Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chuck Surface - Bliss

 Advaita only rarely mentions Bliss, and this, in my view, is its great misfortune. If it is mentioned, it is often only in precautionary terms in the context of sadhana, and usually only fleetingly when describing the liberated experience of being. I understand that advaita teachers don't want their students to become attached to transient “states” or “objects” of perception, but rather to feel themselves as That within which all states and objects arise and vanish. Thus, for advaita students, “Bliss” is often portrayed as a dangerous trap, and samadhi, as my teacher Jean Klein once said, "A dangerous sweet." The lack of descriptions of Bliss in the post-liberation experience of being is probably due to the notion that once one is Free, one will know for one's self the nature of that condition, and therefore there's no need to elevate such distractions for those still seeking.

With these advaitic pedagogical stances, I stand in respectful disagreement.

You may occasionally hear some mention of peace, stillness, or happiness, but very rarely a fleeting mention of Bliss; and generally, Ecstasy is right out. Because Bliss is mentioned so fleetingly, one is left wondering what is meant by the word. Ramana Maharshi spoke about “the current”, and Jean Klein said that satsang and all that it entails is merely a pretext for sitting together in Silence. He clearly didn't mean Silence as “quietness” in relation to sound. So… what was the "current" Ramana spoke of, and what was this Silence Jean spoke of, and what was the value of sitting “in” it?

My experience when I saw Jean Klein was filled with Bliss; a palpable, visceral, extremely pleasurable yet unlocatable ecstasy that both permeated and was inseparable from the entire Experience of Being. It was, for lack of any better term in relativity, a feeling of orgasmic ecstasy that, being “everywhere”, transcended physicality or any of the other vast and varied aspects of manifest form, and yet… everything existed both “in” and “as” it. Impossible... I know. To the extent one was able, in Jean's presence one became the Silence that he was speaking of. For me, it was not just a matter of "understanding" or following the advaitic "thread". I can only say that it was Mystical. It… just… happened. It was Grace. And for me, the impact of residing in and as that Silence was this Blissfulness I'm struggling to describe.

Did the contradiction between my Blissful relationship with my advaitic guru, and to advaita in general, and the "Neti, Neti", negationist stance of advaita throw me for a loop? Yes, initially. But then... no. For over the years I've come to see myself not as an advaitan, so much as a Kashmir Shaivite, or a Sufi. For in my experience then, and in my experience now... Bliss, Anandam, is the Very Heart of Being.

When I met Jean, I already knew not to grasp after the "experience" of Bliss, Ananda. I had been given this Great Teaching by Bliss itself. For it only arose when the acute "outer" focus of Attention relaxed "inward", dissolving into its Oceanic nature as Unlocatable Aliveness. Then Attention, in that instant of inward-turning, was greeted by, and vanished into, effortlessly-arising Bliss. Shakti fell back... into the arms of Shiva, and the Ecstasy of their embrace became an inherent aspect of the Experience of Being, like wetness to water, or heat to fire. If Attention grasped after the somatic "experience" of Blissfulness, as it reflexively did… Bliss vanished. This was my teaching, and Bliss itself the Sat Guru.

My experience over 26 years of sadhana, and of eight years of living in Freedom, is that Bliss is the very fragrance of Pure Being (Consciousness, Awareness, whatever one calls Formless, Unlocatable Aliveness). Again, it is to Pure Being as wetness is to water. Prior to Liberation, it was the fragrance that drew me into Stillness, that taught me the “secret” of non-grasping and abiding, open-minded and open-hearted, as Blissful, Unlocatable Aliveness, Serene Emptiness. It was then, and is now, an effortless, inherent aspect of self-identity having vanished from the Experience of Being. It is the embrace of Shiva and Shakti in union as Shiva-Shakti, a union in which both vanish, in which all duality vanishes, even as manifestation arises. Impossible, I know; but so.



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