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What is Joy?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
20 min
207 reads

Listener: What is joy?

Speaker: It is an absence. Absence of everything. It an absence of both pleasure and pain, nothing that excites the mind. Joy is not something that you can think of as something wonderful. Joy is nothing that you can conceptualize as being pleasurable. Joy is just an absence, nothing special; very ordinary, very blank, very empty. So, joy is nothing that you can aspire for. Joy cannot be an aspiration, an achievement, something gettable. Joy cannot be gotten. You cannot act and obtain joy. It is not something that you can bring in from somewhere. It is a cessation, a full stop or at least a comma. Don’t abuse this word. Enjoyment must be a very sacred word, a divine word, must be used very carefully.

You are having one of those weekend parties, and then they say, what joy, they are abusing the word. Joy is not sensual. You cannot look at a mountain or river and say, joyful, even that is just sensual pleasure. Alright, it is a pleasure of may be a higher nature, it brings you closer to yourself, but it is still not joy. It is only sensual pleasure. You look at a woman and you feel good, you look at a river and you feel good. These two are still coming to you through the senses, through eyes. Without eyes, will you ever say that I am liking the river, the mountains, or the snow capped peaks? You will not say that. It is still sensual, still coming to you through the eyes. Joy is not even that. Many of us are habituated to this thing. I stood there awestruck in front of the mighty Himalayas. The cool breeze, the clear air, and then I felt joy emanating from my very core. Rubbish. It may sound very profound and very divine statement, but it is essentially rubbish. ‘The fountainhead of joy arising from my very heart, breaking through layers of conditioning, and exposing divine love to me’. This might be good to impress a prospective groom but it is not the truth. Go ahead and put it on your blog, nice. Put it as a twitter feed, nice. He will be impressed but this is not joy. Joy is not something that happens for a reason. You cannot go somewhere and say that looking at a mountain, I experienced joy. Joy is something which is always there, obfuscated; hence it is the absence of obfuscation. Sky is always there, but clouded, so what is the sky? It is the absence of clouds. Joy is sky, and empty, and vast, just an absence of the clouds. In Upanishadic parlance, what you call as ‘Panchkosh’, there Joy is the highest kosh. You call it the ‘Anandmaya Kosh’. It is also something that scriptures say that you experience in dreamless sleep. Now, of course, you don’t experience anything in dreamless sleep and there is joy; the subtlest point of the mind. There is nothing, no vibration at all, no movement at all, that is joy. Krishnamurti will call it consciousness without content. No content, an absence of content. What is the content of consciousness? Thought.

Listener: Sir, then what is the meaning of the term ‘Atiendriya Sukh’ which is often used?

Speaker: There is no non-sensual, meta-sensual, atiendriya sukh. ‘Atiendriya Sukh’ means that there is some pleasure beyond the senses. There is no pleasure beyond the senses, because beyond the senses, the one who will experience pleasure is no more. Then who will experience pleasure? There is nothing called ‘Atiendriya Sukh’, it is a great trick of the mind, declare something metaphysical. Metaphysical is nothing.

Listener: But is joy ‘Atiendriya’?

Speaker: But that does not happen in your senses. Where is it? Joy is nothing. When there is nothing, then there is joy.

Listener: What is the Hindi word for ‘Joy’?

Speaker: ‘Anand’. When there is nothing, then there is joy. Even this is not absolutely right to say so, because it seems as if it is conditional. When there is nothing, then there is the realization of joy. Joy is always. Sky is always, when the clouds are not there, and then there is the realization of it. Joy is nothing. Can you catch sky? Show me, that you have found joy. Joy is the just the absence of tension. Can we say that? Is it alright?

Listener: We say that, for this mind, moments after the joy, is joy wherein you feel light and you are not really influenced by what is happening around you.

