We have all heard that Buddha said that life was suffering, right? Wrong.
Buddha did not say that life was suffering (duhkha in Sanskrit). Rather Buddha said that certain mental activities lead to and perpetuated habitual suffering (samsara in Sanskrit). Buddha also taught that one could eliminate suffering (break the samsaric cycle), which he called the path. When the path is completed, then lasting happiness is experienced by the yogi; i.e., suffering and the causes of suffering has ended (called nirvana).
These four noble truths (samsara, the cause of samsara, nirvana, and the path of reaching nirvana) are fundamental to Buddhism. They are to be taken as a whole -- as the ground, the cause, the path, and the fruit. In early Buddhism samsara (suffering in cyclic existence) and nirvana (unconditional liberation from suffering and lasting happiness) were formulated as being on opposite ends of a linear spectrum; i.e., samsara and nirvana were seen as dualistic opposites. That superficial formulation was corrected in subsequent turnings of the dharma. This error cropped up because of a deeply conditioned assumption of a self (atman) in the Indian psyche, even though Buddha taught selflessness/no self (anatta). In the path of the early Indian Buddhists, this assumption of a self or observer) and some thing that was observed (object) was a starting point, however it mostly reinforced the delusion that there was a separate self (observer) and separate sense objects.
Attacking that very assumption of intellectually imputing a reality to sense objects and an independent observer (ego) can not be successful unless the "observer" could possibly stand outside of that dualistic assumption/context. Attempts to do so mostly created nihilism where nirvana was thought of as a separate other worldly place, apart from phenomena, existence, and life. Hence the early Buddhists too often saw themselves negating life, "the world", nature, the senses, and the self in an ascetic attitude often bordering on self abnegation despite the Buddha teaching the middleway. In short, it was never the sense organs, the body, nature, or sense objects which were the the real difficulty, rather it was how the limited mind interpreted and categorized the sensory data.
It became obvious that a corrective teaching on the middleway was needed, hence the Mahayana. The Mahayana emphasized the precious human body as the best vehicle to reaching nirvana, it taught the middle way free from the extremes of nihilism and eternalism, the all inclusive unity of form (rupa- Sanskrit) and emptiness (sunyata) and the embodied path of the bodhisattva whose compassionate mission was to liberate others.
Many early Buddhist traditionalists objected to such a reformulation and hence there occurred many polemic debates by the intellectuals based on dialectics. Many of the early Mahayana advocates, being champions of the Mahayana, utilized sophisticated dialectic techniques. Such an advocate was Nagarjuna. The academic philosophical school that followed him was called the Madhyamaka.
Nagarjuna and the Madhyamika are only briefly mentioned here because of their wide following in academic circles, which the Tibetan tradition for example has become greatly mired. Unfortunately the Madhyamika took the same wrong turn that the early Buddhists took, in that they attempted to understand non-dual selflessness in dualistic terms (impossible as it is). The self or observer can not ultimately contemplate or analyze the ultimate mind which is empty of self. Instead of following Nagarjuna all that is necessary to understand the Prajnaparamita Sutras where form (rupa) and emptiness (sunyata) are not to be separately analyzed. Rather form is empty of an independent/separate self, where its true nature (the true nature of phenomena) can be made clear once the yogi realizes the true empty nature of one's own mind (empty of separate independent self. That realization is not accomplished through intellectual analysis but through transconceptual methods. Those yogis who realized the true nature of their own minds went on to teach tantra, mahamudra, and the great expanse teachings.
Where sutra teaches analytical analysis and negation/rejection as the path, it becomes a very long path. A large time saver is to recognize that form and void, samsara and nirvana, love and wisdom, great bliss and emptiness are a unity – they are inseparable
It is crucial not to be confused about what tantra means by great or vast bliss. Vast bliss is not dualistic, rather it is unconditional ultimate happiness not contingent/dependent on objects, but rather the realization of interdependence – an all pervasive /interpenetration where "self" is not separate from other(s). hence it is not the ananda (bliss) or small pleasure that is the result of satisfying ordinary egoic craving. like a new hat, physical pleasure, relief of tension, heroin, alcohol, sex, etc. Rather the yogi brings the innate all pervasive bliss into all one's activities (All Our Relations) as they bring in their vast realization of interdependence. That vast bliss/happiness naturally and effortlessly accompanies vast awakening, vast gnosis, vast space, and vast love. Limitless atemporal vast bliss accompanies the atemporal limitless non-dual open and transconceptual wisdom mind.
In this sense unity (integrity) is great bliss in so far as there are no limits imposed upon it by the limited frameworks of the intellectual mind where self luminous vivacity co-emerges as an activated light and love.
Too often in religion, spiritual or heavenly rewards have been equated with asceticism, self sacrifice, punishment, and even self adversity and flagellum. We have seen how even in Buddhism, despite Buddha's teaching of the middleway free from extremes such anti life, anti-nature, and other worldly ideas have cropped in as well, thus seriously eroding a living spirituality.
In Buddhism, the main reasons why bliss was warned against.
