When it comes to manifesting joy, the trick here is that it is not really in our hands. The manifestation of our deepest wants and needs is the soul property of the highest good for all. Yes, we can let our desires shine to light our path. We can mine our sub-conscious minds to clear away any lingering obstacles, and let our sincere and heartfelt feelings guide us. We can hold our thoughts to the positive and speak out our affirmations with confidence. But the bottom line, when it comes to finding our joy is surrender. It is giving ourselves over in service to something greater, something beyond our own individual aspect of consciousness.
On the inside of my closet door, so I can see it every day, I have pinned up this quote by Mahatma Gandhi. "God demands nothing less than complete self surrender as the price of the only real freedom worth having. And, when we lose ourselves, we immediately find ourselves in the service of all that lives. Such service becomes our delight and recreation. We are a new person, never weary of spending ourselves in the service of God's creation."
Now, I realize that the word 'God' is a tricky one for many. There has been so much self-serving and irresponsible theology in the world, leaving death, doubt and destruction in its wake. So it can be a challenge to embrace the thought of 'God.' Because of this, the great spiritual teacher of how to heal our lives, Louise Hay, never uses the word 'God.' She uses 'Life,' instead. She'll say, "Life loves me." And I think that looking upon Divinity as 'Life' is a lovely, generative alternative to what has come before.
I also like Joseph Campbell's definition of God. He said, "God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being.” What he is saying here is that trying to fathom the ineffable is simply beyond our limited human capacity.
Peace Pilgrim, who is probably my favorite spiritual teacher and perhaps our only true American Saint, also refrains from religious associations when describing or referring to 'God.' She speaks of her own entrance into a life-well-lived by sharing how she felt moved to walk out into the woods one night, motivated by a feeling of deep seeking for a meaningful way of life. And after she had walked almost all night, she came upon a clearing where the moonlight was shinning down and she found herself speaking aloud and she found herself saying, "If you can use me for anything, please use me." And she found herself feeling, "Here I am, take all of me. Use me as I am. I withhold nothing." And with that she felt that she had found what she was looking for. She experienced the complete willingness, without any reservations whatsoever, to give her life to something beyond herself. She said that from that time on her life became meaningful, because she began to live to be of service; she began to live to give instead of to get.
This is where the journey of manifesting a life of true and lasting joy begins. And, there is still a bit of road to travel until we actually experience the complete giving over of ourselves, the surrender of our life, to the whole.
In her experience of it, Peace said that this aspect of the journey seemed like a struggle between two parts of herself, what some might call the ego and conscience, or what many have referred to as 'my will' and 'thy will,' or what she called the low self and the high self. The two viewpoints are quite different. And each one of us must reconcile this difference before we step fully into a life of harmony.
While we are working through this stage, initially we get glimpses of our life lived in union with the whole. And as we progress, we find ourselves there more and more frequently. Then we start to really miss that immersion in pure love, when we find that we have slipped out of it. Finally, as we reach harmony, and as Peace says, "You will know your way from there."
With this, we can imagine the beautiful results that we are hoping for; and we let the way to achieve them gracefully unfold. We strive to do all the good things that we find ourselves motivated to do, to help make the world a better place. And we find that our life is characterized by a deep seated sense of joy; and it is that joy that unerringly guides us right onto our path before us.
I find it quite miraculous really to think that there is an energy or a force, a benevolent field that is attuned to our every thought, awaiting our alignment with the whole. And as we give ourselves over to it, more and more completely, motivated by love, we enter into the great cosmic dance of the river of life wherein we manifest whatever we need because it is completely attuned with everything.
These are not the wants and needs of the ego, trying to get ahead of others; nor is it the part of us that holds ourselves as separate, better or less than any other. No, this is not that analytical, critical thinking part of our self that feels 'a business plan' is the way to go here, oh no. This is the open, benevolent, expansive lover of all, that we each hold inside our hearts. This is the part of ourselves that unquestioningly reaches out a hand to save another, knowing that at our core essence, as Joe Campbell exclaimed, "You and the other are one!"
And from my perspective, 'The One' is vast! It includes not only all of humanity and Gaia, our planet, but also our solar system and the massive spiral arms of our galaxy swirling out into the unending space of the Universe. I'm talking here of the fundamental consciousness, that is not only in me and in you, but that pervades everything and beyond. This is the flow that we must tap into, (that we are already tapped into) and align with, (that we are already aligned with,) in order to really manifest what we'd like to see in our lives. And all of this is already fully accessible within us. All that is needed is a little shift in our perspective. Here we embrace everything with love, even the stinkers, and those who have not yet found their way. Here we serve all. And, incidentally, thereby serve ourselves.
Our good intentions, our desires, our inspirations and our feelings of deep fulfillment will all point the way. They are the compasses that help us to align. They are the keys that open the doors to the deeper meaning of life. But it is our surrender to our unique service in life, to our own pathway of giving, that brings us to our knees with Joy! And here we find that the Universe has lain the road open wide before us, bountifully bedecked with everything that we truly need.