Why Bliss is Not Always Blissful

In the teaching, one surprise may arise from my assertion that “bliss is not blissful”! Instead of being merely great happiness, I assert that bliss is a state of a supreme inner contentedness that mutes the thinking process. Let me explain.

Any time we are conscious, thinking happens incessantly. It is the nature of the unfulfilled mind, via thought, to move in the direction of greater happiness, whenever choice can be detected; thought contemplates action to bring greater happiness.

In meditation, though, occasionally we find that it is time to return to the mantra even though we cannot identify any thought having taken us away from the mantra. Clearly, the mantra was not there, since we are returning to that; but if the mantra was not there, and no other thought was there either, then what
was there?

There are two possibilities: either “I was asleep (unconscious)”, or “I was awake (conscious)”. If we were asleep, then that explains why we cannot recall any thought having taken us away from the mantra. But if we are quite certain that we were not asleep–if, for example, the head did not drop suddenly— then we were awake —but apparently without thought.

“Awake without thought” is the definition of pure consciousness, also described as “Being”.


So why do we say it is “bliss”?

Conscious silence must be bliss, since it is the mind’s nature never to stop thinking until it arrives at bliss, the mind’s ultimate goal that transcends mere happiness.

An unconscious sleeping mind, naturally, does not think. But one could not claim that thought-free unconsciousness is bliss, since no experiencer is present when we are unconscious.

However, if the mind is conscious –that is, if, due to being conscious, the mind is capable of detecting charm (greater happiness); and if, due to its being conscious, the mind is capable of producing thoughts– yet it is not producing thoughts, then why did thinking not occur in consciousness, even if thinking ceased only for a few seconds?

From simultaneity of consciousness with no thought we can infer that the mind must have had an experience of satiety so great that the mind’s search was fulfilled– even if only for a few seconds. This is what we mean by bliss.

We say “bliss is not ‘blissful’ “.

Blissful, in this context, would mean active waves of happiness and joy. Though bliss is not blissful, contact with bliss causes thinking and perception to have a blissful orientation outside of meditation.

The beach is not the sea.

However, after diving into the sea, returning to the dry sand refreshed by the sea gives the beach’s dry sand that refreshing orientation. Saccharine is not sweet- it is beyond sweet: bitter to the tongue. However, diluted saccharine is intensely sweet. Like that, though bliss itself is not blissful, contact with bliss makes life blissful in every way.

Jai Guru Deva, Thom