Joy, Love & Consciousness Among All Creatures

Aquinas connects joy to consciousness when he says, “God is supremely joyful and therefore supremely conscious.” 

Mother and son at play. Photo by Saradhi Photography on Unsplash

Is that your experience too, that consciousness and joy go together?  That joy expands your consciousness and ignites it and sustains it when times are hard?  And when joy rises in you there is an expansion of awareness and consciousness?

And that being around people at joy, celebrating with them, brings consciousness and awareness alive?  That joyful people make good friends?

Is this one more reason why effective ceremonies and rituals are so important for our survival?  African ritualist Malidoma Some used to say that “there is no community without rituals.”  Maybe that is another way of saying, “there is no community without the sharing of joy.”  And “there is no community if we are not expanding our consciousness.” And “consciousness and joy expand when we celebrate in community.” 

CNN‘s Brian Todd reports from the steps of the Supreme Court, June 26, 2015, as same-sex marriage advocates celebrate the historic Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which now faces challenges at the state level.

“Love is the cause of joy” says Aquinas.  “Everyone takes joy in their beloved [for] love and joy constitute the basis of all attraction—love is the origin and joy is the end result.” 

He maintains that “the only person who truly has joy is one who lives in love.”  A call to love is a call to joy.

Joy and love go together.  Where there is love, there is joy.  Where there is joy, there is love.  Joy flows from love.  And joy wakens people to love. 

In yesterday’s DM, I asked the question whether all beings are joyful.  Thomas Merton says that “every non-two-legged creature is a saint.”  If that is the case, and if joy is a certain sign of holiness, then it would seem that all creatures are joyful or seeking to be joyful.

Sarah van Herpt, Animals Asia‘s Senior Bear Team Manger at our Vietnam rescue centre, describes the very first time she participated in the rescue of a moon bear from a bile farm. Up to 400 bears still await rescue today.

Certainly other beings bestow joy on us if we let them into our lives and consciousness.  Maybe a sparsity of joy is one of the biggest prices we paid when we cut ourselves off from other creatures in the modern era due to species narcissism and enlightenment superiority complexes. 

Maybe that has contributed vastly to the degradation of Mother Earth and her creatures and habitats suffering so severely today. 

This is not all bad news, however, for it points to the way out of our folly—and to greater joy and sharing with other creatures to the extent that we wake up and recognize their holiness among us.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 33-38. 

And from Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 118-120.

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

Banner Image: Elephant caresses, La Palmyre, Les Mathes, France. Photo by Anaïs Buan on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Is it your experience that joy is “the end result of love”?  What follows from that in making room for joy in our hearts and society?

Recommended Reading

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

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

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10 thoughts on “Joy, Love & Consciousness Among All Creatures”

  1. Avatar

    Something I wrote today to post to another sharing group. Joy is the blissful experience of love, born of the marriage to love.
    “We Find Our New Life”

    We can sit and contemplate, maybe in ‘blissful ignorance’ or in the ‘blissful presence’ itself. To embrace change is to come to a place where the ‘source of change’, the deep nature of our true existence, places its arms out to us with a loving and lasting embrace. Existence, our true nature, continues to tell us, speak to us, shout out to us, whisper to us, to leave something behind for something better. And there is a reward, a treasure, a love everlasting, a peace everlasting, a joy everlasting, even in the midst of our trials and our pains.

    What we are, what we have, what we be, cannot be denied to us. Like a marriage where we step down the aisle, ‘we find our spouse to embrace’ and to have and to hold from this day forward. When we walk down the aisle we look forward and don’t look back on our old lives. What is new, what is lovely, what is to be an exciting journey, lies ahead at the altar where ‘we find our new life’. — BB.

    P.S. As I sit here in contemplation and write, a ‘wave of loving embrace’ has come over me. Amen.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Recently, there was a documentary that was aired on TV, which revealed a beautiful story regarding the words of truth written of within the title of today’s DM… “Joy, Love and Consciousness Among ALL Creatures.”

    There were a group of scientists doing field work study in the Arctic on whales. One starry, moonlit night there were two whales off in the distance. The scientists decided to play some soft music out into the atmosphere. The two whales drew closer and began to sound along. Then more whales appeared, arriving out of the dark sea, until there where a group of 20 or so… all joining in joyfully sounding with the music.

    The scientists there, in that sacred moment, experienced an overwhelming sense of joy and love… and their conscious awareness of all creatures interconnections and interrelationships that they personally encountered; changed and expanded their hearts, minds and souls forever. Truly this was a divine and holy moment that brought much joy and love to God the Creator as well. Just watching this precious gift unfold through their filmed documentry, filled and expanded me in a similar way. It brought to memory, my own encounter with a whale, which I was 100 feet away from one misty morning, as I sat silently on the shores of an inlet bay in BC.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Thank you for your comment. I, too, love Whales and have been privileged to spend time with them.
      Thanks for the mention of the Documentary. I have been searching with no luck. If you recall the name, please share with us.
      One of my favorites about the love, strong bond, challenge and JOY of Nature – Whale, the deep Spiritual messages about the oneness of the Cosmos and the Cosmos’ challenge of ancient ways of the Maori people, is the movie Whale Rider. The Cosmic challenge to patriarchal cultural beliefs, blessed a Grandfather with a change of heart, opening to great Joy steeped in deep love!
      Thank you for your heart touching sharing.

  3. Avatar

    Of course the institutional “church” (temple, etc) has attempted to create rituals which have become stagnant instead of living. To me the very best ritual is to sit with another (or others) in intimacy and talk story, in the speaking and listening we experience the presence of JOY Themselves.

    }:- a.m.

    Hoofnote: and this can mean animals, plants and even rocks…

    1. Avatar

      I agree. Partaking in ritual joy within the small, casual moments of sacred wonder and in the “everyday” expressions of love and friendship: these are joy-celebrations often overlooked in our daily rush and in our fixation on media as our sources of interest/entertainment. We tell ourselves to look for earth-shaking rapture (like we see in the movies!) and then walk right past chances to playfully celebrate in “small” acts of love and kindness with our loved ones, friends, and others around us. And yes, animals, trees, flowers, and rocks, all are participants in the dance of celebration.

      We may not always be able to find the joy in our lives; life is hard and we travel down many painful roads. But knowing and reminding ourselves that these momentary gifts of joy are potentially accessible, even when things in life are hitting the fan, reminds us that under the crashing waters of our lives there is always and forever the core of God’s love and joy. Sometimes, these are the most blessed sips of joy.

  4. Avatar

    I love all the stories spoken here today! Knowing we have this in common gives me such joy and hope!
    Yes I know it can change lives because it has changed mine and yours. If we keep witnessing this truth to one another {like we are here today} get the word out…how Our Creator and Creation is gifting us this Joy and Love, in the very gift of our own lives, human beings and creatures will instinctively respond and be transformed in the Joy. Imagine we can transform the world one act of Joy at a time! Let the people know! Our world needs healing. I want nothing more than to know this and do this! We are just like the whales who when hearing the Beauty of Song, given to them, feel Joy and participate in it. Let this be our calling. Release our control and surrender to the flow of Love. That will Heal Us.
    Thank you Matthew for the Song you put out into the world and to All of you for inspiring me to participate with your Joy.

  5. Avatar
    Olive Bolivar

    You only have to watch a raven tumbling through the air for fun, or dolphins flying through the water on a bow wake, or kittens ambushing one another or one of us, or calves kicking up their heels on a warm morning—you only have to see such things to know that we are One and that all creatures experience Joy.
    I think Joy can only be understood in tandem with Love.
    You can’t have one without the other.

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