Monday, June 22, 2015

Lost in Spiritual Bliss: Reclaiming Your Self From the Trap of Good Feelings

spiritual bliss, bliss, spiritual awakening, flowers, tree, blue sky
The big bang hits--or perhaps an understated shift that ripples profoundly, and you wake up. Life is no longer the same. One moment it was this way. The next moment everything was different, and for some of you, that opening of realization and clarity brings enormous spiritual bliss.

Now, I'm not talking about a good-feeling, spiritual high that lasts a few  hours or maybe days if that. I'm talking about the bliss state that can last weeks or months or even years. Yes, it can feel so good that you never want to come back down from it, and who would even think that there is something wrong? When so many traditions and spiritual people are saying that this is what you want, if you get it, why would you think to question it?

But the truth is that any human experience is transitory. The awakened self is no more aligned with blissful good feelings than with sad, dark nights (which often come after the bliss for a variety of reasons I'll talk about shortly). However, the human ego that wants to hold onto blissful feelings is very much at play, and it can cause a person to make a lot of poor choices and miss opportunities.

This is also a time of a lot of ungrounded mental truths. A truth understood only mentally such as "we are all love," is not understood at all. From this space of profound clarity come huge blindspots at the outset of awakening, and people often give up relationships, possessions, homes, jobs, and more to attain some type of purity that is unattainable (because we have always been pure consciousness and love). In an interesting way, these misunderstandings tend to lead towards the dark night and energy crashes where they can be illuminated, and the bliss state ends.

Ultimately, reclaiming yourself from the trap of spiritual bliss is about allowing yourself to experience it without holding on to it or turning it into anything more than another a human experience. Doing so will allow yourself to get out of the trap of good feelings and naturally bring about your next level of spiritual growth.

Stagnating in Bliss: How Can this Feeling Be Bad?

I know how counter-intuitive what I'm saying sounds. I know that a lot of people have been trying to achieve a constant good feeling such as bliss, and for those who awaken, here it suddenly is.

However, the number who spontaneously awaken are few. Much more common are all the people who have glimpses of awakening. These glimpses are like the shades in a room being momentarily drawn aside to let in the sunlight. Usually, those shades are soon drawn back, and the person goes back into the darkness of the unconscious ego. A spiritual awakening is like having all the lights turned on in the house.

Many people who have had glimpses are scrambling around trying to open the shades again instead of looking for that inner light switch they already have. And if someone who has had glimpses is so fortunate as to have that inner light switch flip, then that is grace indeed.

Glimpses of Awakening

But with that flipping of the switch, the light is simply on in the room. The trash that is in the house is revealed, and while some people try to accept this trash as beautiful from the space of bliss, they generally don't want to engage with it. They want to stay in this good feeling and not deal with their issues, so they'd prefer to climb up into the attic and stay in the high space while the plumbing leaks; termites are eating the house; and the foundation sinks into a swamp.

What does this look like in everyday terms? Primarily, people attempt to stay in spiritual bliss via avoidance. People avoid difficult situations and upsetting relationships to attempt to stay in this feeling. This is often when people start walking away from jobs, relationships, and more. They may want to run away to a spiritual retreat to be with other "like-minded" people, and this has some value to it. But we cannot be upset by others or "taken out of bliss" by the external world if we do not have some pain inside us to trigger upset. So avoiding life is in essence, avoiding ourselves and some of our most important life lessons, which is not what awakening is about.

Ultimately, awakening isn't about anything at all. The awakened space embraces all. But most people don't want to embrace all. They just want to feel good, and feeling blissful feels good. As such, people tend to avoid their inner work, avoid questioning ego assumptions, avoid looking at the physical realities around them in preference to spiritual ideals, and a whole lot of other avoidance in hopes that they can just feel this way all the time...which they ultimately can't.

The Ego's New Clothes: Blissful, Spiritual Ideas

The unconscious ego is always looking for a new mask. Spiritual ideas and beliefs are easily subverted into that mask for some people, and pretty soon, people have dressed themselves in a whole host of ideas that they don't full understand.

5 Ego Defenses and Traps You Need to Know

For instance, people say things that sound spiritual, but really aren't enlightened at all. They can be like:

Money is part of an unconscious paradigm that is corrupted. The divine provides for all of us, so I do not need money.

Or some such nonsense. Money is simply a tool, and it is equally part of the divine expression as any other means of providing for ourselves. Swearing off money will put you into a space of scarcity. Always remember that awakening does not reject one thing in this universe.

Not one.

Because so many of my spiritual brothers and sisters out there are not integrated in awakening, they see the truth that money has been used for ill-purpose and then blame the tool instead of the user. They also can't seem to love and appreciate that several billion people are successfully using money to exchange services, and they limit what ways they allow the divine to support them.

And money is only one of many places where spiritual truths are understood only as ideas and not embodied truths. Other things concern what people eat or how people attempt to live in loving kindness while ignoring that death and pain are also truths of this realm. There tends to be a large amount of unconscious preferencing for certain types of truths that might make us feel good and a rejection of a lot of other truths. This type of judgment is part of the ego, and for many people, the ego will continue to do this and be mostly hidden while the bliss state lasts.

