25. Joy
Session 1
Spiritweb Chat
6 May 2000

Ben< ALL: Spiritual life isn't only a matter of individual existence, however prolonged, it is an active state of mental and emotional liveliness -- vim, vigor, vitality, enthusiasm, vivacity. One of the vital signs of spiritual life is labeled "joy" (or one of its semi-synonyms), and that is the topic we will be exploring in this seminar.

Ben< ALL: Joy is (according to Webster): 1. a very glad feeling; happiness; great pleasure; delight. 2. anything causing such feeling. 3. the expression or showing of such feeling.

Ben< ALL: Because joy is a feeling, it is subjective rather than objective -- i.e., joy is a type of personal experience and not an external object or force. Anything may cause joy in one person but not in another, and expressions of joy also vary from one person to another.

Ben< ALL: Having thus sketched the topic and how it fits into spirituality, let's start looking at some recognizable scenarios. Ready? Let's go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: Here is a room in a day-care center. Six children are playing here, three boys and three girls, all about four years old. Look at one of these children, and tell us what he or she is doing and why he or she is doing it. YOUR TURN.

FRAML< Playing with blocks. Likes to stack them and build things.

Sprinkles< Participating with others, enjoying the creativities taking place.

greyman< Simulation = START: Little children playing with blocks and various "child proof" toys. Zoom into one playing with blocks. *G* Because the blocks are there.

StarrFu< One of the children ... a girl is touching her toes and laughing ... they look so far away ... yet the touch of her fingers makes her feel closer to her toes. She touches the toes of another child to see if she can share her feeling and her laughter.

Sprinkles< StarrFu: I like yours. (giggle)

StarrFu< She is being with what is and expanding it to others.

DestinyB< A little girl is twirling around in circles, watching her skirt spin and feeling the movement with joy.

Ben< One little boy is sitting by himself in a sunlit corner reading a book because he enjoys it. (Yes, he can read. He taught himself.)

daCrone< In the day care center room where I am looking, four of the group are rallied around a boy standing in a chair ... he is holding the end of a long paper chain that they have made as high as he can reach and is telling them they have to make it reach to the moon. There is a girl sitting at a table with some plastic scissors which are not working well so she cannot cut more links ... she tells the others that they need more links ...

DestinyB< Oops ... one of the curious children sneaked his hand into the hamster cage, and Pebbles, the class pet, is now running for freedom, much to the delight of all the children chasing her.

Ben< ALL: I *like* what you are posting in response to this scenario. Thank you. Apparently, you know how to play. *S*

Icemona< A little girl is sitting by herself because she doesn't want to be there. She feels abandoned ...

Yopo< Should I mention the kid who just painted his face with the finger-paints? *G* (Uh, oh. Stern look from the adults ... )

Ben< QUESTION 2: Since I didn't provide any information about these children except number, gender and age, where did your mental image of the child you described come from? And did your description of what he or she was doing pick up on my earlier suggestion that the topic of this discussion is joy? YOUR TURN

FRAML< Ben: I just thought of my first grade class at recess and backed it up a couple of years.

Icemona< Joy for the little girl is when her mother comes to pick her up.

Ben< Icemona: Yes. Being rescued from a bad or disliked situation is a cause of joy. Good point.

StarrFu< Mine came from my inner child, and yes, I started with joy and pulled from my own memories of being and seeing a child connected, in now time, and being emotionally stimulated by an action.

Yopo< Mental image came from a memory of my niece when she was 4. As did the idea about what might be done with finger-paints. *S*

greyman< Ben: Social engrams recorded and played through the "filter" that you provided -- e.g., Interpolated vicarious experiences.

DestinyB< The child I described was someone like I was at that age. What was going on was joyful. Children can find joy in the simplest situations.

Sprinkles< It brought my thoughts to all the children that would gather at our family get-togethers and how they are all eager to participate in doing something that expresses their individual yet sharing selves. Smiles of seeing others as well.

daCrone< Ben: Yes ... the boy in my day care center who is reaching for the moon is very wrapped up in his idea -- though he has no real notion that it is not possible with a paper chain, the idea makes him very happy. He is also pleased that the others like his idea and are laughing. The girl with the scissors will be happy when Ms. Bette comes in with more cut pieces of paper to increase the chain length ... until then, she will continue to insist on some practical assistance from her roommates.

Ben< My flash-back mental image of the little boy sitting in a corner reading could have been either myself or my eldest son. For both of us, reading was and is a great source of joy.

StarrFu< For me, reading brings great contentment. It seems that the activities I do frequently bring satisfaction, inner peace and security. The activities that happen from synchronicity and spontaneity move me into joy. The parts of my daily life that repeat themselves build foundations ... joy is a energetic paint that colors my life.

Icemona< What about the child of a single parent? When a child only has one person to relate to, their joy is centered around that person. Joy, to me, is either religious, or an exhilarating experience of feelings.

Ben< Icemona: Yes, joy and sources or joy are personal. And there are religious sources of joy for some people. I hope to explore that later in this seminar series.

Icemona< Don't we sort of grow out of the child-like feeling of joy? We just except things that are either great or terrible.

Yopo< Maybe children are predisposed to joy. There's something we seem to forget as we get older ...

Trinkat< I thought that I had outgrown the feeling of joy ... until my granddaughter was born 2 1/2 years ago. I have more joy in my life now than I thought possible.

Ben< Trinkat: Good comment. Thanks. Grandparents and grandkids need each other.

Ben< QUESTION 3: When the animated movie "Beauty and the Beast" first came out a few years ago, a family went to see it. Their little three-year-old girl stood the entire time, clutching a handful of popcorn but not aware of it, her attention riveted on the movie. When it was over, she dropped the popcorn and started to cry, sobbing softly, as though her heart would break. How would you explain both aspects of her behavior? If you were her parent, what would you say and/or do, if anything? YOUR TURN

greyman< Ben: Perhaps she did not want the movie to end, or she wanted to see it again?

KAM< Ben: I kind of felt the same way as the little girl ... sad that it was over ... and engrossed while it was on. *S*

FRAML< Ben: Ask her why she was crying. (I'll recuse myself from further answers.)

Yopo< I think perhaps the child forgot herself in the film. Carried off into a world of fantasy. Maybe she cried when the spell was broken.

Trinkat< This is too strange ... I watched that movie with Alyssa today ... she was engrossed as long as Belle was on the screen ... and cried for the Beast at the end ... and then was very happy with the very end.

daCrone< *not having seen the movie* I would have been aware of her response to it and probably would have told my significant other so that he could have witnessed her response as well. She seems to have become enraptured by the message and the medium. Her crying afterward I would take as quite significant and I would likely give her hugs to reinforce that it was okay to have emotional responses. I would also begin asking her about what she thought of the movie -- though I would probably wait until we were in the car and out of the crowd.

Icemona< She might have felt that she was in trouble for spilling the popcorn.

StarrFu< Riveting intensity can make you lose the parts of the world you are not focused on; i.e. popcorn. Crying is a reaction to something. I would wait as I held out my arms for the child, and I would wait till she spoke ... letting her have her experience and being able to act on her energies. She was touched profoundly by the movie ... the falling popcorn brought her back to the real world.

DestinyB< The little girl was so involved in the movie that she probably wasn't aware of the popcorn anymore. She was crying because she identified with the character in the movie. I'd probably be sobbing louder than the child was!

Icemona< A three-year old child has many mixed emotions. The best thing is to give a big hug and wait until you and she are out of the crowd to talk it over.

Sprinkles< I would think she was intensely interested in absorbing the emotions of the film, and that her reactions to the loss of the item in her hand really triggered her upset feeling and related to a loss of some kind. I would assure her that it is okay to lose things sometimes, but that I will get her more popcorn, and that she would be happy. Even better, ice-cream when we got home.

KAM< To answer the second part of your question: hugging and just letting the child emote, and talk, or whatever ... continue to cry ... and then to give the reassurances that crying is okay, that everything is okay with the characters, etc.

Trinkat< My granddaughter hates messes and cries when she makes one ... takes after her Mom.

tadpole< Maybe the crying was as wonderful as the laughter ... the emotion as sweet. I would encourage her to feel every single thing that she felt.

Ben< This was a real case, not hypothetical. The little girl was thrilled with the movie, fascinated. It was for her a source of great joy -- abruptly ended. Her father saw her crying, picked her up, hugged her, and said, "That's Okay, we can see it again." She stopped crying and smiled. They did see it again. (And her grandfather bought the video for her the first day it appeared in a store.)

Trinkat< Alyssa can tell you what is going to happen next in Tarzan and Aristocats ... so can I.

LEGS< Oh, and SeLena knows every word each character says in Muolon.

KAM< That was great thinking on the Grandfather's part. *G*

Yopo< *LOL* My brother tells me that my niece Robin has a few favorite videos she watches again and again. Joyful repetition. Says she laughs at the same parts every time.

LEGS< Yopo: In a way we may not have thought of, the repetition helps develop trust ... knowing that the same thing is going to happen builds a trust in that sequence, so that later when the child is promised something and it happens, the foundation for believing was already there. Hopefully it will be one of joy fulfilled as well ...

Yopo< LEGS: I hadn't thought of that, but you are certainly right!

Ben< QUESTION 4: Have you ever seen a movie you enjoyed so much that you wanted to see it again and again? If so, what was it about that movie? Did it make you happy or sad? Can you tell why you felt so strongly about it? YOUR TURN

tadpole< Because it triggered and released emotion.

Trinkat< Dirty Dancin' ... and I don't think I have to explain ...

KAM< Trinkat: ***giggling**** I didn't have the nerve to say that ... *S*

Trinkat< Also "Steel Magnolias" for the sheer range of emotions -- the laughter when Sally Fields admits that her hair does look like a brown football helmet, the tears as she stands at her daughter's bed, the sense of renewal and life continuing at the very end ...

ravanne< "What Dreams May Come" is like that for me ... it makes me happy and sad. It challenges me to face the illusion that is death -- which helps me heal from my losses. I cry every time I see it because I covet the love this man had for his children.

FRAML< "Dr. Zhivago" and "Battleground" (Bastogne WW2). Neither for much joy only, but for the entire story each told.

Yopo< Yep. Can think of a few. I watched "Private Ryan" maybe 3 times. Not a particularly joyful movie. It is the catharsis of it. It wrings out some bad things from me, lets me experience them and think about them, and maybe neutralize 'em that way. "Fairy Tale -- A True Story" I've watched several times. It affirms innocence, while in the background WW I goes on. The "All Creatures Great and Small" series is an escape to a simpler time ...

FRAML< Yopo: Get a copy of "Battleground" from the video rental if you can. It was written by a Airborne company First Sergeant who was a screen writer. It is based upon his company's experiences. Realistic, no Hollywood bravado. The story of ordinary GI's.

Yopo< FRAML: Will do! And I again recommend "The Thin Red Line" to you. Well worth the time. Blessings!

daCrone< When I was younger, it was "Dr. Zhivago" -- which is why I have a daughter named Lara. *s* More recently there was "Dances with Wolves" ... my favorite part is when the native American man who had objected initially to the 'intrusion of the soldier' shouted to him as he left the camp "I am your friend" etc ... oh, I may cry here ... let's go to the middle time ... there was "The Music Man" which I liked because I would dearly love to sing and because it showed the magic of love -- when those kids stepped into their parade, they were in full uniform ... and we saw through the eyes of their parents ...

FRAML< daCrone: I remember going to see "Dr. Zhivago" in London, and later in Germany -- in German, without subtitles! I could pick out some of the dialogue, but it was just seeing it that was fun.

StarrFu< "Like Water for Chocolate" ... I taught a class for years where I teach people that every chop and stir has an intention behind it, so you think or say a word like "healing" or "wisdom" or "Empowerment" as you work the food, and the food provides the nutrition and the energy provides the nurturing. When I saw the movie and the point was made so clearly, I laughed and cried and got "God Bumps". It said what I was teaching in a more powerful way ... to this day it is the ONLY movie I have bought for myself.

daCrone< YES, StarrFu ... "Like Water for Chocolate"

greyman< "Forbidden Planet" (Anne Francis, need I say any more?) "Blazing Saddles" (Madeline Kahn), and of course, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." *g*

Yopo< greyman: Yes. It affirms that all will be well, if only you can find the correct shrubbery ... *G*

greyman< Yopo: NI!

daCrone< "The African Queen" ... Yes, Trinkat, "Steel Magnolias" ... "LA Story" ... even "The Full Monty" ... different things about different movies. *S*

Icemona< "You've Got Mail" makes me cry. I get so emotional when she says, "I wanted it to be you." Of course I cry at westerns, too. Even if Roy didn't kiss Dale at the end. They take me away from my hum-dum life with a happy ending.

FRAML< My youngest daughter's favorite movie when she is sad or sick is "Funny Face" with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. It helps her through. I've spent many a night up with her watching it.

DestinyB< I usually only watch movies again if I really enjoyed them the first time I saw them and some time has passed since I saw them. I like movies that make me happy, sad, and especially the ones that move me. I also like movies that make me think, and those that fill me with wonder. I prefer unpredictable plot lines {rare}. My "favorite" movie is constantly changing.

Sprinkles< There are a lot of movies that I enjoy. I tend to like those that have just about all the emotional intensities that usually make me laugh and cry and feel that all worked out well in the end. There are those that make me feel courage and pride and rest assured. The joy of them is the feeling of intensity that brings to surface the emotions that may have been dormant.

Trinkat< Adventure stories for the take-me-away, fantasies for the same reason, animated features because they give my grandchildren and I something to share.

Yopo< "Hannah and Her Sisters" ... *S*

daCrone< "Might Be Giants" ... and that one with Robin Williams when he taught at the boys' school -- brain failure here on the name -- but I really like the visual of the boys coming through the fog ... beautiful picture of emergence.

Yopo< daCrone: "Dead Poets Society" ?

daCrone< Thank you, Yopo ... YES, that one! My brain can relax now!

Yopo< *S* Robin Williams affirms that one can be a complete lunatic, and still make people happy ...

stillness< I think the greatest movie is life. After all, life is a dream movie, and we play the lead role.

Trinkat< Really sad stories when I feel like a good cry and can't find a really good reason in my every day life. Do you know how hard it is to justify your tears to people who love you and worry when you cry? If you cry when you watch a movie, its okay and doesn't upset anyone.

LEGS< My all time joy movie is "Brigadoon" and after that "Carousel" ... maybe because dreams come true.

Ben< I've watched "Sound of Music" many times, and will again, because I enjoy it so. And "Support Your Local Sheriff" because it makes me laugh. And the old movies "Twelve O'Clock High" and "High Noon" for their realistic portrayals of courage.

daCrone< Oh, that I could sing like Julie Andrews. *sigh*

FRAML< LEGS: Ah, yes, "Brigadoon". // Ben: agree on "12 O'Clock High"; similar to "Battleground" in that aspect.

Sprinkles< Oh, the one that makes me laugh the most, and I love seeing over and over (although not a movie) is "Faulty Towers" with John Cleese.

stillness< "Legend of the Fall" and "Excaliber" and "True Romance" and "Scent of a Women I Loved."

Trinkat< Computer animation movies ... can't wait for the new Disney movie that comes out this month, Dinosaurs.

KAM< Trinkat: *S* I enjoy movies such as "Miracle on 34th Street", "Born Free", "The King and I", "The Bells of St. Marys", and the "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" movies ... the emotions involved ... the values involved ... the scenery ... the love ...

Ben< ALL: Excellent! Thank you. I have enjoyed reading of your joys. Now I'll post a short summary and explanation, and then we'll have an open discussion of joy.

Ben< SUMMARY: Question 1 was an exercise in empathy. Question 2 was intended to turn your attention inward to see if you responded to my suggestion that the topic is joy. Question 3 was another exercise in empathy, this time with both the child and her parent. Question 4 was an exercise in memory and introspection. All four were intended to look at joy and vicarious joy as subjective phenomena, a type of personal experience, and thus illustrate some of the implications of what joy is.

Ben< /topic Open discussion of JOY

stillness< "Interview with a Vampire" -- I love vampires. LOL

KAM< And I thoroughly have enjoyed watching "Cats" several times. It's a tear jerker while it is also funny and just plain entertaining ... and the music is wonderful!

Trinkat< Hey, ya'll, how about the original "Grease"? ... love that movie and have hated all the remakes ...

Yopo< *LOL* Ben got us started. Now he's got to figure out how to STOP us ...

Ben< My wife and I just watched the PBS video of the Lewis and Clark expedition and enjoyed it immensely.

Trinkat< Delayed greetings to all in room ... was watching Alyssa play with her daddy before he had to leave for work ... told KAM in pm that I came joyful to the chat tonight ...

Sprinkles< There was one with Jean Stapleton, "The Stardust Ball" (I think), very sad. Saw that a long time ago. Would love to see it again. Very moving.

Icemona< Joy is a high that affects us mentally and physically ...

Yopo< Can we have a measure of joy without an equal measure of sadness? Sometimes joy seems like a release from sorrow to me. A matter of contrasts. At least, in this world ...

Trinkat< Yopo, I agree ...

