While I can’t say there is standard evolution in how we experience bliss, I can suggest some of the broad points. This is because the world is expressed in layers, each a reflection of the prior that contains it. As we experience and then integrate each layer, that value of bliss becomes established. Even if we don’t experience it yet.
There are also gradations in how open we are to the experience. Even though we are integrating a given level, it may take several stages of surrender for the fullness of that bliss to be allowed. I touched on this in The Raptures.
For most of us, our first experiences of bliss are fleeting. An experience opens us up and we feel a wave of happiness washing over us. We may even surrender enough to touch pure love. This may happen listening to live music, creating art, watching a sunset, making love, or falling in love.
For those practicing an effortless meditation, they have a little more systematic way of experiencing bliss. Perhaps not frequent, but more often. This also brings us the reminder of how important it is to be rested for clarity. Fatigue tends to bring a fog to even the deepest experiences.
As I touched on in The Colour of the Dream, bliss is experienced when we return into mind from silent transcendence, when we cross the threshold with our attention. If we’re really clear, we may even notice the bliss going into silence.
Another lesson the transitory experience teaches us is not to hold on. While the high may lead to a big let down when it leaves, we slowly discover that the way to more is in release, not in trying to hold the experience.
We can for a time be swayed by the memory of an experience. This is fine as long as it doesn’t become an obsession. A memory is just a memory, a shadow of the experience.
All of these point to how it can be a trap. Unless we learn to let go, we will never keep it. The trick is not in establishing the bliss, but in establishing the silence. When we become that, the bliss comes with it. As always, the silent being is the key.
When we make the shift into awakening or Self Realization, there is the discovery “I am That”. We shift from being a person experiencing Self to Self experiencing a person. At first, the experience is often one of freedom and peace. Liberation! Then in time, as the physiology settles into the experience, the bliss begins to show through the clouds. Only now, not as a fleeting glimpse but as a backdrop to all experience. What the ancients call Sat Chit Ananda – absolute bliss consciousness dawns. But most remarkably, this is just the beginning.
As the perception further refines, we gradually begin to find that life itself is literally bliss. The life force driving us and all life into being and action is happiness itself.
During this phase, there can be deeply profound periods of almost overwhelming, rapturous happiness. Soon enough, we adapt and what was intense becomes normal. While events may still visit things on us that cause reactions like pain or anger, all of it takes place on a background of never-overshadowed, deepening happiness.
All of this greatly enhances our own healing and evolution. Far fewer boundaries exist to be surmounted. Far easier to release what remains.
On this platform, the divine begins to descend into our experience. The crust on the heart falls away, revealing the divine source within. Divine Love, the driver of bliss, begins to unfold in our experience. We begin to see (literally) life itself in all things. The lively bliss of life and the flow of love are visible all around us. We find ourselves in an ocean of love, together with all others.
Of course, you can see why a step by step process and integration is usually warranted. The idea is to make it real, not fall into ninny illusion.
In many ways, Divine Love and bliss are not really separate things but rather just interrelated expression. If we were to take a stream of life an an analogy, the flow of the stream is love, the ripples bliss. As usual, some experiences will be fleeting, then gradually integrated until they are always available to us with a simple shift of attention.
As unity begins to dawn and the core identity ends, the boundary between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ ends. There is just one continuum contained ‘within’. The world is all here. The inner bliss of life is now felt everywhere. The skin is no longer a boundary for feeling.
As the experience deepens further and we step into the depths of silence, we find the pure lively alertness, tickling our being. More deeply still, we find alertness and liveliness as separate qualities of Brahman. In that silence, the liveliness alone has a solidity to it. Bliss like concrete, unending and eternal…
Bliss is a very personal thing, an effect of our progress during times of clarity. Some are bliss cowboys/girls throughout the journey. Some find bliss fleeting yet progress step by step anyway. But at some point, for all of us, the clouds clear. The life of our being throbs in our veins and tickles our fancy. Where is suffering, whatever the pain, when we live in permanent happiness?
This is not a fairy story from a space cadet, although I have gotten that label before. (laughs) It is the direct experience of our essential nature. Life is bliss. It is our legacy and our birthright. And now we’re living in a time when we’ll come to know this for ourselves. A fine thing indeed.