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Module 5: On Joy and Happiness

The essence of joy is a felt inner sense of exquisite lightness and lightheartedness. This essence brings freedom from burdens and heaviness in our hearts and in our minds. It gives us the capacity to live joyously and celebrate life.

The essence of joy resolves any issues we may have around innocence, loyalty to the imprints we carry from our parents, complexity of mind and emotions, and around our wishing and wanting impulses. As these issues dissolve, we begin to live the lightness and simplicity of being.

Ode to Joy by Friedrich Schiller
Joy, thou beauteous godly lightning
Daughter of Elysium
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Heavenly, thy holy home!
Thy enchantments bind together
What did custom stern divide
Every man becomes a brother
Where thy gentle wings abide.

(translated by William F. Wertz)

So Much Happiness by Naomi Shihab Nye
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.