We throw around the world ‘bliss’ casually without really understanding its true meaning. The bliss does not belong to an individual, while the suffering is always personal. It is always related to some aspect of mind and body, perpetuation by past conditioning.
When something bad happens, it happens to the individuals who think of themselves as limited entities living a finite existence in this ephemeral world. Believe it or not, all the struggle is to sustain an illusory self that is deeply absorbed in the cycle of pleasure and pain.
We like to grab pleasure and avoid pain at any cost. We live like a beggar waiting for moments of happiness here and there. But all happiness in duality is transient. And not only that, it comes packaged with unhappiness, just like roses come with thorns.
There are fundamentally three types of actions that we perform in daily living: the first type is preserving the body-mind organism, like sleeping, eating, yoga, workouts, meditation, work (profession), and more.
The second type of action is associated with social interactions, like meetings, gatherings, parties, sexual interactions, or simply sharing thoughts with another person.
The third type is creating thoughts from the sense impressions stored in memory. This action is closely related to the first two. All suffering is associated with this action because we keep ruminating past events, which may be pleasant or unpleasant.
We suffer recalling the past or fantasizing about the future. We replay the same stories repeatedly in our minds till they seep deep into the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind does not have the discriminatory capability like the conscious mind. So it believes in whatever you feed it.
Over time, the mind becomes a compulsive thinker, and at the center of all mental activity is the “I-sense,” or the personal self that is fighting tooth and nail to survive. This “I” is a fictitious entity that arises out of ignorance.
Please understand the word ignorance. Ignorance generally has a negative connotation, but it is neither a virtue nor a vice. It is a deliberate insertion as a part of the grand design – the game of life.
Ignorance means imposing name and form on anything that appears in consciousness. Living is not possible without ignorance. For example, “human” is a concept given to a particular group of physical entities, and ignorance makes inter-human interactions possible.
Deep down, we all know that we’re nothing but a collection of geometrically arranged subatomic particles. Therefore, this ignorance or abstraction is essential. The suffering happens when we become strongly identified with this abstraction and believe it to be the only reality.
This abstraction is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that it’s virtually impossible to imagine ourselves in any other way. All spiritual seeking is to see beyond this abstraction and realize the true self – an unchanging and infinite reality that transcends all suffering.
Buddha’s first noble truth says there is suffering. For whom? It is not an absolute statement. The suffering is for the one who sees separation. Nirvana (enlightenment) is when the small “I” merges with universal “I,” and the sense of separation remains only in appearances. Samsara (the world of name and form) is of the mind, while Nirvana is “No mind” or emptiness.
Horizontal Movement of Thinking Mind
There are two types of mind: The working mind – where we use critical and analytical thinking to solve problems and the thinking mind – which sways us into a pattern of horizontal thinking. The thinking mind is the root cause of our suffering.
When I’m writing an article, my working mind allows a space in which the words appear. It is a flow-state where I lose the sense of time. This is the creative problem-solving mind that subsides the ego. For example, when I’m engaged in an activity, I don’t care about the weather or the activities happening around me. The working mind locks focus in the activity.
The thinking mind, on the other hand, is the involvement of the ego in the activity. It builds expectations and is more concerned with the outcome of the work. It is called doership. It lives either in the past or in the future fantasy.
While performing an activity, if you find yourself bombarded with thoughts such as, “I hope people will appreciate my work,” “Am I good enough,” “I’ve always been a failure, I don’t see this happening for me,” and so forth – it’s thinking mind.
If you’re aware of your mind, you’ll notice how thinking leads you from one thought to another, forming a horizontal chain in time. The thinking mind suffers and causes the same to others. It causes confusion, dissonance, indecisiveness and hinders productivity. There is a “me” here that is scared of criticism and condemnation because it thinks itself to be the doer of all actions.
The thinking mind is always concerned with consequences and outcomes. It is impulsive and reactive. It likes to blame, hate, condemn, and feel guilt in failures. And it feels pride and arrogance in successes.
