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How to Grow Mudita: Meditation and Practice, Learning to Cultivate Unselfish Joy

I thought that the first Article I would write about would be Love. A type of unconditional archetypal, godly Love. Metta even. But when I finally sat down after meditating on Love and the beingness of Love so much, something happened. The woman I was in love with who had been the catalyst for the downward spiral that would lead me up into the heavens, walked back into my life. And with it I felt the challenges of what it means to put Love into practice. Love for her joys, Love for her family, Love for the best friends she has, Love for her choices, Love for the new relationships in her life. Love even in the face of the voices that were threatening to undo all the work on Love that I had managed to cultivate in its absence. Prior to that moment the mantra I had been repeating day and night, day and night:

  • I am worthy, I am valuable, I am beautiful.
  • I am worth having.
  • I am love, I love.
  • My heart is precious, my heart is worth having, my heart loves.
  • I am not better or less than anyone else.

All of that began to fall apart as I surrounded myself with people who when they weren’t saying it, showed it:

  • “You are not worthy”,
  • “You are not valuable.”
  • “You are not worth having.”
  • “You are not beautiful.”
  • “You are not better, you are less than.”

And I began to challenge those voices in my head and I could hear them wavering, growing smaller, almost as if I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t believe in it. Like I had to convince myself of the truth that I knew:

  • But I know I’m worthy,
  • But I know people are lucky to have me.
  • But I know I am a great best friend.
  • But I know I am giving of my heart.
  • But I know that I am honest, and courageous. and loving, and lovable.

But…how can these things be true when my own lover, or my own best friend, or the woman down the street, or -insert name here- looks at me and says:

  • “You are not worthy, this person here is”
  • “You are not worth much of anything, this person in my life is”
  • “I would abandon you and throw you away for this person.”
  • “Did you really think you could replace her? No, you’re the one who is replaceable.”
  • We’re all laughing at you.

These voices became a challenge. I felt love in my heart, I could feel it. But slowly as my self-esteem entered into defensive mode, as my security in myself began to waver, I began to fall from love into darkness, even going so far as to wishing unhappiness. Perhaps then, if there were no other people in the way who made her happy in ways I cannot, then perhaps, the flitting thought crossed my mind, then perhaps, I will be lovable, I will be worthy, I will be valued. Immediately I caught myself slipping back into the habit of envy and jealousy, a poisonous trap. I gently steered my thoughts away and analyzed what was happening.

I was doing my best, but I needed a different method to challenge my thoughts, to fight back harder with love. The moment came when I closed my eyes. Analyzing the world around me I said:

  • Human Beings are Fickle
  • And yet still, I Love
  • I Love
  • I am Love
  • I wish for those I Love to be surrounded by Love; Even if that Love is not me
  • I will build a Garden of Love for those I Love, Even if it is without me
  • I will sit quietly and watch from my window enjoying from afar the Love that they have, in the same way one enjoys two birds flying together in the sky, or watching a birds nest grow.
  • I will Love; and allow the person who is meant to Love me, Love me; especially if that person is me
  • I will come from a place of not needing Love; but being Love itself

Re-Grounding myself into a place of Love I sit here today. It is today then that I’ve determined, my first post should be about Mudita. A guide towards combatting feelings of envy and transmuting them into feelings of Mudita, of Love.

What is Mudita?

A topic few people seem to talk about is “Mudita”. There are a ton of books and articles on how to love, on how to make friendships, on how to be kind, there are articles on how to ease jealousy and envy, but not on how to practice feeling the joy of people. There are even articles on how to be mysterious and distance and petty and cruel—but Mudita. The lack of discussion on this matter baffles me. In a world so full of competition, of the have’s and the have nots this is incredibly important.

In Buddhism Mudita is pure joy, pure, sympathetic, vicarious joy for another. It is the opposite of jealousy and envy. It would be for example the joy we feel when the person we are in competition with, who perhaps was once our best friend, wins the woman we both were in love with. It’s when you watch the lover you want start a family with another, the birth of their new or second child, the strength of their marriage, or even when they form a strong bond with another, all while they exclude you. It’s when a group of people chatter happily and avoid letting you into their circle. It can even be their success. Somehow for whatever reason they are doing well, they have the things we want to have, and it doesn’t have to be material, it could be spiritual.

