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Follow Your Bliss

09/08/2014 01:25pm ET | Updated November 6, 2014
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"Follow your bliss" was a phrase promoted by the great mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell.

As he said:

"I feel that if one follows what I call one's bliss--the thing that really gets you deep in the gut that you feel is your life--doors will open up. They do!"

Campbell is essentially advising us to listen to our inner voice deep within--that will steer us in a more positive direction and then wonderful things will start to happen. The thing I find most interesting about this comment is that he is saying: go within--feel what is inside.

Bliss: Our Essential Nature

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought the Transcendental Meditation technique to the West, has described that our own essential nature is in reality a state of bliss. He often quoted a Sanskrit expression that explains consciousness as sat, chit, ananda.

Sat means the absolute, non-changing reality of life.
Chit means consciousness, or wakefulness.
Ananda means bliss.

Enlightenment is just waking up to, or becoming aware of, this inner reality of pure bliss.

Bliss: Message of all the Great Teachers

Maharishi brought Transcendental Meditation (TM) out of the Himalayas to bring this concrete experience of bliss to the world. He often said that "the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness" and that "life is here to enjoy". When we experience our essential nature through meditation, this reality of bliss grows more and more as a state of Being not dependant on anything from the outside for its fulfillment.

All the great teachers throughout time have expounded this reality. Christ said, "the kingdom of heaven is within" and Buddha talked about nirvana.

It amazes me to think that within every one of the 7 billion people on this planet lies this state of absolute bliss. Yet, unfortunately, relatively few people access it, or are even aware of it. In recent years, however, a spiritual awakening is clearly taking place and more and more people are becoming aware of this transcendental reality. Just imagine how transformed the world would be if all people were enjoying endless inner bliss, instead of being bogged down with stress, strain, and ill-health.

Bliss is not an Attitude

The reality of bliss within is not just a nice, fanciful New Age idea. It is not a mood, or an attitude, of happiness. In fact, trying to be happy can even create strain, especially if you are actually feeling bad. Also, trying to be happy or positive can foster an insincere and disingenuous state of mind--mood-making--which can be bothersome to those around. Have you ever been around someone who is pretending to be happy? It is so easy to see right through them.

Can Bliss Be Measured?

When we are feeling well, we naturally feel happier. Since bliss is our own fundamental nature, by reducing stress we simply create a situation for it to spontaneously blossom. The large amount of scientific research showing that the practice of Transcendental Meditation significantly reduces stress in the physiology explains why practitioners of TM also report markedly increased happiness in their lives.

Over 360 peer-reviewed studies on Transcendental Meditation show spontaneous, concrete changes in mind, body, and behavior. Studies have shown:

• Decreased depression
Reduced coronary heart disease
• Decreased Stress
• Increased Self-Confidence and Self-Actualization
• Orientation Towards Positive Values

Although we want to follow our bliss in the outside world, as advised by Joseph Campbell, the outside world is always changing and those moments of happiness will always be fleeting. Bliss is more than just a momentary experience of happiness in the outer world. It is a transcendental experience of wholeness, complete happiness, heavenly joy, and, in its most stabilized form, a continuum of bliss is a hallmark of the state of enlightenment.

References:
Joseph Campbell, An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms

Decreased Depression:
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Gedrag: Tijdschrift voor Psychologie [Behavior: Journal of Psychology] 4 (1976): 206-218.

Decreased Stress
Stress, Anxiety and Coping, 6 (1993): 245-262

Increased Self-Confidence and Self-Actualization
Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 17(1) (2005): 93-12
Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 17 (210) (2005): 21-46.
Transcendence and mature thought in adulthood: The further reaches of adult development. Lanham,Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 19939-70.
Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6 (1991): 189-247.
Higher Stages of Human Development: Perspectives on Adult Growth (New York: Oxford University Press,1990), 286-34
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British Journal of Psychology 73 (1982): 57-68.
College Student Journal 15 (1981): 140-146.
Journal of Counseling Psychology 20 (1973): 565-566.
Journal of Counseling Psychology 19 (1972): 184-187.

Orientation Towards Positive Values
Perceptual and Motor Skills 64 (1987): 1003-101