“I have heard it said that… at the intersection of existence, awareness, and bliss, all divisions will disappear… I look forward to that state.”
Kumud Ajmani, a good friend and moderator of a Sunday morning group called Spirit Chat for the past 12 years, offered that up to the group last Sunday. It is from a distillation of the Sat-chitta-ananda / existence-awareness-bliss principle mentioned in many different ways in the Vedanta scriptures…
Wouldn’t we all look forward to that state? Why not? Some are more invested in dividing than uniting so better we leave them and move on without continuing to try and convince them there’s a better way. After years spent in endless conversations, it appears they are either unwilling or incapable of changing minds or direction so perhaps better to invest time, energy, and activity elsewhere.
What does the intersection of existence, awareness, and bliss look like? I will touch on each of those for what they mean to me at this moment in time and then see how they coalesce. Each of my three, brief observations is more questions than answers. My hope is they will lead you to further thought, consideration, and musings of your own. They are merely pebbles dropped into our mutual pond of pondering.
Who are we, our being human at this stage of an overload of information, rampant technology, global concerns, a burgeoning population, crises du jour, and our individual lives? We can look at both sides, the negative and destructive forces and the positive side of constructive actions. What about our relationships with all of that and with one another? What position do we occupy in this story and how does that define our existence?
We are creatures in this ongoing drama of creation who can become co-creators in the next stage of evolution, perhaps that suggested by Wangari Maathai when she said:
“ We have choices about whether or not we will invest in a new level of conscious intentions, deliberate and dedicated focus on common concerns, or whether we will leave it to others and hope for the best.”
This is our existence as I see it now, at this intersection of which path to take and where, when, how, and why we will make commitments to act on what we believe to be of utmost importance, our highest priorities. The Buddha taught that all phenomena, including thoughts, emotions, and experiences, are marked by three characteristics, or “three marks of existence”: impermanence (anicca), suffering or dissatisfaction (dukkha), and not-self (anatta). What do you make of that?
As I type the word awareness, I wonder at the wonder of it all. Consider the lilies….the trees, the mountains and deserts, the oceans, lakes, rivers and streams, the world of plants and animals. Pet your dog if you have one or stroke your cat, an immediate awareness of a connection. Look at the forests, walk among the trees, and breathe with the natural rhythms of creation. Immerse yourself in the center of a city and look at the people, the buildings, the churches, the streets and cars and trucks and taxis and buses, the busyness of business. External awareness leads to internal awareness and our response to all of this and more, especially how we respond to those we love and who love us. Awareness taken to the highest and deepest levels of appreciation and gratitude for being alive, awareness of a sensate world in which we live and move and have our being.
Where and when do you find your state of awareness to be on high alert? Or do you go along without paying any particular attention to any one thing and then suddenly, see, hear, or feel something more intense and different, a noticeable shifting of conscious awareness? Is it possible to elevate our awareness to a renewed state when attending consciously to our surroundings as well as to our internal thoughts and feelings?
Nirvana is most often defined as a state of perfect happiness; an ideal or idyllic place. Joseph Campbell said, “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.” Many have used that quote without understanding what Campbell meant. He also offered this up: “When you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean the deep sense of being in it, and doing what the push is out of your existence—it may not be fun, but it’s your bliss and there’s bliss behind pain too.” The taped conversations between Campbell and Bill Moyers are worth seeing and listening to. I said to Bill afterward, “Bill, you are such a good teacher.” He said back to me, “No, I am always the student.”
When I can spend a good part of a day reading and writing, I call that bliss. When I can walk and blend my existence and awareness into the same moments in time, it can be a blissful experience. There are those moments when we are oblivious to everything else when time seems suspended or far away or in a quiet afternoon now, listening to chimes signaling a wind which we do not see, only the effects be they gentle or fierce.
Blending Existence, Awareness, and Bliss into one unified experience may be easier or more difficult depending on your usual state of consciousness. By usual I mean how you believe you are most of the time. I try and avoid the term “normal” as it suggests only an ideal body temperature. Everything else in my world is abnormal and that’s a good thing most of the time. The status quo seldom held much interest for me.
What do you regard as a possible convergence of existence, awareness, and bliss in your own experience? And then how do you transport that to help others until there is a critical mass that has influence and can make a difference? Each of us may only be one. “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Edward Everett Hale”
For more related to that topic, see this: https://garygruber.com/I-am-one/