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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How do you know if you are living your Bliss?

 This post is taken from my old blog, but I include it here, as I think it says something important. It covers the central theme of my book, Sage of Synchronicity.

“If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
Joseph Campbell.

“Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.”
Henry David Thoreau.

Many people, perhaps most, live lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau famously stated. They drift through life with an uneasy feeling that they are simply not doing what they are meant to be doing, not being who they are meant to be. There is nagging voice, just out of earshot, whispering, trying to tell them something. But the voice, and its mysterious message, is frustratingly difficult to hear. So they just move on, sleepwalking their way towards a future they hope will fulfill them, but never does.

They miss their Bliss.

Are you a bit like this? A lot like this? I certainly once was. But before I get to that, let’s think for a moment. What exactly does it mean to live your Bliss?

Joseph Campbell was fond of telling people to live their bliss. I cannot speak for the late Campbell, but after many years of probing the depths of human consciousness, I have seen that human beings do have an innate capacity to live their Bliss – to discover their soul calling and to embody it. This includes you. You have the potential to live your Bliss.

Let’s be clear on something. Your Bliss, as I define it, is not a goal, not something that you simply envisage, aim for and achieve.
If it were that simple, then some Olympic athletes who win gold medals would not suffer depression after years of almost inhuman sacrifice to achieve their dream. No, your Bliss is more than merely something you do. It is something that you are, or rather, that you allow yourself to be. A person living their Bliss is a person whose conscious mind (personality) is living in alignment with the call of their Spirit. The inner and the outer are in harmony.

What a person living his Bliss does is important, but even more important is the expression of his mind. For to experience and live your Bliss, you need to draw in the lost parts of your soul, bring them fully into the presence, and permit the joyous expression of Spirit that each moment potentially brings.

Human beings tend to put the cart before the horse, foolishly believing that the achievement of a goal will deliver happiness. The truth is that transformation of mind must precede the outer life of work and play before there is Bliss.

For this to happen, you have to listen - really listen to the wisdom within your Integrated Intelligence. Integrated Intelligence is the innate mental capacity that we all have, the intelligence that connects the little “I” to a greater spiritual mind. Over the years I learned a great deal about how to tap into Integrated Intelligence.

Now, about me and my Bliss.

In the year 2000, I was teaching English in a small city in southwestern Taiwan. One morning I woke up alone in my apartment, and knew something was wrong. I looked around. The room felt strangely desolate and empty. I had everything I needed at that time: a nice place to live, an attractive Taiwanese girlfriend, and debt-free financial stability, if not quite security. The room was the same as it had been the day before, and the week before. What had changed was something within me. I felt empty. In fact, it was more than that. It was a sense of depression, a feeling that I was not accustomed to. Fortunately, I had already spent years working with the inner worlds, including practicing meditation and doing emotional work on myself. I knew that there was a message for me in the feeling.

The following morning I awoke and the feeling was there again. But this time there was a song playing in my head.

Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to, Isn’t he a bit like you and me?

It was a song by the Beatles: Nowhere Man.

To quote Lennon and McCartney, I had become a real nowhere man, sitting in my nowhere land, making all my nowhere plans for no­body. In the random universe of the mechanistic worldview of modern society, synchronicities like a song playing in your head are merely co­incidences, haphazard events that you can make of what you will. But in those words I heard something deeply meaningful.

I reflected upon things for a week or so, and then decided to take some action. I realised I’d become stuck within my own comfort zone. Life had become easy, yet without deeper purpose. I was not challenging myself. Worse, there was a strong feeling that I was not doing what my soul was calling me to do.

Then, during a meditation a day or two later, three letters suddenly appeared before my inner eye: “PhD”. About five years before that week in 2000, I had deferred my enrolment in a doctoral programme, and headed for New Zealand. It appeared my intuition was nudging me towards resuming my studies. Yet it was a huge decision. Writing a doctoral thesis would take several years, and there was no guarantee that I would be awarded the degree after submission. Doubts came welling up from within. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough. I might fail. What about all the other things in life I would miss out on as I pursued a doctorate?
I knew what I had to do. After some reflection, I chose to resume my studies. But what would I focus upon?

