Joy. – The intense bliss, pervading the whole being, which follows on the assurance of salvation won, is independent of the dogmas or beliefs of those who have felt the disenchantment, passed through the struggle, and won the victory. We have undoubted and most interesting examples among the adherents of the most antagonistic forms of Christian belief. And Moslem Sufis and Buddhist Arahats have had the same experience. There are preserved in the canon two collections of the Songs of the Elders, ascribed respectively to one hundred and seven men and seventy-three women who became Arahats in the life-time of the Buddha. They are, with a very few exceptions, paeans of joy and victory. They have, unfortunately, not been translated as yet into English [Editor: several translations do now exist]; but the spirit they breathe is shown in the following prose passage. [Taken from my Dialogues of the Buddha, vol. i. p. 84.] After pointing out that the Hindrances (Nivarana) – sensuality, ill-will, torpor of mind or body, worry, and wavering – affect a man like debt, disease, imprisonment, slavery, and anxiety – it goes on:-
‘When these five Hindrances have been put away within him, he looks upon himself as freed from debt, rid of disease, out of jail, a free man, and secure. And gladness springs up within him on his realising that, and joy arises to him thus gladdened, and so rejoicing all his frame becomes at ease, and being thus at ease he is pervaded with a sense of peace, and in that peace his heart is stayed.’
“… Our deeds follow us from afar,
And what we have been makes us what we are.”
Fellowship with the Lovely
Thus have I heard. Once the Exalted One was staying among the Sakyans at Sakkara, a Sakyan township.
Then the venerable Ananda came to the Exalted One, saluted Him, and sat down at one side. So seated, the venerable Ananda said this:
‘The half of the holy life, Lord, it is the friendship with what is lovely, association with what is lovely, intimacy with what is lovely.’
‘Say not so, Ananda! Say not so, Ananda! It is the whole, not the half of the holy life. Of a brother so blessed with fellowship with what is lovely we may expect this, – that he will develop the Noble Eightfold Path, that he will make much of the Noble Eightfold Path.
And how, Ananda, does a brother so blessed develop and make much of the Noble Eightfold Path?
Herein, Ananda, he develops right view, which is based on detachment, on passionlessness, on cessation ; which is concerned with readiness for giving up. He develops right aim, which is so based and concerned : likewise right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation, which is based on detachment, on passionlessness, on cessation ; which is concerned with readiness for giving up.
That, Ananda, is how a brother blessed with friendship with what is lovely, association with what is lovely, intimacy with what is lovely, develops and makes much of the Noble Eightfold Path.
This is the Method, Ananda, by which you are to understand how the whole of this holy life consists in fellowship, association, intimacy with what is lovely. Truly, Ananda, beings liable to rebirth are liberated from rebirth ; beings liable to decay, liable to death, liable to grief, woe, lamentation, and despair are liberated therefrom because of my fellowship with what is lovely.
By the Method, Ananda, you are to understand that the whole of the holy life consists in fellowship with what is lovely, in association with what is lovely, in intimacy with what is lovely.’
(Excerpt from the Pali Canon: S.N. v. 2)