Ben< Yopo: As I tried to point to in the scenario about the little girl, the abrupt termination or absence of what makes us happy can make us sad. That's part of the nature of this topic.

Yopo< Ben: Yeah. Movies and books are a good example. To create an experience of joy, the director or writer must FIRST set up its opposite, preferably with a strong expectation that the outcome will quite possibly be the same. Joy comes when that expectation is defeated ...

lightgrrl< Thank you, Ben. It certainly reminded me to look at an emotion in its entirety. Not an easy thing to remember when you are talking about such an abstract topic.

Ben< lightgrrl: Yes, such topics are often addressed abstractly, and that's why I use scenarios to make them more concrete and personal and provide a basis from which we can expand on them.

daCrone< Well, Question 4 definitely brought up some joy here! I LOVE GRAND ... I love ideas and stories about grand and wonderful and expansive. I love it when movies are grand and I love it when the grand ideas are obvious and when they are subtle. I believe in reaching for the stars. I am the boy in my day care center ... and I am the girl who cuts paper. I don't have to do grand ... it is often quite overpowering for me just to witness it. I LOVE GRAND! GLORIOUS GRAND!

Trinkat< You want joy? ... my granddaughter and I are eating Oreos ... dunking them in what was my cup of coffee. I just showed her how to take them apart and eat the filling first ... her mom is not pleased with me ... *S

KAM< Trinkat: Can't believe you did that. *G* But hey, how else to eat Oreos?

Trinkat< BRB need fresh coffee sans cookie mush ...

LEGS< *laughing* Trinkat, when you were her age, you always had to have "one for each hand" and would walk by a shelf without looking, and "park" your cookie on that side ... maybe the other partially eaten one on a table on your other side ... then directly you would come tearing past, reach out without looking and retrieve your cookies ... at breakneck speed ... that was Trust. *g*

Walt_1< Try eating the top and bod of the cookies first and save the filling for last. Hahhahaha ...

Trinkat< (((Walt_1))) That's how I eat Reese Cups ... don't want to confuse her.

Walt_1< Trinkat: Save the best for last ... Hahhahahha ...

Yopo< Walt: It's the only SAFE way to EAT an Oreo, if you happen to be an ant ...

Walt_1< Yopo: But I'm an uncle ... **chuckle**

stillness< Ben: I think joy and bliss are two different things. I think joy is a feeling subject to the condition of the mind and body, but bliss is a state of spiritual advancement, like in deep meditation or in total annihilation of the mind (which I feel gives perfect bliss).

Yopo< stillness: A sort of transcendent joy, beyond the world of "a measure of this for a measure of that ... "

stillness< Yopo: I feel joy and misery are two sides of the same coin and both are due to the mind and body state, but bliss I feel is beyond the state of mind or body. Bliss is non-dual, it is permanent perfect happiness ... it is beyond joy or worldly happiness.

LEGS< stillness: That is a beautiful thought ...

Sprinkles< Joy is watching and listening to my 5 year old Granddaughter sing her lungs out with such feeling as she wonders around the property singing to everything she sees, as if in her own little world, and my grandson who is four chasing horny toads through the bushes. My heart is full of joy with the views and sounds.

Trinkat< Sprinkles: I absolutely agree. I have 8 and 4 year old grandsons and a 2 1/2 year at our house ... and I have such joy of them. Oh, my word, the 4 year old will be 5 on 6/01 ... time flies when you're having fun.

Ben< Trinkat: My four-year-old grandson will be five on 6/8 so I thoroughly identify with what you are saying. *S*

KAM< Sprinkles: I think that any of us who are grandparents know that the joy of watching the grandchildren has a different feeling to it than when we watched our children. We were so "responsible" for our kiddoes ... but with the grandkids, we just enjoy them!

Sprinkles< KAM: I think that applies to learning the experience of how fast time really is. Now realizing that it is very precious and every moment should be filled with joy because it is so fleeting, we tend to have a standstill of time and make it last vividly in our memories to come.

KAM< Sprinkles: Yes, we have the videos and stills of the actions that we want to experience again and again safely tucked into that file cabinet in our brains where we can pull them out and examine them again and again ... which makes time stand still for us ... and returns us to those special moments in time!

Trinkat< KAM and Sprinkles: I spend a lot of my time telling my son and daughter-in-love that they need to enjoy these children now ... sometimes I actually think they listen. Like Luke taking the time to really play with Alyssa before he goes to work ... so good for both of them.

Ben< stillness: I agree that joy and bliss aren't absolute synonyms. I plan to look at bliss in one of the later sessions of this series.

Yopo< It would be interesting to speculate on how bliss might be something beyond an electro-chemical process of the physical brain. Will be looking forward to that session ...

Trinkat< Yopo: I still think that the contrast between the emotions is what makes life interesting ... if stillness is right and bliss is permanent ... I too will be looking forward to that session.

Walt_1< Bliss is when the 2 are united in the bridal chamber. When Adam and Eve are re-united and they become Un-Divided again like their Eternal Ma & Pa.

stillness< LEGS: One great mystic said he had attained this perfect bliss, by total destruction of the mind. In fact he said even if he was in the mouth of a lion, he would still be happy. Mind, I feel, is the greatest obstacle to true bliss and happiness. The mind, I think, is the cause of all misery ... and so too the body with sickness.

LEGS< Ah, stillness, you have echoed my thoughts ... thank you.

Trinkat< stillness: Even if I thought bliss would be obtained, I am not willing to undergo destruction of my mind. To be unthinking is, to me, to be unliving ...

stillness< Trinkat: We can not fathom a state without thought or feeling, because its impossible for the mind to fathom a state which is beyond the mind. In fact it terrifies the mind to think that it won't exist ... mind is said to be the true ego ... but the mystics and sages who have destroyed the mind say the state beyond mind is perfect bliss, infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite peace, and infinite perfect divine love. In fact they say the mind is our unnatural state ... like a wet-suit over the body. The state beyond mind is our natural state it is said from where we came originally, from this state we put on the monkey suits of a flesh body and mind ... and then began our suffering.

Yopo< stillness: Hmm ... But some (not necessarily me) might argue that mind and body are the source of all experience. A blissed-out mystic is maybe more likely to wind up dinner for a lion. I keep thinking we are not necessarily here just to figure out how to leave ...

stillness< Yopo: I believe the only point of all existence is to EXPERIENCE THIS perfect state of bliss beyond the mind, to consciously experience it. The only reason I feel why we're trapped in a flesh body and ego mind is to break out of those shells and merge back into our original state of perfect bliss, to consciously experience this. It's only a caged bird that truly appreciates and enjoys freedom when released.

Yopo< stillness: I always get confused on that point. Descending from a state of perfection into the maze of the material world, only to try to find our way back. I consider that a possible model of what's going on. But I also consider a possible alternative: We may rise up as a PRODUCT of the material world, on an upward evolutionary trajectory through both form and spirit. We may be NEW spirits, with a destination we have never before visited.

stillness< Yopo: I personally don't believe that. I believe our original state is so perfect, so absolutely magical and divine and brilliant, that nothing could be improved upon it ... also countless mystics and sages support this theory ... but of course proof will be in the experience.

Yopo< stillness: Maybe it is a matter of Time. I'm quite stuck in it. Get outside of that, and perhaps the original state is the ever-present one or something ...

stillness< Yopo: I don't believe time exists.

KAM< Ben: How long before you have the seminar on bliss?

Ben< KAM: I planned to look at bliss week after next, because there are a couple of intermediate steps that can help to understand what bliss is. However, this is an open discussion now, so I'll watch and note some points to revisit or expand on then.

KAM< Ben: Thanks for clarifying that. I'll look forward to both of those sessions. *S*

Yopo< It is bliss that the heroin addict is ever trying to reclaim ... Hmm ...

KAM< Bliss is a state at which there is no need to go further ... complete contentment and satisfaction and joy ... no drive to get somewhere else ... no need to work for further goals ... sad in a way to think of it!

Trinkat< And it is lack of feeling and lack of thought that suicides seek ...

KAM< I would prefer to think that Bliss was instantaneous and fleeting, rather than permanent.

daCrone< Interesting thoughts ... my concept of bliss is that it is not static ...

KAM< Time is fleeting ... and seems to go faster as you gain age and experience.

Sprinkles< KAM: Time does seem to move faster as we age, but by acknowledging that this is so, time can be made to linger as is just for a few secs. By stopping and absorbing or taking in that moment, it can be held for life. It has taken me to slowing down my observance of all that is about my life.

Walt_1< In the dream state, the Soul with help of mind can attempt to work out karma of the flesh because the senses are not functioning; e.g., your eyes are shut, shielding you from the objects of sense. The mind in turn being the great movie studio it is, presents you with the challenge. It can take you to your school reunion in another town, complete in every detail, despite the fact you never left your bed. This is the stage you can work out the sum of the problems of Soul (EGO) and proceed into deep sleep wherein the mind is overcome (is stilled). This is the realm of the King... or Indweller.

Istahota< Hey, Walt, make it simple.

KAM< Walt: Interesting concept

Yopo< In fact ... uh, I'm probably headed for trouble here ... one might even draw a parallel between the mystic and the heroin addict. Both seek a sort of blissful oblivion. Both can become obsessed with their quest, and end up mortifying the flesh, giving no care for whether they might live or die. (Just throwing this out for discussion, mind you!) // Ben: Uh, sorry to be getting ahead of the topic. I'll hold that thought for later. (And maybe have thought better of it by then, too ... )

stillness< Yopo: I agree, everyone seeks bliss, be it is sex, food, drugs, or worldly love. In fact everyone is a junkie for bliss in some form, because bliss is our nature, our essence, but I feel only mystical spiritual bliss gives perfect bliss which everyone consciously seeks; everything else gives temporary bliss often fraught with suffering like drug abuse.

Istahota< stillness: Things outside of one's self without doing one's personal work are what most want. The magic pill, so to speak. White mans power only brings a temporary bliss and it takes more each time.

Ben< Yopo: Not a problem with getting ahead of my series. Only, it seems to me that one should be able to enjoy movies and children and grandchildren and such, here and now. That's why I started this series where I did.

Trinkat< Ben: Absolutely.

Yopo< Ben: *S* An excellent place to start. And maybe the best to finish, too. We can get off into abstractions, but it is the here and now where our business really is ...

DestinyB< I went through a wide range of emotions this evening. Around 6 PM my 18 year old son told me he was going on a walk in the woods. (unusual for him, but it was a beautiful spring day). Dinner was ready around 7, and he had asked about when we would eat just before he left, so I figured he'd be along shortly. I started to worry around 8:30 and darkness fell and there was no sign of him. We live in the country, and I've been lost in the woods across the way in broad daylight, and I have a very good sense of direction. I prayed a little prayer and a calm came over me ... don't worry ... it's okay. At around 9:45 my son came in the front door, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I was filled with joy and relief. He had decided to walk cross country to his school (5 miles away) and came back on the roads. He is fine, though I suspect he'll sleep well tonight and be sore tomorrow. All's right with the world again.

Yopo< DestinyB: *S* I can empathize. I am not a parent, but I can well imagine.

Trinkat< stillness: I can agree with what you are saying ... however, if these people have obtained mindlessness, what do they use to gather the knowledge and pass those thoughts to others? I do not want oblivion for myself nor for those I love. My mind is the thing that makes me aware of the joy that has been brought to my life by my grandchildren, my gardens and my career. My mind is the thing that makes me appreciate the wisdom passed on by my own parents and grandparents ... so I cannot agree with the approach.

stillness< Trinkat: The mystics without mind have access to INFINITE KNOWLEDGE ... that means they know everything about everyone and every science and every aspect of knowledge ... they have perfect knowledge. We of course can not understand or fathom such knowledge, until we attain what they have attained ... their love also has become infinite and perfect ... they have all power and perfect peace, their whole state of consciousness is different, none can fathom their state or glory ... only when you yourself attain their state can you fathom it ... but this state is our original state they say, in fact, its the goal of all creation to experience this state.

Trinkat< stillness: I think that possibly we define mind differently ... and I also think that there is a time for all things. At this point in my life, I revel in the more material, earthly joys of home, children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents, mocha coffee and Oreos. When it is time for me to experience that state I will also revel in it ...

Yopo< *S* On the middle path, one may eat Oreos ...

Ben< Yopo: Hah! Yes. On the middle path one may eat Oreos, and cuddle kittens, and pat dogs, and hug children, and serve as a source of blessing to those along the way.

KAM< Ben: Grinning at your reaction to Yopo's middle path statement ... and love your response!!!

stillness< Trinkat: I agree only a few ripe souls are ready to even enter the spiritual path or inner journey. I myself don't even feel fully ready to begin the path ... it's a gradual process spiritual evolution ... and very, very few reach the final goal in one life time ... but I now know the absolute glory and happiness that lies latent in every human being, and I intend to try at least to attain some of that glory this birth.

LEGS< stillness: Perhaps that means you have already started into your description of bliss ... into the tunnel of timelessness ...

stillness< LEGS: When in deep dreamless sleep, where is the world? Where is your body or mind? Does time exist in this state ?

Trinkat< stillness: I wish you well on your path ... maybe someday, when I am ready, I will see you there.

stillness< Trinkat: Thanks, friend.

daCrone< What is the opposite of bliss?

KAM< daCrone: What a brilliant question ... abject misery???

DestinyB< Depression is the opposite of bliss.

stillness< daCrone: The opposite to bliss I feel is creation (body and mind).

Istahota< daCrone: I feel as long as you think of opposites you stay in a dualistic mind set and can not experience it.

daCrone< KAM & DestinyB & stillness & Istahota: Thanks for the responses. I will be pondering bliss a bit. My notion is that it is not static ... it feels more like potential and creativity than a flat-line state to me. It is, though, one of those things that when I am near I sense but have not captured. *s* ... so off to think, I am ... THANKS Ben and Everyone for the evening. *VBS*

stillness< Ishtahota: Is it possible to not think in opposites as long as the mind exists ?

Istahota< stillness: Yes it is. The mind is split into left and right and is in conflict with itself. Walt said something about Adam and Eve in the bridal chamber. It is a metaphor for this. Settle the conflict and the marriage can happen. The conflict for the most part is caused by us believing one thing and then doing things in the world with others which are in direct conflict with our beliefs.

Sprinkles< Opposites teach, learn and experience the differences. They are very appreciated in this persons life.

KAM< stillness: I believe that time exists ... if it didn't, why do we age?

stillness< KAM: Time exists I feel as long as the dual mind exists ... but I feel once the dual mind is destroyed then time no longer exists. In fact some mystics say that all dream creation happened instantaneously, both past, present and future ... but in reality time doesn't exist because our original state is timeless, non-dual and without beginning or end.

KAM< stillness: Thank you for your explanation of time ... I will ponder upon it.

LEGS< Here is my Leprechaun's definition of TIME ... from his article in April issue of Pencilstubs ... Time: In general, Time is a facet of human consciousness felt both in psychic and physical experience, and an aspect of the environment observed metaphorically as a one-way flow, providing, together with space, the matrix of events.

Ben< Yopo: Earlier, you said "Maybe it is a matter of Time. I'm quite stuck in it. Get outside of that, and perhaps the original state is the ever-present one or something ..." I've found more than a few souls who were stuck outside of time (lost track of chronological time) and were not in a pleasant state of being ...

Yopo< Ben: Alas, I know that all too well, though probably not in the way you mean. There is no small difference between transcending time and simply losing all understanding of it.

Trinkat< Ben: I think that the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer's and those souls lost in autism are the saddest thing in the world. My heart just breaks and I feel so helpless when faced with it.

Ben< Trinkat: I have investigated Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and Down's from a spiritual point of view. They are mechanical, biological malfunctions that do not necessarily affect the soul or the spiritual body. I know this because I have conversed with folks, after they died, who had those malfunctions before they died, and they were no longer affected by them. Same with amputees. The condition of the spiritual body after death depends on the self-image that a soul retains or prefers. Although some souls do still see themselves as crippled after they die, they can be helped to remember themselves young and strong.

guitarist< Ben: I am glad you have investigated certain manifested illnesses (Parkinson's, Down's, etc.) that seem overwhelming to those who observe them from only the physical point of view, and can tell us that their spirits are whole.

Trinkat< Yes, Ben ... it does give me comfort that you have spoken with them ...

Sprinkles< Ben: That is interesting. Perhaps that is why those who I have spoken with, that I have known to be older when here, appear always to be in a younger age or more fit than they were before their passing. Hmmmm ...

daCrone< I agree, Ben. When I met my sister, she was a lovely mature woman though she had passed away at age 6 from cystic fibrosis.

Ben< ALL: Good discussion tonight. Thanks for playing along with my scenarios -- and expanding on them. I enjoyed it. Now, I need some rest. Long day today and another tomorrow. Good night. Peace and blessings to each of you. *poof*

25. Joy
Session 2
Spiritweb Chat
20 May 2000

Ben< ALL: This is our second session on the topic of JOY. In the first session, we looked at four scenarios to explore some properties and characteristics of joy. Tonight I will merely mention that joy is a noun -- a name for a feeling -- and then explore some of the associated verbs.

