Sunday, March 16, 2008

Follow Your Bliss Like Joseph Campbell

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion." But just what is it that he suggests we scatter around? What role does joy play in our lives and what does it mean to you?

Hasidism emphasizes joy as a precondition to elevated spiritual awareness, and teaches the avoidance of melancholy at all costs. The consciousness of a loving, ever-present Creator should lead to a feeling of profound joy. Therefore the appropriate mood for worship is one of good cheer; whereas suffering impedes a proper relationship with God.

Joseph Campbell, contemporary theologian and best known for his study of mythology, tells his students, "Follow your bliss. Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it. Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word "Sat" means being. "Chi" means consciousness. "Ananda" means bliss or rapture. I thought, 'I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.' I think it worked.

Bliss, joy and rapture seem to be interchangeable when they are associated with higher consciousness. The change in state of consciousness in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam is reported to be quite similar. The pursuit of yoga and the Buddhist Jhanas involve feelings of oneness with the world that give rise to a state of rapture. Christians also look at creation another way from the standpoint of Christ consciousness, rather than considering creation and life from a material perspective. Experiencing God through Christ enables the unit mind to arrive gracefully at the source of thought, the pure consciousness of God where everything is united and one.

What do YOU think?

Artwork by Aerten Caislean Many thanks.


Dinesh said...

One can live like that when one is stable enough to take the worst, for example you give some one a night's lodging and he robs you of every thing, or you say some niceties to a passerby or a friend and he/ she insults you. In short you judge what is at stake, if you have nothing to loose, go ahead. Till such time it is a game of action, reaction going on endlessly.

I don't want to sound pessimistic, nor do I intend to quench your benevolent spirit.

Pat said...

When I outlined my concept of God being like a CPU, I noticed that God, as I'd defined Him, was, whilst completely unified, also found to be in three main divisions: our 4-D space-time, where we find our being, is like the memory aspect of the CPU, our consciousness was like the CPU's bus and the data space that holds the abstract concepts themselves and is where resides the mind of God. So there's a natural link between the three aspects of Sat-Chit-Ananda and the three aspects of a CPU. The Ananda is the data-space that forms the mind of God, so, of course, if you maintain your 'self' as consistent with the mind of God, you will be driven by what is blissful to you and you will pursue that which is your true purpose. In a very gnostic way, it can also be applied to the Trinity: the data-space is the Father, in which all things exist; the bus is The Son, without which our being cannot converse with the Father; and the Holy Spirit is the mode of energy with which we use to subsist in our 4-D world as memorable objects.

ornamentalmind said...

I can't remember if I have posted this Plotinus site here or not.

It is fairly insightful and addresses the, what I see as universal, triune. In this case, as "...a complex spiritual cosmology involving three hypostases: the One, the Intelligence, and the Soul. ..."

Travis said...

I think Douglas Adams said it best, “Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

Ginae said...

Well, here again (for *me*)...the tone of your message changes after the 1st paragraph.

SO, I'm going to focus on the 1st paragraph. What it feels is that Emerson is saying to find someone for whom it is obvious what their need is - then, fill that need and bask in your satisfaction and the delight that the recipient might have for that moment.

It's an all-encompassing quote. One that seems to say that joy comes from satisfaction and while there certainly *is* a joy that comes from satisfaction, *I* don't consider this the type of joy that is being described in subsequent paragraphs.

For me, a spiritual joy doesn't have an earthly equal or, logic, even.

And finally, I don't get the connection of a one-people joy. I'd *like* to, but I *don't*.

Rainer Gratz said...

Bliss is like an eternal wind. This wind can carry us to some of our dearest places, but only if we trust the wind. As long as we feel pain and terror in our souls, we suffer from injuries, which will fix us to the spot, where we are.

JM Sherer said...

I would say that spiritual joy, bliss, and rapture are motivated by one concept: Love. Thus serving as a point of connection between the first and subsequent paragraphs.

Vamadevananda said...

Thank you for the reminder, Molly ! Indeed.

It however is not ' Chi,' but ' Chit,' which consciousness or knowledge.

The other component in the realisation is ' Anant.' It means infinite i.e. homogeneous, unchanging, pervasive of all space and time, and beyond ... the One, without a second !

So, the realisation is Existence Infinite, Consciousness Infinite, Bliss Infinite. The finite bliss is joy ; joy materialised is pleasure. Finite existence is form - gross, subtle and causal. Finite consciousness is knowledge of form.

Realisation of finite fulness is better than no - fulness. But realisation of the fulness of infinite is supreme. It overwhelms you for ever !

kebelle said...

I am yet to read the book of Joseph Campbell that I just acquired in a local bookstore, "An Open Life."

Following bliss may mean doing what is the loving thing to do.

Charlie said...

Whatever any of you believe in; this is Holy Week even in Atheist Israel. 80% of Israel is Atheist. I was shocked when I visited last year. Have a Happy Easter--and think about the man who lived on earth, was crucified for "our sins" died; was resurrected and will come again.

Pat said...

You'll always have a better chance at finding 'the truth' when looking at things mystically. The various internal mystical aspects of the world's religions differ far less than their outer vestments would have us believe. Which is the sole reason I look at the mysticism of a religion first...and, usually, last. ;-)

Vamadevananda said...

Every time an innocent man is killed, tortured or otherwise incarcerated, anywhere in the world, I see it as same thing : as if he is paying for our ' sins.'

Molly Brogan said...

Triads are exquisite symbols and found in almost all mythologies. I like the idea of a simple feeling being the vehicle for transcendence. The message seems to be everywhere, and, as Vam and Charlie point out, tis the season to contemplate dying to be resurrected and become more...What role does joy have? Let's try it on and see.

Aerten said...

Something that seems true from my perspective is that bliss / joy / rapture is something most people are striving to achieve; it's not something people have right now. That would make bliss / joy / rapture future-based, when it's all meant to be felt NOW. It's not a matter of having bliss / joy / rapture... rather, it's BEING bliss / joy / rapture. The BEING makes it NOW.

And that's as profound as I can get this early in the morning. :) By the by, thanks for using my art for this post!

Molly Brogan said...

Your artwork is beautiful, Kelly. Thank YOU for your permission to use it. By the way, anyone who would like to see more of Kelly's inspirational artwork can follow this link: Enjoy!

Patrick said...

All of this sounds like a wonderful state to be in. But its kinda hard to do if you're cowering in a refugee tent wondering when the Janjaweed will come. Or in the throes of your final malaria attack. Or standing in line on a raw March night for a bunk in a shelter and maybe coffe and a sandwich to go with it.

Are you familar with Maslow's Hierachy of needs? Here's a link for more info: [] Basically he said: In order to attain self-actualization or fulfillment a criteria of needs must be met: physical safety, food, shelter, relationships and on up the ladder. Each levels builds on the foundation of the previous. The kicker is the process gets more complex and internally challenging as an individual progresses...but the rewards and benefits are greater and more profound.

And I personally feel one cannot achieve the highest level without helping others in their struggles to move up ladder. If for no other reason than it produces joy.

Damjan said...

Also pain and sorrow are a way to attain enlightenment. There are testimonies of people who were in great dispair (also in concentration camps) who in the mids of incredible suffering experienced a deep peace within themselves. Sometimes embracing the reality as it is, even if it looks terrible on the outwards can bring a realisation of what is or to say - connection with higher consciousness. This of course are isolated cases. On the other hand somebody with "good" circumstances can't achieve this state after many years of searching. I guess it is more about being than doing. But offcourse this is only my point of view and I respect all opinions.