One of the side-effects of spiritual awareness or realization is that one can sometimes experience delightful states of bliss.
The heart opens, the mind feels clear and relatively quiet, the body relaxes. Ahhhh, bliss!
I used to think that bliss equaled a state of spiritual “arrival”. I also thought that it would stay forevermore, the ending of a happily-ever-after story.
What seems to happen is that a pervasive feeling of joy does exist beneath the busy planning, judging, figuring-out mind. Joy does seem to be what *aliveness* feels like. When the preoccupation with “me” quiets or ceases this natural state often surfaces. It’s the spark of life moving, shining, illuminating, loving. It feels like happiness, but it’s really not associated to external circumstances. It’s an inside job, a shining flashlight of awareness, illuminating everything internal and external.
When the “me” story lessened, even for a short time, I used to experience a sense of deep peace. Other times it felt like ho-hum emptiness. Kind of boring. Kind of like nothing joyful was arising. I often pondered: Where was the joy? C’mon, bring on some Yogi Juice!
Sometimes a glimpse of uncaused joy would arise, but it never stayed around. It was seen that the joy was Life itself, moving in the stillness of awareness. A sense of BEING life accompanied it. It flooded the body with bliss.
And then it would move on to something else. Life isn’t stagnant. One moment it’s joy. Then it’s despair, peace, what’s-for-dinner? and maybe a flash of anger.
Last week bliss visited for the entire week. Joy set itself as the background. It felt amazing. This time, though, the mind didn’t think: Can this last forever? It knew that something else would flow into the next undulating moment. Maybe it would feel good; maybe it wouldn’t.
What seems to stop the bliss? An unexamined thought. A belief which isn’t true. A mental and emotional story filled with shards of pain or rejection. Pushing away of the moment.
So, in the next moment, the spiritual journey becomes meeting this arising thought, belief or story. Ahhh, here you are, dear little girl who still seems to want or need approval. And that’s the next moment. That’s what is important to be with. Not to cling to yesterday’s bliss, but to say “hello” to what is arising next, whether it be death or injury or sad tears. To accompany the little girl without falling into yet another story of her inner tragedy or blaming John,Sue or Sally for her woes. To feel her pain without medicating it with compulsion. (And, if I choose to medicate it with too much email or cookies–being with that in an open-hearted way.)
It’s all life. And what are we but life? The “I” is just beginning to relax into this, the turning of the wheel of karma. Life breathes. It opens, it closes. It’s as wide and blissful as an ocean, then it’s as narrow and constricted as a fussy grandma in a wheelchair. It’s breath flowing in, then flowing out. It’s a bubble in a stream and–pop!–it’s gone.
What’s next? Who cares? When delight or curiosity in the next moment exists (even if it’s the hardest moment of one’s life) then that’s Presence realizing itself, isn’t it?