Monday, April 24, 2023

What is BLISS? What might be its relationship to DEATH?

Ananda members, communities and centers celebrated the ten-year anniversary of the passing of Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda (a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda). Each of the many celebrations included comments on the remarkable and tangible intensity of bliss manifested by "Swamiji" especially in the last many years of his life. (Paramhansa Yogananda responded to Swami's question about whether he, Swami Kriyananda, would find God in this life that "yes" he WOULD find God but that death would be the last sacrifice).

 But what is the BLISS that we so often reference and sometimes risk doing so blithely?

Consider the nature of God as Infinite Consciousness? Surely that which is INFINITE must include everything that would be needed or desired; it must be whole and complete in its Self. Being INFINITE it must surely be INFINITELY happy and content!

Only when BLISS takes on the appearance of form does it separate its Self and, being INFINITE, it has the ability to produce INFINITE variety. In taking on form, BLISS, being akin to white light, must needs take on the color and attributes of that form. The emotional state of sadness has the attribute of, well, sadness. Whatever BLISS it came from is obscured by this form. Rocks, also, don't seem especially BLISSFUL. And so on. The creation masks the experience of BLISS by its very "nature." (I suppose one might say that a painting masks the nature of the artist even as it might, to those with "eyes to see," reveal something about its creator.)

This is why all spiritual practices attempt to lead us away from our form--including our moods, desires, fears and little-self preoccupations--towards the ORIGIN or CENTER of our BEING where alone we can sip the nectar of BLISS. Every night in sleep we find hints of this BLISS because the body and personality slip away into a state devoid of these attributes. But while sleep may refresh, it cannot transform because it is a less than conscious state while BLISS is a super-conscious state.

Meditation is the most efficient and effective technique of stripping away the "natural turbulence" of the mind in order to peer behind the veil of form to experience the pure but also natural BLISS which is our true nature. As it says in the Old Testament of the Bible, "Be still and know that I AM GOD."

What occurred to me, however, is that there might be a relationship to the well established idea that one dies in order to go to heaven. Yogananda in promising to Swamiji that he would see God but that death would be his last sacrifice, added a tiny bit of substance to this well established view. If this has any element of truth, then why? I think it is obvious and simple: in shedding the mortal coil, our consciousness expands, even if not to Infinity, at least more broadly. Stripped of so much of the burden of ego and body preoccupations, many (not all) people enjoy a certain degree of joy and bliss in the after-death states.

Yogananda also told Swamiji that Swamiji's life would be one of intense activity......and.......meditation. Swamiji evidently did NOT have the karma, or better yet, the spiritual dharma, of being a monk in a Himalayan cave. Neither do most sincere spiritual seekers, these days, I might add. That "intense activity" may be, in Swamiji's case, deeply focused and deeply in tune with his guru, but for all that is was nonetheless ACTIVITY that, by definition, obscures the indwelling BLISS. Thus, having completed his dharma in service to the guru, Swamiji achieved MOKSHA: eternal bliss and soul freedom.

May BLISS be your guide,

Swami Hrimananda