Even when successful, it robs you of your happiness. “You did it by fluke,” “You know you don’t deserve this,” “there something better ahead,” and this way, it keeps you chasing the momentary happiness. The result is that you keep running rather than enjoying the fruits of your labor.
To strengthen itself by continually seeking validation, the thinking mind diverts our attention from the bliss of the present moment.
The thinking mind is problem-oriented, the working mind is solution-oriented, and “no mind” is bliss.
Bliss Is Silence
Unlike horizontal thinking, bliss happens as a single impersonal spontaneous knowing that brings awareness to the present moment or now. There is no one individual experiencer experiencing bliss. Simply put, it is the silence of the mind.
When the mind becomes silent, the heart spontaneously awakens, and an energy surge is felt in the body. There is no name for this state. The closest thing that can describe it is empty awareness or nothingness. It is the final abode.
A mere glimpse of this state brings about a complete transformation. It drops all suffering and questions about life and living. It is the dissolution of the ego and its sad story. It feels like waking up from a dream. In the ancient scriptures, this state is referred to as the turya avastha (pure consciousness).
In silence, there’s no individual to suffer, so all that remains is pure bliss or consciousness. The mind still continues in the material world, but there’s no sense of doership. It destroys the sensitivities, heightens intuition, and gives rise to authentic creativity and genius.
But you see, the ego doesn’t like its dissolution, so it keeps the mind confused by alternating between thoughts of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, and more. For most spiritual seekers, this is the period of intense suffering, which in my understanding is the dark night of the soul.
The mind-body complex you know as Jagjot is only an instrument through which the divine consciousness expresses itself energetically. Therefore, I don’t take pride in my work as a content creator, and neither do I feel fear, shame, or conscious of how my writing will be perceived.
All the effort towards self-development or skill mastery is to enable a better channeling mechanism for the divinity to express itself. No individual grows. We mistakenly use the phrase “expand our consciousness.”
It is the mind that expands in consciousness and not the consciousness itself. It cannot expand because it is the substratum of all creation.
Some people like my writing. Some don’t. Why should I be bothered when I know it’s not my doing but the work of divinity? Whoever subscribes, I say welcome, whoever unsubscribes, I say goodbye, but the door of my heart is open to all.
The silence or presence drops all stories and fantasies and what remains is the pure changeless witnessing consciousness. It is an unconditional surrender to the timeless and dimensionless presence.
You cannot transcend what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourselfNisargadatta Maharaj
The Root of Suffering
The root of all suffering is the sense of personal self. The personal self is a self-image that is firmly embedded in the I-sense. It’s not your fault. It is the natural progression of life that this happens. It is the result of conditioning over which you never had any control.
For example, factors like your gender, the family in which you were born, your political and religious beliefs, and how your social and environmental conditioning impacted the choices you made, and so forth, were not in your control.
There’s no I-sense in a newborn child. If you shout, the child cries because of the body’s reaction to a loud stimulus. The child experiences fear at that moment, and the body absorbs that response (which may result in trauma in later years), but at this stage, there’s no I-sense that says “I’m scared.”
The child forgets and becomes happy the next moment when you lovingly caress, give kisses, and hand them a toy to play with. In other words, the only perfect sages that genuinely exist in the world are newborn children. They are authentically themselves while the adults wear a mask to cover the brewing storm underneath.
This I-sense emerges until about a year and a half when the child begins to interact and learn. The child becomes the center of attention. They quickly learn to get their needs met by crying, whining, and throwing tantrums.
However, a child’s need for validation and attention is a genuine one. Therefore, the formation of the I-sense in children is necessary for them to communicate their needs. But as the transition happens into adulthood after layer upon layer of conditioning, this I-sense creates strong identifications with concepts and beliefs.
Now the ego rises, giving rise to desires along with the hope that they materialize. When something comes in between the desire – anger, hate, jealousy, and resentment also arise in mind.
