Jeff H guided our reflections this past Sunday, focusing on mudita, usually translated as appreciative joy, drawing on talks by Jill Shepherd and Jaya Rudgard, as well as his own exploration of this joy in practice.

Jeff opened with a poem he wrote for the sangha:

Turn to my joy,
Like the dove turns to the wind
And let our joy lift us together
On wings of Love, Compassion and Peace

Joy is often taught as the third of the four brahma viharas, or divine abidings. In order of appearance they are metta – lovingkindness, karuna – compassion, mudita – appreciative joy and upekkha – equanimity. They do not need to be approached serially, but are often presented in this way.

Joy can be invited to be the antidote for particular challenges in our lives. We can open our hearts to joy when faced with sorrow, with envy, and with jealousy.

Jeff selected excerpts from two dharma talks which focus on mudita. He took clips from a talk by Jill Shepherd on sukha, or happiness, and mudita from August 2019. Jill talks about mudita as the love that celebrates. She emphasizes that mudita should also be directed at ourselves, not always directed at others. He also took the introduction to a guided meditation on mudita given by Jaya Rudgard given in November 2019. Jaya notes that the definition of appreciate is to add value. Appreciative joy enables happiness to grow without needing anything new to happen. Jaya also emphasizes the benefit of balancing mudita for oneself with mudita for others. We segue into a 30-minute meditation at the end of Jaya’s talk.