Bliss, Fulfillment, Happiness, Passion

pink rosesFun to wonder if the apparent convergence of blogs and videos about “find your passion” (links provided below) has been statistically true – or is just a mirror of my own focus. Multiple notes and links led to discussions of this staple of the “consciousness movement” in a compressed time span. Impatient with so many conflicting meanings of the words everyone was using, I responded by letting my own glossary start to form.

I’m smiling, in re-reading the draft, to feel the impatience still in it. To say I’m “passionate” about words will have more meaning by the end of this post. I’m also remembering that this impatience – rising from (a) memories of my own suffering at having misinterpreted some of these ideas, and (b) frustration in the near-impossibility of deep mutual understanding through the medium of words, which erupted in an earlier post on Creativity.

Clarifying my language: Bliss is a state of being, a high-vibrating awareness of Life, without object (or much of a subject), a subtle infinite silent joy, the twinkle inside the eye, blooming from the heart.

Fulfillment is self-sensing in the bliss state. The eternal version is beyond conditions, attainments, or relations. Every moment is the destination/destiny/fulfillment of all previous moments, complete every time, with fullness (gras, grace, gratitude) ever-present and ever-changing. The short-lived lower-level version is about experiencing a desire and feeling it’s been satisfied/fulfilled by experience (meeting a goal, matching up with an internal or cultural image, feeling expressed, etc.). Knowing, at the outset, that “goal” type fulfillment is only part of the larger, inevitable fulfillment, can prevent two pieces of pain: overburdening goals with the expectation they will “solve life,” and/or discovering, afterwards, that success did not “solve life.”

Happiness is living in the “hap”pening moment, transcendently awake to the Now presence, experiencing existence as ever-arising-dissolving perceptions. Its current usage in European-English, related to the “pursuit of happiness,” came from philosophical schools centuries ago, committed to democratization of joy in life (or the potential for it), rising above the western caste system of permanent serfdom for some. It can be difficult to be in the transcendent Now when one is starving, sick, or unsheltered; so legitimizing the “pursuit” of autonomous safety and ease was a step ahead, at the time. The “pursuit” word led us into a false sense that the emotional/spiritual state comes from carrots to be chased after, sacrificed for.

Passion is a whirlwind of emotion, desperate to heal, dominate, and/or bypass a wound (the word passion being from the same root as pathos and pathetic, meaning suffering, sadness). The wound is frequently a sensation of being incomplete, unworthy, lost, damaged, incompetent, and/or abandoned – currently and/or prospectively (viz: the human condition). It’s the hook-generating energy, activated by intrinsic, unconscious survivalist fear. Sensations of “passion” are wonderful clues for discovering hidden bondages to this or that memory, image, or unresolved need – with the goal of resolving the urge internally, not exporting it into the environment, getting hooked and hooking others. Calls to “discover your passion” can usefully be redirected to good purpose, translated as “discover what’s driving you, frantically out of control, to try to fix something about your life, and change it to a freely chosen preference.” “Follow your passion” is also more exciting than “Be involved with what you care about the most, rather than what others think you should do” or “The goal of following your passion is to heal the wound that’s stimulating it, so you can move onto something else.”

The recent items that gave rise to this post offer variations on this theme. First up was a soul-sparkling quote from Joseph Campbell, about the potential of mythology (imagery unlocking mystery): “The first condition, therefore, that any mythology must fulfill if it is to render life to modern lives is that of cleansing the doors of perception to the wonder, at once terrible and fascinating, of ourselves and of the universe of which we are the ears and eyes and the mind.”

The terrible wonder of ourselves is a form of passion. I was among the fascinated throngs in the ‘80s, when Campbell burst into the wider American imagination through Bill Moyers’ PBS series The Power of Myth. Everything I thought I knew, about Life, got clipped and tossed like confetti, every week. I was passionate about it: it was solving, for me, an unconscious entrapment inside the conflicting, life-denying demands of the culture I was in then.

“Follow your bliss” became a cliché from the huge cultural unleashing that followed the show, inevitably mistranslated. Modern culture was unprepared to “follow” bliss because it had lost touch with the essence of it. Doubters backlashed, frightened that work and progress would stop if people were blissful, uncompelled. Maybe “Listen” is better, as in “Listen for private heart-centered joy,” as a path to genuine bliss.

After the FaceBook Campbell quote, I saw a link to an interview with Simon Beaufoy, who wrote The Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire. A treasure in the interview was his mention of the official phrase for being able to hold multiple points of view simultaneously: “cognitive polyphasia.” For years I’ve been developing materials on this, based on different realities appearing from different vibrational (chakric) perspectives, from psychosynthetic sub-identities, and from Jungian we-are-all-the-characters-in-our-dreams theories. This kind of stereovisic (my proposed new word) perception is what makes it possible to consider bliss, fulfillment, happiness, and passion in so many dimensions, simultaneously, with no self-contradiction.

The next was an explosive series of comments reacting to a sometimes-snarky TED Talk by economist Larry Smith, who addressed the “find your passion” universe of career-builder wannabes. For days, commenters harangued Smith and each other about the validity (or lack thereof) of using passion as a career imperative. One of the commenters offered a link to the next item:

Alain de Botton’s TED Talk about discerning one’s own real motivations amid the crazed clamor of advice-givers and mass-media image-generators. It’s a complex masterpiece, so I won’t attempt to summarize it here (worth watching). The last lines were what this post is about: going deep to discern one’s own unique, real responsiveness to stimuli.

So (speaking to a self that I was once, before I developed these ways of seeing) yes, let bliss be a factor, feel the comfort of fulfillment, allow the dance of happiness, and acknowledge passion as part of the human experience. Knowing and feeling the differences among these can let the joys of all of them be part of life – in love, work, and relationships – all at the same time. And knowing the differences can keep the mind and emotions free of the hooks of false promises – made by others as a come-on for their own gain or domination, or made in hidden agreements with one’s own unconscious, urgent deals that create skewed expectations. The ideal, difficult to hear in all the cybernoise, is to relax into the interior doorways of one’s own living present-moment awareness – where the truth is.

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