I’ve spoken here before about how Life is literally Bliss – the very flow of life itself is profoundly blissful if we’re open to that. The Upanishads tell us we’re born of bliss. I’ve also indicated that the 5th kosha or sheath that surrounds our body is pure bliss, always present.
And yet if you read much current spiritual literature, you’ll hear about a lot of other features of awakening. Often bliss is missing. No talk of nirvana or ananda, except perhaps as a passing experience.
Some of this may be because the speaker doesn’t wish to culture idealistic ideas about awakening or an attachment to happiness. You have to go beyond happiness to awaken.
But there are also a lot of people who have had the initial shift but have not yet become well established or fully embodied in Self Realization. They’re not yet living Sat Chit Ananda – absolute bliss consciousness.
I’ve observed that many wake up with that sense of liberation or boundlessness and peace. The first is the most likely to be maintained, along with the consistent sense of an ever-awake observer. A deep sense of continuity, depending on how clearly they shift.
This may be accompanied by a sense of void or emptiness or a sense of fullness. Greater clarity often brings a greater sense of the lively potential in the openness.
The peace however may be disturbed when what has not been healed comes up for release. This process of winding down the old energetic baggage in the emotional and mental bodies often takes some time. It tends to peel off in progressively subtler layers and largely depends on the cleaning we’ve done prior. (both Atman and Sattva development are cumulative from lifetime to lifetime)
It’s only when enough of the baggage or fog is clear (or the dust settles enough) that the bliss can shine through from the 5th kosha. At first it may come and go as new clearing arises, yet more dust. But at some point, it becomes ongoing.
Notably, bliss is much more than “happiness”. When it first kicks in, it can be almost overwhelming and may trigger a big release. But surprisingly quickly, it becomes the new normal.
And then after a bit, it steps up to the next level. The Upanishads describe 10 layers of bliss, each exponentially greater than the previous. I’ve described this stepping up as a rapture and several teachers have joked that you better hope it doesn’t happen in public. And once again, very soon it is normal.
There can also be some further adaptation. It not only needs to be established but grounded in the body. Otherwise it can overshadow normal details of life. We can be so happy we don’t even notice the body is hungry or sick.
When well established, it’s dominance will shift around like anything else relative. But it will always be there in some value along with the awareness that contains it.
When there are major shifts, such as stages of consciousness, ones relationship to bliss also changes so there may be a loss of it for a time. This seems to be particularly in the Brahman shift when the intimacy of Unity falls away. We step out of Atman and thus shift from being bliss to containing it. Dissolution is necessary in any growth cycle for the new to arise. And then what is here can integrate.
When there is a clear, established platform again, the rich fullness returns – more potent than ever.