In this redesigned edition of his 1984 work, Robert Elwood, the former professor of religion and author of over 20 books, examines the life-enhancing and liberating aspects of deep joy. This spiritual practice lies behind the expression of love, compassion, gratitude, hope, and play. As the author points out, joy can be appreciated in physical movement, life energy, sense awareness, memory and mind, creativity, and our spontaneousness.
For Elwood, this spiritual quality is all encompassing: "Joy or something like it must pervade the vast universe as a whole. The wheeling of the planets around the sun, the rush of the galaxies over the horizon of visible space and time, the spin of electrons all seem like the joy we feel when we whirl around at the behest of national forces swinging, diving, riding a merry-go-round." Discovering joy for ourselves is a life-long mission drawing out our wonder and curiosity.
Elwood celebrates the lives and works of three saints who demonstrated "a bright joyousness of spirit": the Sufi mystic and poet Rabi'a; Pu Tai, the tenth-century Chinese Buddhist monk who was the original of the well-known fat-bellied "laughing Buddha"; and St. Seraphim of Sarov, the Russian Orthodox lover of God. Reading about the many avenues to deep joy, we realize that it can be a linchpin of the spiritual life where balance and contentment go hand in hand together.