Our desire to accumulate wealth, knowledge, and wisdom itself becomes an impediment in the path of liberation. Desires in and of themselves are not the problem, but the strong grasping, which indicates strong attachment to the outcome, becomes the problem.
When one gets blinded by desires, the rational mind shuts down. We become obsessed with external objects and start chasing them in the hope of lasting happiness. But this kind of happiness is short-lived. In fact, the moment you possess an object of your desire, half of its worth diminishes immediately, and then we set our eyes on another object.
The ego highly exaggerates our needs and wants because that’s the way it thrives. We get carried away, and by continually comparing ourselves with others, we compete with them. This is unconscious living where the false self derives its worth from possessions and accumulations.
Whatever support you gather to sustain the false image will keep breaking because the ego is never satisfied. Every time, It needs more. The objects of desire change, but the desires remain. The ego can never get what it wants cause fulfillment is not its nature. Whatever satisfaction we achieve through our conquests is temporary, and the happiness is short-lived.
Extremism is the highest form of doership because there’s tremendous identification with the beliefs and ideologies. This identification creates wars and suffering. I’m not hinting at a particular religion, group, or sect, but as individuals, our identifications run deep into the psyche.
Internally, we all have an extremist in hiding. It kills and tortures other people in imagination. It sticks to its stories of “this happened to me,” “there’s something wrong with me,” and so forth. The center of focus is always the “me.” It wants attention. It wants validation. And for that, it’s willing to go to any extend to survive and thrive.
Again, there is nothing wrong or right with this concept, but an unconscious behavior creates suffering. Hell is nothing other than living in unconsciousness. Please don’t take my words as the truth; verify this with your own experience.
In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Ego is not good or bad, it’s unconsciousness.” The ego doesn’t like it when it doesn’t get what it wants. But the dilemma is that the ego doesn’t know what it wants, so it keeps us running in circles.
So do we reject this I-sense (ego) to attain bliss? No. We require the I-sense for interactions and communications.
The way to achieve abiding happiness, peace, or bliss is to understand the relationship between the I-sense and the world of events and objects. Simply witnessing the mind’s contents with a non-judgmental and non-reactive awareness destroys their power to influence you.
The word world includes both the subtle (thoughts, feelings, and emotions) and gross (the world of physical objects and people).
Identifications by themselves do not cause suffering, but the grasping of them. I have two children, and I identify myself as their father, so I have to fulfill that role to the best of my capability. I’m also a husband, a bother, a son, and a friend, so I fulfill my roles accordingly.
But these are just roles; they don’t define who I am. There’s identification but no grasping. For example, we had to withdraw our children from school last year, citing financial problems due to the pandemic.
A close relative said that I’m not a dedicated father, or else I would have done everything (like taking a loan or borrowing money from someone) in my capacity to keep children in that school.
It didn’t bother me because I’m aware that the circumstances are not in anyone’s control. I didn’t say anything, and after a year, when the situation improved, we put them back in the same school. While the kids were at home, we taught them ourselves and made sure they followed a daily routine.
There’s no ill-feeling in my heart for that relative because I know he was not the doer of his action. Neither am I creating any judgment for myself or my actions as even I am also not the doer of my actions. I simply did not react in that situation and took a decision based on my understanding at that time.
A common question that I often get during meditation sessions is that the thoughts rush in, and the mind becomes restless the moment people sit for meditation. And my answer to that is, live in mindfulness rather than limiting it to a daily practice.
Watch yourself during challenging situations or when the mind is restless. Don’t fight with the mind, but witness what goes on with non-judgmental awareness. You will fail initially. Please understand that you’re uncovering years of conditioning layer-by-layer. So it is bound to be uncomfortable and challenging initially.
But when the mind becomes quiet and the heart awakens, one rests in blissful awareness. In that awareness, the suffering drops as the individual ego dissolve. What’s left is the timeless presence or the empty awareness with no boundaries and limitations. All that remains is pure and unconditional love.
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