It stands to reason then that the issue is not the other person, but ‘us’. The medicine to the poisons of jealousy and envy then seem to be to ground ourselves in an image of self-love, to rebuild ourselves up so that we see ourselves in a more positive light rather than projecting our feelings of insecurity onto others.

When we are secure in our selves we can project Mudita and the genuine success, happiness and love that surrounds others doesn’t bother us.

First you cannot have anything.

There is no person or thing in this world that can be owned or possessed. Everything you have is borrowed. It is from this perspective that I like to think we borrow our best friends, we borrow our lovers, all of these are experiences temporarily on loan to us. I’d like to believe and find it comforting to do so, that each spirit or soul for better or worse makes a spiritual contract with our higher selves. They negotiate and agree on lessons and experiences we need to learn, people we need to meet. Sometimes those experiences we agree to lead us to feeling sad and lonely, it is from this sadness and loneliness can we either stagnate and die, or enter a doorway of growth and compassion that transcends anything we could have ever known before. Other times we enter contracts with people that are related to joy and happiness and having someone with us always.

I believe we attract into our life the people and lessons that we need to have in this moment, that if we run into the same problem repeatedly it’s reincarnating into our life until we learn what it is we need to learn from it, and graduate to a new level of being that attracts a new lesson into our life. I’d also like to believe that it’s from the worst experiences that our hearts break the most, and it’s when they break, truly break we have the opportunity to unleash onto the world true love and beauty if we so choose.

Thinking in this way has allowed me to have some peace of mind, by offering the idea that things happen for a reason, that people are in our lives for a reason and that we are in control on a spiritual level we just don’t consciously know it. We can become conscious by this by deliberately choosing to grow or simply accepting ourselves as we are.

Thinking in this way also allows me to realize that the ‘having’ of things is futile, that if it can be lost it was never yours to begin with, and that the only eternal thing you can have is love and a connection to it, building this bond is with oneself is stronger than any relationship you can ever have, and it is in this relationship that you are always worthy, no more or less than anyone else.

I want what you want.

The second thing I remind myself is that we are all one, all connected. We all are born with basic needs, love and security. We all want these things, and if we are honest, I want what you want. Love. We seek Love in all kinds of ways indirectly and directly. It is in the absence of Love that all wars are formed. In this way, if Love and security is what you want, I want that for you as much as I want for me. It is impossible for it to come at the expense of me because I can create security and love wherever I go, independent of any one thing.

The only way to get love is to give love, is to encourage Love. To encourage security. In the movie, The Family that Preys, someone says “You cannot have happiness by destroying the happiness of others.”

It may give us temporary glee to think that we thwarted someone’s happiness so that they can suffer and feel what we feel, “If I can’t have him no one can”, but the truth is, when we destroy his happiness, we destroy the happiness of a million other people, and what we are left with is emptiness. We are left with ourselves, in the end what we do will always come back to us, in some way or form. If we never resolve to loving ourselves we live at the mercy of others and their whims, abilities and limitations, destroying all things around us without love simply because we could not allow love into our hearts in response to another person’s love that excluded us but included another; simply because we were limited in our ability to stretch, expand our hearts and love ourselves enough to genuinely love outside of ourselves without condition.

Imagine instead if we sowed love, if we encouraged love. If we pushed love together all around us, if we felt joy in the love of those around us, even the things that we love but don’t have the illusion of having. Love so great such that we felt it as if it were our own. If we said, “I don’t care if you love me, I don’t care who you love, so long as you love anyone, anything with all of your heart, and never stop loving or giving, and you sow that love all around you.”

