What we are looking for in everything is joy, ecstasy, but ecstasy is within us. We will have to look for it in our heart.
There are certain core teachings that can forever shift the way we see the world. “Joy is within us” is one of them.
It is possible to feel happy regardless of how the world is treating us, or how miserable our life is, or that all our friends are more successful. We can be happy even when we are failing at something or when we are sick.
Our understanding of what “Joy is inside us” is crucial. If we do not understand it deeply, we are likely to mistake superficial pleasant feeling for joy. We might attach our joy to the circumstances, like an evening with friends, or the weekends romantic moments with our partner, or even time spent jogging or playing.
Once addicted to these actions, people, or situations, we feel us as a blissful and in a “good” state all the time.
So, what is an inner joy, and how we can achieve it?
In Sanskrit, there are basically four words for happiness
Sukha (Fleeting pleasure), Santosha (Contentment), Mudita (Spiritual Happiness), and Ananda (The Bliss)
Each point to a different level of happiness. Together, they make up a path that leads us to the happiness that really cannot be shaken.
Fleeting Pleasure (Sukha)
Happiness that comes from pleasant experiences is Sukha, which means ease, enjoyment, or comfort in a simple word is Pleasure.
Sukha is the happiness we feel when we are firmly inside our comfort zone. Every state that depends on things going to our ways can disappear in a blink of eyes.
Sukh (Pleasure) is inseparably linked with its opposite: Dukh (suffering)
This pain-pleasure dichotomy is one of the basic Conflicts. This pairs of opposites that plague our lives. We live in the feeling of being separate from others and the world. Like hot and cold, birth and death, praise, and blame, Sukh (Pleasure) and Dukh (Suffering) inevitably follow each other because our well-being depends on external conditions. It will always come and go. This problem Buddha noticed, which led him to formulate the first noble truth.
The simple antidote to this problem of the endless chase after the mirage of permanent pleasure is to go to the next level and cultivate Santosha (contentment)
Practicing of Santosha is essential, because it is the fastest way to decrease the agitation which comes from frustration, discomfort, and unsatisfied desire.
Santosha is being OK with what we have, accepting what we are, without feeling the need for anything extra to make us happy.
Santosha is not having the desire for anything other than what we need. Thus, we achieve contentment when we give up striving for what is out of reach. We stop expecting more from life than it can give and let go the mental patterns that destroy our satisfaction like comparing our skills, character, possessions, and inner attainments with the surrounding people.
Spiritual Happiness (Mudita)
Practicing Santosha calms the mind, the next level of happiness Mudita (Spiritual Happiness) will sneak through.
Mudita in its purest form is the joy that comes from out of nowhere. It is like a message from our deeper self, which has the power to change our state in an instant. It gives rise to feelings, such as gratitude, exaltation, equanimity, and the capacity to see beauty even in things we rarely find beautiful.
Mudita can be cultivated, and it aims much of spiritual practice at generating this kind of joyfulness.
The Bliss (Ananda)
When Mudita becomes our entire field of experience, we find ourselves in touch with the most profound level of joy: Ananda (Bliss). In reality, bliss is too ordinary a word to convey what Ananda is.
Ananda is ecstasy, the rapture, a joy that comes up on its own from the very depths of the universe and connects us instantly to the vastness of pure being. Ananda is the divine power in the form of happiness. When someone touches it, he knows it he has touched the deepest level of reality.
Ananda is in unison with God. Same association of joy with divine experience in Sufi poetry, in the Kabbalah, and writings of Christian mystics can be found.
Joy is like a butterfly that comes and sits on our hand but can never be grasped or held. Loving kindness practice, being grateful to self and others, consciously letting go of grudges removes the sludge builds up around the heart and keeps joy away.