Ben< DEFINITION 1: Enjoy is a transitive verb; i.e., something we do or can do that requires an object. To enjoy means to have or experience (something) with joy; get pleasure from (something); relish (something). Thus, to enjoy implies there is something that causes joy in a person, even though anything may cause joy in one person but not in another.

Ben< QUESTION 1a: Suppose you are visiting in a foreign country, and a local family invites you to dinner at their home. Many different dishes of food are placed on the table: you don't recognize most of them, and some of them you know you don't like. Your host or hostess says "Enjoy!" Can you *actually* do that without faking it? If not, why not? If so, how would you go about doing it? YOUR TURN

Trinkat< Most hostesses would prefer that their guests truly enjoy the fruits of their labor (the dishes prepared) and would rather a guest not indulge in something that they know they don't like. However, I would try all of the ones that I didn't recognize, and then be sure she knew the ones that I truly enjoyed.

guitarist< I probably would take small amounts of the dishes I know I wouldn't like, greater amounts of foods I'm curious about. I would not focus on any one food; I would, however, focus more on the *conversation.* That part is usually more enjoyable, imo. :)

Icemona< Take a little of everything and find out which one or ones I like the best, and flatter them, and say nothing about the others.

FRAML< I can enjoy their hospitality, friendliness and generosity. I would try the foods, and express enjoyment about those I truly enjoyed. I'd be gracious about those that I found unpleasant.

LEGS< It is easy for me to try new dishes. I have a naturally curious palate. *G*

Yopo< I'd probably go for the ones I don't recognize, and try to enjoy the experiment, if not the results. Don't think I could fake enjoyment of the ones I KNOW I don't like. Hard to enjoy myself when I know the whole durn thing is a sham.

greyman< That has happened to me. My first inclination was to be direct and apologize if I may offend by a lack of cultural understanding ... and just eat the bread with the black things on it. *G*

Ben< Good responses, showing graciousness. Thank you. Others?

guitarist< As my husband can tell you, I'm very curious about all kinds of food. Our first date was at a Thai restaurant, and I had never been to one before. I would find plenty to like -- and express my appreciation for.

KAM< I'm afraid that I wouldn't try the ones that I know I don't like, but I might comment on the attractiveness of the dish or something to that effect ... and try the ones that I never had before and express my appreciation if I did like them ... and concentrate on conversation or something else instead of the foods I didn't like. Of course, it is hard for me not to show what I am feeling on my face ... I certainly don't play poker well! *S*

Yopo< Uh, I might take some true enjoyment from the situation, too, and try to show that rather than my lack of enthusiasm about weird dishes. *S*

DestinyB< I would HAVE to ask what was in each and every dish, because of severe food allergies ... I have to whenever I eat out anywhere. Then I'd try the ones I can have!

FRAML< I did refuse to eat the boiled rattlesnake that friends from the officers advanced course brought to our Halloween party. It was coiled, and he left the head and rattlers on it, but removed the skin. I just couldn't bring myself to get near it.

Trinkat< Blech!

DestinyB< *LOL* Poor FRAML! I wouldn't eat snake either!

Yopo< Reptiles should be baked or fried.

Trinkat< Although I've eaten rattlesnake and it is quite good, it sounds like the presentation left a little to be desired.

Ben< ALL: I would like to highlight something that several of you said or implied: to enjoy, focus your attention on what you know you enjoy and not on what you know you don't enjoy. That's a selective approach to enjoying -- even (and perhaps especially) if it means shifting attention from the food to the people, to enjoy them even if you don't enjoy the food.

KAM< Ben: Most of us to go those dinners for the company and not for the food!

Trinkat< From the time that we were little children, we were taught that ... to be polite ... and if you can't say something nice about one thing, choose another.

Yopo< Yes. *G* I might get a lot of enjoyment from watching someone ELSE eat a snake.

guitarist< I am aware that some cultures like to challenge others by putting uncommon dishes on the table -- fried scorpions with their stingers attached is one example I can think of. I guess that when one is the guest, one should attempt to try everything without complaint. If I am likely to be sickened, sneaking food into the napkin for the family pet (mine or my host's) is a classic strategy I might follow. *g*

Ben< QUESTION 1b: Suppose you have to relocate from a place you enjoy a great deal, to a very different place. Can you *intentionally* enjoy your new location? If not, why not? If so, how would you go about doing that? YOUR TURN

Trinkat< I still live in the same state where I was born, and I really get unhappy when people who have relocated here can find nothing nice to say about my state. If I had to move somewhere else, I would start by checking into the history of the new place, the new foods, new customs, maybe ...

Yopo< I like exploring new places. I suppose I could focus on that.

FRAML< Ben: Duhhhhhhh -- Yep, it's called being in the Army! (or Air Force). I look for something to enjoy. I'm sure I would have found something enjoyable at Ft. Polk, but fortunately I got out of going there.

guitarist< FRAML: My husband got to spend some time at Ft. Polk during his first life -- I mean while he was married to his first wife. He loved it during the winter, hated it during the summer. :)

KAM< Ben: Since I was an Air Force wife, and we moved frequently, I can only tell you what I did to stay happy. I looked for the special interest areas around the new place. I made sure that the kids met and had friends their age so that they could enjoy playing ... interacting with their peers. As y'all know, if the kids aren't happy, no one is. *S* And we did a lot of "scenic" driving to find those special places around the new location!

FRAML< KAM: And one can always look forward to their next post being the one of their dreams. (Yeah, right, but sometimes it happens.)

greyman< Ah, emotional responses are indicators of conscious or unconscious expectations concerning any location. If one could be in control of that "switch", what a happier place it could be. *G*.

FRAML< greyman and KAM: My first wife was looking forward to going to Germany, but by the time she got there she had convinced herself that she WAS NOT going to like it, and spent two years NOT liking it. (Another long story you'll be spared.)

DestinyB< It would be an adventure to live somewhere else. I've spent so long in this location ... and could always return, couldn't I?

Icemona< Ben: The questions you are asking concern adjusting to different situations. Some can slide into a new environment; others have trouble doing so. I can slide and take a part of the old with me.

LEGS< *laughing* Ah, Ben, I just answered that in a pm to someone else. I think we are where God needs us to be at any given moment. We should look around to find the lesson we are to learn ... or the ones that we are to help ... we are the extended care that God uses to help his people.

greyman< AMEN, LEGS! GOD can use us where ever we are!

Trinkat< If nothing else, I could concentrate for a while on the changes in my home ... or in my career ... although I still think there's a lot to be said for getting to know what the locals do to have a good time.

guitarist< I think that I would try to enjoy wherever I might land (hubby has nearly got us relocating twice last year). If moving to a colder climate (a challenge to me, since I grew up in New England and never quite got used to the cold), I would prepare for it -- warmer clothing, activities, etc.

KAM< You know, when you are raised in one place and never move, then getting to go to new places is an adventure, and any adventure should be explored fully. There are always some negative things, but if you look for the good ... the unique ... the unexpected ... the beauty ... then you can be happy wherever you are! Even in the same place you grew up in and never go anywhere from. *S*

Ben< Okay! Good responses. I'm seeing the general approach to this question as: search for something you can enjoy in the new location. Find something to enjoy. So, in this case, to enjoy includes an active initiative and not merely a passive reception of enjoyable things.

Sprinkles< I don't know if I can intentionally enjoy a new place. But I would be open to what possibilities it had. I would intentionally look for things that I might like to enjoy, new interests, new people, different scenery. I would most likely find the positives and weigh the negatives.

DestinyB< I was once faced with the idea of moving to Africa. My former husband's company offered a transfer to their plant there. The Americans live in a country club type compound and have armed escorts whenever they leave the compound. It was in a dangerous area, among people of a different race who spoke another language. The idea was fascinating and terrifying at the same time! Things changed, and we chose not to go.

FRAML< DestinyB: Sounds like a semi-combat zone to me. H'mm. // Yopo: Just about like being at a base camp in Vietnam.

Yopo< FRAML: *S* Yep. Long periods of tedium, broken by short intervals of rockets ...

greyman< Speaking of rockets, I saw STS 101 lift-off @ Kennedy yesterday. WOW! I felt the blast on my chest from 10 miles away. Glory & Joy.

DestinyB< greyman: I call watching a lift-off the greatest free show on Earth! I witnessed a space shuttle take off at night once! WOW is putting it mildly!

LEGS< Oh, greyman, how glorious to be an astronaut! Only me and one other student even thought we would ever walk on the moon when I was in high school, and he was an accountant with NASA at the launch site when the moon walk flight was accomplished. Also, KAM's and my mom (Trinkat's grandmom) wanted to volunteer for the space station. She still does. *S*

Ben< ALL: You don't need to answer this one, but it is worth thinking about. What if the new location is a nursing home? Could you find something to enjoy there? I hope so.

KAM< Oh my, Ben, you do like to throw curves, don't you? A nursing home supposedly has people in there who are similar in age to those who enter, and surely their lives have been interesting and full of strange and wonderful experiences. I would hope to find happiness there if that is where God chooses for me to be. *S*

Icemona< Ben: I would enjoy the company and the joy of knowing that I wasn't a burden on anyone.

guitarist< If the new location were a nursing home (as it will be for some of us someday), I would like to think I could find some new friends there, if nothing else. Nursing home residents and nursing/doctoring staff are people, too. *s*

Sprinkles< Oh, I think I would. I find that older folks tend to have history as well as fascinating stories. I love to hear and feel their cherished memories and their lessons. I would make their lives fill with the interest of telling me, and I think they would find my eagerness in learning amusing. I love to put a sparkle in the eyes, and I know it would be a friendship that might have been long overdue. *S*

LEGS< I visited today in a nursing home which is an extended-care home as well as a convalescent home. There is both disillusion and joy there ... a new building, well kept, and with an admirable brass plaque statement of mission ... putting the patient first. Another glorious occupation ... caring for the terminally ill ... how much closer can you get to the doorstep of Heaven?

Ben< DEFINITION 2: Rejoice is an intransitive verb; i.e., something we do or can do that doesn't require an object. To rejoice means to be glad or happy or delighted or full of joy. Thus, to rejoice implies there is nothing causing this joy in a person. It is something the person does.

FRAML< Ben: I thought it was when your first wife was named Joyce, and you married a woman with that name for your second wife that you re-Joyced. (groan)

guitarist< LOL @ FRAML!!! Re-Joyced indeed!

LEGS< (((FRAML))) That was a Frank thought if I ever heard one. *S* re-joycing

Ben< QUESTION 2a: Suppose you are feeling tired and bored. Nothing interesting or exciting is happening. Then here comes this crazy preacher: he says "Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice!" Do you know what he is talking about? Can you do it? Can you make yourself feel glad or happy or delighted or full of joy under these circumstances? If not, why not? If so, how would you go about it? YOUR TURN

FRAML< It depends on what more the preacher had to say. Also, would I know what he was talking about when he said "rejoice" or would it be something new to me?

Yopo< The art of rejoicing is one I have yet to master. For me, the verb generally requires its object. Though it sometimes can be a relatively small one. *S*

Trinkat< Ben: For me the kicker in your question is 'under these circumstances'. I usually tune out evangelists who tell me what to do and when to do it; however, I can make myself feel glad or happy or delighted or full of joy when I choose to do so by thinking about those things that I am thankful to have in my life ... my children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, my garden, my job (sometimes).

Ben< Trinkat: Yes, recalling positive memories is one approach to rejoicing. (The word "rejoice" literally means to be glad or happy or delighted *again*.)

KAM< Rejoice ... that does have a special meaning to me ... it means that I can rejoice in knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and to know that I am never alone!

Jello< Joy is impossible for someone to feel in the black pit of depression. It takes outside help to get one out of that far enough to feel joy.

greyman< Ben: If the "preacher" is "connected" a transfusion may occur. If not, they become empty words. The only way out of depression is to go through it, or somehow be lifted from it.

shiana< greyman: I agree ... sometimes depression is a signpost that indicates we have something to pay attention to and attend to. Having said that, I find that I can usually find something to feel good about even during those times, even if it is but a fleeting moment.

FRAML< greyman: Good point about the pastor being connected to God, and one getting the sense that something is being transferred through him to me. Perhaps in this Christian context, it would get me out of a lethargy I might be in, and help me re-look at what I had reason to be joyous about. To take inventory of my blessings.

Jello< In the black pit of despair, light is invisible; music is meaningless; life is only pain. One must be brought out of that before joy can be experienced. Being told to rejoice, without connection or power, is useless. But this is only a specific circumstance. Normally, the word can be enough for the association. (IMHO)

Yopo< Yeah. The thing about depression is the inward-turning quality of it. Like a black hole. It pulls your attention away from the things that you could grab hold of to pull yourself back out.

LEGS< Jello: I have spun in that pit myself a few times, and FRAML and Ben and greyman were the spin-out spots in my life to lead my thoughts in new directions.

FRAML< LEGS: Hmmm ... So we caused you to spin out for the better? An interesting way to look at an accident (if one would call it that).

Trinkat< I think that depends on the source of the depression ... have been there, believe me. I tend to think that what pulled me out of my depression in the late 80's was knowing that despite what had gone before there were still three children who needed me and needed me whole. I couldn't turn my back on that. Sometimes you just have to swallow your own depression and get on with life for your own and other's sakes.

LEGS< {{{{{{{Trinkat}}}}}}}}}

shiana< Trinkat: Getting on with life is possible even when in a depression. Getting on with it with joy can be another matter ... and good for you. *s*

Sprinkles< The need to hear "Re-joice!" from another is not necessary. It might not hurt, though. *giggle* I rejoice by my faith and my hope and by the grace that I am able to open my eyes every morning, that I see those who are near and dear to me, see the green in a leaf, the blue of the sky, the sounds, etc. To have it all unfold before me each day is my rejoicing each night. Even then it continues. No need to hear it. To see it and live it is what I do best. *S*

Trinkat< Hooray, Sprinkles! // shiana: The quality of the life you get on with is important also. Someone told me once, it is not what happens to you that defines you, but how you deal with it ... and I believe this sincerely.

shiana< Trinkat: As do I ... we make choices every day. Those who know me would tell you that I am not normally a depressed person. I have to admit though that I have just turned the corner on one. Each day I was in it, I would try to make the decision to find things that brought joy, and yet for those long months I couldn't find what I needed to grab hold of to pull out ... not even within myself. Thank heaven it is pretty much over now. *s*

Trinkat< shiana : Good for you, hon ... hope it continues well for you.

shiana< Trinkat: It will ... thanks ...

Icemona< I personally find honest words that were said from a relative or friend's heart. I don't like lies and false friendships. Joy comes from God. The angels sing about it so us mortals can feel and hear it.

greyman< Jello: I found out purely by accident, when I suffered great back pain, that St. John's Wort lifted my spirits above my normal operating level (to a mild euphoria). I do not condone drugs or chemicals for recreational purposes, but sometimes we do what we gotta do.

Jello< greyman: Yes, I had the same experience with Prozac -- even though it didn't behave like Prozac normally does. It was the vital boost that got me out of the black pit where nothing meant anything and cessation was the only thing to be desired.

guitarist< Still thinking about the nursing home situation: To be with someone in the period just before going *home* would be worth my time in the nursing home. Maybe I would get to see many people go home, and try to help families going through losing their loved ones. In particular, helping family pay attention when the loved one seems to be "senile" but is really talking about the spiritual reality s/he is observing before going, would be a particular emphasis.

DestinyB< If I were in a condition where nursing care was necessary, I would try to make the best of it. A friend's father had a bad stroke at 52 and had to live the rest of his 11 years there. There are young people in nursing homes, too, now that the government has laws requiring many disabled people to be admitted to nursing homes rather than cared for at home by an attendant. The disabled are trying to change these laws.

Ben< ALL: To rejoice is something that can be done, though it isn't easy. Remember what we said about enjoying the foreign meal by focusing attention on something we know we enjoy. And about actively seeking to find something to enjoy in a new location. These can also apply to rejoicing, by focusing attention away from depression and onto something previously enjoyed.

Ben< ALL: My next (last) question for tonight may look like the previous one, only harder; however, it has a twist and a hint in it.

Ben< QUESTION 2b: Suppose you are feeling sad and depressed, or anxious, or angry because someone has dumped on you. Can you rejoice? Can you make yourself feel glad or happy or delighted or full of joy *regardless* of these circumstances? If not, why not? If so, how would you go about it? YOUR TURN

Yopo< Oh, no. That I cannot do. Gotta live with the emotion, at least for a time. I find that I have to fully experience the events in my life to put them into their perspective. Perhaps because my emotional "set point" is positioned a bit left of center or something. There I try to balance. Events push me one way or the other.

FRAML< Ben: Darn hard to do, but I've got the tools now to do it. Once upon a time I didn't have them. One needs to examine "why" one was dumped on: Did you do something wrong, or were you just the first person that could serve as a target for the person that had to get rid of their emotional load? (Just don't make me an olive tree outside of Jerusalem.)

greyman< Ben: I have many data points on that issue. I find myself praying the "Astronaut's prayer" in the preparation of my answer. [The "Astronaut's prayer" just prior to launch is: "Please, God, don't let me screw this up."]

