Because of you, in gardens of blossoming flowers I ache from the
Perfumes of spring…
Because of you, the heady perfumes of summer pain me; because
Of you, I again seek out the signs that precipitate desires: shooting
Stars, falling objects.
— Love by Pablo Neruda
Some say that happiness can only be reached by ceasing to desire. In this view, longing and desire are what cause us to suffer. So if we could just overcome our desires, our pain would go away and we’d be in bliss. The closer we get to achieving complete detachment, the happier we’ll be. Do you agree?
Others have taught that the path to bliss is the constant and complete gratification of every sensory impulse and desire. The more pleasures we can acquire, the happier we will be. So we work and scheme that we may, at some point, some day, amass the wealth and power we’d need to do such a thing.
Both seem to me rather suspect. While these two routes claim bliss as the destination, they require a lot of suffering on the way.
In some views, though, we can find harmony when we accept that we humans are both animal and divine. Our animal bodies need gratification. We must survive, so we seek food, sex, shelter, and other physical needs. And research indicates that we, and perhaps all life forms, are, on a molecular level, also designed to seek pleasure. So once basic survival needs are met, we also seek delicious food, ecstatic sex, comfortable shelter, and so forth.
Yet, as many who have satisfied many of their physical longings will agree, there is much more to us. For the Divine within us also seeks. S/He seeks things like unity, cosmic awareness, and the Infinite.
Bliss, then, would seem to be a joyful combination of both body and soul. For bliss may take the form of out-of-body awareness, in which, as Diane Ackerman describes it, we are “flung out of our usual selves, yet still able to feel a commotion inside.”
That is because we still exist in our bodies. Even the most transcendent experience is still felt in our animal selves: fire may rush though our veins, the light shimmers, our hair stands up, our hearts thump wildly; we may hear music, or our bones melt and we surrender in silence, falling to our knees.
Longing, desire and bliss are bound together in ways that we may experience in our eternal, disembodied Awareness that we call our soul. But while we live, we also experience the transcendent fulfillment of desire though our sweet bodies, with breath that comes in deep sighs of joy, and tears that flow down our flushed faces.
So it would seem that by tuning our awareness, both body and soul, we might become more resonant receptors of bliss. More about this tomorrow.