It was just a few days later, when doing some restful stretching in the morning, that a small but life-changing message came to me. I was in relaxed presence, my mind quiet, when a voice said, “bear”, and I stopped. Straight away, I remembered a book I had read a few years previously, Education for the 21st Century. It was written by two Australian academics, Hedley Beare (pronounced “bear”) and Richard Slaughter.

I grabbed the book from my bookshelf, and leafed through it. The book holds a spiritual view of education, and its themes resonated deeply with me. I contacted both the authors by email. They then put me on to a futurist and academic named Sohail Inayatullah. It was Sohail who would eventually become my doctoral supervisor. Sohail is a brilliant academician, working via three different universities in Australia and Taiwan. One of them, The University of the Sunshine Coast, had a programme which permitted me to research and write about the frontiers of human intelligence. The university was relatively new. It couldn’t grant me academic status, but it would enable me to pursue my Bliss. I enrolled.

I could have gone with the call of ego and enrolled in the most prestigious school that would take me. I could have gone with economic forces and studied whatever the education market was demanding. Instead, I made a decision to follow my excitement. I decided to research Integrated Intelligence, including the relationship between rational and intuitive ways of knowing.

As I embarked upon my doctoral studies, I discovered something wonderful. Because I was studying knowledge for which I had a deep passion, the entire process became almost effortless. As I researched and wrote my dissertation, I found I had more words and thoughts than I could ever possibly use. I began to publish some of these in journals, mainly in the area of Futures Studies. That began a period of prolific output. I completed a 110,000 word dissertation, wrote a book based on it (which gained publication), wrote more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles, several book chapters, delivered con­ference papers and quite a number of critical reviews, all in less than six years - and all while working full time in education.

I discovered at a personal level that life becomes much less of a struggle when you listen to the heart, when you tap into your Integrated Intelligence. You guess less, and know more. Integrated Intelligence connects the human Spirit with something greater than the individual self. The entire process is quintessentially spiritual.

The kinds of skills I developed, the ones that led me towards my Bliss, are extraordinary and normal. They are extraordinary because we have forgotten how to use Integrated Intelligence, and our education systems have failed to allow its natural expression. Yet integrated intelligence is perfectly normally. It simply requires your permission for activation; and it necessitates knowledge of the simple tools which will allow you to activate it.

We owe it to ourselves, and to the future generations who will follow us, to reactive our Integrated Intelligence. By living our Bliss, we will show those who come to follow us that life can be joyous when it is lived in joy, in harmony, and in presence with the greater wisdom of Spirit.

The big question then, is are you going to allow it?



  1. I remember reading this in your book - and thought - that's what I am! A futurist! I have always seen "patterns" in human behavior. I can't really explain it, except to say I can figure certain things out fairly quickly by "feeling or sensing" a person. It wasn't until I read your book that I had a name for myself. My professors actually encouraged me to write about spirituality in my human development classes. I think as developmentalists they could see humanity heading in a more enlightened direction, using intuition and other innate skills to create. But they were very careful to teach in a way that the University would approve. The school you picked for your PhD sounds perfect.

    So now I have to figure out what it is that I'm meant to do. I have always wanted to write a book, and I was drawn to your advice to work at it every day, including free writing in a journal. I also liked that you said living your bliss is not easy - it takes work. Too many feel all they have to do is change their thinking, which is only the first step, in my opinion.

    Great post!

  2. Yes, living your Bliss can be hard work! And there is no guarantee that things will be easy. In fact mastering any difficult discipline is often said to take 10 000 hours of practice time. Further, for any meaningful progress to be made, you have to continually push the boundaries of the comfortable. That means you will fail again, and again, and again (though usually only in small ways most of the time). But there will be big disappointments too. God only knows I've countless rejections and failures as I have pursued my Bliss. This is one of the faults with some New Age thinking, which sometimes suggests that things will always flow easily. My experience, and that of almost anyone who has ever succeeds at any difficult discipline, is that it is often very difficult. Struggle is not necessary, but it is highly likely!

  3. I so agree, one of the problems I have with Eckhart Tolle, who rather suggests it is easy and just happens.
    I expect to be working hard and still learning on my death-bed, how about you?