Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice



Clouds cannot hide the sun forever; joy eventually breaks through. We discover joy in our friendships, in nature, in loving our family, in spontaneous humor, in delicious food, in meaningful and interesting work. In coming to know joy, we find the important distinction between pleasure and joy by examining their relationship with time. Pleasures always remain time-bound and fleeting, whereas joy transcends all boundaries. Pleasure often contains its opposite, as we dread losing the moment or the object of pleasure, or we desire more — a grasping laden with suffering. Standing as its own timeless quality, joy has no opposite.

In the spiritual path, we may enter true joy that can suffuse our entire life, creating a continuing background of natural and buoyant happiness. Such joy develops gradually over the years of inner work, although we may experience intense flashes of it. But as our contact with the eternal source of joy grows, we relinquish our fears of the inevitable end of every time-bound moment of pleasure, appreciating pleasures as they come, eschewing the endless quest for pleasure, and transforming pleasure into joy. The source of joy works both through and beyond our material pleasures. Even in the midst of pain, joy remains itself.

The simplest, most ordinary moments can reveal the spirited glow of a joyous world unbound. As our presence deepens, the veils of our perception grow translucent even before they dissolve altogether in our maturing soul. The consuming fire of total-hearted prayer and the hidden worlds of meditation bear unimaginable joy, surpassing all material pleasures. From those points of entry, joy works its way into the fabric of our life. Though sometimes considered a joyless enterprise, the spiritual path affords true joy where there was little or none. A few moments ecstasy in a lifetime of labor do not approach the ever-growing joy nurtured through persistent spiritual practice. Even a small portion of transformation, a slight loosening of the bonds of egoism, widens our context of spontaneous joy in life, in work, in family, in friends, in nature, and in the Source of all joy.


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