Speaker: That’s it. Just call it the absence of distraction, vibration or tension, just call it that. A complete absence of all rubbish is joy, and that rubbish includes both pleasure and pain. Joy is not at all pleasure. Happiness is a kind of tension, a sort of excitement. What does happiness mean? That desire seems to be getting fulfilled, this is happiness. What else is happiness? Joy has nothing to do with desire. This is a common misconception to link joy to happiness, keep away from it. Even a happy man is very far from joy. You can not talk about truth to a happy man. Today, if you are getting married and if I discuss about truth with you today, you will throw me out. You may be a very good man but you have to be a loafer on the day of your wedding. The occasion of happiness takes you very far from joy. When you are very happy, at that time, you are deeply spoiled. What will give you happiness? What makes you happy? Feeding of the ego gives you happiness. Right? So, your moments of happiness are very dangerous moments for you, even the moments of pain are dangerous. But it is just that the moments of pain will tell you that do something else. In this way, pain is at times auspicious because the pain tells you that there is something wrong. You cannot discuss truth with a happy man. You try to do this. In a wedding function, try to talk to a few people on Truth. Even the best of the people will say that this is not for the occasion. If you are a true well wisher of someone, then do not ever wish that he gets immersed in happiness. Because getting immersed in happiness means, getting spoiled. If you are well wisher of someone, then you will not like it when you see a smiling picture of his. This all might be sounding strange. We always want that people around should be happy. When you really want to show somebody that you love them, you say that, my dear, when I look at your smiling face, all my tiredness is gone. This is what you say. What do you do to the kid? You tickle him to make him giggle, to make him laugh. You do it for half a minute, try to do it for twenty minutes; you will get to know it.

Listener: Is there no condition for joy?

Speaker: If you want to know the truth of the things that give you pleasure, then increase their time span. Try to tickle for ten minutes and see what happens. In ten minutes he will be gone, dead. You guffaw a lot; try to do it for ten minutes. You will be out of breath, will be so tired that you will need to get some sleep. The thing that gives you happiness, try and do them. Try to do them a bit in excess and then you will get to know what it is. For once, you may cry for the whole day and still survive, but if there is one who is laughing the whole day, he will be dead by the evening.

Pleasure and pain both are not joy. You never say that pain is joy, but often you start saying that pleasure is joy. I am attacking that notion here. If you would have said that pain is joy, then I would have discussed that pain is not joy but you don’t say that. What do you say? You say happiness is joy. That is why I am discussing that happiness is not joy. Do not take laughter as something special, it is as of a vice as is crying. It is so because we all are pleasure seeking animals, that is why when pain comes, it has the power to wake us up. Pleasure will not able to wake you up. The reason is, both pleasure and pain are one, two ends of the duality, but mind is pleasure seeking. Which end does the mind prefer between pleasure and pain? Pleasure. That is why pleasure will not be able to wake you up. Mind will say, everything is alright, I am getting pleasure. Pain can wake you up. Both are useless anyway, both pain and pleasure, but if you have to choose among the two, then pain is always a better choice. Awakening of anyone has not happen on the occasion of happiness. Have you ever heard that he was so happy that he got enlightened? In the moments of deep sorrow, the thing comes to the fore. Wherever you see that there is a premium on happiness and laughter, be alert. Going to get married, a few photos have been sent to you, all the ones are the smiling ones. The premium on the smiling face, that you have to get clicked smilingly only, this has happened only in the last hundred years. Even till the time of Renaissance, if you will look at the pictures of poets, artists, scientists, you will not find them smiling. This happens only nowadays. See, how you get your photographs clicked? Smile. Why smile? Please, do tell me. Why cheese? It is only a milk product.

