A Mood Called "Bliss"

On vacation many years ago, I was reading the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism's holy books. It's basically a conversation between Arjuna (a charioteer about to go into battle) and a spirit. The spirit is urging Arjuna to let go of his attachment to the outcome of the battle. And all throughout the book, there is a continuous urge to let go of desires, to give up desiring.

This gave me an idea. I was on vacation and I had plenty of time, so I decided to try an experiment. I did a kind of meditation that lasted for several hours. I normally fidget a lot and have a hard time sitting still for long periods, but without any goal to sit still for so long, I was quite content to stay sitting there for hours because what I was doing made me feel contented.

All I did the whole time was notice when I had a desire, and then decide to let that desire go.

For the first time I realized I don't have any control over what I desire. Desires come up on their own. Just sitting there, one desire after another would pop up. I wanted to move my position. I wanted the pain in my leg to go away. I wanted to get up and have something to eat. I wanted to get rich. I wanted people to like me. I wanted things to go well at work. I wanted I wanted I wanted. One after another, this seemingly endless fountain of desires came forth. That part I had no control over.

But I did have some control after that point. I can decide on a desire or not. I may have the desire to have a beer, but then I can decide, "Nah, I don't really want one, now that I think about it."

In other words, I don't really control whether or not a desire comes up. But I do control whether I hang onto that desire or let it go (by deciding against it).

So that's all I did for several hours. I payed attention to when a desire came up, which was several per minute, and then each time, I decided to let the desire go. I simply decided No, I don't really want that now.

I achieved a kind of bliss I didn't think was possible without heavy medication. That was one of the most deeply peaceful experiences I have ever had in my life. I was completely at ease. I had found bliss and tranquillity.

Of course, most of my life is oriented toward goals, and that's the way I like it. I don't want to simply sit still and live in peace without doing anything worthwhile. But I now know where it comes from when I am discontented. It comes from desires. And I know that any time I want to descend into the well of deep peace and quench my thirst for bliss, I have a way. And now you do too.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Reliance, Translated and Principles For Personal Growth. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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