Bliss is the whole picture, not just the bubble

Bliss is the whole picture, not just the bubble

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?

What does it feel like when identified as a separate self?



Since it can be so fascinating to attempt to describe what it feels like when one realizes Oneness, let’s go in the opposite direction.

What does it feel like when I’m identified as a separate self?

  1.  It feels like I’m a person in a separate body with separate thoughts and separate feelings.
  2.  It feels like I am the thinker.  A thought flits through the brain and it seems to come from me.
  3. It feels like the sensations which arise are actually mine. They hurt, they please.  They are joyful or angry or sad. And they seem to be mine.
  4. The focus is on the individual.  The barn across the street is something other. So is the dog and my best friend and enemy.  Shapes and forms seem to divide the world into me and otherness.
  5. Wants and aversions arise.  A strong inner energy dictates life along these lines.  Addictions or compulsions often appear.
  6. Issues of control occur regularly.  The separate self thinks it can dictate reality.  Or, conversely, it feels helpless because it can’t quit an addictive habit.  It’s all about attempting to control what arises.
  7. Much of attention identifies with thoughts.  The thought-world is perceived as real.  Awareness of the now comes and goes.  Much of attention relates to the dream-world of mental and emotional activity.
  8. One argues with reality.  Thoughts delineate and attempt to disparage other thoughts.  Things are labeled “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad”.
  9. Love, when it arises, often associates with how it relates to the separate self.  Love is not unconditional.  It seems connected to preconceived perceptions.  It is not universal.
  10. A lot of energy is spent propping up and defending the individual.  It’s easy to feel threatened.  Fear operates often as a background software operating system, sometimes not even consciously.
  11. Doing seems very important.  Not-doing often appears as a threat, an empty hole into which one might disappear.
  12. Life sometimes seems a series of problems which must be solved through thought.  Emotions are seen as reliable indicators of what to do next.  Emotions are sometimes perceived to be what one actually is.
  13. Being is seen as nothing important.  It is often not even noticed.
  14. Drama periodically reigns, either internally or externally.  Emotional, mental and physical pain may arise.  Great delight and happiness also arises, although it’s often attached to an external stimuli.  Something often appears to cause to the joy.
  15. It seems necessary to fix oneself, to make oneself more acceptable to self or others.
  16. One tells a lot of stories about oneself and actually believes them.

Just noticing today how I feel when identified as a separate self. Even though intellectually I might remember or recognize Oneness, it’s still not available as a moment-to-moment recognition. It is available when the I remembers to look. Then it sees that it’s immediate, always here, never inaccessible.