I greeted him with a polite, "Good morning, Sir." Dharma smiled, nodded, and sat down to breakfast. Not one to waste time, he asked me if I knew what bliss meant. I responded quickly; I was sure I knew the answer to this, "Why yes, Master. Joy and bliss are the same thing! You've taught me the value in finding joy many times." Dharma sipped on his tea and then said, "They are the same, my little tadpole, but yet they are also very different. Bliss isn't easy to explain, Irwin, because it surpasses the capacity of language. We can agree that it's a positive emotion, just like joy and happiness, but it goes far beyond either of those. Bliss is vast, immeasurable, and boundless." I stopped to think about this for a few moments before I asked, "Have I ever felt bliss, teacher? Have you ever felt bliss?"
"Irwin, my boy, I'm not sure you've ye experienced true bliss. And as for me, yes, I have experienced it a few times. But even for a spiritual teacher, bliss can be difficult to maintain." He went on to explain that bliss is “a transcendental state of superior calm including within itself the consciousness of a great expansion and that of ‘all in One and One in all.’” When that sense of ego, of separation, melts away, and a feeling of total connectedness, of no sense of a “me” separate from all of creation descends, that is bliss consciousness....it is constant and undisturbed by either outward loss or gain. We all have the capacity for it and it doesn't matter who we are, how old we are, or where we live." My immediate question for him was, "How do I, well anyone really, find bliss, Dharma?" And this was where the real lesson on bliss began.
"A frog who does things that feed his soul, not his ego, will find bliss. Do you understand what that means, son?" After pondering it carefully for a good long while, I replied that it meant doing the the things you love and not the things that will necessarily bring you fame or fortune. I guess I must have gotten it right because Dharma smiled at me with pure delight. Many years ago, American author Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls." He was saying exactly what Dharma is; that when we do the things are truly us, we will find true and lasting, unbounded joy and the universe will help us find the way to do it. When we find who we were meant to be; writer, chef, nurse, mother, teacher...the label doesn't matter...we connect with that pure sense of being connected to the entire universe. It's a feeling that everything is right with the world, and it is. For we are living our authentic life, the life we were meant to live. Dharma went on to explain that if we would do the things we love, without any form of payment...do we love it so much that we'd do it for free....then we are following our bliss.
Bliss is where happiness, meaning, and truth converge. Everything boils down to our pursuit of bliss. Bliss is that universal place where all questions are answered (like the 2 biggies: Who am I and why am I here). Fulfillment is achieved. Bliss is found in every religion, and in no religion at all. As Dharma explained it to me, bliss is the process of peeling away the darkness and revealing the light inside; that singular light within each of us that makes us unique and special to the world.
Following your bliss is an activity. It's not just some abstract concept. Knowing what your bliss is, is not enough. Real happiness comes from taking the action necessary to make it happen. Through your active involvement of following your bliss, you will find success. Not necessarily the fame and fortune that one typically thinks of when defining success. But you will find a success that is even more important; more meaningful. You will find your place in the world. And it will be good.
Dharma finished his tea and said, "Irwin, writing is your bliss...whether you've discovered it yet, or not. You write everyday, trying to instill a sense of positivity in the world at a time when things look dark and negative. You, my little student, are a little but powerful light."
As I watched him hop away, I thought about all he said. I do write without expectation of becoming famous or making a fortune. I know I'll never be an Earnest Hemingway or a J.K. Rowling. But if I can make just one person's day a little better, or give them a new way to think about something, then I can consider myself a very successful frog. Following your bliss is about finding your way in the world. Can you even imagine what this world would be like if everyone followed what was in their soul and not just what stroked their ego? The whole world would glow with love, beauty, and truth. It's a dream, for now. But if we all chose to follow our bliss, I do believe that dream can become reality.