In his book, The World Could Be Otherwise, Norman Fischer describes joyful effort, one of the great perfections of the Mahayna Buddhist path. The phrase can seem puzzling; we don't necessarily associate joy with work.

Fischer observes that we can cultivate another way of seeing who we are, like having another kind of eye that

...sees our extraordinary human potential. It sees that we have the buoyant strength to go on making effort in this endless path of universal awakening, and that we do this together.

This week, we used VOICE (Voice Of Innate Clarity Exercise) to dive into our capacity for joyful effort. Here are a few notes from our exploration:

Voice of Effort

What do you do?

Make an effort.

What are some other names for you?

  • Work
  • Exertion
  • Trying
  • Labour

Where do you make an effort?

  • Becoming or staying aware
  • Computer programming
  • Relationships

What do you feel like in the body?

  • Tension
  • Energy
  • Aliveness

How are you related to others? To the whole of life?

  • Can work with others if they are aligned with *my* goals!
  • Can be part of a team trained to work together (rowing, military)
  • Generally better on my own

What is your purpose?

  • Achieve or accomplish a goal set by the self

What do you offer the self?

  • Everything that doesn't just land in her lap (and even some of that, from previous effort)

What is the opposite of you?

- Laziness

What does the self think about you? Society?

  • Sometimes proud of what I've accomplished
  • Sometimes blames me for a bad outcome when the whole thing was his idea!

Advice for the self?

  • Relax once in a while

Voice of Joy

What do you do?

Be joyful.

What are some other names for you?

  • Delight
  • Bliss
  • Pleasure

When are you most likely to appear?

  • In connection with others - friends, lovers, children, animals

What do you feel like in the body?

  • Light
  • Infinite

How are you related to tenderness?

  • Tenderness often, maybe always, is part of me.

What is your relationship to others? To wholeness?

  • Joy does not belong to a person, to the self, I am part of of the whole that each can experience

Advice to the self

  • Slow down

Voice of Joyful Effort

The self has a hard time seeing these two words fit together, but for me (Joyful Effort) it's simple. I know that applying my efforts for the benefit of the whole, to others, brings joy. That joy provides the lift and energy I can use to apply more effort. A virtuous circle!

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