On Bliss

On Bliss

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.

Last Updated on January 29, 2017 by Davidya

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  1. R.

    Thank you for your article. It is helpful — but for me, it does not yet provide a complete understanding of my experience of bliss. As you say, discussion of bliss is often missing in awakening literature or forums. Yet bliss, for me, has been a dominant aspect of my journey.

    For some time, 20 plus years, I have had access to deep bliss. It usually is always there in background, regardless, it’s always accessible. When I place my attention on it, it can become intense, like a glowing steel furnace.

    It’s like a light with dimmer switch, I can modulate it from moderate to intense levels. It’s like folding light into itself, the light reflects within itself, and magnifies many times over.

    There can be a corresponding opening of the heart during this “process”.

    Not clear on what this was in the larger context of my path, I put this bliss process on the shelf for years, though it has always been available.

    More recently, I have decided to work with it, to culture it, to sustain high levels of this radiating bliss even amid disquieting mindstates and sensory activity. It is sort of a process of dyeing the cloth of bliss.

    I can function in the world with this bliss, though at intense levels, it’s best if I am isolated (There can be some intense smiling, some shaking, deep breaths, etc.).

    I often do a sort of brisk, walking meditation of intense bliss where I simply burn away thoughts and concerns in my mind and emotions. It seems to penetrate to deep levels, clearing out past tendencies, lesser habits, triggers and ingrained responses.

    I can intensify the bliss to a degree that it feels like I can light up everything I can see — and perhaps beyond — in bliss — as if I could set my world ablaze in a golden light of bliss.

    In this process, I come to understand that the bliss is significantly more substantive than the content of any mindstate. The bliss intensifies, or at least highlights, focus on and absorption within the present moment. I have come to realize that living this bliss in the present is as good as it gets — that is, it is the real source of happiness and satisfaction relative to chasing various experiences and accomplishments.

    My identity lies in the bliss when it is “glowing”. However, if I leave the bliss in the background, my smaller local, mental, emotional identification processes regain some power.

    Is this the bliss kosha or ananda of satchitananda, or something else?

    What is the role and relationship of this experience relative to the various stages and attributes or awakening that you have outlined elsewhere?

    Any insights and clarifications will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi R
      Thanks for sharing. You raise many excellent points. Lets see if we can do them justice in a comment.

      First off, yes this is ananda and the bliss kosha but it’s not necessarily satchitananada. The later is 3 things together – the absolute, awake consciousness, and bliss. This is a way to describe an established awakening or Self Realization.

      You don’t mention your path but typically this kind of experience arises when there has been good prior life development of clarity or sattva. This leads to access and awareness of finer levels.

      If you think of it like layers, you can put your attention on the emotions and they grow stronger. You can put your attention on the mind and it will become more dominant. And you can put your attention on bliss and it will rise to the foreground. But as bliss is deeper and more universal, it is more powerful than the prior levels.

      We can say it’s closer to source so more powerful and substantive. But as it’s also more universal, your glowing acts like a lighthouse on the world around you.

      Bliss is always there with everyone but for most people it is masked under the noise of the mind and emotions.

      It’s useful to note that there’s a lot more there than just bliss. This level is also known as Ritam Bhara Pragyan, that consciousness which accepts only truth. It is the platform for cognition. However, that talent probably requires the resolute intellect, a quality of Self Realization.

      And yes, life goes in cycles where things move to the background while other things move forward for a while.

      I would suggest what you’re doing is excellent. Just be sure to balance the practice with activity in the world so the opening is integrated and you remain grounded and functional.

      And yes, bliss (and love) is very curative. It’s very easy for past unresolved pains to be washed by bliss and dissolve. It is a good source of happiness.

      However, it’s not as good as it gets. It’s excellent but there’s exponentially more. But we have to prepare the ground to be able to support that.

      Bliss itself is actually pink. The gold is sattva or clarity, the liveliness of life.

      For most, bliss comes in earnest after Self Realization is well established if there is a refinement process underway. Without that, substantive bliss may never arise which is a pity. But there are some rare souls for which bliss arises prior to awakening. This is of considerable benefit for both happiness and healing. And it’s becoming a little more common as group consciousness rises.

      If you’ve not yet woken, you may want to explore ways to encourage that. Being around the awake can be beneficial.

      I trust this helps address some of your questions.

