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Bliss and Perspective

August 6, 2017

 

I've had experiences, many of us have, of being "blissed out" - that feeling that, as horrific as mortality can be, that everything is fine. That somehow all is as it should be. That there is a Plan - the details of which are probably unknowable to humanity in spite of religious claims to the contrary - but there is a plan.

 

And with this blessed perspective, we go on our way.

 

Unwilling or unable to take on any more of "the other's" pain and suffering in the moment, we content ourselves with reveling in bliss for the time being. And when we return back to "normal life", we once again resume the small battles of the day, working our lives away for conveniences, or distractions, or to show another love in the ways we've been taught, or to serve or pray or whatever.

 

In short, life goes on.

 

There's nothing wrong with this, per se. In fact, everything IS as it "should be" from the paradigm that "we" created this reality. There is, in fact, only so much we can do. Our spheres of influence are indeed worthy of our care before we reach outsides of them to expand them where helpful.

 

Still... there's SO MUCH suffering.

 

Here in America, I contend that we are essentially handicapped at birth. We've been born, most of us, into such privilege that it's easy to live our entire lives blinded to the scope of suffering that surrounds us, and towards which our habits of consumption contribute. A media and economic system that encourages this consumption while distracting us from seeing the whole picture is also our lot. These systems house systemic disadvantages not to be taken lightly.

 

As a people so blessed with material things, it's incumbent upon the awakening among us to look around, to gain perspective, to search for evidence of other realities; not necessarily those found in physics, fantasy or spiritual writings, but those experienced by our brothers and sisters born into situations unlike ours.

 

One way we can do this is by consciously searching for media that encourages the Search, this expansion of our understanding of reality, rather than suppressing it as so much of our media does.

 

Take a few minutes away from social media or other distractions and find a documentary that can be viewed a little at a time over a week. Or get a book like "A People's History of the United States" or "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible," or even "The Monkeywrench Gang." All these can be purchased at audible.com and listened to as we go about our day. Each might expand our understanding and help us gain perspective.

 

Below is a quote from a documentary that I found by searching YouTube called, "The Choice is Ours." Actually, it's ripped from another movie called, "The Blue Dot." The quote is from Carl Sagan. He's talking about perspective. I think it's easy to see how, if we have this type of perspective on a regular basis, how we might make different decisions, even within our own limited spheres.

 

There's nothing wrong with bliss; certainly not. Particularly as long as we don't define it as a respite from care. But when we truly "get it," we understand that another's suffering is our own and we can take a different quality of bliss with us to them in spite of that suffering - and use it to alleviate another's. This expands our own awareness and deepens our bliss into something useful in more direct terms for humanity. 

 

Here's that quote:

 

(Speaking of the planet Earth as viewed from space) “Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

 

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

 

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves."

 

May we all take our bliss and put it to more strident and pointed work. May we use perspective, not as an end in and of itself, but as a catalyst to greater service. 

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