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Meditation is not a Path to Happiness

                     And Happiness is not Bliss

“Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real.”  ~Deepak Chopra~

Meditation is not a Path to Happiness We think of happiness as the ultimate goal, the goal of all goals, but the wisdom traditions offer something greater. This “something greater” is a place that we have a primal yearning for, a longing that comes from the depth of our soul, it is the place of profound peace, love and joy, and it’s or true home. It is bliss.

Once we’ve had even the briefest glimpse of this experience we realize that our desire for happiness is only the beginning of the journey.

The journey really begins when we awaken to our “dual” nature.

The part of this “dual” nature that we are most aware of and identify with is our ego-self what Michael Singer called the “inner roommate.” It’s that “I” that is constantly talking and can almost never be silenced.

This is the part of us that is consistently in the pursuit of happiness; seeking it outside of the self. Our “inner roommate” desires pleasure over pain, health over illness, love over loneliness and it makes all the necessary judgments that help us negotiate life’s journey.

It plays a critical role and without it we would be lost. The problem arises because this “judgment maker” is always on; it is stuck, always perceiving the world in terms of duality. It is always judging one thing as better than another; it cannot perceive the world in any other way.

Meditation is a Journey through Happiness to Bliss

Going beyond judgment is central to the philosophies that gave rise to the meditative traditions; whether it’s from the “deep inner awareness” tradition or the “mindfulness” practices. Practitioners of meditation refer to the experience of going beyond judgment as becoming the “observer” or “witness” of the self. This “ever-present witnessing awareness” is outside the world of duality, it “lives out beyond the field of right-doing and wrong doing,” to paraphrase the great Sufi poet, Rumi.

A case can be made that meditation does not lead to happiness, and Tom Wootton make that case.

Here’s Tom in his own words on meditation and happiness:

“Unfortunately, many claim that mindfulness {the specific meditation technique in this particular instance} leads to happiness. As happiness and sadness are judgments based on preferences, this breaks with the whole concept of looking at our experiences without judgment. Mindfulness practiced properly does not lead to happiness; it leads to a greater awareness of whatever you are experiencing whether you like it or not.

Mindfulness does not mean we have no preferences or that we make no effort to alleviate pain. “The Watcher” {the witness or observer} is perfectly capable of watching without judgment while “The Talker” {the ego or inner roommate} tells us our feelings about things. But, most of us pay attention to “The Talker” and cannot access “The Watcher” as much as we should. Our perceptions are not “full” because we are not mindful of the whole picture that “The Watcher” helps fill out.” Read more here.

Tom points out that this, the ratio between “The Talker” and “The Watcher” is often out of balance and that lack of balance is the cause of suffering. In other words we are seeking balance. This is important because as Tom points out that by resisting “…experiences that could be of great value because our preferences shut us out from perceiving the whole picture. We end up focusing on changing the experiences and missing the insights that are available in them. We also miss out on the bliss that is at the core of every moment.”

Tom continues, “Mindfulness does not lead to happiness. It sometimes leads to greater experience of the very real pains we all have: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. What mindfulness does lead to, though, is bliss. But in order to feel it you have to know the difference between happiness and bliss.”

I agree, but I also believe that happiness has two distinct expressions, one of judgment, pursued by the ego and very conditioned. This is the happiness of duality. The other from of happiness is authentic, arising from the true-self or soul and is unconditioned.

It is this second form of happiness that opens to door to the experience of bliss, but it-no matter how wonderful it feels- is not bliss.

Rumi’s poetry beautifully described bliss as “out beyond the field” because bliss is beyond even authentic happiness. Bliss experiences “authentic happiness” without judging the experience, because even “authentic happiness” is subject to the changing currents of life and this place of profound equanimity is beyond the world of duality and attachment.

Tom described his definition of bliss this way, “When we are in equanimity (bliss), we make decisions based on wisdom and the equal input from both “The Talker” and “The Watcher.” We are no longer controlled by the likes and dislikes of “The Talker,” although we are informed by its perceptions. We do what is right, not necessarily what satisfies our ego. That is what practicing mindfulness {and all meditation} is all about.”

Meditation is not a path to happiness; meditation is a path through happiness to bliss. It is about balance so enjoy the journey!

“Practice meditation regularly. Meditation leads to eternal bliss. Therefore meditate, meditate.”  ~Swami Sivananda~

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