“Thoughts,” my friend said, “are just thoughts. Our innate state is joy.”
According to my wise friend, we don’t return to that state of joy – we always have it. Only sometimes we forget because all those thoughts fill the space between us and that state of bliss from whence we come.
I like it. It contradicts the US Constitution, which guarantees our right to the pursuit of happiness. If we already have joy within us, why would we look elsewhere to find it?
When the world seems to be crashing upon our heads, it is sort of hard to remember these things. But it is those very hurdles that keep us alert to all that we have. Gratitude and sadness cannot occupy the same room. But joy and gratitude can.
Another friend recently told me he welcomes challenges because they help him remain mindful of what is truly important in life. If we were never challenged, we would grow soft, perhaps even arrogant and certainly unsympathetic to those who suffer around us. Without some measure of discomfort, we would become distant from the rest of the world, living in an Ivory Tower without a grasp on the deeper realities before us.
Empathy comes from our own experience with suffering. We would not know how another feels if we had never had those very feelings ourselves. Each of us handles pain differently. Some have a low threshold of tolerance; others have an enormous capacity to manage it. But as my sister recently said to me, it is not what happens in life that matters. It is how you deal with it.
Our limits are of our own making. We are truly limitless creatures with a mind that bridles us. Thoughts can keep us back from our truest nature. Or they can bring us back to where we are meant to be.
Our most authentic state of being is joy. Remembering that will ensure we see what we have sought all along.