Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reaching for Blissful States

Most seekers equate enlightenment with feelings such as peace or happiness.  They believe that if they gain enlightenment, they will be peaceful or blissful all of the time.

All nonduality teachers are quick to point out that it is useless to try to reach any particular state.  What you are is not a state to be achieved and maintained.  All states come and go within YOU.

Peace comes.  Peace goes.
Happiness comes.  Happiness goes.
Anger comes.  Anger goes.

Put your attention on what is NOT coming and going.  Call it Awareness, Presence or whatever word you like.

In the early stages, and even in the intermediate stages of our investigation, we reach for blissful states.  We want to FIND peace or happiness, to somehow "connect" with it.  We think that nondual inquiry will bring us these states -- if not 24/7, then at least most of the time.

If you go to nonduality meetings you hear comments from participants such as these:

"I had this wonderful feeling of openness, joy and expansion....and then I lost it.  I can't seem to get it back, no matter what I do."

"I felt at ONE with everything.  I saw no boundaries and realized there was no separation.  It was pure love. Then I lost it and the separation returned.  I can't get back to that place."

This strategy of reaching for a state always fails.  The reaching is a trick of the mind, tempting us to search for something we think is NOT here now, but which can be obtained in the future. 

Whatever we ARE, we ARE right now.  Nowhere to go to "get it."  Whatever we "get" will eventually be lost.  We are focusing on the changing, instead of the changeless.

When you find that you are reaching for a blissful state, just STOP.  As you observe your tendency to reach for a state, you will start to get some distance from it.  You'll also be less likely to reach for these states in the future.  You'll drop the urge soon after it arises.

You will know that your investigation is maturing when you no longer reach for states, but allow whatever state is there....to be as it is.