Joy is that surge that breaks out of the compound where possessions accumulate and gratification is oral; ecstasy is finding oneself swept away...
Joy is that surge that breaks out of the compound where possessions accumulate and gratification is oral; ecstasy is finding oneself swept away into inhuman spaces. We step out of the deck of our house in the middle of the night and our eyes travel to the billions of blazing stars of the Milky Way millions of light years away. We go to a nearby meadow one summer afternoon and listen to the tiny songs of the insects as our eyes drift with the passing clouds, enter microscopic and cosmic realms. We climb to Saqsayhuamán high over Qosqo, assembled of stones that weigh up to 200 tons each and fitted together so tight that we cannot push a knife blade between them; we go up the spirals of Borobudur to gaze at the wall of simmering volcanoes over the jungle below. We go to ancient monasteries in Ladahk and spend hours entranced before images of monstrous Himalayan deities dancing in rings of fire; we wander among the massive carved stones of Gobekli Tepe temple in southeastern Turkey, crafted and arranged 11,000 years ago by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery, until we find ourselves possessed by unknown ancient gods and demons.
The ecstasy of traveling the night skies from the deck of our house; of entering enchanted microecosystems in a nearby meadow; of going into the ocean, into the skies, into the rock core of the earth, into the Ice, is a pleasure radically different from the contentment that simmers over contents possessed. We will be dispossessed of apparatus to capture images and memories, dispossessed of memory and foresight, dispossessed of our identity, of our human upright posture and bodily skills. We will be adrift in the immensities and sublimities of reality. We will weep the bitterest tears and roar with wild laughter, our hands will extend blessings and curses. We will know reality.
Two practical rules are all we need:
Rule 1) Believe our happiness! Never make any important decision out of depression, a sense of need, of dependency. If we decide to get married because we are feeling lonely, afraid of becoming unattractive as we age or of being uncared for in old age, then we will marry badly. Make every important decision in a state of exultation. Isn't it on the dance floor that we feel right, our body feels right, we never have to urge ourselves to go, we never want to leave? Then decide to be there, to become a dancer, whatever the costs, the uncertainties, the counsels of prudence pressed on us!
Let us believe our happiness! Boredom and depression, wariness and prudence are not realistic. They narrow down our view, they raise up fences and walls, they leave the horizons and the depths in darkness. Joy is the most expansive state, it illuminates the distances and the heights, it opens wide upon what happens, what is.
Rule 2) Do it right away! Think of the most expansive, exultant thing imaginable. Visiting Anghor Wat or the Galapagos? Skiing Antarctica? Skydiving? Rafting down the Amazon? Go there now! Fear not that the world will appear more mediocre by contrast after—we will find new heights and depths in places that before looked closed in their somnolence.