Ah, that archetypal quality, JOY. We seek it, wish for it, crave it. And here and there, we genuinely experience it, however fleetingly. If only human beings were designed with a joy switch that we could flip on at will . . . but it isn’t that easy. Or could it be very nearly that easy?
Much more familiar to us is the more mundane cousin of true, deep spiritual joy: the satisfaction of a job well done. It pervades us when we’ve done a nice job of gardening, cooked a tasty meal, or neatly performed a home repair. Nice as this feeling is, it can never compare to the quieter, deeper joy of knowing that we have added our energy and efforts to that which is True, Good, and Beautiful in the world.
HH the 14th Dalai Lama has often said that if we wish happiness for others, we should help and serve others. And if we wish happiness for ourselves, he continues, we should help and serve others. While he uses the word “happiness,” I believe this same principle applies to the deeper experience of Joy. Most of us are well familiar with the beautiful words of Rabindranath Tagore:
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
These words are worth pondering not just now and then, but every day of our lives. Might these words, in fact, contain a [not so] secret formula for the experience of joy? In truth, generations of servers have already road-tested this theory and found much truth and value within it. While I’m not here to persuade or convince you of anything, I will offer you some recent photo evidence. Each photo is, after all, worth a thousand words.
In this May, 2023, service project, members of the Wheaton-Olcott TOS group leave little doubt that, while helping their local Post Office and the Humanitarian Service Project stave off hunger in their neighborhood, they experienced pure, unbridled, spontaneous JOY.
So it would seem that Rabindranath Tagore and HH The Dalai Lama have handed us a key that unlocks the coveted experience of JOY. When we engage in truly theosophical service, (click here and scroll down to see “What Constitutes a Theosophical Project”) without worrying about what we will gain from it, we paradoxically gain a “pearl of great price”—the experience of true JOY.