As a lover of life, I look for certain characteristics of God’s teachers in people I meet.
It can be said that one gentleman, who I had the pleasure of meeting during my stay in Ocean Shores, WA, clearly has the characteristic of Joy.
Michael works as a waiter and had I not encountered on several occasions, I might conclude that he might be authentically happy or he just won the lottery, fathered a new baby boy, fell in love, or something of that nature. It was difficult to avoid noticing his unbounded joy, more than just with mannerisms, but with a clear joie de vivre.
I was reminded of a recent vow to look closely for God’s teachers, because you will be joined by great companions.
Before my musical performance the other night, I ran into Michael, and simply asked him straight up, “I noticed you are very happy. Will you share your secret?” To this he replied, “there’s no secret, I just made a decision one day”.
“A decision to be happy?”, I asked, and to this he replied “Yep”.
Well, that was enough for me. I decided to take that moment that I might not get later, and tell him how much I appreciate him for making such a wise choice, and also how I look for “happy” in people, because it’s a sign that God was invited back to his rightful place in someone’s heart. I shared my gratitude and honor, and that was all there was to it. From Michael came a very sincere response, and return of gratitude.
I’m able to honor this in people now, but in the past, suspicion or envy might have caused fear or insecurities around such people as this “over the top” happy person. Now I just want them to know how much I appreciate them, and I’m grateful that I made the shift.
Back in the late 70’s, when I lived at the Kripalu ashram, Gurudev used to speak about joy, and how it was simply a choice. He would explain it something like this: The secret of joy is to simply choose it, and it’s that simple.
Maybe there’s more to it, as the course suggests, but how could we ever cause the life experiences that would lead to building our trust if we didn’t see that it was this we needed?
We claimed to want happiness, but how could this be done in the face of doubt? I think you’d agree that it would be quite impossible.
In the Course, Jesus explains that we must first have trust before the other characteristics are acquired.
So, I conclude that with trust, Joy is a simple choice. It is every master’s goal to clarify the learning experience. The choice for joy is a lifelong endeavor for us, as we learn to choose it in each moment, and finally, with firm determination, knowing that there’s nothing to fear. So fear, being removed through trust, makes the way to joy clear.
The characteristics are: (see full text)