Monday, October 11, 2010

The Bliss Trap

A relative of my spouse recently sent him a book and video which she said was the most life-changing and important teaching she'd yet found. She claimed that, thanks to this material, she'd been living in non-duality for the last two years. I wondered how she'd managed to do that since duality is a precondition of manifestation. I admit my expectations were not high. This woman is your stereotypical new-ager, a bliss ninny. She's spent upwards of twenty years going from one Guru/seminar/workshop/retreat to the next, and each of them has been the ultimate revelation... for a time.

The name of this particular Guru du jour is Tony Parsons. If you haven't heard of him, you're not missing anything. He's a fake. I have a highly developed ability to see the presence of Spirit in a person's eyes. I can recognise a psychopath, and he is one. The video was of a talk he gave in Germany. He introduced himself by telling his listeners that he was going to give a talk about something he can't explain, and they can't understand. (Really? Why?) His big revolutionary secret was this: you don't exist; stuff just happens. It doesn't mean anything and all spiritual seeking is a big fat waste of time. I kid you not. Amazingly, the audience politely remained in their seats until the break. Very few returned afterwards. I wondered how anyone could take this stuff seriously. Then I realised that his talk was like a really long koan; it didn't make sense on any level, but the effort to understand would eventually cause one's rational mind to flee the scene, leading to an experience of no-mind or pure presence. The no-mind state is a bona fide peak experience. How ironic. If you were inclined to confuse peak experiences with their triggers, you'd probably think there was some truth in Tony Parson's teaching. This is dangerous stuff. Peak experiences can be valuable, but can also lead one down false paths if they come with wrong explanations attached.

Peak experiences don't last. They're meant to show you something true, but then you need to integrate them. To bridge the gap between here and there, you have to start here, not there. It's important to keep peak experiences in perspective. And it's hard to do that when they're so darn blissful. It's tempting to make them an end in themselves, but that is the spiritual equivalent of drug addiction. To illustrate, lets say you want to learn to cook something really delicious, like cinnamon buns. It would help you a lot if you knew what they were supposed to taste like. So you seek out some cinnamon buns, and eat some to find out. They taste wonderful, and you might easily forget about learning to make them, and instead sit there gorging yourself on the ones you were given to taste. But eventually, the pleasure would wear off, and you still wouldn't know how to make them.

It is futile to seek bliss for it's own sake. It is extremely common though, to confuse bliss-seeking with spirituality. That's how so many people, like my spouse's relative, end up on the new-age hamster-wheel, falling for one predatory bliss-peddler after another. Ignorance is bliss, but it isn't Truth. And Truth is the real aim of spirituality, not bliss. Truth isn't something you can buy or sell. It can't even be acquired directly, only revealed through the stripping away of the false. The search for Truth is an unlearning. The process of tearing down the veils of illusion is often painful. The false ego is very attached to it's lies. You have to be head over heels in love with Truth to do it. Seeking bliss as an end, is a trap.

Bliss-seeking isn't authentic spirituality. It's feel-good, pseudo-spirituality. It gives you a self-image to identify with. You'll learn how to walk and talk and dress like a "spiritual person", "light-worker", or whatever. There's also great, albeit expensive, entertainment value to be had. It's very exciting. You get to sit at the feet of famous vampires (oops, I mean Gurus) talk to "angels" and "aliens" and "ascended masters", and activate a seemingly infinite number of hitherto undiscovered chakras. Meanwhile, you will become more and more spaced out and ego-centric, and you will, frankly, give sincere seekers the creeps.

Here's a pearl for free: Anyone who offers to sell you spiritual truth is full of shit. There are no exceptions. Those who populate the new-age workshop/seminar circuit are either delusional or vilest predatory scum. Truth doesn't keep company with those who would slap a price tag on her. You're welcome.

Positive thinking is probably the most common type of bliss-seeking. One of the big new-age aphorisms is "you create your own reality". The statement is technically true but usually misunderstood. The source of the error is in the word "you". If you understand that the "you" referred to here is infinite awareness, the One, then it's true. If you think "you" means your ego, with all it's desires and conscious intentions, then it's not true. And thank god it's not. If your ego really could create your reality, you would not like the results. Your true Self, the One, is creating your reality in order to lead your personal expression to recognise Truth. It knows how best to accomplish this, and suffering is sometimes necessary. Your personal self can learn to align itself with that, or not. If you think you can create a perfect reality through relentless positivity, you're fooling yourself. If you're standing in the path of a moving train, it's going to hit you whether you're looking at it or not. Whatever appears in your reality, was put there by your Self for your benefit. It will take as many shapes as necessary until you see. Then your Self will show you something else.

The quest for Truth has no end. Truth is none other than the One in it's fullest expression. It is infinite, as the One is infinite. There are definite levels of increasing inclusiveness and integration along the way, though. Sometimes people level up and think they've reached the end, but they haven't because it doesn't exist. It is utterly, gloriously wonderful that this should be so. Is it not?


  1. Now I can't remember how I found your blog but really enjoyed this and the previous post. Well said!

  2. Thanks Elena. It's nice to hear from you.

  3. And she's back! I take the last several months have been, shall we say, hectic?