“That which gives Joy to the Heart”
Many years ago, I was involved in a panel discussion on magic at the Oxford Thelemic Symposium. Someone asked each of the panelists to say why they did magic. My own answer was simple: “I enjoy it.”
I have written previously here on the practice of cultivating an openness to joy in my day-to-day life. Joy is a worlded emotion – it’s not an “inner state” but an orientation towards the world. Joy emerges from being prepared to relate or notice the world around us. Being open to joy and wonder in small things, in everday objects, in routines, in the briefest glimpse of say, light reflecting from a metal wastebasket, refreshes and invigorates the world; makes it anew. Joy springs out of meetings, the recognition of connections – it springs from participation; from relations. I just glanced at the telephone on my desk, and for a moment, it became numinous; full of fire. For a split-second, it danced and melted under my touch.
“…the ritual action that is directed towards the attainment of absorption and concentration in consciousness should always be accomplished by means of elements that give joy to the Heart.”
Abhinavagupta, Tantraloka quoted in The Triadic Heart of Siva Paul E. Muller-Ortega, p194
According to the nondual Trika school, it is in joy (Skt ananda), that we “remember” our divine nature. Some well-known instances of this feeling mentioned by Abhinavagupta include: the joy of seeing one’s beloved after an absence; the joy experienced when two pairs of eyes meet, or the delight of hearing a song. And where is this joy felt, but in the heart – hridaya – the seat of feeling and dwelling place of deity. The slightest pleasure is but a reflection of divine joy – so joy and wonderment become the primary means for attainment:
“When one experiences the expansion of joy of savour arising from the pleasure of eating and drinking, one should meditate on the perfect condition of this joy; then there will be supreme delight.”Vijnanabhairava v72
I could go on and on here (dragging in, for example, Spinoza and Deleuze, both of whom have interesting things to say about joy which echoes for me with Abhinavagupta’s sentiments) but I think that’ll do for now.