How many times have we heard the immortal words of Joseph Campbell? His encouragement echoes loudly through the New Age community and it’s simple wisdom undergirds so many of our day to day conversations, goals and methods.
We use this advice to seek our life’s purpose and sometimes even give it the same exalted status as the Buddhist concept of Right Livelihood. As mistaken as that might be, the idea that following your bliss is the path to happiness is almost universal in the new age community, and it’s easy to see why.
It makes sense, after all, that if you are NOT happy and you wish to BE happy you must follow the scent of happiness to it’s source.
Following your bliss is also an idea that fits nicely into the modern western concept of reality. Happiness is out there somewhere. And if it’s out there we can hunt it down and subdue it. We can harness it’s energy into some efficient and productive expression, like a career.
Because happiness is something we do, not something we are. . . right?
We accept this without the realization that happiness can never be “out there”.
If it was out there somewhere, who would ever experience it? Where does the experience of happiness occur? You can not experience happiness anywhere outside of your own being.
Slightly more subtle is the fact that happiness is not something we can consume.
Most people recognize that happiness is something that they feel within themselves, but we tend to think that the happiness we feel is the product of some external circumstance; that by creating a particular set of conditions we can consume the experience of happiness, like making cookies and eating them.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it is partially true, and because of that partiality people can get confused and take it too far.
We CAN create conditions in which it is easier for happiness to flourish.
Deep and lasting happiness is harder to achieve in a state of abject poverty where food and shelter, the basic needs of the body, are not adequately met. Happiness is further supported by caring and kind people who we can relate to and be in relationship with. Loneliness is not supportive of happiness (even though intentional solitude can be).
But however we may seek to structure our lives so that they are more conducive to happiness, happiness itself is never held away from us by our circumstance.
We are never more than an easy breath from happiness.
Your bliss is within you and it may be harder to find in some situations than others, but it is always and eternally present. It is always flowing from the core of your being, where your soul converses with the Divine.
In every breath God speaks bliss into your heart and it wells up within you.
It may not always seem like that because we have found ways of suppressing and restraining this current so as not to be completely insane with Joy all the time. We have spent most of our lives gathering this current of love into particular shapes and structures; Guiding it into rational expressions of ever deepening meaning and ever widening perspective.
We call these shapes and structures “who we are” and “what we stand for”.
In this way we anchor ourselves in the vastness of potential.
We gather light in the void, and with the contraction, the bliss of simple being bursts forth from our souls in fits and starts that we call lifetimes; our deepest being eternally singing praise and wondering at the actuality of existence itself.
What I call “me” is but a leaf on a branch of my being. What I call stress is but a breeze in the spring. What I call sickness, the vibrant colors of the fall. And what I call death, the beautiful stillness and clarity of a moonlit winter night.
You are grander than you can possibly know.
When you seek happiness and comfort, don’t chase after it as if it was out there in the world somewhere; as if you are trying to catch up to it!
Happiness is right now. Bliss is with you right here.
You never have to be away from that bliss if you recognize it’s source, and so I’d like to offer you one simple adjustment to Campbell’s iconic words.
Follow your Bliss. . .
but follow it inward.