Joy: The Reason for Our Existence?

For weeks we have been approaching the vital topic of a healthier masculinity so that we can have a healthier culture—one that provides  some hope for the survival of our endangered species and many of the marvelous species with whom we share this planet.  Most of these species are far older than us and welcomed us in their way when we arrived, assisting us in our eagerness to survive.

A 10th-century Irish monk celebrates the similarity between his cat’s and his own occupations in “Pangur Ban.” Video by Igguhs.

We owe them.  We owe them our gratitude and respect.

Gratitude.  Two days ago we meditated on Joy as Thich Naht Hanh, Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Berry teach it.  Aquinas actually gives us the reason for the universe as he sees it and for him, the universe exists because of Joy.  This is built into his statement that “Sheer Joy is God’s and this demands companionship.”

Who wants to celebrate joy alone?  It is built into Joy to share it, to spread it, to bring it alive in others.  It lies at the basis of community and community making.  To do ritual or ceremony is to gather the joy of the community, thus multiplying the joy.  Spiritual gifts, unlike material ones, are multiplied by sharing them.

A Look at the Role and Symbolism of Bees in Ancient Celtic Societies. Video by GaelicTales.

We exist because Divinity wanted company.  We are part of that company, that beauty, that community of beings that make beauty and joy together.  We exist to receive and to share the joy. 

Joy and gratitude go together.  This is one reason Aquinas says that authentic religion “is supreme thankfulness or gratitude.”  Do we feel invited to supreme thankfulness or gratitude?  Do we feel it is a privilege to be here?  After a 13.8 billion year journey that has unfolded into two trillion galaxies, here we are.  A curious and brilliant and also wounded and wounding species, Mother Earth still cares for us.  Are we grateful?  Are we joyful?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 33-44.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Happy Three.” Photo by Joseph d’Mello on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Make a list of how other species have rendered our existence possible.  Now thank them.

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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6 thoughts on “Joy: The Reason for Our Existence?”

  1. Avatar

    Healing the woundedness of separation from the whole/from God, answering the unspoken call of souls trained into submission by pain and fear, the radiant joy and radically inclusive embrace of mystical experience is offered by God as the gift of so many things: healing instruction, guiding beacon, challenging enigma, universal message, and humbling reminder of humans existing in a vast and glorious composition, a loving embrace of All to all. We should be deeply grateful to God for this gift that was given to all humanity. Give thanks for the compass built into us that points us to Truth.
    And give thanks for all those past mystics from many lands and cultures who conveyed so many nuances and insights while preserving the message for us. We are the lucky recipients of this incredible heritage. Give thanks for their timeless reminder to see the world from a far grander, more inclusive, more egalitarian perspective than we ordinarily cling to with our little monkey-brains.
    Give thanks for the astonishing variety of beings, animals, plants, planets and universe, coexisting in the web of Awareness with us. When we open ourselves to share in that web, we are welcomed with Joy.

  2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Melinda, You conclude your comment with the exhortation, “Give thanks for the astonishing variety of beings, animals, plants, planets and universe, coexisting in the web of Awareness with us. When we open ourselves to share in that web, we are welcomed with Joy.” And to this I might add the famous words of Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you pray in your entire life is ‘Thank You,’ that would suffice.”

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