I meditate on that feeling, I imagine myself sowing love. If for every drop of sadness we felt in our hearts we instead planted a seed of Love, well. We’d have a garden of Love. But if everyone went out of their way to make someone suffer or to deny love to another, in response we spread unhappiness, misery and love and we essentially prevent ourselves

Coming From a Place Of Lack

For whatever reason we tend to function on the basis that the things we want in this world are in short supply. The Law of Supply and Demand. We don’t tend to believe that the world is full of abundance and that there is not a short supply of anything. Resources are limited, people are Limited, there is only one you. This is true on one hand, but if you look deeper there is no shortage of what you want and what that ‘you’ is made of. Energy, atoms, oneness, the sharp lines and edges that define you beneath a microscope at the tiniest of levels start to blur, underneath it all we are all made of the same stuff, energy, light, love.

There is no shortage of love. We are all capable of love and some of us are more capable at allowing that love to shine through us than others at any given moment but we can all learn to love and come from a place of love. This starts by realizing that there is nothing that I have to offer you, that you can’t give yourself, there is nothing she can offer him, that he can’t get himself. We all can give love. When it comes to Love and unrequited Love and even unrequited friendship we tend to focus our attention on the person’s shadow, their ego. I refer to this as part of the shadow world the illusions, a shapeshifting mask we wear. We are drawn to some shadows, some people more than others.

But in a world full of billions and billions of people, all made of the same stuff, all with different frequencies and tasks; why is it then that we choose to centralize our existence on a singular person, rather than exploring the world of love around us? Because there is no person like them? There is absolutely nothing that could possibly be better or more compatible or contribute to the joy that you feel, only this one person, thing or quality? Your entire world centers around whether they love you or because they have something that you don’t have? Some admirable quality, some bond, some family, some thing or object, some imaginary projection of idealized happiness that you want?

On the one hand you’re right, in our lifetime I will never meet another you, another soul identical to you, I may meet someone like you, or similar to you, but it won’t be you. If I lost my child, and had another child, no child would be like the one I had before, nor would any dog or cat. People are irreplaceable. In this way, there will never be anyone who can be you ever.

On the other hand no one person, holds a monopoly on love or a beautiful experience in life, because there is no shortage of love and each of our individual experiences are equally qualified to be just as beautiful as the next persons. Love radiates through everything, it is everything. And if you function from the basis that only one person, one type of experience, one object, one thing holds a monopoly, that when denied to you in some one– such as if that one person does not allow themselves to love or appreciate you, but gives it to another, or a person attains something that you have projected and imagined that you want, then right there you have given your power away. And the power you have given away is the power to Love. To Love not just yourself and to love others and to Love them enough to let them be free, all because you come from a place of lack.

What makes any object or event or thing so special that you would give up your ability and power to truly love yourself and consequently them in return. This is not just a form of self-harm, but destructive to you and the people around you, including the ones you claim to love.

Learn to Enjoy Your Own Company

It is no secret that this entire website was founded on the basis of Love, that all things are Love, that we are all pure Love. There is no doubt in my mind that this is true, but this is more than a truth to me. This is a way of being, a way of living, a way of seeing. Humans have a special gift, the ability to create the reality around them through their thoughts, their perceptions to shape the world. To build it. When I come from a place of love, and see the world from that place, my entire being changes, my heart changes. If I look out on the world and see the world as full of love, but functioning from a place where we suppress and do not allow it to flow through us, then I feel truly feel the Law of Abundance and my connection to all things. And it’s in that place where I can practice positive solitude. A place where self-love trumps loneliness such that I enjoy my own company.

To enjoy your own company it’s crucial to tap into that reservoir of pure love, feel that unconditional love and extend it towards ourselves. Before I believed the world was made of Love, that there was nothing of Love I used to feel really bad about myself. People had ostracized me, gossiped, put me down, they found all sorts of reasons I wasn’t welcome. In fact my worst fear was that people would see through me and into my heart and see me for the ugliness I believed I was underneath it all.

