An Evening With...
“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 you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”
- Joseph Campbell
Considering Joseph Campbell's intriguing quote, how might we even begin to discover our bliss? How can we support such a nourishing, ecstatic, and Selfish quest? Our world is so often a busy, mechanistic, fear addicted, survival oriented one. How can we gain access to that ‘field’ of bliss energy in such an environment?
The word ecstasy comes from the Latin ex-stasis, meaning to stand outside oneself. This definition can give us a hint at how we might connect to this field of bliss. Jung’s concepts of synchronicity and the subtle body in alchemy suggest that the mind is field like and that it extends out beyond our brains in a similar way that magnetic fields spread out beyond magnets. If we can become lucidly conscious within this field, we can discern the energy field of bliss and open the doors that will help us build the capacity to experience bliss.
In order to differentiate ourselves from, what Jung calls, “the arsenical malignity of collective thinking,” we need to push through the great natural resistance of the psyche, linked to our identity conditioned by the collective. We can then open the door of self knowledge through inner work, shadow integration and the process of individuation. In being called to approach these tasks of awareness, traumas and the dark shadows generally get our attention first. It is just as important to own the often neglected golden shadows that also lead directly to ecstatic experiences.
There are many ways to build the capacity for bliss including art, meditation, Kundalini yoga, dreams, active imagination, and lucid dreaming. These powerful practices can help us develop the lucidity and fearlessness necessary to be able to unconditionally embrace our shadows both dark and golden. In this way we can achieve “amor fati,” love of our fate. With this self love we can reclaim the energy that would otherwise have gone into repression of our shadows and re-purpose it to build our capacity for primordial infinite energy. Through the doorway of inner work we can incubate an intention to experience ecstasy, joy and bliss. In this way we may meet our inner embodied bliss through the doors that have opened in the outer world.
Tim Lyons, LICSW, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in private practice in Capitol Hill and Takoma Park, Maryland. He is a frequent course presenter at the Jung Society of Washington and has studied Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, and yoga for many years. He is also an architect, has written for the Washington Post, and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution.