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Liberate Your Joy

lotus flower

Knock, Knock. Your joy wants to come out.

If the practice of Taoism can be summed up in its greatest benefit – it would be how it trains the mind to liberate joy. This is not the result of an external trigger. It is a way of opening the mind to allow joy to blossom from within.

The mind can keep a sense of joy and wellness hidden below our drive for survival. Three ideas from the Tao te Ching can help liberate your joy.

Failure and success are the same.

bird on a branch with quote about being the guest by Kari Hohne

When we remember that we are the recipient of its gifts, we can begin to see how life has been caring for us since the day we were born. When we cut our finger or get sick, the body immediately sets out to cure us. How cool is that?

We often take responsibility for our success, but blame events for our failure. This can make it seem like life is challenging our sense of peace.

However, ‘challenging’ is how we are pushed out of complacency. Like a festering wound, the mind too, can get overwhelmed with too much worry.

A better word for ‘challenging’ is incitement. Just as a teacher wouldn’t just give you an answer – but allows you to come to a realization, life is inciting your sense of joy.

The problem is that you believe life is only on your side when you succeed. However, just as success can invigorate self-esteem, failure helps to eliminate what is blocking your joy. If life seems more difficult, you may be surviving rather than thriving. The difference is a lack of joy in what you are doing.

Often, what seems like a challenge is transformed when you acknowledge that you have exactly what you need. Life is often asking: “isn’t this what you wanted?” Life knows, but you keep moving your desire into the future, projecting it onto something external.

When you can see life as your teacher or mentor, you begin to see how difficulty is on your side too. Just taking a moment to believe that a change in plans might lead to something better – often reveals how this is true.

When you meet disappointment, rather than classify it as if something is wrong – look for how it returns you to authenticity.

Believing that life is unfolding perfectly is the first step back to joy.

Life Grows Hard When You Grow Hard.

Crane looking at reflection with quote about mysterious mirror by Kari Hohne

Gentleness overcome hardness in nature. Water is the most subtle substance and slips through our fingers when we try to hold it. Yet, leave anything in water and it will dissolve. Nature uses water to transform even the hardest of rocks.

When something doesn’t go our way, we hold anger. When people disappoint us, we hold a grudge. Holding anything makes us rigid, and this is the opposite of being in flow. Gentleness is learning how to loosen the mind.

The humility and openness Taoism cultivates allows you to remove any sense of boundaries. When your mind is flexible – life seems supple. When the mind grows hard – life becomes hard. Without boundaries, you expand your awareness where nothing is ever working against you.

The mind is hardened by judgments of good and bad; right and wrong. However, nothing is wrong, right or good: it just is. An endless flow connects the breath to the trees, a smile to another’s smile, or a subtle change on the path that can lead you to something you didn’t even know you wanted.

A supple, non-attachment can romance unexpected pleasures. It is impossible to engage in anger when there is nothing to hold. It is impossible to not have a sense of awe when you are in a trusting relationship with life.

Gentleness leads to compassion, compassion leads to peace, and peace leads back to joy.

Wander in the Unfathomable.

Duck walking on lake with quote about wonder by Kari Hohne

The fastest path to joy is learning how not to know. Making peace with the path finds its longevity when you wander in the unfathomable.

More than the non-judgment cultivated in other philosophies, Taoism goes even further. Holding to wonder cultivates another aspect of joy. No matter what unfolds, treat life with the respect that it knows what it is doing.

For billions of years, life took nothingness and converted it into a tapestry of interactions we simply cannot comprehend. It combines the colorful flowers of a spring landscape with winged creatures in a symbiotic state of wellness.

It moves the sky in a way that temperatures are kept at optimal levels for growth. It creates a chain of interaction that extends from one end of the universe to the grass beneath your feet.

When we look deep into life with our measuring tools, it responds as if consciousness is connected to what we measure. Although we showed up seconds ago on a geologic timescale, centuries of investigation have yielded little in a way of a true understanding of why we are here.

Why not wander in the unfathomable and open to discovery?

And yes, discovery cultivates joy.

“Go to the end of emptiness.
Hold fast to the way of stillness.
The myriad things all rise together
and return to their separate roots.”

Subtle like the snow melting in springtime and courteous like a visiting guest, when you are in relationship with life, joy blossoms like a flower within.

Who can be muddled and settling slowly
become clear?
Who can remain still and stirring slowly
come to life?

One who has opened to the Way of Tao.

The Problem of Survival

Survival today is different from even a few decades ago. Over the centuries, we have developed technological advances that have made life much easier than how our ancestors lived. However, what we have gained in modern conveniences, we have traded for the simple joy of living.

Consciousness develops from curiosity and necessity. Part of our awareness is based on survival and being aware of what may be a threat. It seems that investigation will restore wellness, but this is not true.

The trade-off for our technology is easy access to information, and the information is based on a business model that profits from fear.

Information is Like Food

Because food is plentiful, we may eat to mask our fears and insecurities. The news has become a type of entertainment, an escape…and like food, we often take in more than we need to survive.

Even while, it may be impossible to disengage from the news completely, we can change our relationship to it.

Food and news are just two examples of responses that we know are within our control to change.If we widen our awareness, we can begin to see the bigger picture of what has sabotaged our easy access to joy.