No one can say that they do not exist. No one can experience nonexistence. Buddhists might argue with these statements, for they have much to say about nothing, sunyatah. Buddhists would argue for the joy of no self, as would some schools of Vedanta in a different way. Joy of Self was not written for these sects. It was written for those who sense that our individual existence is not something to do away with in the name of enlightenment. Joy of Self is about our identity in transcendence.
All of the major traditions of Eastern spirituality and many traditions of the West tell us in so many words that our present individual identity is based in material misidentification and is thereby false. What they do not tell us is what this book is about. They do not tell us that we have an individual identity to realize in transcendence once we have dissolved the false ego.
If the offer of material nature for lasting joy is but false advertising, seeing through this sham is to see deeply. If we move from negative numbers to zero, we will feel that we have progressed. The Buddhist notion of fullness in emptiness stops at zero. There is no doubt a fullness in realizing the emptiness of material life, but can we progress from zero to positive numbers? If so, we will have to look even more deeply into the mystery of our self. So doing, devotional Vedanta informs us that we can realize the joy of self, the pure self, free from the exploitation that is characteristic of the false self born of material identification.
This book is an introduction to the devotional Vedanta of Sri Caitanya, Gaudiya Vedanta. Sri Caitanya, the fifteenth-century Krsna avatara who personified a life of divine love, left in writing only eight Sanskrit stanzas. Yet his immediate followers churned these drops of nectar into an ocean of literature on divine love. This introductrion draws from their writings and the sacred literature of spiritual India such that anyone can gain a well-rounded acquaintance with the foundational philosophical principles of Gaudiya Vedanta and thus come to know of the potential for joy inherent in the self.