Joy in the World
The Month for Joyful Transformation
October 8 – November 16, 2020
“The most important lesson that one can learn from life is not
that there is pain in this world, but that it is possible
to transmute it into joy.”
The magnificent poet/seer/philosopher Tagore gives us a hint about the means of transmuting pain into joy when he says, “Listen, my heart, to the whispering of the world. This is how it makes love to you.” And, “When I die the world will be silent about me, keeping behind only one word, ‘I have loved.’”
Today the whispering of the world is telling me that already so soon, the Japanese maple tree outside my window is transforming its leaves from vital living green to shades of yellow and orange, and finally some red. I learn that this change is caused by the dynamic interplay between sunlight and chlorophyll – that greening power. As the days move toward autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere) the sun’s rays lessen and the chlorophyll begins to withdraw. As it departs the great stage that is the tree, it provides space for other chemistries to move into the limelight and begin their colorful song. Each of these activities is fascinating; each chemical reaction provides different shading, different kinds of protection for each leaf, allowing it to hang onto the mother tree as long as possible. And providing beauty and wonder to our human eyes.
This study invites some comparison to the world we live in now. A different world – as everyone reminds us – from the one we woke up to last week, last month, last year. A world where we have been forcibly awakened to the truth of pain, our own, and so many others’, more acute and devastating than we could have imagined previously. Every part of the new reality asks us, begs us, to enter into the process of transmuting as much of the pain as we can in order to transform ourselves into more humane humans, and our world into a place where joy maintains its strong and refreshing presence.
Joy itself is one of the elements that can lead to that transmutation, and that transformation. Joy is sourced in love, awakened in gratitude, and gives birth to a clear awareness of beauty. Like the tender love affair between the sun, the earth, and the trees, Joy interacts with the chemistries of love and gratefulness, awakening an upsurge of brain and body energies that can lift sorrow, encourage resilience, incite ideas.
Here’s a gentle practice to guide us into new possibilities for the month of Joyful Transformation:
- Notice some tender place — in your body, your mind, or your heart – a place that carries chemistry that you might label pain.
- Breathe in and out as you focus on the pain, acknowledging it, facing it, allowing it to name itself. Listen for a possible message. Notice the message.
- In your mind’s eye, let this tender place of pain become an autumn leaf blowing in a quiet breeze, still connected to its mother tree. Imagine touching the leaf. Because of the amazing interplay of various chemistries, some leaves can become orange, yellow, red, magenta, and still retain some green. Allow a sense of awe to rise at the possibilities of all these colors contained in one leaf.
- As you wonder at the leaf, invite the delicate chemistries of shift and change to rise in your awareness and move through your body the way they have risen in the leaf. Give those chemistries some attributes, such as love (as Tagore suggests), beauty, and an opening to joy, as you marvel at nature’s complexity and perfection.
- Breathe in and out. Can you imagine that the leaf displaying all those colors also knows that it must soon drop away in order to make the tree safe, able to survive the winter. Can you let the beautiful leaf go? Watch it float out on the wind, and come to rest on the earth. There it will give itself entirely to enrich and strengthen the soil preparing for new growth.
- Has anything shifted in the way you feel and hold the pain?
“Listen my heart, to the whispering of the world.
This is how it makes love to you.”
Joy in the World
And in me.
Praise Praise Praise
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