LEGS< Ben: That is a difficult one ... so easy to just feel sorry for yourself at that point ... but, having been there as well, I found that real friends stand by you, and those who have made you feel that way aren't really worth worrying about, and you learn how easily you can be affected by what is sometimes so insignificant. *s*

Jello< It should be possible, but I think some of us don't have the hang of it. *g* I have elevated surface mood, only to discover underlying anger/bitterness when certain triggers. If joy comes from an overflowing heart, then I suppose the heart must be filled first before real joy can be had. ... err, with certain triggers.

scarlett: Why are we talking about depression? I thought the topic was joy.

Yopo< scarlett: Seems that talk of one leads to consideration of the other. *S*

greyman< Dear scarlett, how can we understand joy if we do not understand it's opposite? *G*

scarlett< In my experience, depression is the result of making yourself do something that is against your own best interests.

LadyV< Please define "dumped" as in anger? As in last man on the chain of command?

[Ben< LadyV: Yes, oftentimes. Or just as a target for others' ugliness.]

greyman< Ben: I seem to remember a wise man with a dream of a laughing toilet seat. *G*

Jello< "Behold the noble commode."

guitarist< LOL with greyman & Ben!

KAM< I doubt if there is anyone who has not experienced some type of depression in their lives ... and how they have dealt with it has built character of one or another kind ... but there always comes a time when you can think of something besides what has thrown you into that depression ... and then is when you can find that help ... to reach out and know that it is there for you ... always! And that you are never alone to deal with your problems if you believe! And from that knowledge can come rejoicing!

Spiritwalker< I believe that joy and love go hand in hand.

Jello< Usually, truly understanding the root cause of the darkness in oneself is a very helpful thing, but that can't be had by effecting surface joy.

guitarist< I think that if someone were to preach to me, "Rejoice!" I would ask him/her if they had ever had to climb out of severe depression to get to where they are. Their answer would impact my response greatly. That said, I would take it as a reminder to thank G-d for the simple things: life, a roof over my head, clothing, a husband who loves me, a stepson who just gave me a Mother's Day card for the first time -- and not necessarily in that order!

DestinyB< I don't become joyful because someone suggests it. A joyful state of being has to come from within.

Spiritwalker< DestinyB: I agree, joy is an emotion that comes from heart and soul. Joy can also be found in family, in nature, in life, and all around you.

Trinkat< In a professional environment, I can rejoice in completing something even though someone else has been ugly to me ... maybe even more by proving them wrong (which could probably be another whole seminar). Yes, I can rejoice in my own ability to be more tolerant or more polite or my ability to show more restraint than the other person or more professionalism.

scarlett< That is exactly what I am learning now ... you choose how you feel. May not always seem that way ... others can indeed influence ... but you must make a choice not to participate in their power struggle.

Icemona< Yes, yes, one can find joy in the passing of a friendship. It takes awhile but then one remembers the good times and forgets the bad. One doesn't want a repeat of the bad, so you move on and find joy in another ...

LadyV< scarlett: I agree with you. Harder, though, when it's the relatives. *G*

scarlett< Especially difficult when those relatives seem to make a hobby of dumping on you. *S*

KAM< You know, Ben, I find that having a sense of humor has helped me most when I get "dumped" on at work and in other situations. I think "Consider the source of this indignity" and then my sense of humor almost gets me into trouble as I find that I am giggling when I should be very serious and reprimanded. *????*

LadyV< KAM: You have it made! All of them standing around wondering what you are laughing about ... that's a good one. Takes a change of focus to do that ... not so easy for me.

scarlett< KAM: I also start laughing at people when being dumped on ... they think I'm nuts, but I can't help it ... some things they are saying are ridiculous ... and I will not react to negativity ... just let it flow on by ... takes lots of practice, but very worth it.

KAM< scarlett: I get a kick out of it sometimes ... and can't help giggling ... it's so ridiculous what some people choose to get upset about. *S*

guitarist< 2b or not 2b, that is the question! I certainly need to acquire the skill of rejoicing when someone dumps on me. Maybe I should say, in spite of someone dumping on me! I had this happen quite often as a child, and never quite got the hang of it.

Jello< Since depression can hold joy at bay, one must dig and find the root cause of the depression. Oftentimes it is a good thing twisted ... but just realizing that can help it heal. When the cause can't be found, outside measures may be necessary. Just my own experience here. For example, if someone has depressed you because of something they said, it might be that it is triggering an internal reaction against, say, hypocrisy (if that was the case). One can then use this knowledge to separate the reaction from the principle that was violated.

Sprinkles< How I dealt with my situation, which devastated me in a total "thrown down and out of commission" kinda way, made me shout "Why is this happening to me!" It made me stop and think, and the thinking was of all things and none of myself. That understanding led me to a great understanding, that if we are unable to help and see ourselves in this world, how can others? I convinced myself that I too am important. Not in a selfish way, but in one that as much as I want to share myself with others, I must share with myself as well. Having time on my hands to do this, mind you, brought those very small things that I found I was too busy at another time to enjoy myself. I was now awakened to all the wonders that I desperately tried to show others, and the displaying now comes with my viewing also. Took a lot of thought to where and why I was and am here. *S*

Jello< "Took a lot of thought to where and why I was and am here." Yes, I think that's about it. Where am I? Why did this happen? Oh, now I see. (etc.)

scarlett< One must differentiate between being sad and clinical depression. Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance.

Yopo< chemical imbalance ... Hmm ... I think they just say that because it suggests the proper treatment is CHEMICALS.

Jello< Sometimes chemicals are what is needed. :(

Yopo< Jello: Oh, I'm not disputing that. Know that from personal experience with someone close to me. I was just thinking out loud. *S*

Trinkat< Yopo: I agree with what you are saying, and I know that there are people who truly have a chemical imbalance which must be treated chemically to allow them to recover from that type of depression. Although I think that there is a lot of misdiagnosing going on out there.

scarlett< Trinkat: Yes ... people always look for the quick fix. If a pill makes you feel better, that's all well and good, but you must discover the cause of the feelings in the first place.

shiana< Yopo: When someone is in a "clinical" depression or even has been depressed for a very long time, chemicals or herbals such as St. John's Wort can break the cycle (circle) of the depression and allow the person to focus outwardly instead of inwardly.

Yopo< shiana: *LOL* St. John's Wort predisposes me to sunburn. I scarf down inordinate quantities of sam-E to the same end.

shiana< Yopo: *LOL*

scarlett< I didn't resort to chemicals. I found that listening to the screaming inner child, and taking concrete steps to honor what I needed, helped immensely ... but St. John's Wort can be helpful, because you forget what happy feels like.

KAM< Self esteem, a sense of pride in what we can accomplish and do accomplish, the knowledge that we are right ... all of these can prevent us from being depressed when we are "dumped" on, regardless of where we are. How we choose to react to that "dumping" is within the individual and the situation ... and those first items listed here are certainly worth feeling joy.

Ben< SHORT SUMMARY: Joy is a feeling -- a good feeling. To enjoy is an art -- something we can do and learn to do. To rejoice is a higher art, but it is also something we can do and learn to do, and in the associated term "regardless" it implies a setting-aside or releasing of negatives.

Ben< /topic Discussion: the spiritual arts of enjoying and rejoicing

shiana< Ben: Thank you. As always your topic is timely for me ...

greyman< Ben: Thank you. A well-thought-out lesson plan. Again thank you for your time and effort.

LadyV< I also thank you Ben for your time.

Lovewombat< [pushes up a rock out of the way of his hole and snouts back some vines and reeds and peeks out of his hole and eyes the crowd quietly]

Spiritwalker< Ben: I agree, and I would like to add to it. Joy is also a passage, an emotion that each individual takes; it comes in bursts, and it comes unexpectedly, but it is an emotion everyone has gone through just like other emotions,

Trinkat< But rejoicing is not just an absence of depression. I think we missed that somewhere.

Jello< Lack of depression does not equal rejoicing, BUT depression can stop one from being able to experience joy (much less anything else). It is like a pit so deep one cannot even begin to perceive what joy *is*.

Ben< Trinkat: True. Rejoicing is not merely an absence of depression; it is an elevation. But often, releasing whatever holds us depressed is a prerequisite.

LadyV< Ben: Yes, and what holds us in bondage reflects in the body ... the tight fist, the sore back, the tummy ache. If it is not released and brought out to review it, one is very ill. I agree with you about releasing depression as a prerequisite.

DestinyB< Just because someone dumped on me is no reason for me to get sad, depressed, anxious or angry. I try not to react and take things personally when others act that way. My state of being comes from within. Depending on how much I care about the dumper, I'll try to make him feel better. If that doesn't work, I'll leave him alone, so he can work it through himself.

Jello< I am certainly glad for those of you who are able to connect reliably to joy from within, who are able to control your emotions and re-actions and re-sponses ... not everyone can.

Trinkat< But I thought we were discussing the ability to rejoice despite those outside influences ... not whether or not they would depress us ... and I think there is a lot of room between those two choices -- rejoice or get depressed.

KAM< Trinkat: That is why I said that to rejoice means that I can rejoice in my belief in God and Jesus Christ as my Savior ... regardless of the situation or the circumstances. To feel joy may depend on some other influences, but to rejoice ... never!

Icemona< I've learned the hard way that one must pray for the one who dumps. I kinda feel sorry for the person who dumps on me because I think that I'm basically a good person and loads of fun. If one can't forgive and forget, there's no joy in their heart.

Jello< "Just ignore it" or "Just think happy thoughts" or "Don't let it affect you" are some of the most USELESS things to say to a depressed person, though. Please don't EVER do it, for God's sake.

greyman< Jello: On target!

Yopo< We gotta distinguish between righteous depression, arising out of a genuinely difficult external situation, and depression as a predisposition gone out of control. When a sad thing happens, it is right to feel sad. When a great loss comes, it is right to feel the pain of it. It is only when one gets stuck in an unending cycle that there is a problem.

FRAML< Yopo: Good point.

shiana< Yopo: Agreed ... however there are times when the Universe decides it is time for a shake-up and you have several things hit you one after another ... and those are the times that you start to really wonder what it is you are doing here in the first place ... especially if it carries on for a year or more.

Yopo< shiana: That state sounds rather like my time-on-earth in general. Not simply a thing of a year. *S*

shiana< (((Yopo))) I am grateful it has only lasted 18 months for me ... and now I can see my way out again. Be well and be gentle with yourself ... (((hugs)))

Yopo< Uh, not to mean I am bummed out all the time. What I meant was, the ISSUES are a constant ...

james9< Hello, folks ... good topic ... oh so often we forget to rejoice for all the opportunities we have to grow, to share, or even just to listen to someone express from the heart. Gratitude is one of the truly great virtues to have as an internalized characteristic.

guitarist< When people dump on me, I tend to feel that all my previous accomplishments mean nothing. It's an internalization of the mentality: "What have you done for me lately?" which many seem to espouse. Overcoming this would help greatly. The only way I can find out of this, as I think about it, is defiance: "I don't care what you say, and maybe what I've done for you doesn't count for you, but it does for me." (I wouldn't say that out loud if it were my boss or co-workers, for example, but to my peers outside work, perhaps.)

james9< guitarist: More often than not, criticism from others means you're running with the ball.

Lovewombat< [chews a cookie quietly, watching and listening, ear tufts quivering]

Trinkat< Lovewombat: ***wuzzles***

Lovewombat< *wuzzles* Trinkat [worried he is interrupting]

scarlett< Hi, Lovewombat ... *wuzzles* how was the Dee Jay gig?

Lovewombat< *wuzzles* scarlett ... [sits quietly]

guitarist< Somebody: what is wuzzling?

KAM< guitarist: It is our hugs to and from a wombat!

guitarist< Is it appropriate to pet a wombat?

Jello< I guess it is easy to not understand what it is like to be in a pit of despair with no exit. I'm sorry.

greyman< Jello: No need. It is part of who we are.

guitarist< Jello: (agreeing with greyman) Please don't apologize!

LEGS< Jello: Dear heart, everyone's pit is different, and getting there is sometimes done differently as well, but for each it is a pit ... deep and dark and certainly of despair ... and it is like one way in and no way out. However, it can be done ... it is done ... Praise the Lord ...

Jello< If I had been feeling deeply depressed, talk of theory and so on is not what would have helped me. That is what I was sorry about.

Spiritwalker< Hopefully the light will shine again.

scarlett< But to feel joy is wondrous ... best to stop worrying about yourself ... count the things that are right not what is wrong.

Jello< It is hard to weep with those who weep. Ah, well. That's my last public post for tonight.

greyman< Good night dear friend Jello.

KAM< Jello: Ahh ... but misery loves company, luv! So they want you to weep with them ...

LEGS< (((Jello))) I lost a friend today ... I know the whereof of weeping.

DestinyB< LEGS: I am so sorry for your loss.

LEGS< Thank you, DestinyB. I was too far away for the last two funerals for friends I should have and would have attended. It makes for a lot of memories ... and one learns to try to remember the joyous times thru the tears ...

Lovewombat< *wuzzles* LEGS

LEGS< *wuzzles* Lovewombat

DestinyB< Once one has attained a higher state of spiritual being, an imbalance can knock you back down again. You still have the advantage of knowing that you can work your way back up again.

shadow2see< DestinyB: As I said before, you are wise and have good heart.

Ben< ALL: I hadn't intended this to be a discussion of depression, but it surely is a related topic and needs to be addressed. The art of enjoying is a way out of depression.

DestinyB< If one is balanced, has something to believe in, and has hope, one can attain a state of walking in joy.

Trinkat< Ben: Once again, you've set me to thinking ... thank you, friend, for the time and effort you spend on getting ready for us ... love and light to you.

Lovewombat< [trots over and puts a cookie down near Ben and scampers off and sits by his hole]

LEGS< {*{*{*Ben*}*}*} as always ... thank you for the seminar ... for your patience and presentation, and I like the summary. What is next time?

Ben< LEGS: The next session will also be on the topic of joy.

scarlett< Ben: I didn't know this was an organized discussion ... but it is timely. I am learning to be joyous even when others try to keep me from it. Just as everything else ... practice makes perfect.

Yopo< Ben: Depression could probably be a topic in itself. Chemical imbalances notwithstanding, I've been curious about the possible spiritual aspects of the condition. In my own experience, and from what I've seen in friends and clients, it seems to be some sort of "blocking" process or "draining" process.

KAM< Yopo: When I have experienced a deep depression, it has been as the result of "blocking" out that which I did not want to acknowledge or think of ... or when I have lost a loved one and grieved myself into a state of depression from which it's hard to cope with the normal everyday situations ... and so much better to pull the blanket over your head and pretend that everything is okay and that nothing bad has happened or will happen ... to retreat into a "haven" of non-existence!

scarlett< KAM: Yes, that is exactly my experience ... pretending all is fine when in fact it is not ... but I have learned a lot from it ... so even from depression can come good things.

Yopo< KAM: Yes. I have my security blanket draped over myself and my PC at this very moment. *G*

KAM< Yopo: *grinning* I can visualize that, my dear friend! An Indian print? // scarlett: Call it "wearing rose colored glasses" if it is just a small case. *S*

Yopo< KAM: Actually, a horse blanket. I have hidden under this ever since my pony died when I was 8 ...

guitarist< I think depression can make you face yourself in ways other emotions can't. But it's dangerous if let go too long.

femmeauteur< Depression is like a guide-post that says: "Stop, pay attention, something needs to be changed". It's a teacher, but one of the hardest to learn from ... in my experience ... because it's like you're so lost in the pain that you forget to pay attention and move forward.

Spiritwalker< femmeauteur: Another thing I am doing is opening up more spiritually every day.

femmeauteur< Spiritwalker: *scowls in mock contempt* Oh, there you go again, growing and loving more and more. Boy, we've really gotta put a stop to this ... if this keeps up, why, you'll be so full of joy that it might catch ... and, uhm ... we wouldn't want that to happen, would we? LOL I knew you would be growing while we were away. (((hugs)))

Spiritwalker< femmeauteur: Yes, indeed, especially with the new era.

Lovewombat< [chews a cookie]

femmeauteur< *eyes Lovewombat's cookie* Uhm ... say ... you wouldn't happen to have a mocha on ya would ya? I mean ... seeing as how you have those cookies and all?

Lovewombat< femmeauteur: Mocha??? [trundles down hole and buzzing and whirring sounds can be heard and a loud OUCH and comes back up with a coffee service in silver, highlighted with amethyst.]

femmeauteur< Lovewombat: *her mouth drops in surprise* Wow! Uhm ... thank you. *S*

Lovewombat< But you have to pour ... my paws don't do so well on coffee pots.

KAM< *pout* Lovewombat, you never offered to go down and get your silver coffee service with mocha for me ... boohoo! *S*

Lovewombat< KAM: You always had it in Machu ... I didn't have ... *special wuzzles* for KAM.

KAM< Lovewombat: All is forgiven ... I was only taking the opportunity to tease a little. I know that I keep it in Machu ... but not here ... *S* ... and I love the special wuzzles !!!

