Happiness and Bliss
Everyone is seeking happiness - whether he sets up a company, is a suicide bomber, fights against hunger in the world or destroys nature. Spiritual seekers too want happiness – and, not any old worldly happiness. No, many spiritual seekers want bliss.
But what exactly is this bliss? Most would say, it is a sort of happiness, multiplied into something immeasurable. Generally bliss is thought of as the ultimative feeling of happiness.
From the position of the Advaita Vedanta both these are states. Actually the only difference is that the spiritual seeker who strives for bliss wants to have a higher-quality state than the common person.
Now it is true that all spiritual directions originating in the Himalayas region talk about bliss – including Advaita Vedanta: enlightenment ist he understanding, that one is Sat (existence) – Chit (consciousness) – Ananda (bliss).
Hearing this, the seeker of truth assumes that he must expand his consciousness to eventually become consciousness itself and that then the promised bliss will also occur. The last essay has dealt with consciousness in terms of Advaita Vedanta, and that one cannot expand it. Why one cannot expand it? Because everyone by his very nature IS consciousness and just has to recognise this simple fact.
The same is true about bliss/Ananda. Ananda is no state to be reached, as is the case with happiness that can be aspired to and increased by actions. Ananda/bliss is not a feeling either. Ananda is that which everyone by his very nature IS. If I feel something, whatever else it may be, by no means it is Ananda. Ananda is what I am.
Every seeker lives in a dual world: Here am I and there is that what I seek. I cannot avoid duality, even if it is Truth that I seek. The mind cannot rise above duality and there is no need for it to do so. It only has to recognise its limitations. These consist in its habit to make an object our of all and everybody. This habit is based on its experience of the dual world: I (subject) want a holiday trip (object). I (subject) don’t want environmental pollution (object). I (subject) want to be healthy (object) etc.
It is only natural that the Mind also applies this habit to seeking truth: I (subject) want the truth (object). I (subject) want to be conscious (object). I (subject) want bliss (object).
The problem is that what we seek in our quest for the truth is not an object - it is the subject.
As long as the mind seeks Sat – Chit – Ananda as an object, it will never find it because it is no object. Nevertheless, the Buddhi (the higher Mind) is able to assume that Sat – Chit – Ananda is the subject - something the seeker is from the very beginning. Then the Buddhi can start to investigate into the subject and to recognise it in its pure form - independent of objects. If this knowledge is complete, the search itself is complete.
It is relatively easy, meaning it is possible, to recognise that I am Sat, existence. Everybody knows that he IS, even if he may not know exactly what he is. If I set aside all attributes of myself that can be objectified, I eventually arrive at myself as the subject which is pure I-am-ness, pure existence.
It is more difficult to recognise that I am Chit, consciousness, because the mind needs to do more to distance itself from its habit to objectify. (I have written about this in March.)
To recognise that I am a bliss is the most difficult - partly, because we are so keen on it. We do not really want to question our idea, because without our idea of bliss, why go on the search at all?! Why should I want to find the Truth if I am not then blissful– at least not in the way that I have always imagined bliss?
What I must know is: It is not what I imagine it to be. Whenever I experience something that fits my idea of bliss, it is the best to note it and check it off. As it is definitely NOT Ananda, it can be ignored.
Only when the journey is complete I will know what Ananda actually is.
However, one can actively seek to know one’s own nature as Sat-Chit – existence-consciousness - whoever has recognised this need not worry about knowing Ananda. Sat-Chit-Ananda is indivisible. Ananda is part of the whole package - whoever recognises his true nature as existence-consciousness, will also recognise that he is bliss.
And then he is not troubled any more by the fact that bliss has nothing to do with feelings of happiness. Since who is interested in feelings of happiness if he knows that he is bliss?