By Lynda Shadbolt
Published July 5, 2016
I am not a Buddhist but I like to learn about Buddhist practices that give me tools to live more skillfully in my life. I think we can all agree that if we have good conduct and offer good action into the world, the world is a better place for ourselves and the people around us. In the Buddhist tradition there is a series of teachings called brahmaviara, which are considered to be four sublime abidings or qualities to develop. These beautiful mental qualities that are helpful for us to develop are loving kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), equanimity (upekha) and appreciative joy (mudita).
“Mudita is a wonderful and skilful practice that helps to gladden and uplift our mind and is the simple act of rejoicing over our own and others’ blessings. This is the practice of mudita which the Buddha taught specifically for the overcoming of envy, jealousy and discontent,” says Frank Jude Boccio in the Yoga Journal.
The Dalai Lama speaks of mudita as a kind of “enlightened self-interest.” As he puts it, “there are so many people in this world that it’s simply reasonable to make their happiness as important as your own; if you can be happy when good things happen to others, your opportunities for delight are increased six billion to one.”
I had the fortune to experience a beautiful example of mudita on Canada Day in Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square at a Michael Franti and Spearhead concert. I’ve been playing Michael Franti music in my yoga classes for years and have always been inspired by his messages and his music. He cares about people and the planet and he travels the world using his music to share his messages. My friends and I arrived at the sold out concert venue a few minutes before the show began. I snuck up to the front and could see Michael backstage getting ready to go. As he came on to the stage the entire audience stood up and danced with him. No one sat down again for the rest of the evening.
Obviously many of these people had been to his show before and knew what to expect. Their appreciative joy at his arrival and show was magical. Michael and his band sang and danced about hope and community and love and they gave 100 per cent to the audience. And the audience gave back 110 per cent. And the joy continued to grow as the evening progressed. Michael moved through the audience singing and dancing and invited people onto the stage to dance with him (yes I got invited and was there with him). He brought up many children and a 85-year-old woman because she has attended seven of his concerts in Toronto. She said to him, “I keep coming back because you fill my soul.” She appreciates him, and he appreciates her. That’s the kind of world I want to live in where we all appreciate each other regardless of our differences. As Michael said at the end, there are seven billion ways to be happy. If you want to learn more about Michael check out www.michaelfranti.com.