When, in the course of one’s life, one finds herself writing an essay on matters such as “living in joy”, many questions immediately spring to mind, such as “What’s my purpose for writing this?” and “Do I really have any expertise whatsoever in the subject area?” To entertain the first question, my purpose for writing this essay is two-fold. First, I believe we need to be reminded that it is possible to have a lifestyle that involves constant joy. Modern society, with all of its technological charms, has surreptitiously trapped us into working longer hours and spending less time by ourselves and with those close to us. The regular stresses of work coupled with the stress of being overworked makes true joy – boundless in its enthusiasm and endless in its lightening of the heart and mind – less and less of an actual reality. The result is that living in joy, even if your job is particularly “joy-filled”, is a hard concept for us to integrate into everyday life. We have, in a sense, lost some of the natural ability to live in joy we may have possessed at a different age or time.
Second, I believe we, at a very basic level, want insight into our own natural ability to live in joy. This kind of joy is inherently spiritual in nature and derives from our already existent spirituality. If I were to state the former idea in another way, I would say that we want to know ourselves well enough to be able to live in joy even in the midst of life conditions that may slowly eat away at our joy. I think this concept is evidenced by the vast popularity of self-help books, especially those with a spiritual bent. We live in a “can do” society where spirituality falls in line with the many other things we desire. We believe we can achieve spirituality easily. We all know that if you do not expand your knowledge to include the newest and greatest information relevant to your career area, you will never survive the rigors of today’s working world, where jobs seem to come and go as easily as the tide. Our reasoning says, “Why should matters of the soul be any different?” This is where some self-help books step in, feeding us a simple formula we hope we will be able to use to succeed in the field of our own spirituality. I think spirituality must be somewhat more complicated; otherwise, we’d all be enlightened (or we’d at the very least realize that we already are).
However, I do think self-help books, probably according to their original intention, can help jumpstart our own internal discussion (as well as possible external discussions) on our lives and our spirituality, which will allow us to succeed if we think and talk and meditate/pray about it enough. Thus, the intention of this essay is to restart the internal discussion on spirituality within the hearts of its readers once again.
As for the second question, “Do I really have any expertise whatsoever in the subject area?”, I quite frankly have no idea. After all, this is a subject that great minds throughout the ages have talked about, but have hardly ever accomplished. If expertise arises from talking about the subject matter constantly, studying material that relates to the subject matter, and trying to live in such a way that incorporates the subject matter, then I believe I may have some as I have continually tried to do all three of these things throughout the past thirteen years.
However, if an academic degree in the field at hand is the only thing that qualifies as expertise or, more appropriately for this essay, enlightenment is the only thing that qualifies as expertise, then I am afraid I have neither currently, although I am constantly working towards the latter.