… since there is no joy without God, but all joy is in God,
and God himself is wholly joy, it follows that the first speaker
said first and before anything else ‘God’.

The greatest love affair a person can experience is with God. When we begin to fall in love with God and start searching for our true self, the confirmation that we’re going in the right direction will be the amount of joy we feel in our hearts – a fountain of sparkling, radiant “life” that starts bursting through our broken self.

Pleasure and happiness are good things to experience, but joy far surpasses them. Nothing comes close: not sexual orgasms, superb food, high art, or incalculable wealth. That’s because no one can buy God or one’s true self. This is the “pearl” for which we should be willing to sell everything because, without joy, what’s the point of living, no matter how successful or famous we become? Joy is a dance with God that takes place in our hearts – a dance that, once begun, never ends.

The further along the path towards God and the true self you travel, the greater the feelings of joy you’ll experience. You can see it in faces of the “saved” – the saints and enlightened ones – who literally become suffused with radiant joy. When you’re overloaded with joy, when you simply can’t take a single drop more, what arrives next is ecstasy – when you feel as though you’re flying high above the ground. Ecstasy means “standing outside yourself,” while simultaneously remaining firmly grounded inside yourself.

Joy is experienced at the core of our being – in our heart of hearts – in our true self. Living in the spirit is like attending a wedding celebration that never ends. Jesus repeatedly used weddings and celebrations as metaphors: people are invited to a wedding, but fail to come; or they come, but aren’t properly dressed for the celebration – a celebration in which Jesus is turning water into wine – i.e., turning the material into the spiritual. Weddings symbolize hope for the new life that will be created by entering into this new relationship. The weddings and celebrations Jesus was referring to are the ones where you discover your true self and then decide to go on and “marry” God.

“No one knows the source of joy” says Rumi. Actually, we do know – joy comes from experiencing God. Happiness may arise from many different things, but joy derives solely from our relationship with God. In the material, once-born world, everyone strives for happiness, but it’s in the world of spirit that we find the true source of joy. We actually can measure the health of our relationship with God by the amount of joy in our lives. An objective test as to whether you’ve repented (i.e., turned to God) is whether you’ve fallen in love with God. If you’re still joyless after you think you’ve turned to God, then you haven’t, no matter how religious you might appear to be or think you are.

from “Diner Mystic”