Monday, April 24, 2006

What about bliss?

I have found an interesting new meditation book - new to me, that is. It's called Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. I've noticed that many meditation books start off by saying what meditation is not and this is no exception. Today I'd like to bring to you what this writer has to say about the misconception that meditation is about bliss states:
Meditation does produce lovely blissful feelings sometimes. But they are not the purpose, and they don't always occur. Furthermore, if you do meditation with that purpose in mind, they are less likely to occur than if you just meditate for the actual purpose of meditation, which is increased awareness. Bliss results from relaxation, and relaxation results from release of tension. Seeking bliss from meditation introduces tension into the process, which blows the whole chain of events. It is a Catch-22: you can only experience bliss if you don't chase after it. Euphoria is not the pupose of meditation. It will often arise, but should be regarded as a byproduct. Still, it is a very pleasant side effect, and it becomes more and more frequent the longer you meditate. You won't hear any disagreement about this from adavnced practitioners.

People are sometimes disappointed when bliss states do not arise. It's important not to judge your meditation. The whole point is to learn to accept whatever thoughts arise without judgment. Let your meditation be what it is. As long as you're bringing your mind gently back to the meditation support then you're meditating.

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