Lovewombat< You're welcome, KAM ... my pleasure ... [chews a cookie]

shadow2see< What of the people like me who, when I am stabbed, I keep walking, get out of the trouble, and then repair my self and remember what happened so I will be safer and know what to do better next time and keep on my path. I like how I am. I found lying to self is the worst thing you can do because you do not grow.

DestinyB< I agree that depression can be a time of healing, but if those around you aren't understanding, it can do serious damage to those relationships.

shadow2see< I am happy in my life and my new family ... life is good.

KAM< shadow2see: Thank you for sharing your happiness over your new family with us. ((((HUGS))))

shadow2see< KAM: **HUG** I am so happy to have my own child! It was one of my dreams, and now I have a love and child, life is good.

DestinyB< Shadow2see: It sounds as if you are advancing spiritually. Life is a big schoolhouse. We are here to learn and grow!

shadow2see< DestinyB: Thank you. Yes, we all -- if we desire to -- grow each day.

femmeauteur< DestinyB: Yeah, learning and growing and ... uhm ... I just came for the mochas, really.

Ben< Yopo: Depression and elevation are more than flip sides of a dualistic coin ... they vary inversely by degrees. We think of them as "down" and "up" because we see those feelings as relative to "normal" (neither down nor up).

Yopo< Ben: I guess they sometimes seem like flip-sides, because the two states seem mutually exclusive. I've never been joyous about one thing and simultaneously depressed about another.

KAM< Ben: I wonder if the average person experiences the extreme of either joy or despair/depression ... or if we only hit the highs and lows ... as the situation dictates?

DestinyB< KAM: Who exactly is this average person we're so found of talking about?

Ben< KAM: I'm not sure about the average person, but I do plan to look at broadening or narrowing the range between extreme highs and lows.

KAM< Ben: I am like DestinyB ... is there an average person? and I look forward to your next week's seminar ... shall see you then, if not before! (((HUGS)))

Ben< ALL: Okay! I thought this a fine session, with a lot of input from many people. Now I need some rest. Peace and blessings to each of you. Good night.

[Ben< ADDENDUM: We can experience joy by enjoying something, or by rejoicing either because of or regardless of something. This is the difference between those two verbs. To enjoy is dependent; to rejoice is independent and therefore does not give power away. For example: Jesus said to his disciples: "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:12-13).]

25. Joy
Session 3
Spiritweb Chat
27 May 2000

Ben< ALL: Joy is a feeling. To enjoy is an art. To rejoice is also an art. We can experience joy by enjoying something, or by rejoicing because of or regardless of something. Tonight I'd like to look at some more characteristics of enjoying and rejoicing.

Ben< QUESTION 1: I assume that many (or most) of you enjoy playing computer games or solving puzzles, but not all games or all puzzles. If you do enjoy this sort of thing, please describe one type of game or puzzle you enjoy and why you enjoy it, and/or one type of game or puzzle you don't enjoy and why you don't enjoy it. YOUR TURN

LEGS< I'm a crossword puzzle fan ... have the computer style software for endless puzzle assortment. *S* Not much on Arcade-type PC games. I like the Tetris varieties ... try to beat my own time.

Trinkat< Actually I don't particularly enjoy computer games at all. I spend all of my working hours sitting at a computer working at something and don't need it in my off time. I do really enjoy crossword puzzles, but in 3D. A group of friends and I do the NYT puzzle every day at work.

FRAML< I've never gotten into computer games, although I had a brief interest in computer solitaire. Solving puzzles, not crossword or jigsaw, but those with a historical bent, I sometimes find interesting.

Trinkat< I really enjoy word games. I LIKE words and all of the wonderful things you can do with them.

Sprinkles< Bingo, because it is relaxing and it is playing with fate, I would think. The enjoyment is in having the speed and the accuracy in keeping track of all the cards and numbers. Beating a machine. *S* Also word scrabble -- the putting together of it and the finished product. Not the winning or losing. *S*

DestinyB< I like strategy games -- the kind that require the mind and thinking. I'm a stained glass crafter, which is like creating and building a big puzzle.

greyman< I like achievement. Completing a task with little or no instruction. Solutions that requires creative or invented novel adaptive procedures with unexpected positive consequences.

Trinkat< Several years ago, two of my aunts and I and one uncle and my boyfriend started playing the board version of Heroes Quest. We played non-stop for most weekends -- just a little time off to sleep, and we ate at the table while we were playing. My boyfriend compared the game to chess in that it required a lot of strategy, and I enjoyed it because it required that we all work together.

Ben< ALL: Okay, I'm glad I didn't limit that question to computer games. Now, within the type of games or puzzles you do enjoy, which ones don't you enjoy, and why?

Sprinkles< Those games that have to do with destroying something turn me off. Even Pacman would eat things, and the object was to eat all and move ahead destroying all in it's path. :(

Trinkat< I don't care for crossword puzzle books. It's because the answers are right there, I think, and besides, I don't like doing them by myself. I enjoy the group effort like we do at lunch.

DestinyB< I don't like repetition in games -- I soon get bored with them. I don't like games of chance, probably because my chances of winning are reduced (don't care for Las Vegas type games -- the odds are stacked against me).

greyman< I don't like tasks that are boring with tedious repetitions and known outcomes that become trivial.

FRAML< I used to enjoy war games, and also Dungeons & Dragons. But the group I played D&D with broke up after the Dungeon Master moved across the country to a new job. I guess my writing of an "alternate history" recently was sort of a puzzle solving; i.e., taking all the 'what ifs' and running them out to a logical conclusion.

Lo< I have difficulty playing games that require a good memory anymore. I've always sort of enjoyed the game of Hearts ever since college. It takes a bit of strategy, though, to win.

gardengirl< I DON'T enjoy Tetris because it stresses me to play it! all those little boxes falling faster than I can figure out what to do with them! :-/ On the other hand, I can play Solitaire for hours on end ... it sort of hypnotizes me, I think.

greyman< gardengirl: Only if you get a "good" hand. *G*.

gardengirl< greyman: That DOES help! :-)

Ben< COMMENT: Here is the principle I was pointing toward in Question 1: Many people enjoy challenge and accomplishment. They don't enjoy doing things that are too easy for them, because there is no challenge. And they don't enjoy doing things that are too difficult for them, because there is no accomplishment. This is why many games are designed with various levels of difficulty. And this principle has some implications for how we teach children and how we lead our own lives.

Trinkat< Ben: You're probably right. I enjoy working the crossword puzzle and doing the scrabble at work because it is at one and the same time a challenge to deduce the answers before my colleagues can and also because it always seems to take us all to get it completed.

Ben< ALL: Last time we discussed the need to actively search for something to enjoy in a new location. That something could be an appropriate challenge or series of challenges.

Ben< QUESTION 2: There was an old man who lived by himself. He had no family or friends or pets, and no hobbies. All he did was work on his little farm and eat and sleep. When asked why he lived that way, he said, "Whatever gives you pleasure can give you pain. It ain't worth it. I don't need much, and I don't want anything more than I got. Go away and leave me alone." What do you think of his approach to pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow? YOUR TURN

greyman< No pain, no gain.

KAM< I feel sorry for him ...

Trinkat< I have felt that way occasionally - especially at the end of a relationship. I tend to not want contact with anyone else to guard myself against that kind of pain again. But what a sad way to live -- you can never experience joy unless you are willing to leave yourself open to the possible pain also.

Lo< Somehow I sense life is about a good bit more that just existing on a minimal basis like that. I find that making a concerted effort to get acquainted and make friends with some persons has paid off in rich dividends in sharing our lives.

FRAML< Avoidance, too afraid of pain to find anything to enjoy.

LEGS< Isolation is painful to me. I need people ... friends ... loved ones to be with.

DestinyB< I think that old man lived with many disappointments in his life and has given up. Finding people with whom to have meaningful relationships is difficult.

gardengirl< Sounds like the guy knew what he wanted, and had it!

Lo< gardengirl: I kinda doubt that he realized what he was missing because he was so afraid for himself.

FRAML< Sounds like a variant of how I used to be, didn't trust people so didn't have any friends.

gardengirl< Solitude is a choice ... and has many gifts ... and is simply another way to enjoy one's time on the planet. imho

Ben< gardengirl: I agree, but if and only if one enjoys solitude.

Trinkat< gardengirl: Solitude is a wonderful thing, in it's place ... but IMHO it is no way to live your life.

DestinyB< gardengirl has a point -- our society tends to think of the loner and mountain-man types as romantic heroes! That, too, is a choice for some.

Lo< DestinyB: I suspect that one has to be willing initially to offer something of oneself to a potential friend before they may be willing to share something of themselves. Friendship is about giving as well as receiving, methinks.

KAM< Lo: I agree.

DestinyB< Lo: I agree! To have friends, you must be a friend.

Trinkat< Solitude based in bitterness toward life is a sad thing. Solitude as a choice for meditation or to clear one's head after a long day out in the world is a blessing.

Ben< COMMENT: Here is the principle behind Question 2: The old man was correct in saying that whatever we enjoy can cause us sorrow by its cessation or absence. His approach was to narrow the envelope, to avoid sorrow by reducing both joy and sorrow. It is a choice, a strategy, a life-style, that many have followed and many have advocated. But I don't believe is it really living fully or as fully as possible.

KAM< Ben: When I re-read your statement, it seems that the man has become embittered over something that caused him great pain, and he is afraid to open up to that hurt again ... and has convinced himself that he is better off to himself and by himself.

Lo< KAM: I'm surprised that you seem to have a kinship feeling with the man who was afraid to experience friends, etc., for fear of being hurt. Why would you not like to experience such a state?

KAM< Lo: Not fear ... just no energy to pursue the state. Would gladly experience it if it happens!

Sprinkles< Ben: What can give you pleasure can give you pain is true. But the statement of it not being worth it, is IMHO false. This tells me he has been hurt in an emotional way. Not needing much is saying he has little and doesn't care if he has not enough. Just waking to the day (notice, not living from day to day). He sounds so joyless. His sorrow is, he is lost. "Go away and leave me alone" means he is wanting his despair and fearful of being in life again. Sad because if he put more sunshine into his life than his farm, his yields may be more abundance of seeing things differently. *S*

Lo< Someone once said something about living abundantly. Yes, I agree that I feel sorry for the man.

FRAML< Ben: Yes, closing oneself off from others keeps one from being hurt by them. But then it also keeps one from caring about others and helping them, and being helped by them.

Lo< I've found that you can be hurt by others even though you may not have been particularly open to them.

Trinkat< FRAML: Close yourself off from the one or ones who hurt you ... but one should not be so judgmental of the rest of humankind to assume that because this person hurt you, that one will also. *s* Give the rest of the world a chance.

FRAML< Trinkat: I was referring to the man in the scenario.

Trinkat< FRAML: I know that, dear. So was I, and did not mean to make it sound like it was directed at you personally ... sorry.

FRAML< Trinkat: OK.

Indigo< VERY interesting topic -- JOY? I have come a long way to understand it.

Ben< QUESTION 3: Bliss is a feeling of great joy or happiness or contentment, often literally or figuratively suggesting heavenly joy. I know of three approaches that people have taken to experience a state of bliss: physical, mental-emotional, or spiritual. Please describe what a person would do in order to pursue one or each of those approaches. YOUR TURN

Trinkat< If I ever experience bliss, it will take me unaware. I don't think that it is something to be pursued.

FRAML< The only Bliss I'm familiar with is a Fort in Texas. It was the beginning of a looooooooooong drive across the state.

Ben< FRAML: Hah! I've been to Fort Bliss, and my brother lives in El Paso. Fort Bliss impressed me as one of the more mis-named places on the planet. *G*

Trinkat< My son is at Ft. Bliss now, and does not describe his situation or the base as 'bliss' ... *S*

FRAML< I don't know if I've experienced 'bliss'. Perhaps I've felt something like that in the past, but I don't remember it now. I guess I see it as something 'foolish' or not realistically attainable, or as a mirage that some will pursue at any risk. I guess I see the 'down' side of it -- 'wedded bliss' can be a contradiction in terminology, I guess.

DestinyB< FRAML: *laughing* at Ft. Bliss & wedded bliss! :-D

KAM< I feel that bliss is a state that very few will experience in their lifetimes. However, I guess that you could pursue that state by any of the three methods you named ... perseverance ... hard work ... a really devoted religious way of living. Hmmm ... I agree with Trinkat that bliss will take me by surprise if it happens. I have neither the inclination or desire to pursue it to the extent that would be necessary to obtain that state!

LEGS< I have been "moved to bliss" by great musical performances ... and the memory still serves as reano for me ...

Trinkat< I think that 'bliss' is another of those words for which everyone has their own definition. We had a discussion in here one night previously with someone who had a very determined definition for the word, with which I strongly disagreed.

Indigo< I feel bliss much more these days. Because it's on the "inside". It's only when I forget this, that I feel bad. And that's not often anymore.

DestinyB< To experience a state of bliss: 1. Physical depends on the individual. Some people are naturally more blissful (they constantly stop and smell the roses, finding delight in the simplest things.) Then there are the adventurers ... the bungee jumpers and skydivers. There are also those who use drugs and alcohol in order to feel bliss. 2. Mental-emotional bliss is often created when interacting with others, but can also be experienced by reading a good book or watching a movie or attending an inspiring event. 3. Spiritual bliss comes from within. It has to do with connecting with all things. It comes from a belief in something bigger than oneself.

Lo< What's to be afraid of about achieving a state of bliss, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually?

FRAML< Ben: Perhaps that one evening I spent with a friend over a year and a half ago. We talked, walked, and I felt that I was a regular person without any burden for a couple of hours. And was with someone I could care for and who cared for me, without any strings attached. It is something that I can label 'bliss' in retrospect, because it was not planned for ahead of time.

greyman< Drugs are artificial and last only as long as the liver can metabolize them out. Doing something that makes you happy; however, in many cases is a selfish action and ultimately leads to an empty feeling of: "What's next". Physical acts of kindness last for awhile, and can lead to a positive re-enforcement of an attitude of servitude.

Sprinkles< When I ask for the white light and feel myself in it's glory. I have no fear, harm, pain. All negativity stops and deceases; all the absolute beauty and comfort engulfs me. To picture the light and to feel the light and to be the light. How do I go about it? I learned meditation and learned how to focus it onto others, and keeping the faith in my faith. To be able to put your fears and hopes and weakness, along with your joy, happiness, etc., in the hands of one more powerful, according to each faith.

Ben< ALL: Thanks for your descriptions of genuine bliss. Especially from friendship and fellowship and sharing. I agree, that is the best of the three approaches.

Ben< COMMENT: Here is the principle I was pointing toward in Question 3: Many people want to experience joy without sorrow, and seek to make that condition permanent. Some approaches work better than others in terms of permanence. I will indicate what I meant by the three approaches in the next (last) question, which could be titled: Okay, so bliss can be attained; then what? Or, is there life after bliss?

Lo< To me, BLISS suggests tranquillity and happiness without worries, etc.

greyman< Lo: Or mindless indulgence.

Ben< QUESTION 4: Here are three men who have entered a state of bliss. One is lying in an opium den smoking his pipe. One is sitting in meditation and rejoicing endlessly. One has died and gone to heaven. What do you think of their condition or future in terms of Question 1: challenge and accomplishment? YOUR TURN

Indigo< Ben: LOL! I guess I never actually thought that one out. But no, bliss is not a state of mind to be maintained. That is not only impossible, but also not balanced. Both bliss and sorrow can be embraced.

FRAML< Ben: Since I believe that there is life after physical death, I can believe that there is life after bliss. It may not be a continuance of that 'blissful moment' but life will continue. If one pursues 'bliss' as a goal in itself, then one can be setting themselves up for a difficult journey. I like the idea of realizing blissful moments in retrospect. They become a little bit of joy that one can remember and perhaps use to get one 'out of the dumps', as I remembered that January evening. (But then, are garbage men really happy, seeing that they end their day in the dumps?)


Trinkat< Ben: Which definition of bliss are we addressing? If we are talking about joy without sorrow, I think we are barking up a non-existent tree. I'll stick with my quiet little joys in my day to day life, thank you -- but then again, I've been described as pragmatic by friends and loved ones. *s* I think joy comes from living life to the fullest, in whatever way you define your life. All three of the examples seem to me to have been removed from that.

LEGS< Ben: Opium smoker is seeking lack of challenge or conflicts. Meditation carried to extremes is no better, in my way of thinking. And already being in Heaven would be the ultimate accomplishment of lack of conflict ... but perhaps neither of the first two will gain that plateau, because the meditator is doing no more for others than the first man.

reed< Bliss to me is a child's smile, a golden sunset, a friendly hand, a warm sweater on a cool night, a good shit ... *S* The list goes on.

FRAML< Ben: To me the third man had the greater challenge, and will get the greater reward. The first man is deadening himself to everything and the 'bliss' is artificial (I wouldn't call it bliss). The second man, I'm not sure if I would consider constant meditation and endless rejoicing as a meaning of bliss; it can also be an escape from living life. But to live the life I've chosen, to follow the path of a minor Jewish prophet, to me will give me bliss after my body wears out, for I'll be home and off this speck of gray realm.

