July 20, 2023
Follow Your Bliss?
We’ve all heard the expression, “Follow your bliss.” Usually, this means that if you find the work that you are truly meant to do in this life, you will find meaning and happiness and fulfill your life’s purpose. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Who could argue with this? In fact, it sounds like such wonderful sage advice, no wonder many of us have sought to follow our bliss by finding the work that will bring us perfect meaning and joy–bliss. However, there are a couple of problems with this approach.First, what if you don’t find and perform that special and perfect work? Will you have failed miserably in your life? Will you have neither bliss nor the meaning you were born to experience? Could it be that the very purpose of your life will go unrealized? Yikes! That’s not a very reassuring thought. It fact, it is downright anxiety-provoking–the dark underbelly of the seeming wisdom of “follow your bliss.” A second issue I have with this saying, which at first sounds so positive and reassuring as to be axiomatic: Following your bliss is not the way to actual bliss. The truth is you ARE bliss. Don’t take my word for it: you can experience this. The core of your being is divine, is all bliss, pure joy, absolute fulfillment. You do not need to DO anything to experience that. You only need to BE. You do not need to find a certain work to validate your existence; your Being is self-validating, whatever you do, in any situation, in every moment. There is perfection. You need only be fully present to this reality of Being, of the precious gift of this moment, this moment, this moment… Then you discover that existence itself is bliss. Of course that’s where meditation comes in. We are so habitually caught up in DOING that we make the mistake of thinking that only doing will bring us fulfillment. That’s simply wrong. In fact, absolute fulfillment can’t come by doing, because there’s always a limit to what we can do and accomplish. For this reason, action can ONLY bring limited fulfillment. No matter how much you achieve in this life, no matter how good you may look to others, as you approach your end, you will know that you could have done more, and you will likely reassure yourself that such is the nature of human life–which is, of course, true! In other words, in that moment, as you approach your end, you will understand the truth: You simply can’t gain absolute fulfillment through action. It won’t happen. Absolute fulfillment, bliss, comes only by Being. Being is unlimited. It is Infinite. Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek the work in this world that brings you joy, that allows you a range of creative self-expression. But don’t rely on finding that work to validate your life. Every breath, every perception, every moment is a great gift; live in that Reality, and you are living your bliss, not following a promise of it. And yes, living this does take more than a little reprogramming, because we are so habitually engaged in doing, not being. This is why I strongly recommend regular meditation retreats. They are a chance to cease doing for a few days, and dive DEEP into Being. They allow you to discover where your bliss really lies–within you! It’s already there. You’ve simply been ignoring it. That’s why there is a saying in India that for a person to seek happiness is like a fish in a lake seeking a drink of water, complaining that it is dying of thirst. Your nature is Bliss, the nature of life itself is bliss; no seeking is needed. I invite you to join me for my next meditation retreat on beautiful San Juan Island in Washington State, September 12 – 15. Please come, and discover for yourself the bliss that is your very nature. If you must follow your bliss, follow it to your Self! To find out more, go to https://ajayan.com/meditation-open-heart/.
“Though I’ve meditated for years, he answered so simply all my questions. I loved it!” — J. Agama Tylor