“The joy of Being is the joy of being conscious.” A New Earth, Tolle p. 300
I wanted to write a little gratitude post today about my cats. I mean, look at these two. Aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen? I love my cats, a lot. I felt especially grateful for them yesterday. They knew my girl wasn’t feeling well and closed ranks to keep an eye on her. (That’s Cinnamon on her lap in photo below.) We can always count on a pet to keep us company when we’re feeling down. I so dig that about my cats!
I remembered that Eckhart Tolle had written in A New Earth (I think) about pets and their power to raise our awareness, so I grabbed the book and tried to find the relevant section hoping to add some insight here. I fanned through the pages thinking the word “pet” or “cat” might jump out at me. Neither did. What did jump out at me though was “joy.”
Yes!, I thought. I’ll reread what Eckhart has to say about joy. My cats are one embodiment of joy in my life (except when they barf on the carpet), and joy is an important topic. It’s something I want to experience more of. Who doesn’t? And like most of the topics he covers, there’s more to joy than meets the eye. (I could probably read his book one hundred times and not understand all that Eckhart has to teach us, but I’ll keep trying.)
Here’s what caught my attention:
“Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you. The misperception that joy comes from what you do is normal, and it is also dangerous, because it creates the belief that joy is something that can be derived from something else, such as an activity or a thing. You then look to the world to bring you joy, happiness. But it cannot do that.”
I have no recollection of reading these words my first time through the book. I know I did because I underlined and circled them and drew an arrow pointing to the words “from something else.” Meaning, I had a sense of the truth of his words. I seek joy from external sources: people, places, possessions. Yes, I do. No wonder I end up disappointed and as Tolle says, frustrated. I’ve been looking for joy in the wrong place!
Tolle’s point is that to experience joy we must first be fully present. It isn’t the action, he says, that we enjoy, but the sense of aliveness that flows into it. “This is finding the joy of Being in what you are doing.” In other words, joy is already inside of us in unlimited supply. Many days this seems hard to believe. Plus, it means I have to take responsibility for myself. Ugh.
Here’s what’s great—I have to take responsibility for myself. I can make joy a habit. I have a path to follow, albeit a murky one, to bring more of something I want into my life.
Joy may not derive from any external source, but today, when Finn settled down on my lap for a nap, distractions slipped away from my mind. I became present to the softness of his fur, to feeling him inhale and exhale against my legs. Today, my cat activated my sense of aliveness and allowed joy to radiate through me. For that, I am grateful.
How do your pets help you experience joy?