I remember one day listening to Buddhist Monks and they were meditating and talking about feelings of guilt and empowering yourself by taking responsibility for your actions but not the actions of others (blame). But what I remember the most was they separated my behaviour from myself, explained why I behaved the way I did, and they said you are lovable. When I was saddest, I used to close my eyes and imagine the monks meditating daily sending their love out into the world towards me. I meditated on forgiveness and love, and I realized of course I am lovable, to be lovable means that you are loved by someone, and someone does love me, many people who I don’t even know, who I’ve yet to meet love me. Even those of us who have behaved the worst and committed the most terrible atrocities out of ignorance and lack of self-love are lovable.

To enjoy your own company is to realize you are lovable and to love yourself.

We often don’t see the whole picture

It’s hard sometimes. We look at someone and we covet it, we have that ‘girl crush’, we want to be her, because maybe if we were her or him, maybe the person or thing we wanted would love us, maybe we’d feel love. But there are few problems with this:

  • Nobody’s life is perfect, everyone has to work for the things they love. The saying the grass is always greener on the other side because it’s fertilized with manure fits perfectly here. We are often seeing the side of them they ‘want’ us to see, the ‘perfection’ they attempt to emulate. The ‘gilded’ fences. We don’t always get to see their struggle, their pain, their weakness, we usually just see the ticky tacky on the surface. We’re on the outside looking in, dreaming of the fantasy but not the hard work and the pain and the sweat and tears that takes to get there and to maintain it for the most gilded of us. We don’t get to see the pain, low-self esteem and even lack of love that fuels their success, that they may feel on the inside, all the while they project an ‘idea’ of everything is great. Such happiness is conditional, such happiness is an illusion, it’s based on situations, people and things and even a hierarchy that involves looking down on others so they can feel above someone and better in some way. You have to be willing to love yourself enough to want more than the ‘false-we-are-better, ‘I’m better, you’re not’ projection that society tends to encourage.
  • There is more to life than a person(s) who is unable to value you, an experience with them that you wish to have, no one thing is the center of the universe. More honestly ask yourself what is it about the person who has rejected you that is so special that you would give them so much power to define your worth. Everyone is special, do not get me wrong, everyone is worthy, but sometimes the people who exclude people the most are the people who feel the least worthy, and seeking it by attempting to break you and others around them down.
  • You can remove the middleman, and create something just as beautiful it may take work and even tears, it will definitely take effort, but imagine building something so beautiful, true and pure in your life that other people will want for themselves. And, if you are honest with them, you can use it to lift other people up and not down as others may have tried to do to you before, as we have been trained to do to others. We can lift those up by encouraging them that they too are worthy, that they can be their best selves, they can achieve the same in their own way. This nothing to lose type of honesty takes work to maintain, to maintain that happiness and peace and love. It will not be done in a day, if you committed as much to it as you did loving another or hating another into your own well-being, and heart (love), you would have your own paradise by now.

Look Beneath the Desire

We can realize that what we envy in people is just admiration. It is possible to admire people without putting yourself down. To truly admire them. When we feel jealous of someone we don’t feel jealous of them, we feel jealous of the idea we are projecting onto them or what they are projecting. There is nothing wrong with admiring the love someone has and working to build a relationship and love with someone who will see and appreciate you. There is nothing wrong with making room for that with a person who is meant to share that experience with you, and there’s nothing wrong with admiring and loving yourself even if others don’t do it, or your experience and situation does not look like someone elses. There is beauty in who you are and what you’ve been through, and more importantly what you have to give.

List your Strengths

Everyone has a list of strengths. I’ve compiled a list of a few things that have helped me on my journey of rediscovering my worth, value and strengths. My inherent gifts, dreams, the things that make me special and consequently learning to cultivate them and give back in a way that serves others. I am sharing them here in hopes that it perhaps could help you to do the same.

