We continue to hear how we are in a time of shifting paradigms. A time in which we are recognizing our intrinsic connection to the Earth, each other, and all Life. I believe that we are collectively on a course to answer the most important question of our lives; "who am I?" How we answer this question is the basis for every choice we make; for every thought we have.
Although we may not be conscious of how at the most fundamental level of our being, we answer this question, it still determines every thought we have. Beneath the level of thought is what I call the "petri dish" of our existence. At this primal level of our being, we hold the existential belief of who we are. Out of this belief we determine every choice we make.
Setting Our Course
As very young children we made significant decisions in relationship to the main authorities in our lives (generally, our parents). These decisions were based on the degree to which we were loved and accepted as the unique, naturally gifted and beautiful beings we are. Each decision was a "brush stroke" in the creation of a "picture" that we painted. This "picture" became our own self image.
With parents who were in conflict we may have made decisions about how to behave in order to be safe. These decisions lead us away from our natural state of authenticity and spontaneity, to believing that we had to determine our life's course based on perceived circumstances. We shifted from an internally, freedom-based, pro-active reality to an externally based, re-active existence. Our natural state is experienced as "us as Life" or "us with Life", our reactive state is experienced as "us as separate from Life"; an existence of struggle, which is how most of us live.
How to return to the freedom and spontaneity of our True Self?
Beyond (or behind) the perceived struggle there is an awareness that has always watched our thoughts and the drama of our lives. It's like a movie screen in a theater upon which the movie is projected. Although the movie is cast upon it, it remains free from what is projected upon it. The drama has all kinds of characters, activities and perspectives, yet the "screen" is none of these. This "witness" (as it is called in Eastern Mysticism) watches our thoughts, emotions and even our dreams. I consider this "witness" our doorway to The Infinite Life
At age 15, I met an enlightened Being, Swami Muktananda. Three days into my visit with him I had the direct experience of my truest Self, beyond this still witness. I was joyfully chanting away, my arms swaying, my whole being uplifted. In an instant, the borders of my being dissolved; no body to confine me or separate me; no three-dimensional reality whatsoever. Distance disappeared; no here, no there. Time dissolved; no sense of before or after. This experience was of an eternal Now and an Infinity without measure. This was accompanied by a Joy that had no bounds. Free of thought; completely still, I was not separate or alone. Only our minds conjure up the thought that we're alone.
Thought free, infinitely blissful, transcendent of everything, at one point I had the thought "this is great!"
At that very moment this experience began to "shrink". Over the next few hours I became more identified with my thoughts and body. Although, I remember being in the lunch line and still being so blissed out that I hugged a pillar next to me! Even the pillar was a part of the Oneness.
I learned that that experience is called "Satchitananda". "Sat" means Existence Absolute. "Chit" means awareness of this Existence. "Ananda" is infinite bliss. Great! I now had a name for what I had identified as my truest Self.
How do we return to that experience?
I love to quote Joseph Campbell's pithy, poignant, phrase; "Follow Your Bliss". Like the bumper sticker says: "If it ain't fun, don't do it". Following our bliss invites us to recognize what we love to do.
It invites us to reflect on where we're struggling in our lives and why we're perpetuating struggle.
Having this phrase as a guiding light, my entire life has changed. I do work that I love, I live with people that I love, and have learned how to return to love when I have entered conflict.
Follow your bliss long enough, and your life becomes filled with inspiration and passion.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
Harold Thurman Whitman
What's Your Bliss?
By the way, I'm hosting an evening of chanting at my home/studio tomorrow evening and
will be playing with Jaya Lakshmi next Tuesday evening (8/20), at The Dhyana Center. Peace.