Why Is Bliss So Important? – Robert Thurman – Part 1
No Death No Fear – Session 10 – Why is Bliss so Important?
Featuring: Robert Thurman
Why is Bliss so Important?
I feel very honored and privileged to be here in this field, in this field of love with all of you. Love meaning the will to everyone’s happiness – basically that’s what love is. Now, one factor that’s in there, one thing that might let people feel a little less worried is that the basis, although Buddha is very careful about it and other great teachers are very careful about it, but the real basis of it is the ‘ananda’ part. You know, in Vedanta they say, “Sat-chit-ananda” the nature of ultimate reality. Being, awareness and bliss. Satchitananda. Ananda means joy or bliss, and Sokar also means bliss. Bliss is very key.
Actually Ram Dass for example is someone who has experienced in his life a tremendous amount of bliss. We mustn’t underestimate the role of the entheogenic in his life. It’s good because there’s been this horrible reaction in our culture for the last 50 years of people of the ilk of our current Attorney General who are very much afraid of bliss, and they want to make sure it stays illegal. I don’t mean any particular substance. What I mean is the actual bliss of a being’s health. Every single one of you has bliss, in fact your health is your bliss. Why are your cells, for example if you have a nice arm or body or belly or chest or bones, marrow, brain, it’s because one cell likes the cell next to it?
Those two cells like each other, “Oh let’s have some protein and do something. Let’s move the muscles, let’s do some yoga, let’s stretch.” So your inner bliss, everyone has. But you’re taught that you can’t have such a thing. So you’re very guarded, “Oh no maybe Jesus had bliss after he got strung up and escaped. Or Maharaj-ji had bliss or somebody else does but we’re not allowed to.” Because you have to obey somebody. And when people are blissful they don’t necessarily feel like obeying, you know? We all know that. Even the commercial monstrosity that our culture has become knows that. Do you all know the Zoloft commercial?
Has anybody seen that? Zoloft is a mood enhancing thing, a really pathetic one compared to some good ones. But it’s one that they can sell, it’s one that they can sell. It’s a commercial where there’s a lady in a kitchen with the window outside looking out to a suburban garden or field with some yellow flowers in the field. And she’s having a terrible time. The kid has just thrown his porridge on the floor, the dog is doing some unbelievably horrible thing, she’s just burned one of those plastic waffles that they sell you full of peanut genes and it’s smoking, the husband looks really cranky, like where’s my paper and my coffee, and she’s all ohhhawwww you know?
And then the camera pans for a few seconds out the window. And the little yellow flowers come off their stalks and they arrange themselves in a pattern that says (musical voice) “Zoloft” and then you know she took one. Then it’s like BOOM, the dog out the door, eat your porridge kid, new waffle in the toaster, husband get your own coffee and she’s just totally great. Then they go into that long after-tale in the commercial about how if you start feeling like an ax murderer, if you take this for 2 days, go to your doctor. You know those kinds of commercials. In other words the Zoloft is supposed to provide that sense of zing, that sense of bliss. We all know that’s when we really do whatever it is well, and that’s the essence of compassion actually.
You cannot really feel that someone who is suffering really shouldn’t be suffering unless you have a sense of what it’s like to be free of suffering. And realize that they too have that. You have to see the bliss in them even though they’re suffering, you see that way. Maharaj-ji did that, the Dalai Lama does that, people ask him, “Oh you’re having this terrible thing, this genocide going on in Tibet by the Chinese communists, you’re going out for 60 some years, how do you remain cheerful and happy anyway? Even though you’re not happy and not accepting it. You’re speaking out, you’re going all over the planet trying to speak up and get people to put a little pressure on the dictators and so forth not to do it. But personally, you remain happy.”
The point is, if you want to be effective compassion you have to be happy. People who are suffering are not interested in your laying down on the bed next to them and saying, “Oh yeah, we’re really suffering here.” That doesn’t really help them. They want someone who is feeling better, but is not showing off that and having schadenfreude, but is then therefore out of that better feeling able to do something. It’s like the mother who is with the child at the checkout counter at the grocery store. The child is in front of that huge stack and array of candy that they put there to freak out the mother and sell to the child. Then the child is having a tantrum and the mother doesn’t know what to do and she’s trying to pay the bill.