KAM< Ben: The ultimate goal in life is life after death ... to achieve the paths of heaven ... and that would be bliss at the utmost!

greyman< Ben: Not much hope for person one, for any change. Number two has a similar problem if he does not connect to the source. Number three gets connected and depending on his desires will stay in heaven or return to Earth/Physical plane.

Indigo< Ben: I see no "living" going on for the first two men. As for the third, if he's in heaven then that's eternal (meaning not having to come back and live any more lives).

Lo< Surely, a state of bliss does not imply no further zest is to be had in life. I find life to be a continual expanse of things, places, people, and thoughts to enjoy. I enjoyed our last concert -- the preparation over several months beforehand helped make it a crowning experience. I especially enjoyed singing the Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridsen, a contemporary composer based on the West coast.

Sprinkles< Ben: The first one is not self-induced. IMHO, if one has a clear head to reach a goal as well as a clear heart, the rewards are endless. To have to struggle (and even the possibilities of hurting others as well as yourself) in the seeking of something that will give you a limited time of bliss, I feel is useless, when in fact in the straight head it can be attained whenever the need or situation arises. I like having my own wits about me. For the man that passed on, his bliss now lies in another's hands. *S*

DestinyB< Ben: The man in the opium den's bliss is a passing thing. It will take more opium to attain future bliss -- no challenge or accomplishment there. The man who is meditating has found spiritual bliss and can live in the light, if he so chooses. His future is enlightened. His challenges and accomplishments are great. You haven't given us enough information about the man who has died and gone to Heaven. His bliss is on continuing basis, because he is no longer on Earth and no longer has to endure or experience pain.

Ben< ALL: Good responses. Thank you. I'm glad that you like to play with my (intentionally challenging) questions. *S*

greyman< Ben: Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck.

Ben< OBSERVATION: Heaven has been pictured as endless bliss; however, I know that angels and as-angels enjoy their work because they enjoy the endless challenges and accomplishments.

Trinkat< Ben: I prefer that take on it rather than a place of no more striving for anything.

FRAML< Ben: I guess it is how one defines bliss, and it can be seen that way because of the idea that all problems here are shed. Your comment about angels and as-angels is unique in that it shows that after one gets to heaven, one can still serve.

KAM< Ben: If Heaven is as I imagine it to be, there are no illnesses ... no cripples ... no blind people ... no deaf people. People are whole and enjoy the pleasure of love and a truly exalted state of bliss and existence. And should there be challenges for them to meet, they have the ability to meet them, for they have reached the plateau of eternal life ... and joy ... and love.

FRAML< Ben: I remember the story of the two small angels who lit up the dark connection that was linking a person to a malevolent entity. I think that they were enjoying their work, and found bliss in it.

Ben< COMMENT: Here is the principle behind Question 4: Spiritual life is dynamic, not static, and any approach that leads to a static spiritual condition is a dead end. To live fully means to live dynamically, experiencing both highs and lows, both joy and sorrow.

Trinkat< Ben: I agree with your statement about living fully.

Ben< /topic Discussion of strategies for enjoying and rejoicing

LEGS< *looking for Ben's next question ... *

[Ben< LEGS: Question 4 was the last one for tonight.]

LEGS< Ben: What about the next seminar? What subject?

[Ben< LEGS: More on strategies for enjoying and rejoicing.]

DestinyB< Strategies for enjoying and rejoicing: Decide to be a happier person.

Sprinkles< Strategies for enjoying and rejoicing: Take time to notice life about you. Rejoice in knowing that you are very, very special, or else you would not be here.

DestinyB< Sprinkles: Nicely put!

Sprinkles< DestinyB: Thanks. *S* I liked yours as well. *S*

Lo< Isn't it possible for people in heaven to be disappointed in what they observe about those who are still here?

[Ben< Lo: Disappointed? Yes, sometimes, but they understand us better than we understand ourselves, and love us regardless of our shortcomings.]

Trinkat< Ben: It is not only the people in our lives who are good influences at the time that we know them who can eventually enrich our lives. The person in my life who did me the most physical, mental and emotional damage on purpose has also enriched my life by making me take a second look at the way I was living my life and what was really important to me. So even when someone does you a disservice, there can be something of good come from it, if you take the time to really examine it.

[Ben< Trinkat: Good point.]

FRAML< I wonder if Queen Catherine is still seeking bliss. Ghostbusters went hunting on Saturday for King Henry VIII's beheaded wife who is said to wander amid the splendors of Hampton Court Palace. "There's definitely a ghost here -- lots of people have seen things -- so there is a plenty of interest in how this goes," a spokeswoman at the royal palace told Saturday's Guardian newspaper. So a team of ghostbusters armed with temperature gauges and cameras are to survey the palace where Catherine Howard (Henry's fifth wife and the second to be executed) was held before being taken to the Tower of London. Richard Wiseman, a lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire which is organizing the search, said Catherine was believed to have made a desperate attempt to escape from the palace before her execution. He will use thermal imaging to locate possible "cold spots" and invite tourists to join a royal "goose-pimples trail".

DestinyB< FRAML: Queen Catherine may not know that she's dead. Some say that ghosts are spirits trapped between worlds. Maybe Ben could help her!

[Ben< DestinyB: Maybe I could -- at least I could try -- but from what I read about this search, it doesn't sound like the searchers are interested in rescuing her.]

Lo< Do you think people in heaven do not pray about us living here on earth?

Trinkat< Lo: I feel that those of my family who have gone before me take an interest in the lives of those of us still here on earth, and it brings me a great comfort to feel that they watch over us and that they are not excluded from our lives now.

Lo< Trinkat: I tend to agree. My question was in response to KAM's suggestion that heaven is such bliss that residents there have no concerns, etc., anymore. I sense that they do indeed concern themselves with our various lives; hence, my question about them praying for us here.

Ben< Lo: Sure, people in heaven pray for people on earth. As one of them said, "God hears our prayers, too." (Conversations In Silence)

KAM< Lo: No, I didn't say that there would be no concerns in heaven for the people who obtain that state ... just that they have all of the special guidance that they could possibly desire ... close to hand. And I do feel that my loved ones who are there are with me on a daily basis, looking over me and helping me, pulling me out of the doldrums, sharing my joys and pleasures and achievements ... and laughing at the ironies of things that happen to and around me. Oh no, I believe that they continue to pray and have knowledge that prayers are answered!

Ellys< There are many planes of existence in heaven. Beings on those planes evolve and grow spiritually the same way we do on earth, by being of service to others ... imo

DestinyB< Ellys: I believe that about Heaven, too!

Ben< ALL: Our old cat Christie died last week. She was a month short of her 20th birthday, the last of three sisters we got soon after they were born. My son Scott was present at her birth and came to help me bury her. When we were finished, he said, "Our lives are richer for having known them." I believe that realization is the antidote to the idea that we should not attach ourselves to anyone or anything because it eventually hurts too much.

FRAML< I guess I've never felt that way about pets dying. When they die, they are dead; nothing more or less. Maybe that was from having a lot of cats and dogs around when I was a kid, and none of them seemed to live more than 3-4 years.

Ben< FRAML: When I was a kid on the farm, we had 'house cats' and 'barn cats'. I knew the house cats personally and loved them a lot, but the barn cats were strangers to me and nearly wild.

FRAML< Ours were all 'outside' pets. I've never been big on 'inside' ones, although we've got a bunch of cats in the house now, most of whom I could do without. (plus the birds)

Lo< FRAML: Having deeply love a dog called Miss Daisy, I genuinely missed her companionship and caring ways once she was gone. My life was indeed blessed with her presence and made much richer as a result of our friendship and companionship. She went almost everywhere I went. She was a very disciplined, caring being, and sorely missed. She helped me recover from not wanting to be close to anyone after my father died, for fear of the pain and loss that entailed. Hence, I learned to risk getting closer to friends and family from her. She was a genuine blessing to my personal life.

Ben< Lo: Well said, about Miss Daisy, whom I also remember with love and respect.

KAM< Ben: I have some pleasant memories of pets that have died or that we had to put to sleep because they were in pain, and I have a sweetheart of a doggie now, but I say that I won't have any more pets because it is so hard to give them up after you have loved them and they have loved you for years and years and years ... and I know that will deprive me of the pleasure of being loved and loving a pet, but I grieve for those pets as though they were family members, and in a way, they were a big part of the family!

Trinkat< Ben: As one animal lover to another -- what do you think about the idea of cloning favored pets that has come up recently? I tend to think that what makes me love my pets so much is their individual personalities, and I find it hard to believe that just because the clone looked like the original, it would have the same personality.

Ben< Trinkat: Cloning is biological. My love of individual animals is personal and spiritual, regardless of how they look physically.

Trinkat< Ben: I agree. We have had the blessing of several family pets, and our lives were richer as a result of them. Can't imagine trying to replace that with another animal who just looked the same.

Sprinkles< Trinkat: I have my doubts about the cloning thing. Even twins can be born by a difference of a second, and still the difference is there. A clone not being at the exact same time, or even year or place, the time of the clonee is still more different. IMHO *S*

Lo< Trinkat and Sprinkles: Even if cloning is biological, do they not each have different personalities? I sense this is so, and that each soul or personality is a unique gift from heaven in any case, making them each special in some way.

Trinkat< Lo: That's what I said. I think the idea of cloning favored pets is distasteful and a waste of money and research and time that could be spent on improving the quality of life for people who suffer from real diseases.

Sprinkles< Lo: That is what I would think, that there is no way a clone can have any similarities other than the appearance. They have to have big differences. *S*

DestinyB< Cloning is only cloning the physical body. They can't duplicate spirit. Even the Creator chooses not to create two spirits alike!

SilverFox< It is a breech of Universal Law to tamper with the fabric of Life. Ask the people on Atlantis ... they will be happy to explain their mistake.

Sprinkles< SilverFox: Are you saying the people of Atlantis cloned?

SilverFox< Sprinkles: They discovered how to split and merge DNA to form different ... horrible ... species. The karma from what they did killed millions of people and sent out a cry for help that was heard all the way to Andromeda.

LEGS< ALL: I got Leoprechaun to watch "The Creation" with me. He enjoyed it. If you haven't seen it yet, this is the url: http://www.theartmill.com/creation.htm

KAM< I second LEGS recommendation ... that is a beautiful URL ...

Trinkat< If you have young children in your home, show them "The Creation" also. It is beautiful. My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter enjoyed it tremendously and asked for it again today. It is never too soon to start sharing beauty with a child.

DestinyB< ... finding temporary bliss in a slice of creme cherry pie! :-D

Ben< ALL: As a strategy for living dynamically, I try to notice when I'm getting tired or bored or stale, and then seek another (appropriate and usually small) challenge. I find that strategy enlivening, and I know I can pursue it endlessly.

KAM< Ben: I think I have come to that point of "burnout" or very close to it ... but have to keep going. Can't afford to quit a good job! They're not easily come by!

Trinkat< KAM: Don't give up the job, just rearrange the office. If you promise to let someone else water it, I'll buy you a plant ... *s*

KAM< Trinkat: Good idea. I'll see if I can't get someone to help me do that ... it might give me a new perspective! And I'll take you up on the plant! *G*

Sprinkles< KAM: Try looking at your job in a different light. Re-act differently to things. Changing the office around is good. Liven up the place, but do so in a way as to not be a bother to others. Do something different for you. *S*

KAM< Thank you, Sprinkles.

Ben< KAM: I remember, when I first got to Vietnam (1970), I was assigned a real dead-bug job that nobody wanted -- to take a dozen men and inventory all the stuff in the Officers' Club and the NCO Clubs. I didn't want to do it, but I consciously challenged myself to see if I could do it well and do it *cheerfully*. After it was done, the Base Commander wrote a nice note to my Wing Commander in which he complemented me for doing it cheerfully. I was surprised and pleased to see that particular word in his note.

Trinkat< Ben: I explained to my children that doing what I asked them to do cheerfully was a way of showing me they loved me, and I always tried to do the things they needed me to do for them in a cheerful manner in return. It makes such a difference!

DestinyB< Ben: Did you get to do the inventory from then on? (Since you obviously enjoyed it so much.)

Ben< DestinyB: Hah! Fortunately, that inventory was a one-time exercise (it had not been done before), and I was safely out-of-country before they did it again.

KAM< Ben: I have been at this job for over 16 years ... and I do try to find new and innovative ways of doing the daily grind ... and the special projects are always a challenge and interesting ... and I work well with my co-workers. I've just not got my energy back after that spell of pneumonia, I guess, and things look less attractive to me ... and there's not much "new" anymore. *S*

Ben< KAM: Physical fatigue and the other results of illness are something else again. I was speaking of finding new (little) challenges as an antidote for the hum-drum feeling of "not much new anymore."

KAM< Ben: I appreciate what you said, and I agree with you ...

Lo< KAM: I agree with you when you say you believe people in heaven continue to pray and have knowledge that prayers are answered! However, I'm sorry you do not plan on another pet. A friend gave me a replacement dog named Fizzy to help me get over the loss of Miss Daisy. While she cannot really replace Miss Daisy, she is a great comfort to our family. That has not caused us to not remember and appreciate what Miss Daisy meant to us all. I sense you may be clamping down on your opportunities for a further joyous relationship by rejecting the possibility of another pet. I sense we should focus rather on the joys of our former relationships and not the sorrow and sense of loss when they pass on.

KAM< Lo: I still have my sweet Honey, and I hope she lives for many, many more years. I hear what you are saying, and I agree that they bring us devotion and love that people can't begin to mimic. I just feel now that I won't be responsible for the welfare of another animal when she is gone.

Trinkat< Lo: I also have made the decision to not have a pet at the current time. I will probably do so at a later date. Right now, I don't feel that I have the time and attention to give to a pet, and that makes all the difference in the relationship.

DestinyB< I believe that the spirit of an animal can return to you, since I believe in reincarnation. I once had a beloved black male cat for 13 years, who died of an illness. I had several cats in between, then an orange and white female who had a nearly identical personality to the first one. They even shared odd little ways of doing things. I've had cats all my life, and have never had two before who were so much alike. She's gone too now. I feel like this experience was a gift to me ... a reinforcement in belief in eternal life.

Ben< DestinyB: The spirit of an animal can also stay with someone he or she loves. My son Scott's cat Stacey did that. She is still with him, but not within him.

DestinyB< Ben: I remember that you mentioned Stacey in your website. I had never heard of pet spirits before! There are some people who believe their pets return to them in each lifetime the humans experience. Maybe that explains love at first sight when it comes to some pets! I've read about someone losing a beloved dog, and dreaming that the dog gave clues about her return to Earth again. She reincarnated as a male puppy in the same breed as her previous life. She gave clues about when and where to find her! It all came about exactly as in the dream. This lady believes that it's the spirit of the very same dog.

Ben< DestinyB: The spirit of a male cat has been following me for a long, long time. He keeps reincarnating and coming to find me and then getting himself run over by a car or something like that. (He is lovable, and very affectionate to me, but not all that bright.) I have recognized him four times this life.

DestinyB< Ben: *LOL* Maybe your cat is getting a little bit smarter each go-round! He must be very attached to you!

Ben< DestinyB: Yes, he does seem to be getting smarter each time around, and he has proved to me that he can hear my thoughts, but he still isn't smart enough about cars.

Ben< ALL: Good seminar tonight. Thanks for playing along with my questions. I enjoyed it. *S* Peace and blessings to each of you. Good night. *poof*

25. Joy
Session 4
Spiritweb Chat
03 June 2000

Ben< ALL: Joy energizes and enlivens anyone who is filled with it; thus it can be seen as a spiritual food. We can feed ourselves spiritually by filling ourselves with joy. There are various ways of doing that, some of which work better than others. We have looked at the art of enjoying and the art of rejoicing. Tonight we'll look at some more strategies for enjoying and rejoicing. Ready? Here we go ...

Ben< QUESTION 1: Suppose your friends invite you to a dinner party for your birthday. They prepare a lot of your favorite foods. While you are enjoying this feast in your honor, what part of the art of enjoying do you need to remember? YOUR TURN

greyman< The time and effort exerted in preparation of the festive feast!

Jello< Gratitude.

Yopo< To SHOW your enjoyment. *S*

lilcrystal< The caring that was put into the preparation.

FRAML< That they care for me, that they have done all this to please me (and have forgotten that I'm on a diet -- which I'll ignore for the occasion.)

Sprinkles< The joy that I made it to this birthday *LOL* and to know that the friends are sharing with me in the joy that I am still kicking.

greyman< Amazing cooperation for the setup!

solon< Moderation.

guitarist< I don't know quite how to put this ... but to make your friends feel that their effort was worth it. Thanking them profusely and generously is probably a good start. Come to think of it, it might spur me to try to do the same for them.

Bee50< That you have friends that care about you.

greyman< Bee50: Yes, appreciate and enjoy!

Ben< All right! Good responses. And quick, too. More?

