Escaping into Bliss

Sundar Kadayam - USA Articles, English 4 Comments


As I share and teach more, I see that most people think that meditation is about serenity, about bliss. And even those who practice some sort of meditation for many years, actively try to escape from their reality and “bliss out” in meditation.

If you meditate to bliss out, you might want to look a little closer at why you are doing what you are doing, and if that is really getting you anywhere in living life.

Let me explain myself here.

You see, we can often brush aside or bury something that is uncomfortable. And not facing it for what it is, causes that very thing to sit inside us and fester and drive other irrational behaviors, often, behaviors we would be surprised at, if we noticed.

Sitting in meditation is to let anything rise, any thoughts, any feelings, and allow them to be. Notice, but not engage. Watch, but don’t push them away. Just let them arise.

What? Sit and experience the chaos of our thoughts and feelings, even if we were to just witness it? That may not seem very ‘meditative’, does it? Certainly wouldn’t seem like the calm and peace that meditation is ‘supposed to be’!!

True! Sitting with the chaos of our innerspace can be very scary and very messy at first, and may not seem “meditative”. 

However, sitting with them is the strongest act of meditation, because meditation is about cultivating mindfulness, attentiveness, alertness, and being able to bring that faculty into everyday life and living.

Seen as such, sitting with our messy world of fears, worries, guilt, self worth and other such unresolved issues, without pushing them away, and without getting stuck with them, just witnessing them is super powerful.

And such noticing will start shedding the light on these unresolved matters in our innerspace. And just as how the shining light dispels darkness, the light of our calm and compassionate attention, the noticing, will shed light on these unresolved dark things in our innerspace … this way brings up the peace and calm and bliss that meditation is supposed to be about.

Yes, the right practice of meditation can bring serenity and bliss, not just when we sit in meditation but as we move through our real, practical lives. But the way to achieve it is not to bliss out in meditation, because when we do that, all we are really doing is escaping our painful innerspace to get the bliss right away. What we need to practice is to sit with loving, compassionate attention in meditation, allowing the messy world of our thoughts and feelings to rise and fall as they may, building that alertness, mindfulness, attentiveness in that process, and it is through this developing quality that the serenity and bliss can arise not just in meditation practice but in life’s flow itself.

Are you escaping to bliss when you meditate? Or are you letting bliss blossom in the messy cesspool of your innerspace like the lotus in a messy, stagnant pool?

Comments 4

  1. Avatar of Susan

    Hi, Sundar, another wonderful post.  Thanks for sharing this wisdom.  We can get caught up in the ‘side effects’ of meditation and miss the real benefits of its ‘medicine’ – a more thoughtful, aware and responsive way of being in the world.  In other words, embodying the precepts.  We have learned through our sitting what arises in our bodies when we feel those difficult emotions of anger, fear, sadness, etc.  Then when we are ‘off the mat’ we can more readily recognize them, tune into that and hopefully, respond rather than react.  It assists us to live moment by moment in an even and balanced way.  For myself, it is more easily written about than lived but I don’t let that keep me from my practice.

  2. Avatar of Frans Stiene

    Hi Sundar,
    Well said. Yes if we bliss out we are not present. Meditation is not an escape. Meditation is becoming fully aware of who we are in this moment in time.
    Often people bliss out in meditation because they do not like themselves, or find it difficult to face their issues, but that is just an escape.

    I always say that we need to be able to rest our mind in meditation even when we drive a car or walk in a busy shopping mall. If we can do that we can take it into our world.
    If we can only be compassionate on our pillow it is of no use.


  3. Avatar of Sundar

    Susan, Frans, thank you for those kind words.  I recently read this from Thich Nhat Hanh: “There are people who meditate only to forget the complications and problems of life, like rabbits crouching under a hedge to escape a hunter or people taking shelter in a cellar to avoid bombs.  the feeling of security and protection arises naturally when we sit in meditation, but we cannot continue in this state forever. We need the vigor and strength to come out of the meditation hall into life because that is the only way we can hope to change our world.”  Same essence as what you are pointing out Frans and Susan.  This is the “secret of inviting happiness … and the miraculous medicine for all illness” that Usui san has laid out so plainly … face the fears, the angers, the jealousies, the ego, the pride, and more as they may arise in meditation, and not avoid it or escape from it, so that with this practice, moving through life, we can notice them more plainly and with more clarity and make wise choices as Usui san suggests through the precepts!

  4. Avatar of Frans Stiene

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