But when she feels really good she completely distracts that kid, “Oh hey what do you want something?” But if she has a headache or something she might even give him a smack and then they’ll have her arrested, if it gets really bad. Or she might buy 10 candies and then be having to pay for the diabetes in another 10 years. So bliss is a very big key and that’s what this is really about. No death, no fear. It sounds very brave and wonderful but actually it has to do with bliss.
Coming back to Ram Dass, the entheogenics, the psychedelics, all natural societies have some kind of sacrament, but it’s sacrament with a kick. It’s not just Manischewitz. It has a little kick. It temporarily melts down, it melts down the conditioning structure that you’re supposed to be obediently inhabited, the voice of your culture. Mine used to be the voice of Walter Cronkite. Some of you older people know what I mean. That was the reality voice, the reality voice is a voice that tells you “Don’t be too happy, that’s dangerous. Oh that’s not right, oh that’s awful.
Oh there’s nothing we can do about. Oh lead a life of quiet desperation,” as Mr. Thoreau said about 150 years ago or something. More than that, 170 years ago.
That voice temporarily gets suspended. Now if someone just does that then they’ll end up like poor David in a tree. So it’s not that by itself, but it sort of opens the veil. But then people like Ram Dass, then they find out how to do that permanently. Remember he understood who Maharaj-ji was because he gave that veil opening self to Maharaj-ji and Maharaj-ji was just the same. Therefore he knew by inference that Maharaj-ji was living without the veil and that you could do that. Then he decided to do that himself, so that’s very, very key. We must remember that the key to living representative of Maharaj-ji, our channel, our vessels of Maharaj-ji, which is this group, that they do have this bliss. That is the key thing that you all have to have and find on this retreat, you have to have bliss.
When your intellect is like, “Oh it’s so awful.” Then that’s a kind of version of what’s called the pride of humility. It’s a mental affliction, you have to get over it. People who die, if you lost them, they’re not sitting up in heaven with a misery meter like “Oh good! They’re still miserable because I’m gone!” No way! They want you to be happy. So we should remember that, that’s very, very key.
The second way I wanted to approach this is with the fact that now that Yogi Berra got us past the anxiety of the Buddhist Hindu division, which I’m so thrilled. Right? Because we’re all taking the fork, we’re all going with both branches, that means. I really like that. Imagine coming to Maharaj-ji’s field and being spoken to by Yogi Berra. And that is this, everyone is scared of dying someone was saying yesterday, oh you must help them, everyone is so worried about it.
Well excuse me, how much do you hate falling to sleep at night? Any of you? Don’t you love it? Ahhh, it’s all over now. Oh it was great. The lecture was great, the chant was great, the teaching was great, the beach was great, the water was great, the food was great and that’s enough of it all – crash. Don’t you love it? Well. You fall asleep because you entrust yourself to absolute nothingness. You lose consciousness, you’re happy to get rid of it. No consciousness. If you don’t lose it – where’s my Ambien? Give me a sleeping pill. Oh, you’ll feel terrible tomorrow. You love losing consciousness.
Why do you think people got into the opioid thing when they lost their jobs? Because they wanted to lose consciousness while they’re awake. The human being is very escapist, the unenlightened one. They have this problem. They think their real self is something separate from their body, and therefore they are ignoring the actual bliss of their life force. Then they feel therefore they don’t have enough happiness, they’re dissatisfied with everything. Then all they can do is worry about “How happy am I? Was that a great talk? Oh that was great, but was it really the greatest? Could there be a better one some other time? Oh it was much better before when I saw so and so. If someone else was here I’d be so much happier. Oh if my guru was here I’d be so happy.”
