When we are kids, our parents read us ‘fairy’ stories about princes and princesses, white knights in unused armor, and happiness everlasting. The stories are a bit skewed by the message that someone or something else will come along and bring us happiness. Happiness and the damsel will be ours when we ride off into the sunset or move into the castle with the automatic garage door opener. Then we grow up and discover that Santa isn’t real. But the shadows of the stories remain as we seek our prince or house with the white picket fence. Or decide it was all a lie and all men are jerks.
This sense of shadow or story is a key feature of life with an ego. I talk about it regularly on this blog in places like this. Essentially, it is the story we wrote about ourselves and the world that we use to filter and judge everything we experience. It is the blueprint for our reactive mind. We develop this naturally as we mature in order to separate from the parent and become our own person. Only we tend to get stuck there in adulthood. Playing the fairy stories we’ve forgotten we even have, running our lives in a kind of zombie reaction to what seems to befall us. Its called suffering.
The story is not to blame. Thats just the tool of the ego. The ego is not to blame. Its just doing its job. There is no blame. There is simply a choice. A choice to begin observing how we are responding to our life. Just simple observation, without judging. That watching shifts us from ego mode to observer or witness mode. It steps us back into awareness a little more deeply. It steps us back from our apparent problems, giving us a little broader view.
Back in Deepest Being, I outlined the process by which being becomes. How our world comes to be. Yes, its another story, but its a lot better (laughs). When awareness becomes aware of Itself, it recognizes itself and that activates the flow, causes the movement of awareness within itself. It doesn’t really matter if you get that bit of abstraction. I’m just leading to a point. Awareness curving back on Itself creates a kind of ‘bubble’ of awareness, a gap or space. The inside surface of the bubble has a liveliness value we might describe as bliss.
Meditators experience this when they transcend into silence. Silence beyond awareness. As they move into and out of the silence, they cross this threshold of the bubble. Their awareness passes through bliss. They experience a wave of happiness if they’re clear enough to.
As outlined in Layers of Awakening and elsewhere here, after a time of increasing association with the observer, there is a switch in roles. We change from the individual experiencing silence, to the silence experiencing the individual. The dominant story about who we are is lost and we grow into oneness.
The notable thing about this first switch is the structure of awareness noted above. From the silence, we observe the world through the bliss and see the world arises from bliss. It moves into any number of forms and qualities, including things we might label “bad”. But the bliss remains.
As we are the observer, beneath the states of mind, awareness does not sleep, even in deepest sleep of the body and mind. The bliss remains.
After they have woken, people typically describe the experience as one of peace, or liberation, or inner happiness. Sometimes it can take a little time for clarity and still more time for the experience to fully round out until it is all those things, not part of.
The result is that we experience the world from an inner foundation of silence containing lively awareness. The surface of that liveliness is an abiding happiness, undisturbed by events of the world. We may become angry or sick, injured or exhausted, but still the happiness remains. Indeed, our life becomes the flow of happiness.
Curiously, it actually always has been. A person experiencing this may not be obvious at all because what changes has changed within. Like the old story – before enlightenment , chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water.
Only now, who carries the water has changed. And how they experience carrying the water as well. While the dream of the Prince may have failed us, the part about happiness everlasting doesn’t have to. The best part is that it doesn’t require a miracle or brave knight or fairy. All we need do is become who we already are. The who is already knocking at the door. We just need to open it. Of course, it may take a little bit of a quest to find the door behind the shadow. But isn’t that the best part of the story?