I will list a few great ways to do this
based on

  1. Take an Inventory of your Strengths (VIA).
  2. Create Affirmations surrounding those strengths.
  3. Figure out what you want and find ways to give it to others.
  4. Challenge yourself and the voices that say you are not lovable; for every reason someone (whether it’s your voice or not) says you’re not lovable you find a reason in your head for why you are lovable; and if you can’t find a reason then ask yourself why you aren’t lovable and things you’ve done to prove that you aren’t lovable.
  5. If there is nothing lovable not even a single thing you can find, then ask yourself why that is and if you want to change that; then ask what you could do to be the lovable person you already are.
  6. Realize that nothing other people do is about you, this is about you and your relationship with you, just like the things people do is about them and their relationships with themselves we all just happen to interact with each other’s worlds.
  7. Focusing on building a you-first relationship, do things that make you feel good but remember to speak with love and act with love, this is not an excuse to hurt others, but to kindly prioritize your needs so that you love yourself.
  8. Ask yourself who is the best version of your most authentic self and what do you need to grow into this best version of your authentic self (your authentic self is not what others want or tell you to be, but who you truly feel you are).
  9. Ask yourself who you want to be and why and then work on being that best version of yourself.
  10. Write down things that would make you happy and what it would look like, these are things you are projecting onto other relationships, work on ways to emulate and be the very things you want.
  11. Go on a heroes journey where you discover your inner worth and value and cultivate that feeling, those feelings are your weapons against negative thinking and breaking the pattern.
  12. Figure out your Life’s Purpose with This handy reflective Test (The One Question).
  13. If possible choose your company wisely, be picky and selective on the people you surround yourself with; this is especially important in the beginning of the practice, as the voices of others can sometimes set you back, if you can’t change your surroundings, then be selective about the thoughts you let hold weight and be ever vigilant about doing things that remind you of your inherent worth and value.
  14. Alternatively ask people to give constructive (meant to build you up) rather than destructive criticism (meant to devalue and break you down for their own sake); in cases where this is not possible a handy skill is to learn how to view the constructive criticism beneath the destructive words, use it to strengthen yourself. Dismiss anything said only to break you down and build themselves up.
  15. Seek counsel from those who love you and want the best for you, not themselves; sometimes this means seeking your own counsel.
  16. Make room for the people who will value, and cherish you. This is important especially in the beginning, it is important to be careful as to not attach or depend on the whims of other people cherishing you or not as their opinions could change today or tomorrow based on something you said or didn’t say that lined or didn’t line up with your beliefs. Your love and worth in yourself has to be strong as people who value you today may not value you tomorrow, but your love and care for yourself with practice can remain constant.
  17. Be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day, everything takes time!
  18. Create a daily meditation or Practice on things you can do each day to cultivate love for yourself and others
  19. Take it easy on yourself, do your best on any given day.
  20. Forgive yourself.
  21. Practice seeing abundance, joy and love in all things.
  22. Practice Metta meditation and Tonglen, these are great although difficult practices that revolve around cultivating joy for others, breathing in sadness and breathing out love. With time it gets easier.
  23. Find ways to be happy that is not dependent on anyone or thing but on things that you can do.
  24. Cultivate unwavering self-love.
  25. Imagine the happiness of those around you, smile for them, and then, imagine happiness in your life and smile for you.
  26. Realize that there is peace and even love in solitude too.

Below are some books I will be recommending, but if you don’t get a chance to buy or read them don’t worry, we’ll be talking about them in weeks to come.

Books:

  1. The Way To Love, Anthony De Mello
  2. The Four Agreements,
    Don miguel ruiz
  3. Positive Solitude, Rae Andre

Free Online Resource.

  1. VIA Institute of Character
  2. The One Question

Other Articles and discussions on Mudita:

  1. Be Happy For Others
  2. Mudita
  3. Mudita: The Buddha’s Teaching On Selfish Joy

Guided Meditation on Forgiveness and Self-Love:

  1. Meditation Oasis: Podcasts
  2. Self-forgiveness meditation, by Jack Kornfield
  3. Self-Love Heart Meditation, Andrew Weil
  4. Thich Nhat Hanh, The End of Suffering
  5. Meditation Forgiveness, soul-link productions

Other Resources for Inspiration and thought:

  1. View On Buddhism: Guilt
  2. Heroes Journey, Character is a vital lie, Shots of Awe
  3. The Ancient Heart Of Forgiveness
  4. 12 Principles Of Forgiveness