The Bliss State Comes and Then It Goes

Ungrounded, Unclear, and Unable to Interact

One element for many people in bliss is a feeling of being full of love, but utterly unable to focus. This is a fun phase, and for those who like this feeling, it is deeply intoxicating. But it is a state that will not last, and it should not. The deeper you drop into yourself, the more clear, loving, and peaceful you are, but you probably won't feel it. This is the nature of integration. To have really high state experiences, you also need to have low states. That's a big piece of the experience of duality. As you become more attuned to your natural energy vibration, many people will stop having such wild swings because everything comes to a balanced inner harmony. To be sure, those initial wild energy swings are very much a part of many people's experiences as they work through issues. It makes a lot of people feel manic (but please don't consider this some kind of psychological diagnosis). I am merely pointing to the extremes on the emotional and energetic spectrum people feel when the floodgates open.

Avoiding life to try and stay in this bliss where you are somewhat non-functional isn't a tenable way to live life unless you are so fortunate as to have someone who wants to take care of you all the time. Some spiritual teachers seem to find a way to work this out, and so I am not saying that this is inherently bad. But if you are reading my blog, you are probably more like me and want to know how to live a stable, integrated, and fully engaged life that doesn't cut off and cut out other parts of life that might threaten this blissful feeling. The truly awakened spirit knows that nothing can ever threaten their consciousness...ever.

Which leads us to the core illusion around bliss.

People think the blissful state is the awakened state. 

It is not. 

Spiritual bliss is just one color among a multitude of colors on the canvas. The awakened state is the canvas. It has been there the whole time. It has held deeply traumatic and upsetting colors as well as boring colors (oh light tan, you are so dull) and stimulating colors. It has held everything. In awakening, we suddenly see past the colors we've been painting and notice this deeper truth. That's when the bliss state often first comes, although it can come at any time. But bliss is just an experience.

This Too Shall Pass

But with any human experience, the bliss state will pass. There's no need to hold on to it, although typically any active attempts to hold on make it go faster. The people who manage to stay here longer are usually more of the go-with-the-flow types who do not paddle their boats much if at all in the river of life. As the bliss state begins to pass, there often is a flipping of the coin. Where the ego self approved of the blissful feelings, the coin tends to flip to all the hidden traumas or pain in people. This stuff the ego doesn't approve of, and with that active disapproval and tendency, people start to pine for the bliss to come back. With that grasping and judgment of their experiences, people start to slide down the decline into the dark night of the soul.

The Dark Night of the Soul

In many respects, the dark night is bliss's twin and opposite. It also is in part born of the realm of ideas. Now, that things aren't going according to how a person wants them to go, the person is upset and choosing upset feelings. They probably have also finally started to deal with issues that are uncomfortable. Most people aren't allowing things to flow up, be seen and felt, and go out. In this phase, people go into active resistance rather, which is opposite to the passive allowance that ws going on during the bliss state. Both are not fully engaged with the truth of the moment, and where people typically have to grow is through allowing pain and letting go of good feelings. It's not always the case, but it is common.

And of course, the dark night and difficult issues will also pass. Everything is arising and passing away constantly, and the awakened self within you is fully engaged and also watching this unfolding dance of life.

Deepening Into Sustained Peace

One last thing to say about the dark night is that a lot of people do not traverse this space well. They try to fight their way through it instead of dissolving into it to learn from it and to learn about themselves. Many people will stop their spiritual growth and after a couple of horrendous years, things level out. As I said, all experiences come and go. But just like a flood that was not guided to help fertilize fields, some opportunities will not come back again. The moving of energy ignited by awakened awareness is a true gift, and if things are getting difficult, that energy is simply showing you how many blocks and issues you are holding within.

However, for those of you who have been sincere, you will find that "good feelings" evolve. The initial roller coaster of spiritual bliss subsides, although it may show up again from time to time. But the deepening of peace becomes the more dominant aspect of embodied awakening. We simply do not get upset and agitated by life's vagaries. Good things will come, and then they'll go. Good feelings will come, and then they'll go. The same goes for the bad. This is not a disinterest in life; this is a profound understanding of how life works. It is a profound understanding that true love embraces all as it is because there is no other choice, and that means embracing the whole lot of human suffering and agonizing darkness. We have no other choice. In our embrace, we can create change if we are called to do so, but we also realize how much suffering cannot be changed, at least not by our ideas that things should be otherwise. So suffering is loved too.

I know that last part is hard to believe. But it gets easier when you have loved your suffering. When you fully love every last bit of your suffering, see how you feel about suffering in the world and see what you do. You are very likely to have very different ideas surface from this deeper space of peace and love than you did initially while bliss was rolling around and your spiritual ideals were young and naive.

The Divine Awakened Awareness in All

I cannot say that being lost in bliss is bad. That is not the point of this post. I am simply pointing to other truths beyond it. I am pointing to the depth of awakened awareness that is in all things including when we're lost shortly after being found. That's the irony of how people can get lost in bliss; shortly after discovering the truth, they are lost once more. They think they have "it." But you can't have it. It has always been here. It is us. That "it" is love, is the divine, is consciousness. So we can never lose it. Even as we experience a whole host of human experiences, that it will always be with us, and the more we let go into it, the more we open to our divine nature and whatever paths we are meant to walk.
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