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Sunday, September 2, 2007

How Having Faith Can Lead You to Bliss

Right now, the word "faith" has a political association that I'd like to immediately dispatch. Let's just say that the faith I reference in this post's headline has more to do with the ability to trust in something you cannot objectively prove or know, whether that is a deity, an idea or yourself.

I'm thinking about this today because I go to a wonderful yoga studio every Sunday, and I find the connection with a larger force that one is meant to get in a church, but that I, personally, have rarely found there. To me, going to Sunday morning yoga is like going to church and getting all the things church is supposed to do for me, plus even more.

It doesn't really matter that I find this feeling at yoga. If it happens for you in church or during a walk in the woods, that is what I'm talking about. If you know where you get this feeling of connecting with a sense of purpose or awe that is larger than what you know empirically, objectively, good--keep going back to it. That is a place where your consciousness gets a tune-up, where your thoughts are least distorted, and where what you are meant for has the best chance of coming through. I'll talk more about the relationship between being, consciousness and bliss in a moment, but let me address how to get to this place if you're like I was several years ago, and you couldn't find that feeling.

For a very long while--for me, beginning in junior high till a few years post college--I could not summon that feeling of connection with something larger than myself. I had studied science extensively, and in my search for meaning, I found that somewhere along the way, science's objectivity (or its appearance of objectivity) became my Rosetta Stone. I dismissed all things that could not be submitted to the rigors of the scientific method, especially faith.

Long story short, through some very trying experiences, where I found my world turned upside down, I discovered that not only did I have seemingly limitless inner resources to draw from, but that life and people contained a mystery and a beauty that I could not explain but that I found inspiring. While I did not abandon science, considering it to this day as one of humanity's highest achievements, I expanded my outlook to include that which transcended explanation, duality, time. (OK, this is kind of a heavy post, I realize. Stick with me here for just a little while longer.)

When I realized that not only did I not have all the answers but that it was possible that there were some things beyond direct understanding, but maybe accessible through symbol, metaphor, myth, I began to find myself capable of taking leaps that before had seemed impossible.

It's like that scene in the Dagobah swamp where Yoda is trying to get Luke to lift the X-wing fighter out of the swamp. Luke tries to use the force, and eventually declares: "I can't. It's too big."

Then Yoda counters, in one of the most inspiring scenes ever filmed:
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
When I closed my eyes and believed, I succeeded. Nothing but faith could have gotten me to jump, but once I did, I succeeded, just as Yoda did in pulling the X-wing out of the swamp.

So back to cultivating faith. Joseph Campbell talks of how he came to the theory of following one's bliss, saying:
"...in Sanskrit, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: Sat, Chit, Ananda. The word 'Sat' means being. 'Chit' means consciousness. 'Ananda' means bliss or rapture. I thought, 'I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my eing is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to my rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being."
For those who are maybe less certain of what their bliss is, perhaps going though consciousness is a path toward bliss. I believe they are interrelated, and that finding something to believe in--whatever faith you can summon, in whatever form it comes--is a path to a consciousness that is open to finding bliss.

Whew. Again, kinda deep, but I hope something in here speaks to you, and gives you ideas for yet another path to finding your bliss.

Related posts:
Ask the Universe for Help in Finding Your Bliss

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You write: I had studied science extensively, and in my search for meaning, I found that somewhere along the way, science's objectivity (or its appearance of objectivity) became my Rosetta Stone.

I respond: In college I majored in Physics and Philosophy, honestly believing that if I mastered those subjects I would 'understand everything.' Not only did I graduate without gaining enlightenment, I also graduated without my sense of wonder. It was something I suppressed, traded away as being frivolous. I spent the next several years trying to force meaning out of those subjects, starting and stopping not one but three different Masters programs (two in Physics, one in Philosophy). The more I tried to force myself back to these sources for deeper meaning, the more unhappy I became. I was lost. It took years and some terrible experiences for me to understand that what I had lost was right here within me all along, if I just gave myself permission to look for it. The return to wonder brought me back to the sense of life as an amazing, ongoing, and complex experience.

Setting aside my worship of logic allowed me to acknowledge my emotions and my intuition. I found faith, not in Logic or God or the Universe, but in the idea that my meaning is here, with me. All I need to do is allow meaning to make itself manifest in whatever guise it sees fit.


As far as the 'appearance of objectivity' goes- this could be an entire conversation. The very questions that science asks are subjective, at least in the sense that a person poses the questions which science seeks to answer. And what is that but human subjectivity choosing the very trajectory of science itself?

- Erzsebet

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