Sunday, January 28, 2007

Follow your bliss

Today, Well Lived - Ancient Sanskrit Proverb

When we take the time to stand still, to connect with nature, to stop the chattering of thoughts about what we should be doing, how we should be behaving, what we should be buying, what the expected standards is.....we can find peace and turn our vision inwards to discover who we are.
One of the most important and powerful questions I have asked myself during many months bedbound is ' Who are you? Who are you really?"After all the usual lables of mother, wife, teacher, artist, musician and silence follows......

When you relax into that awareness and connect with the wisdom that lies within you, you might discover what Joseph Campbell calls, your bliss. Your bliss is the activity that totally absorbs you, in which you are totally lost and connected to all consciousness. As an early years educator, it is easy to spot children going through certain play schemas and being absorbed by their bliss. It could be painting, it could be mixing, it could be a fixation with anything round. For me personally it has been a sensual bliss of materials and colour. There is not a yarnshop or sheep, alpaca fleece that I would not touch and sense a connection with.

It is important to note that following one's bliss, as Campbell saw it, isn't merely a matter of doing whatever you like, and certainly not doing simply as you are told. It is a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.

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. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

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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. "Chit" 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.

--Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, pp. 113, 120

Speaking to an artist in my community who comes to visit weekly for some eggs and shares her apples with me in season, we both observed on the bliss feeling of total absorption. She finds it in painting silk, her husband in making pots and I find it in working with fibre. I seem to be at peace, feel connected to the activity with my whole being and if when the product is finished someone wants to pay me for having been in a blissful state, that would be wonderful. I have not got to that stage yet. I am still experiencing bliss in the moment. Its an experience when thoughts of the past do not enter, thoughts of the future do not pass but I am in the now moment, totally connected and transfixed into what I am doing.

In the film of The Last Samurai, a scene depicts a village in which each person spends all their time engaged in whatever activity is their discipline, their gift to the world. It would be a wonderful vision of community if we had the courage to be and do what we are.

Who are you, who are you really?

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