Then when you think about evaluating how much you have, you’re unhappy. What is the source of your unhappiness? Is it the lack of anything you could possibly want in the moment? No. It is that you are not appreciating everything that is there. You are not seeing the bliss in your fingertip. Your fingertip would be growing a weird growth if it was miserable, because it would be worrying about some other weird intruder in there. It wouldn’t be embracing the intruder and turning into something useful. That’s what we do when we eat food. We put in alien substances and our happy microbiome. You know about the microbiome? You know that you’re a community of a million billion beings, and your miserable 23,000 genes you have as a little bit of hairless chimpanzee, which is what we are.
You know we have only 23,000 genes. They thought they were going to really get to, the scientists, the materialists, thought they would really control everything with that. Then they found we have like a billion genes in our microbiome. Those mango eating bugs, there’s billions of them in your stomach. They enjoy being in your stomach. They enjoy being in your stomach and they love it. They go in there and you put in some weird hotdog with some weird sauce and strange chemicals and MSG and I don’t know what all. Entrails of some ranch with some dead cow in there, and then they turn it into something nice because they’re happy. But are you aware of the happiness of your microbiome? Nooo.
(Whining) “I don’t know, where’s guru-ji?” Okay? And then when you fall asleep, this is a very important thing. When you fall asleep you go through all the stages of consciousness, disillusion, that you will go through at death. Which, I’m sorry, we are all definitely going to go through that. Even enlightened persons, the reason enlightened persons do that though, a really enlightened person is not ordinary. Don’t believe this crap about “Oh you get all enlightened and it’s the same old dishes to wash.” Or something like that. No way. Don’t believe any of this, “Oh enlightenment was so great, but now I’m washing dishes.” If you hear that then that’s not, that guy missed the boat.
If they say, “I got enlightened and now washing dishes is ecstasy,” then it’s okay. Because then, the ordinary thing they are doing in the moment and being aware of that and so it is ecstasy. We are so lucky you know? How lucky are you all here?! We are all so incredibly lucky. We’re human beings. We ate a lot of mangoes. We were bugs a lot of times. Bugs can be happy too; our microbiome are happy. Because they get to see Guru-ji you know, they’re in there digesting rice and dahl and then somehow through you they get contact in the field of an enlightened being, so your bugs are happier than other people’s bugs. But the thing is, you’re so lucky because you’re a human being, you know?
Do you think it’s easy to become a human being? Of course, you think that it just happens naturally, “My genes did it.” Materialists, materialism is one of the most psychotic world views that can be. Definitely. These people, either Hindu or Buddhist, these people in India, they are great scientists. They are not religious fanatics. There are many religious fanatics of course in every form, Buddhist as well as Hindu as well as whatever. Although Hindu doesn’t really have a proper word, either Vishnivites, Shaivites, Shakyites.
There are different religions in India. Hindu is just a word made up by Arabs to cover all religions ever existing in India, it isn’t really a particular one. My point is, their main thing is science. They have their great universities, where they didn’t have a dark age, by the way. When we were having a dark age in Italy and Europe they were having these fabulous universities, and the queen and the king of the sciences which is what they call inner science. Inner science is how to manage your mind and how to come prepared to Baba Ram Dass’ statements about the 3 levels of the soul level and then the One level. The One, the Soul and then the meat puppet, he talks about.
He told me at lunch, I was saying “Non-duality, non-duality…” and he was saying, “I’m a dualist.” And I said, “Non-duality supports dualism. Non-duality loves dualism, that’s why it’s non-duality and not just monism, oneness. It’s non-duality. Non-duality means we’re all already in the soul, all of us, we’re already in Nirvana, that’s really what nonduality means. You’re already with Brahma, this is Brahma. Guru-ji is with you, you can’t be separated from Guru-ji. Those who are missing Guru-ji because he’s dead were missing him when he was alive, actually.” Unless they were like in his lap all the time, like a few of them – where is he? (Laughter) But he kept kicking you out on the other hand! Driver, driver, go back to America.
End of Part 1 of this excerpt.
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- steve stein