I have felt bliss at different times of life. My first bike, when I learned to ride it, when I first flew in the airplane, when I graduated from college, my first job, when I got married, birth of my children, when I first migrated to the US, and the list goes on. This bliss lasts for a short time, then worry sets in. We don’t want to lose what we have, we want what we don’t have, worried for our needs in life, and sad if we don’t have them. Needs and wants are bottomless pits. When one need is met, we move on to another want because the value of the need we wished for so much fades away sooner or later. There always seems to be something that is bigger and better than what we have. This is temporal bliss attached to material and the world.
Eternal bliss by definition is never a never-fading state of mental contentment which was always there, always is, and always will be under every circumstance of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, happiness and excitement, sadness and disappointment. Eternal bliss is attached to the spiritual world beyond our sensory-motor pleasures of physical world.
How can one attain eternal bliss, and how does it feel?
Shankaracharya (shankaracharya.org) a self-realized saint in India is believed to have composed the Bhajagovindam during his famous pilgrimage to Kashi (Benares). The fourteen disciples are said to have accompanied him. The story goes that when he was walking along the streets of Kashi, he was pained to observe an elderly man trying hard to learn Sanskrit grammar. At his advanced age, the remaining valuable little time of his life should have been used for worshipping the God, instead of wasting on learning a language. This prompted Sri Sankara to burst out this composition, a sort of rebuke to foolish way of living. The Acharya urges the man to turn towards God and sing His glory instead of trying to learn a language. A censure is implied when the Acharya calls the man a fool (Moodhamathe). It may be added here that the tone of Bhajagovindam is not at all soft, but somewhat striking, in spite of its exotic poetic beauty and perfection of composition. This is no wonder, because such a treatment is required to wake up man from his slumber. A milder approach would delay the matter. The matter is urgent, as the Acharya explains in the next verse, for, when the hour of death approaches without any forewarning, the hard-learned verses of grammar are not going to save the poor soul.
This composition had many stanzas compiled by him and his disciples. He tried to explain eternal bliss in many ways:
- bhajagovindaM bhajagovindaM govindaM bhajamuuDhamate . saMpraapte sannihite kaale nahi nahi rakshati DukRiJNkaraNe .. (1)
Worship God, Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.
Invoke the spirit of God within you so you may always walk on the path of righteousness or Dharma, so all your actions will be the action of the spirit of light, all your thoughts will be the thought of the spirit of light, all the results of the actions can be the result of the action of the spirit within.
- rathyaa charpaTa virachita kanthaH puNyaapuNya vivarjita panthaH . yogii yoganiyojita chitto ramate baalonmattavadeva .. (22)
There is no shortage of clothing for a monk so long as there are rags cast off the road. Freed from vice and virtue, onward he wanders. One who lives in communion with God enjoys bliss, pure and uncontaminated, like a child and as someone intoxicated. Stanza attributed to Nityanatha.
Live like a baby. A baby is always secure in the arms of the caretaker. A baby is never worried about the future because it knows the caretaker is going to take care of the future, never dwells on the past because he has been comforted in the arms of the caretaker when it was unhappy, and has found great pleasure in the arms of the caretaker in times of happiness and contentment. In the big picture of life we are all babies and cosmic spirit is our caretaker. If we all behave like babies we can find eternal bliss never to dwell on the past, worry about the future, and only to live in the present happily in the arm of God our father and play in the lap of mother nature our world (essence of Bhakti Yoga- the union with God through faith).
- mUDha jahiihi dhanaagamatRishhNaaM kuru sadbuddhiM manasi vitRishhNaam. yallabhase nijakarmopaattaM vittaM tena vinodaya chittam. .. (2)
Oh fool ! Give up your thirst to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.
It does not matter if the glass of water is half-full or half empty. Although the perception of the amount of water in the glass is not a problem, the emotion that follows the perception can be an obstacle in the path of eternal bliss. Perception of half-empty can cause the mind to worry about not enough for the future; perception of half-full can cause the mind to not act on time to refill the glass for future. The result of both thoughts can cause extreme mental turmoil sooner or later. However eternal bliss can be achieved when both states of mind, without attachment to the emotion of worry or false sense of contentment, work toward filling up the glass. That is just doing an action as a duty without attachment to the result of the action or lack thereof inspires eternal bliss (Karma Yoga- union with God with actions and by surrendering the results of the actions to God)
- yogarato vaabhogaratovaa saN^garato vaa saNgaviihinaH . yasya brahmaNi ramate chittaM nandati nandati nandatyeva .. (19)
One may take delight in yoga or bhoga, may have attachment or detachment. But only he whose mind steadily delights in Brahman (God) enjoys bliss, no one else. Stanza attributed to Anandagiri.
Dark cloud formation, thunder and lightening can inspire amazement in some, worry for safety in another. Both have to eventually find a place of security. That place is forever in the arms of God with complete surrender to him (Jnana Yoga- union with God through knowledge of the path of light).
- satsaNgatve nissN^gatvaM nissaNgatve nirmohatvam.h . nirmohatve nishchalatattvaM nishcalatattve jiivanmuktiH .. (9)
From Satsangh- staying in good company, who believe and have faith, comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to contentment. From contentment comes self-realization, Mukti, or Nirvana…..Eternal Bliss
Life is convoluted to some, Life is beautiful to others, in the end Life is beautifully convoluted, or a convoluted beauty.
We all have the free will to choose or not to choose the path of light.