreciation is too sentimental, wanting something from someone, . . .
Sources of appreciation of other people: appreciation of obstacles they are facing in life, and how hard they are working to overcome them, appreciation of others engaged in Dharma practice, . . .
Think of the many opportunities for appreciation that are easily available in our life. At the same time, be careful to not paper over difficulties.
Experiencing joy and delight is such a beautiful thing!
I wonder, when is the last time you felt joy? What were the conditions?