Questions about the Happy Mind: #4. Is happiness a shallow and selfish goal? Part 2: Absolute bliss

by William R. Yoder on October 31, 2010

Happiness is the reflection of being self-aware of your truth

The inner drive toward happiness and feeling better is much more than just selfish gratification. In the deepest sense, it is the inner truth of love striving for self-awareness and self-expression. Buddha says that the liberation from suffering is actually a very positive state, which he calls absolute bliss. We are motivated to move toward this absolute bliss because a deeper part of ourselves knows that we don’t have to settle for relative limited happiness, for an on-going cycle of happiness and unhappiness, for being sort of happy some of the time. The deepest part of our mind which has never forgotten its truth calls forth to that level that is lost in forgetfulness. And the call is, “There is more.  More love, more joy, more peace that you are currently experiencing. More than you can even conceive or imagine for yourself now. So keep looking.” It is in this sense that happiness is the promise and the goal of life.

The truth of here and now

Some readers might object here that “looking for” a “goal” will take us away from the here and now of our ever-unfolding journey. But in the case of our spiritual journey, the goal is the truth of here and now. We are trying to remember what we have forgotten, reawaken to what we have covered over with our mistaken ideas and our mistaken identification with our egos. We are, in effect, trying to get back to here and now. And not even so much “get back” as rather simply become aware of the eternal here and now of love that we have never left—that we never could have left. And the way that we know we have returned to Self-awareness is that we feel only absolute peace, unconditional love, all-encompassing compassion, perfect joy, absolute bliss, a sense of the oneness of all beings.  In the interest of simplicity, I have called this “happiness.”

Absolute bliss: the end of the line

As I said above, Buddha called this state “absolute bliss” (or at least that is a common English translation). To be in absolute bliss is not to experience some particular emotion apart from ourselves. To be in absolute bliss means to self-awarely be absolute bliss. The truth of our being is love. And when we are self-aware of ourselves as be-ings of love, we are absolute bliss.

And “absolute” means that not only is there no un-bliss or unhappiness present in that state at all, but there is no longer any motivation or impulse to look further or deeper. In that holy instant, we simply are what we are.

You are what you are, but you may not know it

Of course at some level, we always are what we are. We could not be anything else. But if we think we are something else, then we are unaware of our truth and we experience the illusion of being something else. That unawareness reveals itself in the form of the experience of unhappiness and suffering (fear, struggle, grasping, conflict and competition, anger, hatred, anxiety, depression, addiction, etc.).  The unpleasantness of that kind of experiences drives us to seek more deeply—drives us to remember what we have forgotten and covered over.

Happiness reminds us that we have remembered

We know we have finally remembered when we experience—i.e., when we self-awarely are—absolute bliss, perfect peace and joy, a sense of oneness and harmony, a feeling of all-encompassing compassion—in short, perfect happiness.

Far from being shallow and self-absorbed, this kind of happiness is the realization of our deepest truth. Happiness is the promise and the goal of life, and we are the realization of that promise.

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