muditaṃ, rāhula, bhāvanaṃ bhāvehi. muditañhi te, rāhula, bhāvanaṃ bhāvayato yā arati sā pahīyissati.
“Develop the meditation of appreciation. For when you are developing the meditation of appreciation, resentment will be abandoned.”
In Buddhism, mudita is the quality of appreciative or empathetic joy, especially in the joy of others. Considered by some to be one of the most difficult brahmavihāras to cultivate, mudita requires strength to embody. Its meaning is hard to capture, and although “gladness” and “appreciation” come close, nothing can quite encapsulate the boundless joy it entails.
This joy is of the non-covetous kind, not the kind that is withheld and guarded possessively. In being an empathetic variety of joy, mudita is a boundless and immeasurable joy which is overflowing and naturally shared.
Increasingly in our world of scarcity, we tend to assume that joy is of a finite quantity, meaning there is only a limited amount of it to go around. In other words, if I am happy, that comes at the expense of others’ happiness. On the other hand, if my enemy is happy, that makes me unhappy. These are the assumptions under which people unfortunately operate in everyday life.
Contrary to all this, mudita is the sharing of limitless joy. Given that there are 7 billion people on the planet, and their joy can be ours too, there is more than enough joy to go around. Joy, in actuality, can never truly be depleted. We may experience cycles of joy and disappointment in our individual lives, but no one can take joy away from us. When we can tap into the joy of others, the joy of the seven billion other humans on this planet, we are never without it. Thus arises boundless mudita, finding joy in the joy of others.
Mudita involves the ability to find joy in the joy of others, to delight in the joy of others, to rejoice in the joy of others.
There is no reason we cannot enjoy the joy of others, participating in their joy as if it were our own, thereby joining others in the experience of infinitely available joy.