A man with a unique since of wonder and understanding, Joseph Campbell’s life is an incredible story. Born with a keen interest in not only what people believe, but how they believe, Joe grew up with a different perspective toward religion and mythology than most might. Knee high to a grasshopper, he developed a fascination with Native American living and mythology. This hunger led him down a rabbit hole of sorts, as he devoured every Native American text in the children’s section of his local library. Once he was permitted into the adult section, where he read through many texts in a white heat. This sparked a wildfire of self-learning and educating that Mr. Campbell would not be able to tame, and would eventually come to understand as his bliss.
What is your purpose? What gets you jazzed, pumped, inspired, ginned up, or just plain ol’ excited? How do you find Zen? It’s no secret that everyone wants to be happy, but what is the secret to finding such a state of mind?
“It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Another way I look at that statement is; As you walk through a city you have to keep your head up. If you continue to take stride after stride with your eyes to the pavement, worried about the cracks you may step on, you will miss out not only on the correct turns and paths you are hoping to take, but the beautiful faces you will encounter along the way. The doors are always there, but if we do not become aware, or open to our purpose (or bliss) we will not see them. Even when we are aware we need something extra, like our desire, to approach the threshold of a closed door and try the handle. If it is locked, we shall rely on our persistence and courage to either pick the lock or break the door down to see what’s on the other side.
I know, I know, easier said than done right? If only we were unable to practice this method every day, right? Every dawn brings closed doors that we must either open or break down. We might not realize it, but we do. Whether it’s public speaking, dealing with conflict, taking a new job, or quitting your current one to pursue your bliss, or looking past a friend or loved one who doesn’t believe you can succeed.
In the end it’s what makes you happy that is important. Come on, we’ve heard this since we were kids. So why is it so hard to follow through? Do we feel guilty of our happiness when we know so many who aren’t, or is it something else?
“Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
There you have it! What puts that smile on your face, or makes you jump into action? That happiness you feel when you think about whatever it is that makes you feel good, that is the start of finding your bliss and living the life you want! Everyone in the world right now knows whether or not they are happy or not. Some for different reasons, such as health, wealth, etc. but nonetheless it is relevant to how we live our lives and how we operate in this world. Through happiness and finding our bliss, we can better ourselves, we can better our families, our communities, the world.
In my experience, the word “bliss” hasn’t always carried fruitful connotations, frankly because of the misuse of the term. Not necessarily religious or spiritual, it really just means happiness in the utmost.
Thankfully, through the work of Joseph Campbell, I have been exposed into a more enlightening connotation of the word. While on my adventure to discover more on bliss, I found an interesting definition for bliss when used as a verb.
To bliss or be blissed: reach a state of perfect happiness, typically so as to be oblivious of everything else.
What could get you down when your blissed?
-David Joseph Leingang