FRAML< H'mm ... that I'm six years beyond where I expected to be, and that they helped me make it there.

solon< More.

lilcrystal< Nope, no more answers for me. I'm at a loss.

Ben< ALL: Think about how you will (or may) feel an hour after that feast ...

solon< Sated and loved.

guitarist< Probably *very* full of the food and love that my friends brought ... burp!

Sprinkles< Appreciative that so much time and energy was put into making my special day even more special and the delight of all that are here with me. The love that is shared in a joyous get-together as this is the best since I was born. *S*

Gibran< Joy is life expressing. The free flow of life energy is what you call joy. The essence of life is Oneness -- unity with All that Is. This is what life is: unity, EXPRESSING. The feeling of unity is the feeling that you call love. Therefore, in our language, it is said that the essence of life is love. Joy, then, is love expressing freely.

lilcrystal< I feel full. Since I just had my birthday feast an hour ago.

guitarist< lilcrystal: You were just talking about this in Stonehenge, weren't you!

lilcrystal< guitarist: Yes, something like this.

Gibran< Whenever the free unlimited expression of life and love ... that is, the experience of unity and oneness with all things and with every being ... is prohibited or limited by any circumstance or condition, the soul which is joy itself is not fully expressed. Joy not fully expressed is the feeling that we call sadness.

Ben< COMMENT: The art of enjoying includes knowing how much is enough, or just the feeling "This is enough". Know when to quit. Too much of a good thing isn't a good thing. Those who don't have the feeling "This is enough" are not satisfied. Those who never have the feeling "This is enough" are never satisfied.

Yopo< *hehehe* Somebody earlier mentioned moderation ...

Ben< QUESTION 2: For 10 years (when I was 14 to 24 years old), I greatly enjoyed high-diving. And I was good at it. I won some contests. Then I became involved in other things and stopped high-diving. Now I'm too old. What could or should I do about that former source of joy? YOUR TURN

Bee50< Teach. Share your knowledge and joy with others.

lilcrystal< DO something that makes you feel the same way. Figure out what gives you the same feeling.

Gibran< Canalize that joy into doing something else. You must like many things; just enjoy something else, but enjoy, feel the joy.

FRAML< Mine your memories of it for when you need to be uplifted or use it as an example. Don't focus on no longer having the ability to do it; that, in my view, will lead to being depressed -- e.g., I lament my no longer being able to run due to bad knees, but I don't let it ruin my life.

Yopo< Take joy from the memories. And maybe share in the joy of younger ones still diving, by watching, praising, and encouraging.

FRAML< Yopo: Good point about helping others learn to enjoy it. But need to remember not to try to live or relive one's experiences through them, thus destroying the joy they get from the effort.

guitarist< Remember the glory days fondly. Pictures help, if you have any. Also, you might want to coach others who love to do likewise. (I love swimming and diving also, but not the high stuff.)

solon< Decide what it was you enjoyed about high diving: was it the competition? or the physicality? or just diving and swimming? Once you decide that, finding something that will be enjoyable in the same way shouldn't be difficult.

Gibran< What I mean, the source of the joy is not high-diving itself. High-diving is the instrument you use to express your joy, but the joy is not produced because of high-diving. You could use another instrument to express that joy

guitarist< But, Gibran, people bond to certain things that give them joy, and many of us bond to a number of things. Just as a for-instance, I (as you can imagine) am bonded to music. But I also love reading books, drawing (occasionally), swimming (when I can get to some water), and many winter sports (haven't done any in a long time).

Gibran< guitarist: I understand you completely, and you're right, but my point is, the source of the joy is not the thing that you bond to; the thing is the way you like to express joy. That's what I mean, and that's where you should work if you can't do that thing anymore. *S*

guitarist< Gibran: Of course you're right. What we bond to is not the source -- G-d is, ultimately. I think we can't just bond to *anything*. It seems to me that, on one hand, we shouldn't let ourselves be limited to what we know we love; we need to try new things, to see what we enjoy as we change over time. On the other hand, if we know that we would love to do a certain thing -- doing backbends (a gymnastics move) successfully was one thing that escaped me, for instance -- and we can't do it, we shouldn't make ourselves miserable trying (although I was upset by the futility of trying myself, as a child, for awhile). Also, there are just some things we don't like, no matter how hard we try to like them. I'm sure that's true for all of us. *s*

Gibran< Definitely true. You don't know how hard I've tried to like advanced calculus, but I couldn't. *LOL* That's a good example. *VBS*

Sprinkles< Ben: Watch others, or use your high-diving skills in an un-physical way. Go to airports where they give lessons and ... oops, is this high-diving in air or water? *LOL* Well, apply your skills to where you still have the enjoyment of the thrill. *S*

guitarist< *LOL* with Sprinkles -- in Ben's case, it could be either air *or* water. *VBG*

DestinyB< Share the memories with others and relive the joy of the past.

Shadrach< Joy comes from within. Independent of outside forces. IMO

Ben< ALL: Good, thoughtful comments. Thanks. I see empathy, and solid recommendations.

LadyV< All memories can be relived by dreaming. Joy does not fade ... that is why elderly people walk around grinning all the time. (smiling)

Bee50< I may be looking at things differently. I feel the joy is found in the moment. Therefore, "do" something that gives the joy, not thinking of what used to give you joy. IMO

Sprinkles< Bee50: I agree with that. *S*

Gibran< Excellent, Bee50. I totally agree with you. Feel the Joy of the NOW, without thinking what gave you joy or what could give you joy in the future. Just be happy in the NOW.

Ben< Yes, I can and do enjoy high-diving now -- as a spectator. [Modern Olympic divers do things routinely that we didn't even dream of trying.]

LadyV< Ben told us once of the little squirrel he caught as a younger person, and how much joy it gave him to have it run around in his shirt. As I read his words, I thought of a man that had simple joys. I doubt Ben would lack for much in the joy department. He probably is grinning so much that folks are asking why ... (laughing very softly).

Shadrach< If all outside experiences were taken away, could one not experience joy?

guitarist< Good question, Shadrach. As long as we are in mortal form, I think probably not. Seems to me that outer and inner are connected while we're here.

Shadrach< guitarist: In semi-agreement. But if the source of joy only comes from external experiences, then IMO one borders on the fence of always having "joy" being stripped from them. But yes, external experiences can create much joy and exhilaration.

DestinyB< Yes, Shadrach, some people can experience joy even in the absence of outside experiences.

Shadrach< DestinyB: *whew* I know that one well. *HUGS* That is why I brought it up. ... Limited experiences, anyway. guitarist mentioned earlier that as long as one is in the physical, outside experience does matter. Have to agree with that. Even if one just sat, they are still affected by external experience.

guitarist< Shadrach: Thanks for noticing! The key words were "as long as we are in mortal form" or words to that effect. Our spirits are an entirely different matter, since they are not flesh-dependent; and anyway you asked about enjoying, not rejoicing (which are different).

Ben< Shadrach: If all outside experiences were taken away, we could still rejoice inwardly. That is why I distinguish between enjoying (something) and rejoicing (regardless).

Shadrach< Ben: I think I'm beginning to understand the train of thought in the room. Was confused in the beginning, for *yikes*, I've always viewed joy as a state of mind. But enjoying does take on a different thinking pattern. Thank you.

Ben< COMMENT: One way to rejoice is to focus your attention on your memory of something you enjoyed, regardless of the fact that you aren't enjoying it now. And it is worthwhile to ask oneself, "Can I rejoice in my memories of something that I'm very sure I will never do again?

Sprinkles< My answer would be "yes" definitely. For example, the remembrance of each of my children and their expressions saying their first words, or the laughter of that wee-small voice. Not that I don't hear it now, just that they were small and very new at things all around them. Now they have grown accustomed, and in their little ones I am seeing a new and different response. Happiness, but their individual ones. Know what I mean? *S*

[Ben< Sprinkles: Yes, children and grandchildren are similar sources of joy, but not exactly the same. And we can rejoice in our memories of the times when our kids were little even though we are very sure we won't start another family now.]

greyman< Ben: Life is full of challenges, in every decade of human life. It may be possible to find some other activity that can challenge you and provide a source of enjoyment. Spirit rescue comes to mind. *G*

[Ben< greyman: Yes. As-angels say they participate in spirit-rescue operations because they enjoy it. So, spirit-rescue satisfies one of the most important criteria for evaluating sources of joy: it is something we can enjoy as incarnate beings *and* something we can enjoy as discarnate beings.]

Ben< QUESTION 3: Some people enjoy one or a few things intensely and concentrate on them; some enjoy a wide variety of things, but enjoy each thing less intensely. Which of these strategies do you prefer, and why? YOUR TURN

Jello< If I knew why I fixate, I could fix the fixation. ;)

Bee50< I would prefer enjoying a wide variety of things because the world has so much to offer. Afraid I would miss something. *VBS*

Gibran< I enjoy a very wide variety of things. Some I enjoy more intensely than others, so I think in my personal experience I mix a little bit of both.

greyman< I tend to focus on one activity at a time. That activity may require many sub-tasks, several at one time. But the focus is the ultimate goal.

Yopo< I guess I do a bit of both. But I'm more one for spreading the sources of joy out. A little joy a lot of the time is better than a lot of joy once in a blue moon. This past week, for instance, I took great pleasure in finding a small handful of wild strawberries. Wasn't the quantity, but the cue. Taste of a couple of tiny sun-warmed berries brought back a load of childhood memories.

FRAML< I'd rather concentrate on fewer rather than more. Although I've not concentrated on even a few lately. I guess it is when something starts being "work" and stops being fun. That is one reason why I haven't resumed one hobby that I enjoyed doing.

LadyV< How can Joy be not intense?

solon< I am a focuser but change my focus periodically.

Gibran< Good point, LadyV. // solon: That happens to me as well.

Skycatcher< LadyV: Sometimes, for me, joy is just a quiet rightness in my world, not intense, but certainly all-encompassing.

Gibran< Yeah, Skycatcher, that's genuine joy as well. *S*

LadyV< What Skycatcher has said so beautifully reminds me of "Surprised by Joy" ... the title of a book ... yes, a gentle little Surprise ...

Sprinkles< I prefer all, because each memory has it's own situation. Sometimes the concentration is due to not having a camera around when you need it; other times because you can remember people or situations that may not have turned out like you hoped it would be, and sometimes, on how hope and effort made the situation joyous. *S*

guitarist< I wouldn't know what enjoying only a few things would be like. I'm interested in many things, and I enjoy them all intensely. I think that's why I stress out every so often ... I can't do *everything* I'd really like to do!

Gibran< guitarist: I go through the same thing. I'd like to do so many things at once, all together! *LOL* And I can't do it all together, but it feels great to have that energy; it is really wonderful.

DestinyB< Ben: In answer to Question 3: Both! Sometimes I like to concentrate on a few things that bring me enjoyment, and other times I enjoy a variety of things. I like variety.

Ben< DestinyB: Yes, some of both is a third choice. Concentrate sometimes, and spread interest sometimes. A dynamic strategy, rather than a life-script or habit.

FRAML< Ben: I'll stick with 'fewer' for now. I may have enjoyed a combination of fewer predominating over more in the past. However, I might reach a point in the future where 'more' makes sense and isn't 'work'.

Gibran< Of course, experience matters. We're in this physical state because of that reason. We're here to experience, so experience matters, not only in joy, but in every other aspect of our lives.

greyman< Gibran: Beautiful calculus!

Gibran< ((greyman)) *S*

Shadrach< I would most likely enjoy all. Just as a toddler does. To reach the point of seeing each moment as it's own unique source of enjoyment. Just not there yet. *G*

Lo< Ben: re Question 3 -- I would prefer a mixture of the two. That way, a person does not miss the intense joy related to some things and also learns to experience a wide variety of things that he'd miss otherwise. For example, I have some friends that won't ever taste something other than a very limited menu that they learned to like as a child. They have never dared to try things that I have learned to enjoy. As a matter of fact, I (thought) I hated cooked cabbage as a boy, and now I really like corned beef and cabbage.

Shadrach< Lo: Sounds like you are open to new enjoyment experiences. *S*

Lo< Shadrach: You got it right! For several years, my wife made it her practice to try new recipes. While some were not worth repeating, we came across a lot of really delicious dishes that were new to us. It required some tact on my part to not complain about those that were less than our expectations, but that was tempered by the knowledge that sometimes she'd hit the jackpot. The jackpots were usually worth waiting for!

Shadrach< Lo: *smiling* ... the gold at the end of the rainbow ... always worth waiting for.

Ben< COMMENT: Either of the two strategies I mentioned is a choice. However, there is such a thing as having too many eggs in one basket. Joy can turn into sorrow instantly if what one enjoys is damaged or destroyed or no longer available.

LadyV< Ben: I disagree with that. Joy is not damaged or destroyed when it is not available ... it is inside of the mind and heart. Am I missing something here? Forgive me, but sorrow is your joy unmasked ... Gibran said that, I think. I don't understand this.

Ben< LadyV: Gibran was speaking of enjoying (something). What gives you pleasure can give you pain. What gives you joy can give you sorrow.

LadyV< Ben: Ok ... still do not fully comprehend what you are saying ... and that's Ok ... *smiling*

Shadrach< LadyV: *LOL*

Gibran< I meant that to turn sorrow into joy you're only a little twist away. Depending on the way you see things, you feel sorrow or joy, and you could change your point of view and change your feeling at the same time. I just don't know how to make myself clear; I guess I'm not too good with words today.

LadyV< Gibran: Are you saying that our thoughts change our response to things? I agree that they do ... you can make choices of how feelings are experienced into emotions. I like the term "a twist away" ... suppose you are right there.

Gibran< LadyV: Yes, that's it, what Ben said is what I tried to say, or did say. *LOL*

LadyV< Gibran: *laughing* Ok ...

guitarist< One thing I think Ben is implying is: that which gives you pleasure can give pain, and what gives you joy can give you sorrow -- on its departure.

greyman< guitarist: True, but if less "ego" is invested, sorrow can be "grounded". Take for instance the friendly doctor. The good ones have a clinical attitude. Those lucky ones do not suffer burn-out as much. The doctors that feel too much become drug or alcohol addicts, or worse, stop caring. That is an awful form of death.

Gibran< You cannot really divide joy and sorrow; they come from the same source; they're very similar feelings. I think what differentiates one from another is the perception you have about it at a precise moment.

[Ben< Gibran: We cannot divide joy and sorrow *if* they come from the same source (i.e., something we enjoy), but we can divide joy and sorrow by rejoicing *regardless* of the lack of something we enjoy or the presence of something we do not enjoy. As to perception: yes, joy and sorrow vary with what we perceive at the moment, but they are reactions to what we believe about what we perceive. This is why two people so often perceive the same thing and react differently.]

guitarist< Ben: When I'm working or doing schoolwork, I'm often looking at things I'd rather be doing. Finishing a course or task is becoming its own source of joy sometimes. *LOL*!

Shadrach< guitarist: *S*

guitarist< I am grateful for this time of year, when the honeysuckles and mulberries come out. I enjoy eating them!

Jello< Enjoyment seems to require enough energy to focus on the subject of enjoyment. One with little energy will likely only focus on a few things. Unfortunate, and a vicious cycle. (Sorry to bring up depressing subjects again.)

FRAML< Jello: "De pressing"? How about doing my shirts (light starch please) and trousers? *G*

Skycatcher< Right now I'm having a difficult time with depression, and somehow "I Remember Joy" seemed to be a good title for a book about dealing with depression because it's the memories of joy that get me through the depression when it hits.

Jello< I suspect rejoicing can provide the extra energy to put into finding enjoyment.

greyman< Jello: Yes, increasing amplitude of rejoicing can sustain enjoyment, even beyond the point of usefulness. I like to stay in an operating mode ... too much enjoyment puts me in a state of less competence. *G*

Jello< Sometimes memories of joy cannot produce joy, if the depression is deep enough.

guitarist< ((((Jello)))) May a taste of true joy lift your spirit and give it strength to carry on.

Skycatcher< Jello: I don't expect the memories to create the joy, but the memories assure me that what once was could and will happen again. It gives me something to hold on to.

Ben< QUESTION 4: POP QUIZ: In an earlier meeting, we looked at the need to find something to enjoy in a new location. Now, suppose you have just died. *poof* You are out of your physical body and can't get back in it again. All your physical aches and pains are gone. (YAY!) All your physical pleasures are also gone. (BOO!) How will you go about finding something to enjoy? Or will you rejoice regardless? YOUR TURN

Yopo< Oh, wow. Do I have to answer now, or can I wait for the ACTUAL pop quiz? *S*

Ben< Yopo: I called this question a pop quiz because it often occurs just like that.

Gibran< I think that the spiritual pleasures are so great that they'll immediately substitute your physical ones, in case you were attached to those pleasures.

[Ben< Gibran: That particular substitution of pleasures isn't automatic. It only happens within those who enjoy spiritual pleasures so much more than physical pleasures that they release their attachments to physical pleasures.]

guitarist< I would be looking for the Light at that point. Wanting to go Home, to find what awaits me there.

Lo< I would be happy that I would not have (hopefully all of) the limitations that I now have as I headed for that bright light.

