WARNING! THIS MAY BE OFFENSIVE to those with inflexible opinions.
Do you interpret ‘Follow Your Bliss’ to mean,
‘seek after and repeat the behavior which you perceive is the cause of your bliss’?
This is probably the most common interpretation, and as interpretations go, it appears valid and applicable to the statement at hand. Whether this view is sustainable or the end of the possibilities, I guess time will tell.
Might there be another meaning or interpretation to this statement?
By now, if you have been reading my blogs, you can smell the setup. Yes, I am driving you to step outside of a popular notion and entertain your capacity to think in an alternative way.
What if instead of identifying the behaviors that seem to cause bliss, and following through repeating those, we set out to observe bliss itself, and attentively follow it?
Could we take a position of observation to watch bliss as it moves and animates itself in our mind/body?
Could we notice the moment it emerges from the deep and unknown origin in our being, writhing and pulsing as it swells?
Could we not interfere with it as it reaches out from the core and begins to touch our nerves, cascading through body tissues to the farthest reaches of what we know of as our self?
Could we not interrupt bliss as it lives and breathes in us, and as all storms do, dissipates to the ordinary state of life?
Might ‘follow your bliss’ be more appropriately a literal recommendation? That is, to stay attentive and follow with a watchful gaze as bliss moves in and through you.
I was 21 years old when I first encountered Joseph Campbell’s famous saying. Being a huge fan of maximum pleasure, I was an easy sell for this commandment. Through all sorts of indulgence in substances and thrilling activities, I played the role to the ‘T’. It was a lot of fun, except for the wake of pain and unnecessary suffering that I participated in the name of ‘following my bliss’. This might be a catch-22 in the philosophy or it might be the ultimate cosmic joke. In order to ‘follow my bliss’ it was necessary to be ignorant to the pain and suffering. And in a tricky-trickster kind of way, I wonder if I had not played so fully the role of ‘bliss follower’, would I have the view I have of it today. I guess I will never know. These days I put no stake in bliss. I feel lucky if it arises, but I make no conscious effort to trigger it. I have come to see that ‘bliss’ has no ‘on button’ in the volitional sense. From my view, bliss moves itself, and sometimes it is on, and I watch it and try not to interfere. I take as much presence of attention as I can muster and ask lightly and gently to the source of all creation to take me deeper into self knowing.
Bliss and the Brain
Look at it, bliss, chemically speaking, is addictive! This is not a problem, and as far as addictions go, it is probably the most life affirmative on the list. But addiction is addiction, and addiction is habit. Habit causes neural patterns to become rigid, and rigid neural patterns tend us toward unconscious behavior. So, if you are following this delightful rhetoric, you will see that most of the time when we are engaged in behavior which we think is ‘causing our bliss’, we are likely not to be consciously present to enjoy the full capacity of what bliss has to offer.
Etymology of ‘Bliss’:
Comes through old english from the germanic origin “blithe” meaning: casual, indifferent, unconcerned, ignorant!
So it appears the saying, “ignorance is bliss” is no mere comparison, but a straight up literal statement.
If you are commanded to ‘follow your ignorance’, are you as apt to jump on the band-wagon of seekers of this mythos? My guess is the club would be a lot smaller. However, we might get more out of this commandment with the original meaning of ‘bliss’ in place. What would happen if out of following it skillfully, I were to come into an honest view of my ignorance and its effects on this body, this earth, and all the other beings sharing this experience of life? What affect would that have on me?
In order to do this, I might have to suffer some discomfort, maybe even a lot of discomfort. I’m not saying I want anyone to suffer needlessly. I’m saying as humans we are able and strong enough in ourselves to be honest about the nature of our life and the choices we make. I’m saying to be gentle with yourself and others. And, in summation of a most powerful Yoga text, the Bhagavad Gita:
Stop doing what you know you should not be doing and start doing what you know you should.
By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.