So, whenever you see people with smiling photographs, then understand that this person is in a mess, a big mess. Even from the perspective of evolution, you know why your teeth are visible when you smile? It is because smile is an indicator of desire fulfillment. The most fundamental desire of a man is, to eat, so that the body can remain protected. Man learnt to smile only when he saw food. You might feel that you are looking good when you are smiling, but that only indicates that you want to eat whatever you are seeing in that moment. Whoever you see and smile and if that smile grows into a laugh, then take it as if you want to eat him. Never laugh looking at a kid, you are giving a very wrong signal to the kid. Teeth, nails, these are instruments of violence, these are your army. But look at what you do. He, who looks very attractive to you, whoever is your lover, first you show him your teeth, and then your nails will be long, you show them to him. What are you really doing? You are telling him that I am about to tear you apart, and he is so wonderful that he gets happy at all this. This is what I want. Happiness is an obstacle on the path to meditativeness and it is a very misplaced value, happiness. Joy is another matter. Happiness is a very very misplaced value. A culture that values happiness will always be a very corrupt culture. I am not saying that you need not value happiness, so get sad. I am talking of something else. A third point. Not happiness, not sadness, a third point. The issue is that whenever it is said, the whole matter gets afflicted.

Listener: Can we call it equanimity?

Speaker: Yes, probably.

Listener: How is it a corrupt culture?

Speaker: What is happening? Go back to the very root. We are not saying that obstruct laughter. We are not saying that obstruct tears. What we are saying is that do not value them as special. If you are going to welcome laughter, then you also will welcome tears. In fact, tears are more to be welcomed. Do not have this preferential thing. If you like getting yourself clicked smiling, then click a few crying ones too.

Listener: One should not be given preference over the other.

Speaker: I will tell you what the difference is? Rahul Ji, pick up these two magazines( points towards a magazine with a picture of a smiling couple on the cover page and the other one with Osho in a meditative state on the cover). Here, at one place there is joy and at the other place, there is happiness. (Everyone laughs looking at the picture of smiling couple).

Listener: The statement on the magazine cover with smiling couple’s photograph says, ’लक्ष्मी की बरसात ‘. It is raining money.

Speaker: Do you get the difference? And this is why I am saying that happiness corrupts. Happiness is corruption. Due to these very reasons happiness comes into your life, raining money. Or, does it come for some other reason? On the other side is joy, but you cannot see the teeth here.

Listener 1: How come both magazines are in Advait’s office?

Listener 2: To show the difference.

Speaker: (Some photographs are shown to everyone) Look at the shallowness of these faces, the utter stupidity on these faces. This is happiness and this is what we are craving for all the time. These are some photographs posted by people on Facebook. Aren’t these people looking like retarded? Look at these faces closely. Observe them closely and see that is it not yours.

Listener: When a scientist works hard on some problem and solves it, will it be called happiness or joy?

Speaker: Joy is not a result of a happening. A scientist who is waiting for a particular day, the day of result, that I will obtain joy on that particular day, that is not joy.

Listener: What if he does not want an award or something?

Speaker: Then nothing has happened. If he doesn’t want anything, then nothing has happened. Something happens only when you want something.

Listener: What if he gets the result and shouts, ‘Eureka, Eureka’?

Speaker: Then he must have wanted something and he got it. What is it then?

Listener: Then how do we motivate people in day-to-day life?

Speaker: What do you motivate them for? Do not ask how to motivate them. First ask, what do I motivate them for? What do you want? This is a question similar to someone asking how to slaughter more and more animals. Give me a technique. Right now, I am able to slaughter only two thousand animals per hour, how to slaughter ten thousand? You are asking technique. I am asking, ‘why to slaughter’?

Listener: But we need to do something in life, we need to have a career.

Speaker: Suppose, you don’t do anything, then?

Listener: We are not meant to not do anything.

Speaker: Who told you that? Were you born with that knowledge? First of all, who told you that you must do something? Who told you that you must do something? Were you born thinking that I must achieve a few goals? Were you born this way? From where does this come then?

Listener: Family.

Speaker: Go ahead. From where does it come to the family?

Listener: Society.

Speaker: And from where does it come to the society?

Listener: Collective Human Consciousness.

Speaker: No, it is not Collective Human Consciousness. When you light a bonfire, the light emanating out of the fire was for how much time?

Listener: Till it is burning.

