A mystic and a materialist will both stub their toes if they kick a rock. But the mystic believes that the rock is a projection of a deeper reality, whilst a materialist believes that the rock is all there is–reality doesn’t go deeper than things.
To a materialist, clouds and mountains are no more than things, their beauty being beside the point. A newborn baby is a thing, too, its humanity being equally beside the point. In a world of things, there is no room for a loving intelligence known as God who presides over creation and gives it meaning.
Yet on the path to joy you discover that meaning is the very basis of life. A baby is a thing only in the most superficial sense. In reality a baby is a field of infinite potential expressing the highest intelligence in Nature. I don’t think of this as a mystical belief, but as a truth that lies deeper than the surface picture; where life looks like a stream of random physical events.
Meaning is born deep within. Spiritual optimism is also an inner experience. It is based on the love, beauty, creativity, and truth that a person discovers at the level of the soul.
When you explore yourself on the inner plane, you are working with intuition. It’s a common misconception that intuition is at odds with science. In truth, science and spirituality both depend upon intuition, for the greatest scientific discoveries are made through creative leaps, rather than by following a linear trail of established facts.
Adapted from Why Is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).