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Posted by on December 24th, 2011 with 0 Comments

The July 2010 issue of Sun Magazine, on the Dog-Eared Page, there’s a piece by Vaclav Havel, “Letters to Olga” where he writes about his insight into bliss. This is quite an extraordinary thing; he writes; “…a moment of supreme bliss, of infinite joy…, and though I felt physically intoxicated by it, there was far more to it than that: it was a moment of supreme self-awareness, a supremely elevating state of the soul, a total and totally harmonic merging of existence with itself and with the entire world.” He goes on “… I realized more clearly something I had felt only dimly in such moments before, which is that this state of supreme bliss inevitably contains the hint of a vaguely constricting anxiety…” And then “… you are suddenly given a glimpse into the abyss of the infinite, of uncertainty, of mystery. There is simply nowhere else to go – except into emptiness, into the abyss itself…”

How precise he is, what a wonderful edge he offers us from which to view presence with more than a hint of mystery of what lies in the next moment, yet the sense of anticipation doesn’t extend more than a millisecond. All too often we have missed the joy of presence that contains “a vaguely constricting anxiety” as in the rush of caffeine from our morning coffer or tea, the anticipation of meeting a dear friend or loved one at the airport, or the instant of knowing that we’re going to embrace our lover but nothing of what lays beyond that.

Do we generally underestimate or overwork our anxiety, not recognize the quality of bliss it potentially offers us? Anxiety has become such a demon that we compound its debilitating effects through compulsive and obsessive thoughts of negation and aversion while failing to appreciate its more subtle quality of ecstatic anticipation. Bliss, the mildly excited state of not knowing what’s coming that is right on the margin of fear, but so not afraid. Bliss is not fear or hope, lacking any sense of expectation in wanting something to be different or attachment to a particular result.

Isn’t this the fulfillment of the extraordinary promise that practice offers us? The simple recognition that any attitude of grasping or aversion, even on this most subtle level, only serves to block or obscure the authentic quality of being. How many moments have we agonized or analyzed our anxiety only to grasp at it more firmly? To see ourselves and all our foibles and fears with a joyful mind is so much more direct and genuine rather than to reinforce all the neurotic striving for a perfection that has never been separate or apart. What a riot we are, what a sad and confused riot of a bag we are to double our trouble when all the time bliss has been tugging at our shirtsleeve gently urging us to relax, open, breathe and smile; it’s more than perfectly OK to know we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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