Joseph Campbell, the mythologist and anthropologist, was known for his saying, "Follow your bliss". This seems like sound advice; why wouldn't someone want to spend his or her life doing what is enjoyable?
But yet, when real life comes along, following one's bliss suddenly becomes a bit of a challenge. There are bills to paid and maybe not enough money for one to pay them, relationships that need to be tended to if they are to be maintained for any length of time, rifts between friends and neighbors that need to be mended for peace of mind. Then there is food shopping, whether you have to do it yourself or have to convince someone else to do it for you, depending on the household. For many people who live outside of a major metropolitan area, making sure your vehicle runs well is a necessity to even get to your job which you need to maintain your vehicle, not to mention pay for food shopping. Household maintenance, whether they are the stereotypical male jobs such as fixing appliances or stereotypical female jobs like cleaning have to get done. And if one lives alone, there is no disputing gender differences when one has to rely on him or herself to get stuff fixed.
All this fun stuff has to get done just to get through the day: who has time for this bliss stuff? Anyone who is sitting around worrying about that kind of thing must have too much time on his hands and needs another job. And how the heck are you supposed to know what your bliss is, for that matter, when your life is caught up in so much trivia?
A busy life doesn't necessarily have time for hours of meditation on a mountaintop where you spend day and night writing in a journal to dig for your True Self. Sometimes just taking one step towards what one wants is better than not taking any at all. Busy lives take on the mindset that if something doesn't have a quick answer or solution, then it is probably not applicable to begin with. Maybe this is true on a corporate level, but not so on the soul level, which isn't much into day planners or Palm Pilots; not so strange considering that the soul has been around longer than any technology we have. It operates on a slower level, but still will respond to any attention given it. The smallest step towards moving towards one's bliss is always positive, even if the same progress would be discounted in the material world.
In starting small, find one thing that you like, say, Woody Allen movies. Or maybe macadamia nuts are your thing. Find time, even if it is five minutes, to experience this pleasure. Five minutes may be enough for the macadamia nut guy, but what about Woody Allen? What can you do in five minutes with him? The point is not so much about finishing something, treating it like part of a to-do list, as to experience them. In those five minutes, your soul has been invited to examine what gives it pleasure, to scan the horizon for its bliss and real destiny. So, spend five minutes with Woody Allen, if that is your bliss and five minutes is all you have. The only thing that is needed to accomplish in this time is that you experience your bliss.
The most important thing is not to give up on your bliss even if it doesn't seem like it isn't going as you think it should. That means not giving up the idea of rock climbing because the money is tight, or nor giving up the dream of going overseas to the Peace Corps because your family doesn't approve. Sometimes, to reach a dream like this in its totality, you have to give up trying to force it from happening, yet keep it in mind. This is a difficult balance, one that can only really be anchored by being open to the moment. It is sometimes hard to trust in the flow of things. It is also hard to believe that things will happen one day in the face of the contrary. Letting things go seems antithetical to doing what you want to. It's like putting your own desires on hold while the flow gets it together and finally realizes the wisdom in cooperating with your plans.
Why should you wait for the flow? Isn't that just another rationalization for putting your desires on hold? What's the difference between not doing stuff because the flow isn't right and not doing stuff because people will be ticked off?
The difference between the two philosophies is that one is surrendering to the higher order of things, the infinite realm that knows of everything that we can't, be it Allah, the Great Spirit, or whatever, and the other is surrendering to the finite that has its own personal agenda that could be as deluded or more deluded than our own wishes. An individual person tends to be mired in his own ego, and it is very difficult for any one person to extricate from that situation. Even a parent's love for her child, one of the purest human loves, is somewhat rooted in fear, such as fear for the child's safety as the offspring goes to school for the very first time.
This is why the flow doesn't come from one particular person's dictate. A person may have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of a relationship. This is usually a fear-based reaction, and has nothing to do with the freedom of growth that following one's bliss provides. This forced reaction can come from within, or without. A person may be afraid that he will miss his chance to do something, say, take a long trip, then venture forth unprepared just to prove he can do it. Or, a person may be afraid that if her boyfriend goes across country to pursue law school, their relationship will be in jeopardy. She may try to convince him that the time isn't right, that they need to get married, or some other type of persuasion, when in the scheme of his life, it is a perfect time to go to law school across the country.
More subtly, a desire to get things done may lead someone to answer the call by going to the wrong spiritual address, so to speak. A person may, for example, be authentically empowered to become a politician. He/she may have a natural bent for negotiation and the thick skin needed to be involved in that lifestyle. It is easy to see how this can turn into an example of pushing against the flow. In a society that encourages people to rise to the top of a hierarchy, one may think that nothing but the top echelons will spell success. Certainly politics is one of the creme de menthe ladders available for this purpose. A person who was gifted to be an ambassador to Argentina may think that he/she is a failure unless he/she runs for senator, then once that is achieved, nothing short of the presidential election will do. In the meantime, the person's deepest desire had been to transfer his/ her ambassadorship from Argentina to Russia. But this person allowed fear of inadequacy to take over his/her actions, and instead began living a forced path of ambition. If it is really forced, this person will feel unfulfilled, no matter what the externals of his/her life looks like.
There is a very fine line between waiting and ignoring the path to bliss. But for a person to feel like he/she is going in the right direction in his life, one has to take time to feel out what his/her bliss is. Waiting is not an excuse to stop trying, to keep one's eyes out. Once people discover their passion, they have an obligation to themselves and to others to pursue it. One's happiness is necessary to be of the most service to people. Finding one's passion is the key to the best path for all to follow.
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