Thursday Thought, etc.
by Libby Jennison
Mudita is a teaching of the Buddha, and much like its more well known sister teaching of Metta, or loving kindness, it is primarily concerned with how we relate to others.
Natasha Jackson wrote a beautiful essay titled, ‘Unselfish Joy: A Neglected Virtue’ where she describes it as its most base understanding, “as sympathy towards mankind,”. However, she further refines this going so far as to say that Mudita is necessary before one can cultivate Metta, loving kindness towards oneself and others. Sympathy here, however, has a slight different connotation than, perhaps, we are used to knowing it. Sympathy is evoked in the concern for the well being of another, and is not tied strictly to situations in which we feel bad, leading to Karuna, or compassion. The less known side of sympathy is when we experience concern for another and their well being, but it is joyful. Seeing a friend do well, succeed, have good fortune… whatever the case, we must choose sincere unselfish joy.
As a mother, I reflect on Mudita often. My son is young, and this teaching comes very hard at his age. But as he grows, I want not to forget it’s value. Just as we aim to teach our children and ourselves compassion and loving kindness toward others, we must also remember Mudita, and practice radical unselfish joy for other’s good fortunes that befall them.