FRAML< I guess I'd find joy in climbing to the light. Later in working for G_d to help others. I've been working on laying aside physical-related pleasures and responsibilities as something that might make me want to come back and finish them.

Skycatcher< Somehow I expect death to release one into instant joy, but I've read that even on "the other side" what you are is what you'll get. I think I'd be frightened at first, but soon enchanted by the freedom of being without a body, soaring.

LadyV< Love goes with you; therefore, joy is with you. If one has not learned that, then (hopefully) someone on the other side will show them. Physical pleasure is only 1/3 ... then again, Butternut Ice Cream had darn well better be on the table when I get there! *laughing* Nuts!!

solon< Depends on what is available. I like intellectual pursuits. I could probably spend a million years or so in the Akashic Library; but more likely, new pursuits that I cannot imagine, here and now, would present themselves.

guitarist< solon: I'd be there with you, indulging my love of reading. *LOL*

Skycatcher< *LOL* Amazon.com! Get thee behind me!

Sprinkles< I think I would rejoice in the blessings of having the ability to move at lighting speed and to receive the enjoyment of still (hopefully) being to be of help to others in the past life or the on-going present. I think I would rejoice in being able to be in a baby nursery to see the new spirits on the way. *LOL*

Tracey< Ben: *S* I doubt we will have much trouble finding things to enjoy on the other side ... like, no war, no hunger, peace. *S* As for the human pleasures, many of those turn to be our enemy. The "knowing" ... finding the pieces of the final puzzle ... methinks that will keep us busy and happy and for once "peaceful" for a very long time. *S*

Yopo< Guess I've always figured the hereafter would have its own more refined pleasures. A place of essences, maybe. And I'm not really certain of the extent to which being out of a body changes things. I mean, consider dreams. They are places of color, physical sensation, emotion. Though not experienced with the PHYSICAL sensory apparatus. All those sensations are REALLY in the mind. The senses are but interfaces ...

Gibran< Yopo: The senses are but interfaces indeed. For example, in one of my dreams last night, I was crying and it felt good, great. It was a wonderful feeling, but I didn't feel sad or happy, I just FELT ... felt, like, liberated, fulfilled.

guitarist< True, Yopo. I forgot about that. And, I suspect, an OBE is a taste of what it would be like to be bodiless. Am I right, Ben?

[Ben< guitarist: Yes.]

DestinyB< That's a tough question, since I can't remember being a discarnate spirit. I believe that I would rejoice in finishing my Earthly mission. It's been a rough life, but I feel like I've come a long way spiritually and would look forward to whatever the future held. Let it go and don't look back are my mottoes.

FRAML< DestinyB: I've always felt that I am a 'new soul' with no previous life. I don't know if that is true, but have no personal evidence to the contrary.

Skycatcher< I just ordered two books on "life" in between lives, written by Dr. Michael Newton, based on his hypnotherapy past life regression work.

Ben< ALL: Sub-questions for this pop quiz might include: Would you seek more of the same, or something new? Would you release past sources of joy or cling to them? (No, you don't have to answer. I'm just trying to stimulate thinking at this point.)

Shadrach< What brought enjoyment in the past may not provide enjoyment in the future ... newness is good. *VBS*

Tracey< Ben: I see myself searching through the 'records', asking questions, and finally finding answers (although I have found a few this time around). Past sources of joy? Well, for me that was mostly love ... and I know love is abundant there ... *S* so ... looking forward to it, actually. *S*

Skycatcher< Would we have choices on the other side? Or would we be required to exist in some predetermined way based either on our actions or beliefs? I just can't imagine a world of true choice, even an afterworld. Maybe that's part of joy -- having choices.

[Ben< Skycatcher: Yes, we have choices on the other side, even though our choices are biased (not predetermined) by our desires (what we want, seek, love, enjoy). And yes, having choices (including the ability to reprogram our desires) is part of the joy of living dynamically, both here and hereafter.]

Gibran< At first I would seek more of the same. After I've had enough, I'd seek for something new. Anyway, we have the eternity to always seek for something more if we want to.

Sprinkles< I think I would cling to past sources of joy, and seek something new but similar. *S*

JamesRD< The joy would be ever present about you and serenity would engulf you, yet you would still be capable of the sorrows of those you love who remain and of those who would or could cause harm. There are realms one would see that would cause great concern within ...

Ben< ALL: Instead of a summary, I'll post an exercise I think you'll enjoy ...

Ben< /topic An exercise in the Art of Rejoicing

Ben< EXERCISE: One way to rejoice is to count your blessings -- blessings you have received, and blessings you have seen someone do, and blessings you have given. Please give one example that comes to mind. YOUR TURN

guitarist< My husband just came home from a *very long* day at work. A 16-hour day. I am blessed that he came home safely tonight. Blessed be G-d!

Tracey< ****guitarist*** Yes, honey ... you are ... ((((HUGS))))

FRAML< Ben: I've a rucksack full. The two boys in the 6th grade class I taught who volunteered to be altar boys at my wedding. (I had to explain that, being Protestants, we didn't have altar boys, so I made them 'junior ushers' instead. I consider that a blessing I was given by them.

Bee50< The first blessing I thought of was the blessing of life itself.

Tracey< I am blessed to have parents that were my best friends and best friends themselves. They taught by example that unconditional love is a good thing. I have tried to pass this on, and feel it is part of my path. It may appear to some as a door-mat condition, but that is all in one's perspective ... but then again, isn't everything? *S*

LadyV< Let's see ... blessings received: shelter and food ... blessings I have seen someone do: an old woman praying silently in her chair ... blessings to others: silence.

greyman< Seeing Mrs. greyman light up with honest joy.

FRAML< For blessings given, I have only to remember a few folks who have come back to me and said thanks for something I said or did regarding them. In some cases, it was something I said that I didn't even notice I was saying at the time. In one particular case, I said something that I considered to be a 'throw away line' and got a response saying it answered a question that had been haunting this person for some time.

Gibran< I am blessed for everything: for my friends, many and wonderful, all of them; my big, happy and loving family; my health, I'm very healthy. Everything. I thank God every day because he's blessed me with all things. Blessed be all!!!

Shadrach< A rejoiceful heart of thanksgiving has much power in it. I have enjoyed everyone's posts in this area.

guitarist< Being able to take things in better stride would be my greatest joy, if I could do that. *s*

Yopo< The blessing of a perfect day, and all the beauty of it. The blessing of special friends, which is a thing of both giving and receiving. *LOL* And the blessing of realizing sometimes that I AM blessed, rather than taking it all for granted.

Bee50< Yopo: Well said. *S*

FRAML< Time for me to withdraw to St. Sealy's for the night. Remember to count those blessings Ben is helping you to identify before you sleep.

Yopo< Good night, FRAML! Sleep well ... *S*

Sprinkles< The blessings that I have received: having a life that (with it's sorrows and pains and disappointments, and all the good that seemed to have entered into it, as well as each and every encounter with another) has been truly a blessing in each and every moment that this life has been allowed. What I give: only myself in all that I do and am for any and all who enter. From others: the enlightenment of their lives that has enrichened my knowledge and understanding of a much bigger world, other than my environment. *S*

Gibran< Above all, I'm thankful because I exist, because I AM, and I'm also blessed to be talking, having this wonderful chat with all of you. *S*

Shadrach< Greatest blessing of my day: I was cranky with a friend this morning, and their response was ... I'm gonna keep on loving you anyway. *VBS*

DestinyB< I am thankful that my son graduated from high school this week and received a scholarship to the University!

Lo< Some of my greatest blessings this lifetime have been related to experimental exploratory experiences I have had in a group that examines the dimensions and characteristics of spirituality -- in an atmosphere not unlike this Seminar -- almost every Sunday evening.

guitarist< A great seminar like this one is a cause for rejoicing, and a blessing. I keep saving all these files from Ben's site because I know that someday I'm going to need to read every single one of them, just to keep me here. And don't you know it? I won't be able to get on the Net there, either. *LOL*

Jello< Sometimes seeing Hell is a blessing ... Seeing the negative and the lack teaches one much about reality. :)

greyman< Jello: If you can set the controls away from it! *G*

guitarist< Yes, Jello, because you know to avoid it. *s* When it's disguised, as it often is, people walk into its trap without knowing.

Jello< Whether one can avoid it or not, it teaches one compassion for many whom society labels "failures".

greyman< Jello: So you can appreciate the positive. Appreciation can cause a form of synergy which can become enjoyable. *G*.

guitarist< Jello: I guess that's why a ministry in rescue is so important. Because we do need to come down from the mountain-top and spread our joy to the valley below. On the other hand, some of us who spend a lot of time in the valley need to come up to the mountain ... or be lifted there ... or something ... so that they can be stronger on their next foray into the valley. Does this even come close?

Ben< COMMENT: Enjoying and rejoicing are antidotes for boredom. And eternal boredom isn't pleasant to contemplate.

LadyV< Ben: I will agree with you on that last statement.

Tracey< Ben: I can promise everyone ... bored is the last thing we will be. *S*

[Ben< Tracey: Hmm ... that's a cheerful promise, but freedom from boredom isn't guaranteed, here or hereafter. Many are bored, and some are bored to death.]

Tracey< Love to you all. When you are down ... look up. *S* And I am not a religious person ... this is just a spirit thingy. Color me gone ... *S*

Shadrach< Is class over?

guitarist< I'm storing up treasures on my computer ... maybe G-d has copies on file in heaven!

Sprinkles< guitarist: Storing stuff on your PC. *LOL* I have 5 ISP's only because everyone I know has a different server and instant message. Let alone all the programs. *S*

greyman< guitarist: Did you know that Adam and Eve were the first computer users? Eve had an Apple and Adam had a Wang. *G*

Sprinkles< LOL @ greyman ... funny.

guitarist< Oooooh, greyman! I'm telling my husband, the great joke thief that he is, and I think he'll appreciate it. *s*

DestinyB< I am blessed to have reached a point in my life where I'm at peace within myself and I am able to enjoy the moment I'm living in. I know some of the answers to the questions of the mysteries of life, but not all of the answers (so I still have something to anticipate).

Ben< SUMMARY: We each need to learn and practice the art of enjoying, and the art of rejoicing, because joy is a spiritual food. Like children growing up, first we need to be fed by others; then we learn to feed ourselves; then we learn to feed others.

Yopo< Ah. An excellent summary. One we should all try to remember ...

Sprinkles< Oh, and what a meal it is!!

greyman< Ben: Good one. Thank you!

Ben< /topic Open discussion of enjoying and rejoicing

guitarist< Shadrach: *now* class is over. Free discussion!

Sprinkles< Thank you, Ben. Another seminar well enjoyed. *S*

guitarist< Ben: Thanks again. What can I say?

Ben< guitarist: For some reason, a line from a song in Snow White just popped into my mind: "Whistle while you work." *S*

guitarist< Ben: Interesting. I guess the 7 Dwarfs were working under terrible conditions (mining, I think it was) and had to whistle to make the time pass somewhat enjoyably. I think my co-workers would get annoyed if I whistled at work all the time. (We have a co-worker who annoys us with his not-quite-whistling.) Nowadays, I think people who work at computers usually have a radio or a CD player built in, and play music to the same end. But, I think I will think about taking that hint seriously. Maybe it's a clue and a way to take myself out of being so involved in work that I can't see or think straight. Maybe then I'll find out what's *really* going on, eh?

Ben< guitarist: The 7 dwarfs weren't working under terrible conditions from their point of view. As they said in their song, to dig in their mine was what they liked to do.

guitarist< Ben: I forgot the rest of the words to the song. It's been too long, I guess. It was their mine? I didn't realize that.

[Ben< guitarist: Yes, it was their mine. I've seen the movie several times recently on videotape. Our soon-to-be-five-year-old grandson loves it.]

DestinyB< Ben: Since we've been talking about joy (and beauty before that), I've taken a more active role in bringing more enjoyment into my life. I've planted the rose garden that I've always wanted; I have hummingbird feeders in my windows (and lots of hummingbirds), and I've been able to take joy in simple everyday pleasures.

Ben< DestinyB: Yes. To build beauty, and to enjoy intentionally. 'tis a large part of the art of living, IMO

DestinyB< I've also come to understand that sometimes we are unable to make our dreams come true. Sometimes we need to let go of them and find more attainable dreams and goals. Dwelling on what isn't to be can take energy away from the joy of living in the present.

[Ben< DestinyB: Yes, and that's also why knowing when to release a source of joy and let it go into the past is part of the art of living.]

Yopo< I wonder what the world might be, if everyone was focused on creating joy and beauty? *sigh*

Ben< Yopo: There is a name for a world where everyone is focused on creating joy and beauty. *S* Unfortunately, this world isn't that world. (echo: *sigh*)

Sprinkles< Yopo: I would think that too much of anything can be no good. IMHO *S*

Yopo< Sprinkles: Hmm ... *thinking that over*

DestinyB< Yopo: It would be a better world if people understood that they can create their own beauty and joy, rather than expecting it to come to them as their birthright (thinking of the Constitution ... the right to pursue happiness).

guitarist< DestinyB: Maybe "If people understood that they *should* create their own beauty and joy" would be even better?

[Ben< This next conversation illustrates several parts of the art of enjoying.]

enigma3< Joy to the world ... all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea ...

guitarist< enigma3: Joy to you and me!

Bee50< ((((guitarist))))

LadyV< enigma3: What is that song? I have heard that somewhere ...

Shadrach< LadyV: "Joy to the world". The first line is "Jeremiah was a bullfrog."

LadyV< enigma3: How are you? Glad you could join us.

enigma3: Not too bad. I've had a little trouble with an ex-girlfriend and finding her true feeling for me, but other than that, I'm fine. I'm learning how to play the guitar and I've been drawing a lot lately.

LadyV< enigma3: You are drawing! Great! How goes the guitar?

enigma3< Not bad. I've really never played, but I like to. It's fun. When I was younger I used to watch a friend of mine play, and I've always wanted to learn, and now I've really had a chance.

LadyV< enigma3: Sounds great. What do you draw? Kindprince draws dragons.

enigma3< I've taken various art classes, life drawings and all in between. I draw just about everything.

LadyV< enigma3: You are very lucky... *smiling*

enigma3< Why, LadyV, why ?

LadyV< enigma3: Why are you lucky? You have talent ... you have resources and you know how to use them ... thus you are lucky ... to my mind, anyway ...

enigma3< Well, yes, I do agree to that, but anyone can have my luck. You just have to try. Besides, the fun is trying.

LadyV< enigma3: Good way to look at life: "the fun is trying". You will be a success at all you do with that thought ... bet on it!

enigma3< What about you, LadyV? Tell us about yourself.

LadyV< enigma: What about me?

enigma3< Well, what are your hobbies?

LadyV< enigma3: There is nothing to tell, my friend. *smiling* I am a content person ... a very busy person.

enigma3< Busy with what?

LadyV< enigma3: Well, let's see ... I work ... I farm a little ... I have my guitar ... I have pets ... I like sports ... I like to exercise ... I read ... I am interested in anything that moves ... That's about it ... not much, really ...

enigma3< Hmm ... interesting.

DestinyB< The other day I cut some roses (I love the fact that the more you cut, the more they bloom) and took my flower basket across the way to find some companion wild flowers. I was delighted to also find ripe wild blackberries! Simple joys!

LadyV< DestinyB: Yes!

Yopo< I'm thinking, when the world was new, and nature a perfect reflection of Creator's hand, there must have been nothing but beauty. Hard to think of that as too much of a good thing. I wonder if the not-beautiful is all the work of the human hand, and the human mind? This might bear some thinking on ...

Sprinkles< Yopo: Ok, that I can agree with. People either lack effort, or moderate or over-do in one thing or another. That is where I meant that too much of a good thing can be bad. But now I understand your comment from before. (I'm a little slow tonight, sorry.) *S*

LadyV< Yopo: That's a thought with considerable depth. Ben could do a seminar on that one.

Ben< Yopo: A poem. "Did God make weeds? No ... man made weeds, when he invented the hoe."

Sprinkles< That's a good one, Ben. *S*

DestinyB< That's true, Ben! I grow herbs. I overlooked the fact that the mints take everything else over. Today I "weeded" perfectly healthy lemon balm and peppermint. The others couldn't get any sun because of them. I was thinking that someone, somewhere, would like these healthy plants that I'm thinning out.

Ben< DestinyB: Yep. Preferences -- that's what gardening and farming are all about. I'm going to thin our lemon mint in the next few days for the same reason, but it is a beautiful plant.

Yopo< *S* Yeah. Even poison ivy is beautiful, turned scarlet in the Fall. I wonder what it is we've lost, that makes us see sunny yellow dandelions as a blemish on the lawn?

Ben< Yopo: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Joy is in the heart of the enjoyer. And life is interesting for the interested.

Yopo< Ben: And that last thought, I shall DEFINITELY take with me! *S*

Ben< ALL: Thank you for a fine seminar. I have enjoyed it. Peace and blessings to each of you. Good night. *poof*

DestinyB< I'll turn off the lights! Sweet Dreams Everyone!

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