Humans tend to think happiness depends on fortunate or positive events but this belief can keep you stuck on a roller coaster ride of emotion, because life events are naturally both positive AND negative, and everything in between.
In life, good things happen… and bad things happen too. It’s inevitable.
Enlightened masters found the key to experiencing bliss even while undergoing the most unimaginable suffering, including imprisonment in a holocaust death camp:
“…. The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss… in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation… man can, through loving contemplation of… his beloved, achieve fulfillment.” – Austrian Holocaust Survivor, Viktor Frankl, in his memoir Man’s Search for Meaning, emphasis mine
Throughout history, masters suffered through friendless isolation, starvation, imprisonment, or cancer… while hardly blinking an eye. It’s like they didn’t even notice. Some even discovered infinite bliss in their darkest abyss.
Still, whether life circumstances are marked by unimaginable suffering, or just slight discomfort or annoyance, negative experiences do not have to dent or affect your level of joy.
What’s the secret?
It isn’t about “looking at the bright side” or by “thinking positive.” These popular tropes and clichés are a slap in the face for someone stuck in the worst horrors life has to offer.
Rather, the masters are clear that the way to experience bliss in suffering is to wake up to reality.
“…. I am above the suffering of the body. Know me to be infinite, like unto space, one Self.” – Avadhuta Gita, verse 53
Still, it’s one thing to believe you’re ABOVE suffering, but it’s quite another thing to actually experience transcendence.
And yet, maybe you have experienced it – and more often than you realize.
When I ordered groceries for delivery early this morning, I received moldy raspberries, overripe tomatoes, the wrong cabbage with mildew, and nearly dead Thai basil. I could have reported my complaints and even received a refund. There would’ve been nothing wrong with that. But I was so full of joy to have my groceries delivered, I simply threw it in the compost, changed my recipes, and enjoyed my wonderful exquisite breakfast. My breakfast tasted so delicious and fulfilling, I didn’t care at all that I paid for some rotten food.
Another example is my studio apartment. I love my studio so much, somehow I don’t mind that I’ve never had a working oven or heater the last 3 years. My building maintenance and property management ultimately faulted me for their inability to fix the electrical issues after years of repeated attempts by multiple technicians. I didn’t mind taking the blame but the appliances still needed repair, so I patiently continued my maintenance requests. The problems were never resolved, but I could finally just laugh. I still love my home and I never stopped loving and enjoying it.
When you discover someone or something you truly love, life’s inherent drama, challenges, and drawbacks become an intriguing or beautiful adventure rather than a tomb.
What about deeper challenges and real pain? Even when miserably sick in bed for several years, buried in endless depression, or with my face in a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor in the heartbreak of betrayal… I can now say it’s not only possible to feel joy in pain and sorrow… joy is your very essence – no matter what your circumstances.
“Happiness is our real state.” ― Sri Ramana Maharshi
To really FEEL your innate joy, you don’t have to heal your past, or change your situation or your attitude or your perspective. And you don’t have to keep your head in the clouds by repeating a spiritual mantra…. You can actually feel joy from pain itself. You heard that right. You don’t have to change a thing when you’re in pain.
To my surprise, I discovered how good it actually feels to release deep tears and screams, and to let it all go in a completely helpless, powerless… bedridden illness, which felt like death. I had no idea joy could be felt in these experiences, and many others just like it. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me? Instead, I was taught to fear and resist “negative” emotions and experiences.
The more you wake up in consciousness, the more bliss you discover, even if all you have in your possession is a leaf from a tree. That single leaf can give you endless bliss in a new way every day, if you could really see it and experience it.
Bliss from a simple leaf goes beyond all ideas of wealth and poverty, which are illusions.…
No matter what your circumstances, when you find ways to honestly enjoy life, life enjoys YOU in unexpected, spontaneous ways.
Even if you’re hanging on to your last breath, some masters consider breath to be the most divine human experience – a natural connection to the “other side” (of the veil.)
Enjoying the pure experience of breathing is my very favorite thing to do during yoga meditation. There are no words to describe the infinite calm and bliss of taking a simple breath of air, any way it comes to you – and even if it’s your last. It’s truly amazing how much we take for granted.