Friday, February 21, 2014

Relative Bliss

I've been thinking about bliss -- how it arises and how it makes you want to go back and repeat an experience in which it arose.

The most blissful thing that happens in a lifetime is when the mind lets go and one moves into a deeper place.  In that place, there is a feeling of expansion -- often it is as though the "me" disappears entirely; other times, it seems as though one merges with others.  However it is perceived, when the ordinary, thought-orientation returns, there is a flattening out of feeling and a desire to re-experience the event that seemed to cause the bliss.

From one perspective, as many teachers have pointed out, such a happening is not really an experience at all, because "experience" is what the mind creates after the fact, the story it tells about what happened.  And there has to be a "me" having the experience, so when the "me" disappears, technically speaking, there is no experience, just pure Being.

Like most people, I've wanted to re-"experience" that bliss, but found that it wasn't really possible.  In fact, dropping the self became less and less spectacular, and less blissful.  So, I've been thinking about how this all works.

It must be that emotional categories, such as "bliss," work relative to what else has happened to one previously.  So the very first time the self drops away, there is this accompanying ecstasy which, it is assumed, will always arise in that circumstance. So we start to chase the circumstance.  (I say "we" because I've heard many people say this -- it's not just my experience.)  But each time the self drops, the mind expands and it never quite goes back to the same contraction it was in initially, so the next time, there is less of a contrast.  And each time less of a contrast.  One still notices when there is that shift, but the shift becomes much more subtle.

It's a lot like an orgasm, in that sense.  The very first time -- wow -- could anything ever be so good?  Has anyone ever experienced anything like this in the history of the planet?  But by the hundredth time?  Well, all in all, you're glad it happened; hopefully you're glad you shared it with someone you love -- but it's not life-changing.

So whatever the source of the bliss, I think it works like that.  Bliss is relative to what we've experienced so far.  It's the difference the mind notices between the ordinary state of existence and the extraordinary.  And the more often what was extraordinary happens, the less extraordinary -- and therefore the less blissful -- it seems.

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