A number of times here, I’ve written about the progressive unfolding of deeper bliss after Self Realization. Mature Self Realization is also called Nirvana or Sat Chit Ananda because it brings with it an unending happiness. Peace and contentment become the backdrop of life, whatever the style of life we live.
Note the word Unending – this isn’t happiness that ends the way pleasure or satisfaction soon fade. This is lasting. It remains, even when we experience passing anger or sadness. It comes with us as the lively inner surface of self-aware consciousness that observes all things.
But this lasting bliss doesn’t just turn on. It steps up in significant increments over time. These increases can sometimes come on as an unexpected and powerful rapture, an almost overwhelming blast of yet more intense happiness. As a few I know have joked, you hope these don’t happen in public. The intensity makes us prone to laugh out loud and weep.
But surprisingly quickly, that new volume level becomes the new normal. The intensity fades but the level of happiness does not. It becomes the new backdrop of day to day life. I can recall the body getting a bad cold but I didn’t notice because I felt great! Of course, that also indicated more integration was needed.
If this is not yet how Self Realization is unfolding, then there is likely some shadow to be cleared as yet. Bliss is not some concept or fantasy. The bliss body is part of our normal make-up, underlying the mental and intellect sheaths or layers. That value of our being is always with us. It is only for us to uncover it, to drop the veils. As we clear the fog in our emotional and mental layers, the bliss body becomes progressively more conscious. When the physiology is able to handle it, it amps up further.
The Taittiriya Upanishad speaks of it stepping up in 100x increments, if you can imagine what 100 times your current happiness would be like. I’ve mentioned the reference a number of times and thought it time to post a quote itself. Most translations I’ve seen are a little skewed so I’ve adapted a common one a little to help with clarity.
A few things to note:
– Notice how at each stage is the liberated sage. This is the person I describe above, gradually stepping up.
– “freed from desires” doesn’t mean without desire. It means free from attachment to desires and outcomes. Being happy for no reason certainly melts a lot of desires. But if we had no desires, we would cease acting and die. The closing of the Rig Veda outlines the fully enlightened being “full of desires”. They are simply not attached to them.
– this list is an exponential scale. 100 x 100 x 100 is 1 million. And that gets us to just the 4th level.
– the verses include a list of progressively higher beings but this list is not completely consistent with other Vedic texts. This is because of personalization and what the seer is conscious of at the time. You may also notice there’s a bit of overlap. The key points here are that it’s progressive and that humans can enjoy happiness greater than the gods.
– prior verses describe the prior koshas. This section is on the anandamaya kosha or bliss sheath.
Taittiriya Upanishad 2:8, also called the Brahmananda Valli or the discourse on the bliss of Brahman. This puts it to scale.
Now is an examination of Ananda (Bliss).
Consider a noble young man, who is well read (in the Veda), very swift, firm, and strong, and let the world be full of wealth for him. That is a measure of human bliss.
One hundred times this human bliss is the bliss of humans who have become Gandharvas (dwellers in the music loka or heaven), and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of human Gandharvas is the bliss of celestial-born Gandharvas, and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of celestial Gandharvas is the bliss of the Pitaras (Fathers or Manes) enjoying their long-enduring world, and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of the Fathers is the bliss of the Devas (light beings) born (as gods) in the Ajana heaven, and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of the Ajana Devas is the bliss of the sacrificial Devas (devas by merit obtained through yagya), and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of the sacrificial Devas is the bliss of the thirty-three Devas (the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati), and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of these Devas is the bliss of Indra (leader of the devas and lord of svar loka, the 3rd heaven), and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of Indra is the bliss of Brihaspati (lord of prayer and guru of the gods), and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of Brihaspati is the bliss of Prajapati (the creator), and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
One hundred times the bliss of Prajapati is the bliss of Brahman, and of a great sage who is freed from desires.
He who is This (Brahman) in man, and he who is That (Brahman) in the sun are one.
He who knows this reaches and comprehends the Self which consists of food, the Self which consists of breath, the Self which consists of mind, the Self which consists of understanding, and the Self which consists of bliss. [A summary of the first 5 koshas]
The third section of this Upanishad also speaks of bliss, including a previously cited quote.
I noticed some commentaries equated Brahman with hiranya garbha, the golden egg, our universe in seed form. This accurately associates the egg with Anandamaya kosha, the layer of creation in which it arises. However, to say Brahman is hiranya garbha is only as true as Brahman is Pluto. Everything is Brahman but also nothing. Brahman is also beyond all form.
Perhaps one day, I’ll update this with a better translation.