  2. R.

    Thank you for your response. It is helpful. You raise many points that have either provided clarification, triggered some better understanding within myself, and/or raised more questions. I thought it may be easier and more effective to respond in sections.

    I ask the following not out of idle curiosity, but for the practical (related to practice) reason of understanding the structure and mechanics of my experience.

    You commented:

    “First off, yes this is ananda and the bliss kosha” “
    “but it’s not necessarily satchitananada.”
    “ The later is 3 things together – the absolute, awake consciousness, and bliss.”

    I am trying to better understand the difference between Ananda/bliss kosha (AK) and SatChitAnanada (SCA). As you point out, AK is absent Sat and Chit. Yet how can one of the three be isolated? In that, as I understand it, SCA is ONE, not three. They are “three sides” of the same coin – to bend a popular analogy.

    Or is the ananda of AK a diluted form of Ananda in SCA?
    Perhaps the AK is a sort of filter, or perhaps selective reflector.

    Light may be an analogy – though light has always been a bit of a paradox for me. An apple is red because all the other colors are absorbed by the apple, and red is reflected. That is, the apple itself, in terms of the colors it absorbs as part of itself, is “not red”, it is everything BUT red.

    In this same way, does the AK absorb Sat and Chit and reflect Ananda? Or, inversely, does the AK absorb Ananda and reflect Sat and Chit?

    Or neither, that is, does AK selectively filter out, but not absorb, Sat and Chit and only lets Ananda pass through to be experienced at this level? Does the kosha reflect Sat and Chit back into itself, but Ananda is not? If so, this seems asymmetric.

    Experientially, my experience of Bliss is not devoid of Beingness and Awareness. My experience, as best as I can describe it, may be roughly analogous light passing through space. We don’t see the light until an object is placed in its path. However, the light is still there in space. That is, experientially, the bliss seems to be swimming (I know, mixed metaphors) in the field of Awareness. Bliss shows up more brightly perhaps because it is bouncing off, reflecting off the AK.

    However, to say that bliss is there by itself, without Awareness seems (from experience) to be nonsensical. Bliss is an “attribute” of Awareness, Bliss can’t exist without the (bright) light of Awareness. (“attribute” is a limited way of describing it, because it implies limits and change, which do not appear to be the case here.)

    In the same vein, experientially, Awareness is not found devoid of Existence. Its like space, in that nothing in the world can exist without space, but we often forget about space even though it is pervasive and foundational.

    These thoughts give rise to a clearer path of practice. That is, as I have been putting attention on Bliss, I can likewise put attention on Awareness and Existence that “underlie” or more accurately, are an integral part of the Bliss — yet less obvious, and can be overlooked.

    1. My apologies. I just found your comment in the trash. Likely some word you used it didn’t like.

      OK – sat chit ananda is a stage of development, a way of being that encompasses those 3 characteristics as a living, ongoing reality. I equate it with established Self Realization.

      Koshas are part of our structure. We all have a bliss kosha or sheath. Most people don’t experience this much though as our mental and emotional koshas are fogged up my unresolved experiences.

      Sat and chit relate to the 6th and 7th koshas so we could say sat chit ananda is established in the 3 subtle koshas (rather then the grosser ones) but thats a little too limiting a box. SCA is much bigger than a sheath as all 3 levels are universal and infinite.

      Some people become settled in Self Realization but don’t experience bliss, usually because there is still some shadow in play. They’re not likely to have refined perception either for the same reasons.

      It varies widely where people are clear and where they’re not.

      I wouldn’t take the colour analogy too deeply. Our perception of how perception works varies by stage of development. For example, in Unity, we are the apple so putting our attention on it enlivens its qualities and they’re experienced. This is all in consciousness. No photons required.

      Interesting analogy of light in space. The qualities get stronger and more dominant as they get more deeply established.

      But yes we can call bliss the lively inner surface of self-aware consciousness. So its non-separate from it. And there is no bliss if there is no awareness. We can call it an attribute too.

      Yes, awareness and existence are intertwined. Existence is not present unless we’re aware of being. However, there are later post-consciousness stages where there can be awareness without existence so I wouldn’t consider that an absolute.

      Yes, its useful to put attention on these fundamental qualities but be careful about trying to overthink it. Mind wants to understand but we can take it too far into fixed concepts that get in the way of further unfolding.

      See it as a working model to be adjusted as new experiences unfold. 🙂

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