1) not to get carried away with chasing one's tail in thinking that any lasting benefit would accrue by fulfilling neurotic cravings.
2) In meditation and other practices not to get carried away in great bliss to the point of losing consciousness, sacrificing clarity of mind, or thinking that one is enlightened or finished.(bliss is a symptom/result but not the end while there are many levels of bliss).
3) In tantra not to lose concentration or consciousness and be overcome by bliss (lower realms) as a distraction.
4) Not to be seduced in the desire bliss realms because of temporary success as a result from practice. Rather one is encouraged to go all the way to complete liberation as a Buddha in order to liberate others. Again bliss is not the end.
Having said the above, most Westerners because of neurosis, guilt, self adversarialness, and confusion will benefit by creating blissful states within the bodymind. It is hard to feel good about oneself in the mind, and also hard to feel good about one's body in the mind, let alone feeing good in the space of the physical body.
Advanced yogis will realize that feeling good in the body and the mind or feeling good about the body in the mind is in itself a two way street (non-dual). Our neurophysiology, brain waves, and hormones changes according to our thoughts and our thoughts change according to our biochemistry, neurophysiology, and bodily function. A key here is that creating a warm fuzzy, happy, and open space in the body provides us with genuine refuge – a living alchemical base/vessel from which to work with.
This relationship is so very important in order to help us break out of bodymind addictive cycles, hence freeing up tike, space, and knowledge for higher function and high level wellness activity.
This can be achieved in many ways. One way is through special body mind exercises such as yoga, chi gong, tai chi, and similar where the goal is not accomplishing the physical form, but wherein working with the physical form accomplishes a psycho-energetic awareness whereby previously energy and awareness were blocked or remained stagnant, repressed, or dormant.
Instead of initiating physical movement in coordination with psycho-energetic awareness, one can also even more subtly initiate a spatial awareness by placing one's awareness at a body region, nadi, chakra, gland, organ, muscle group, This type of exercise is essentially tantric purifying, relaxing, regulating, energizing, and integrating the prana flow, nadis, and chakras in harmony with the larger (body, mind, spirit) mandala. Here the yogi simply visualizes the energetic space surrounding the specific region to be worked on, placing one's attention there. In order for this to be sublimely effective, this space that is created has to be non-dual and vast; i.e., the body has to be known as a specific part within the overall greater context/integrity of the whole.
I both methods vast bliss is to generated/released spontaneously. It is not to be forced, but it is to be allowed for as a natural expression. Vast space, vast knowledge, and atemporal primordial awareness allow for vast unconditional bliss.
Human beings look for fulfillment, wellness, happiness, and bliss habitually in all the wrong places. One must ask is this or that just chasing my tail? Is it leading me anywhere? Will it give me what I truly need?
Vast bliss comes to us through a vast relationship with All Our Relations. "Normally" when we seek out gross physical pleasure as a substitute for this lack/separation we are looking for a buzz, a fuzzy warm feeling, anesthesia from our pain and suffering, and/or escape/numbness from feeling bad in general. We usually don't realize that e can give ourselves without any outside instrument (no alcohol, drug, food, new hat, vacation, or distraction is needed nor desired).
We should know that each and every feeling of need, craving, aversion, dissatisfaction, hatred, anger, fear, etc., has an analogue in the body. Attending to that internal vessel as the object of our attention gives us a large and effective handle on the overall process.
This can and "should" occur naturally and spontaneously assuming that we are living in our natural state; i.e., that the natural unconditioned mind is not blocked or limited in manifesting through the bodymind. However most bodymind organisms have become negatively conditioned and hence the pathway/channels have become blocked. The natural remedy then needs to be applied, in order to bring psycho-energetic awareness back to the vehicle so that it can express itself as a messenger of vast knowledge, happiness, love, and wisdom.
The larger the space, the greater the knowledge. Vast space is always available even when we are not aware of it. The trick is to allow for it
There are many ways to effect the wider magical matrix/mandala while reentering the timeless hologram. One simple method is to become aware of pre-existing discomfort, energetic blockage, pain, or lack at a bodily region through scanning the body. Then focus on the luminous space surrounding that region with all the senses and the breath. Become aware of the vast luminous all pervasive unlimited space at the same time. That vast space is pulsatory containing powerful vectors and moment. Allow the two spaces to integrate as one. Here we transform suffering/limitation into bliss and openness. HERE vast bliss is the union of openness and alive vividness, emptiness and vivacity.
As a mundane practical example, we will take the desire for alcohol. Usually it is an ersatz attempt to find space, to feel good, warm, fuzzy, loosen up, relax, get the circulation going, lose one's worries, drop rigid thought patterns, tensions, stress, and tightness. In the short run it appears fast, easy, and effective, but in the long ruin it is dysfunctional. It is far better to learn how to create one's own fuzzy warm, open, and loose open space in the bodymind and/or how to maintain it,
This is the teaching of bringing vast bliss and unconditional happiness into life – where bliss is consciously applied to each situation joyously and effortlessly.
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