Ven. Nyanaponika Thera
Contemplation on The Four Sublime States
3. Sympathetic joy (mudita)
Not only to compassion, but also to joy with others open your heart!
Small, indeed, is the share of happiness and joy allotted to beings! Wherever a little happiness comes to them, then you may rejoice that at least one ray of joy has pierced through the darkness of their lives, and dispelled the grey and gloomy mist that enwraps their hearts.
Your life will gain in joy by sharing the happiness of others as if it were yours. Did you never observe how in moments of happiness men’s features change and become bright with joy? Did you never notice how joy rouses men to noble aspirations and deeds, exceeding their normal capacity? Did not such experience fill your own heart with joyful bliss? It is in your power to increase such experience of sympathetic joy, by producing happiness in others, by bringing them joy and solace.
Let us teach real joy to men! Many have unlearned it. Life, though full of woe, holds also sources of happiness and joy, unknown to most. Let us teach people to seek and to find real joy within themselves and to rejoice with the joy to others! Let us teach them to unfold their joy to ever sublimer heights!
Noble and sublime joy is not foreign to the Teaching of the Enlightened One. Wrongly the Buddha’s Teaching is sometimes consid-ered to be a doctrine diffusing melancholy. Far from it: the Dhamma leads step by step to an ever purer and loftier happiness.
Noble and sublime joy is a helper on the path to the extinction of suffering. Not he who is depressed by grief, but one possessed of joy finds that serene calmness leading to a contemplative state of mind. And only a mind serene and collected is able to gain the liberating wisdom.
The more sublime and noble the joy of others is, the more justified will be our own sympathetic joy. A cause for our joy with others is their noble life securing them happiness here and in lives hereafter. A still nobler cause for our joy with others is their faith in the Dhamma, their understanding of the Dhamma, their following the Dhamma. Let us give them the help of the Dhamma! Let us strive to become more and more able ourselves to render such help!
Sympathetic joy that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest joy.
And what is the highest manifestation of sympathetic joy? To show to the world the path leading to the end of suffering, the path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.