Speaker: And the ashes?

Listener: Forever.

Speaker: The leftovers are the ashes. You have kept hold of those ashes. What can you capture in your hand, flame or ashes? The fire can be just experienced. What can you take in your hand, which you can collect and put into your boxes, will it be the flame or ashes? This all is that, which gets accumulated, with passage of time, it becomes ‘Holy ash’. This is that ‘ancestral ash’, now you keep it and pass on to successive generations. The flame is long gone and you keep passing the ash. What are all these religious scriptures? Ash. Krishna was the fire, he is gone. He said something and went away, left is the ash which you are passing on.

The wise ones said that the life is given to you, get something from it.

Kabir has said, ‘आया था किस काम को, सोया चादर तान, सुरत सम्हाल रे गाफ़िल, अपना आप पहचान’.

This is what Kabir said and only those can understand who are sitting in front of Kabir. And the ones who are distant from Kabir, they will say that we are here to do something. They will that see, Kabir has also said that there must be a purpose, a target, and he has further added that one should not sleep, one should do hard work. The speaker has said something else and the inference drawn is totally something else.

Listener: This all starts with uneasiness, when we are not feeling comfortable with ourselves, and you feel like that you should do something. You are not happy sitting. You don’t know what is lacking.

Speaker: Even that is not since childhood. This thing is fed into your mind-that you have committed a crime if you are sitting idle. It is so deep seated that to a student of class six or seven, you will not say that just sit still and quiet for a single day. Even they will feel that the day was wasted. The day in which I was not productive, the day was wasted. All this is the thing after the industrial revolution, that the complete onus has come to productivity. How productive were you in the day? Why must I be productive? Why do you not ask this question? Why must I be productive?

Listener: Even if nobody says it, we are not comfortable with it ourselves.

Speaker: Why are you not comfortable? He is not saying right now, he has said it already, but the thing is so deeply seated in the mind. He is not saying right now, but he has already spoken so many things. The songs that you listen to, ‘वीर तुम बढे चलो, नर हो ना निराश करो मन को‘. You have read these poems, right? May be in fifth grade, ‘कुछ काम करो, कुछ काम करो, जग में रहकर कुछ नाम करो, यह जन्म हुआ किस अर्थ अहो, समझो जिसमे यह व्यर्थ ना हो‘. Now, when you have taught to the kid of fifth grade that ‘कुछ काम करो, कुछ काम करो, जग में रहकर कुछ नाम करो‘, this is the poison that you are feeding to the kids of fifth grade. ‘जग में रहकर कुछ नाम करो, यह जन्म हुआ किस अर्थ अहो, समझो जिसमे यह व्यर्थ ना हो‘ . So many things, so many poisons you just put into his mind. Now, all these poisons will do their work.

Listener: Even when we enjoy with ourselves, this thing remains.

Speaker: You will find many people who will feel very guilty if they are not sad. They will get tensed over the thing that why are we not sad today. If their day passes-by without agony, especially the elderly people of the small towns, let aside be joy, they hate happiness. You start laughing in front of them, they will say, what a loose character man, laughing. Have you seen such people who put so much value on the thing, that you cry? You are sitting silent, idle, not doing anything and moreover, you are laughing, then you are completely a flimsy man. ‘Such a low man, laughs’. You get married, and you enter the new house and burst into laughter and the reaction would be, ‘My God, what kind of girl have we brought to our house? Did you check her background or not? She was laughing so loud that it could be heard in the other room’. So, even if you feel like laughing, control it. Keep your mouth shut. No sounds should be there. I went to a place recently and there everybody was clicking photographs and recording with his mobile phone. Nowadays, whoever has a camera is a cameraman. Now, three-four cameras are following you all the time and you do not know that who is listening, seeing and recording what, from which angle. Cameras are at all places. Now, if everywhere is a camera then it is certain that you are an actor every moment. You cannot be real.

-Excerpts from a Clarity session held at Advait office.

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