Meditation: Bubbling Up from Within, by Lama Catherine Jetsun Yeshe
I always associate delight with bubbles, for it seems to be a state that comes up from within, often as unexpected mirth. It makes me think of babies whose smiles and gurgles cause an almost magical apparition to take place. It is as if pure happiness shines forth from their tiny bodies. How blessed we feel when we are the receivers of such joy.
Dividing the word into syllables gives us: de light. ‘De’ means ‘of’ in French. So we might better think of delight meaning ‘producer of light’. That explains babies and us.
Delight seems to me to reference simplicity and newness, what Buddhists call ‘beginner’s mind’. When we are mired in book learning, we can become jaded; the world no longer seems fresh or exciting. Everything needs naming, identifying and cataloguing. We reduce the world to its components and think we have mastered it but perhaps something gets lost in the transaction.
I was fortunate to have a mother who turned us out of doors each summer in the country to explore unencumbered without any duty to learn anything. What we did in our play, however, was run free in the fields and ponds and barns of the neighbourhood looking, smelling, touching and tasting nature in all its un-named glory. What arose in me was a deep appreciation for the wonder of the world and a sense of awe at its majesty. Hours passed watching bubbles come from the mud in the ponds when you pushed a stick into it. The world stood still when the dragonflies hummed over the marsh marigolds in the early summer sun. Mother would wake us up with a thrill in her voice to hear the ‘spring chorus’ or to see a Luna moth stretched out on the screen door.
Delight was always present in my connection to the natural world and from that came a curiosity to understand how things worked, how they meshed, how they interacted. Learning through naming and cataloguing those things came later.
Within early or Nikaya Buddhism, the world, the passions, the body were all seen as hindrances to spiritual unfoldment. Inherently, they were bad and should be constrained and abandoned in order to awaken to the spiritual world. This idea is echoed in many places in the Christian, Muslim and Jain world view.
Within the Buddhist traditions, the rise of Vajrayana took a different tack. It embraced the idea of the bodhisattva who vows to continue to return life after life in order to help all beings emerge from suffering. Vajrayana is deeply life affirming. Delight in all the activities of the world becomes part of the recognition that Enlightenment is present inherently in all things, at all times. We are asked to shift our preoccupation with self-reference to care and concern for others. Once compassion predominates our world view, there is no reason to reject any of life. All becomes potentially sacred. That does not preclude wholesome moral conduct nor respect for the vows you and others have taken but it significantly allows us to participate fully in a meaningful life. Delight becomes part of this path, as we learn to celebrate the accomplishment of others, the beauty of the world and the incredible opportunity of this precious human birth.
Catherine Rathbun received her traditional teaching name, Lama Jetsun Yeshe, from Ven. Karma Thinley Rinpoche, a lineage master of the Sakya and Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, in 2002. She taught meditation at York University (1989 to 1997) and is the founding teacher at Friends of the Heart, a meditation centre in Toronto. With a background in dance — she was a member of the National Ballet Company of Canada from 1962 to 1963 — and a modern dance career in England (1967-69). She is the author of Developing the World Mind and Clear Heart, Open Mind, and is currently working on a new book called Waiting for Truffles: Meditations for Daily Living.