The Paradox Of Joy

Suffering is an unavoidable fact of life.

We may try to ignore it, deny it, or run from it, but it will always find us in one way or another.

Joy, on the other hand, is guaranteed to no one.

It must be sought out.

The challenge we face is that with seeking comes the inherent risk of failure and, with failure comes suffering.

When we look for something, we may not find it.

When we reach for something, we may not grasp it.

When we cling to something, we may not keep it.

When we aspire to something, we may not become it.

When we attempt something, we may not succeed at it.

When we ask for something, we may be denied it.

None of this feels good.

Worse still, is that, all too often, we also experience suffering when we get exactly what we thought we wanted.

We suffer when we discover that it is not enough, that it did not alleviate our pain, satisfy our craving, or diminish our longing.

This is the paradox of joy.

We cannot experience joy if we do not seek it, but it cannot be found in that which is sought.

Joy does not exist in the outcome, but in the process of seeking itself, in the way we approach it, in the way move through it, and in who we become and what we experience because of it.

It is the process we must embrace, suffering and all.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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