Monday, August 27, 2007

What is Bliss?

Prague sky
Originally uploaded by madame valentin
Joseph Campbell, whom I mentioned previously as a major influence on my life, wrote a lot about bliss.

In fact, it was through his writings that I came to understand the concept as he means it. Many people think of bliss as pleasure, especially as a kind of sensory experience. As in feeling "blissed out" after a massage, or a menu calling a cake "Chocolate Bliss."

And bliss can be pleasure, but in this case I'm referring to a more spiritual, less physical sort.

The two relate, though. Eating that cake, if you can forget about all the calories, can be such an intense experience that you momentarily forget yourself, and are transported outside yourself. The same thing with the massage. You are in your body, but your mind is clear, open, free from desire, pain, or stress.

Now, rather than catch tiny snippets of this in the form of temporary experiences, what if you could sustain this feeling, or something close to it, inside yourself at all times?

What if you could have that feeling emanating from within you out to the world, instead of paying the world to bring that feeling within you, to consume it?

The good news is, it is possible. I know firsthand that it is. The bad (or at least somewhat annoying) news is that you are the only one who can create that for yourself. It takes work, and you are the only one who can know what your own bliss is. Really. The only one.

Talking to friends and family can help, but they can only give you hints, and sometimes, if they are not truly in tune with you, can mislead you. They may not do this intentionally, but are rather projecting their own wishes and desires for you or themselves onto you.

But that's OK. Because you can find a way to listen to yourself and hear what it is you want. That's partly why I'm here. To teach you to pay attention, to listen, so that you can ignore the static and tune into your own wavelength.

Here are some of Campbell's words from an interview with Bill Moyers, in the book "The Power of Myth":

"Just sheer life cannot be said to have a purpose, because look at all the different purposes it has all over the place. But each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality.

"How do you do it? My answer is, 'Follow Your Bliss.' There's something inside you that knows when you're in the center, that knows when you're on the beam or off the beam.

"And if you get off the beam to earn money, you've lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don't get any money, you still have your bliss."

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