One Sufi mystic was so full of love, and so full of joy — his whole life was laughter, music, dancing. And the story says God became very interested in him because he never asked anything, he never prayed. His whole life was a prayer, there was no need to pray.
He never went to the mosque, he never even uttered the name of God; his whole existence was the argument for the presence of God. If anybody asked him whether God exists or not he simply laughed — but his laughter was neither yes nor no.
God himself became intrigued with that strange mystic and he came to the mystic and said, “I am immensely happy because that’s how I want people to be — not that they should pray for one hour and do everything against it for twenty-three hours. Not that they should become very pious when they enter the mosque, and when they go out they leave their piousness in the mosque and they are just their old selves: angry, jealous, full of anxiety, full of violence.
“I have watched you and I have loved you. This is the way: you have become the prayer. You are, right now, my only argument in the world that something more than man exists — although you have never argued, you have not even uttered my name. Those are superfluous things… but you live, you love, you are so full of joy that there is no need for any language; your very presence becomes the argument for my existence. I want to give you a blessing. You can ask for anything.”
The sage said, “But I don’t need anything. I am so joyous, and I cannot conceive there can be anything more. Forgive me, I cannot ask because I really don’t need anything. You are generous, you are loving, you are compassionate; but I am so over-full, there is no space within me for anything else. You will have to forgive me, I cannot ask.”
God said, “I had thought that you would not ask, so don’t ask for yourself — but you can ask for others, because there are millions of people who are miserable, sick, have never known anything for which they can be grateful. I can give you powers to do miracles, and you can change the lives of all these people.”
The sage said, “If you are insistent, then with a condition I can accept your gifts.”
God said, “With a condition? You really are strange. What is the condition?”
He said, “My condition is that I should not become aware of what is happening through me, by you. It should happen behind my back; it should happen through my shadow, not through me. I may be passing and my shadow may fall on a dead tree, and the tree may become alive again — again lush green, again heavy with flowers and fruits — but I should not know it, because I don’t want to fall back.
“If I know it — that I have done it, or even that God has chosen me as the instrument to do it — it is dangerous. So my condition is: a blind man may start seeing, but neither should he know that it is because of me, nor should I know that it is because of me. My shadow behind my back will do all the miracles.
“If you can accept my condition, and remember that I should not know at all… because I am so full of joy, so blissful. Don’t drag me back into the miserable world. Don’t drag me back to become again an `I.’”
And it is said that God said to him, “You are not only strange, you are unique and rare. And this will be so: you will never know what things are happening around you. Miracles will be happening around you — wherever you will go, miracles will happen. Neither those people will know that you have done those miracles, nor you will know that you have done those miracles. I will remember the condition.”
The greatest miracle in the world is that you should dance and disappear in the dance — then let the dance do whatever it can do. That you should love and disappear in the love — then let the love do whatever it can do. You cannot claim that you are doing it — you have already disappeared.
Discovering Eternal Joy
If happiness is derived mainly from outer things, then joy is found in the opposite direction. Joy originates from within. Whereas happiness might be considered a state of circumstances, joy is a state of being.
True joy comes from the very nature of who we are. The world’s wisdom traditions tell us that infinite delight and bliss reside within the very core of reality itself—and therefore within our core as well. Infinite joy is an inherent quality of our own deepest being. Therefore, unlike happiness, this inner joy is not based on anything circumstantial, external, or transitory. It is an abiding, permanent, and inherent quality of who we are in our deepest truth.
As we grow spiritually, we begin to come into greater contact with this inherent joy that resides deep within us. We also begin to shift gears in the way we approach life. Instead of trying to generate delight and wellbeing from outer circumstances, we increasingly let our inner joy flow into our life circumstances. In this way, work, home, relationships, etc. are indeed joyful for us, but not because these things are creating the joy, but because our inner joy is expressing itself in these circumstances.
As our awareness expands, we realize that our particular circumstances don’t matter as much anymore. Instead, our joyful state of being increasingly radiates throughout all circumstances and becomes immune to their constant shifting.
Learning from the story: Shift your focus from circumstances to being.
Ways to Uncover Inner Joy
Even though joy is an inherent part of our true nature, as human beings we have covered over much of our true self with false beliefs and conditioning. Practices that help uncover and affirm our essential nature will help allow our inner joy to shine forth. Here are some ways to do this:
Meditation: Through meditation we tune into deeper states of consciousness that lie beyond the blocks and false conditioning of our limited self. Our true joy resides within this deeper awareness and begins to radiate into our everyday life more fully as we spend time connecting with our deeper self.
Inner work: Like meditation, this is any type of work that opens us to our deeper self. It could be guided visualization, meditating on our heart chakra, truth affirmations, clearing and releasing exercises, forgiveness work, and so on. The aim is to clear limiting consciousness, energies, and beliefs.
Affirming our true nature: This type of affirmation is powerful because we are aligning our speech, thought, and intention to the truth of who we really are. This helps break up our false conditioning and invites our true and joyful self to express through us more fully.
Seeing through the illusion of outer appearances: Our limited beliefs create limited perceptions of the outer world. By recognizing this we can deemphasize the limited picture of reality that our senses are showing us. We can realize instead that behind these appearances stands an entirely divine and blissful existence. Affirming and acting in accord with this greater reality, despite any contrary appearances, opens us to experience it more fully.
Exercising the choice for joy: Because joy is already within us, we do not need to seek it or acquire it – but we do need to choose it! Only our thoughts and beliefs are blocking joy from our awareness, and we are free at any time to change this. But to do so requires choice. As we choose to accept the truth of who we really are, the awareness of our inherent joy will grow.
Giving: Love stands alongside of joy as part of our true nature. The nature of love is to give. Therefore, giving puts us in touch with our divine nature and opens us up to the experience of joy that resides within that nature.
See joy as the true nature of others: Other people function as our mirrors. Unless we are also seeing their true nature as joy, we will not be able to fully see ourselves this way either. The mirror never lies! Practice imagining other people you know as being infinite bundles of joy—and you will experience your own joy rising as well.