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On Our Way to Bliss?


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By Alyce Barry

I've been trying out a new idea lately — that we are all on our way to bliss. We're all eventually going to get there; it's just a matter of time. We're all at different stages of getting there, some closer and some farther away.

There's a skeptic inside me that takes a squint at the new idea and says, "That is way too good to be true." My answer to the skeptic is that this new idea seems to be the logical conclusion to a certain line of reasoning.

The reasoning goes like this:

  1. There is a purpose in our being here.
  2. Our purpose is to learn something.
  3. Life (or the Universe, or God if you're comfortable with that) sends us experiences that help us learn it.
  4. If we don't learn it in this lifetime, we come back around another time and learn some more. If we do learn it in this lifetime, then the next time around can be devoted to learning something else.
  5. We keep learning different things until we've learned everything we need.
  6. Eventually, we learn everything we need.
  7. When we've learned everything we need, it's pretty blissful!
  8. We're all on our way to bliss!
I've found that there are some ideas that look very simple at first, and then gradually you begin to realize they change everything!

This might be one of those ideas, and that's why I'm still checking it out.

For example, sometimes I get discouraged because it seems as if my list of issues to resolve — my "stuff" — is never-ending. When that happens, I wish I could just rest for a while — take a breather, you know?

Well, guess what? If we're all on our way to bliss, I can take a breather, or not take a breather, and it doesn't actually matter! If I don't get the learning now, I'm going to get it later. One way or the other, I'm going to get it, regardless of whether I take a breather now or not.

I'm one of those people who tends to process stuff 24/7, so a breather now and again is a good thing. This past week, for example, I took an entire day off. I'm writing a book, and on Wednesday night, I ran smack into a wall of exhaustion, so I took Thursday off. I didn't even write any emails. I read the newspaper, pruned a forsythia bush, listened to an opera, watched a movie. A delightful day, and very rejuvenating.

On the other hand, there are times when I decide not to take the breather after all. Paradoxically, knowing that it doesn't matter motivates me sometimes to skip the breather and keep going! I figure if I'm going to get some learning, I might as well go ahead and get a jump on it!

As a way of soothing my inner skeptic, I've so far avoided spending any time on fantasies about what the bliss at the end of the road might actually feel like. But I had a memory of having read a story of someone experiencing bliss, so I looked it up.

In his autobiographical book Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl Jung told the story of a near-death experience he had at the age of 69 following a heart attack. He found himself floating in space, looking down at the earth. Nearby, also hanging in space, was a stone the size of a house, which had been hollowed out into a temple. A man stood beside the entrance to the temple, and Jung knew the man was expecting him. He knew that if he went into the temple, he would hear the answers to all the questions he'd never had answers to: how his life fit into history, and why he had been born.

Jung didn't enter the temple; he was summoned back to this life by his doctor. Each night for the next three weeks, as he recovered his physical strength, he awakened and lay "in an ecstasy."

"I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe — in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness.... It is impossible to convey the beauty and intensity of emotion during those visions."
After three weeks, the visions faded and stopped, and for a time, Jung felt sorry to have lived. Then he re-engaged and lived another 16 years.

If we're on our way to bliss, and it's anything like Jung's visions, that would be good enough for me.

 
Alyce Barry is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and Coach, and a writer, baesd in Evanston, Illinois. Read more about Alyce.

 

This article originally appeared in our free email newsletter in May 2004. To subscribe, visit our subscription page.

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