Ecstasy, Ananda and Paramananda
Question: Could you tell something about the different kinds of bliss and where lovebliss fits in?
Jan: Before primary Self-realization, you can in meditation have fits of ecstasy that are very blissful. They are caused by a sudden rush of prana in the system and are not to be mistaken for what Self-realization is like. In primary Self-realization, or cosmic consciousness as some call it, there is no bliss, only void. This is the state most contemporary spiritual teachers talk about. As you move on, bliss emerges as a recognition of Self in other and since this recognition is also love, I call it lovebliss. Some call this next stage god consciousness, where Self recognizses Self in other in lovebliss.
Q: I am confused by the many uses of the one word "bliss". It denotes everything from domestic bliss, through orgasm, to enlightenment.
J: yes, you have to distinguish between bliss and lovebliss. Or as it is called in sanskrit, ananda and paramananda. Now, today we have to include a third category because of the confusions created by the modern so called tantrics: the bliss of orgasm. Bliss of orgasm is far inferior compared to ananda (transcendental bliss), and ananda is far inferior compared to paramananda (lovebliss).
Q: What do you experience when and in what way? Are there degrees of bliss?
J: OK, to go fromt he bottom up. Bliss of orgasm is something I take for granted everybody knows. Through tantric practices you can prolong and deepen the orgasm, but it will never become more than just an orgasm - no matter how long it lasts, how intense it is, or how many you can get in a row. Now, I am aware that orgasms can be psychologically deeply transforming, give rise to metaphysical lights inthe brain, and so forth. But I maintain that no matter how good the sex is, it will never come close to lovebliss, nor even regular transcendental bliss.
Q: Why not?
J: That's just the way it is. I am sorry, but I did not design things. Orgasm and ananda are not related in any way. I say this despite the fact that, when you first experience ananda, you will compare it to a thousand orgasms going off at once. But as you get more aquainted with ananda, you will soon realize that it has nothing to do with anything that could be triggered by the phsysical senses; it is totally transcendental. However, it is not of the Self. It is an in-between phenomenon that you may get stuck in if you think it is a foretaste of enlightenment. Then you might begin hunting these experiences.
Q: My teacher claims you can reach ananda by transceding the culmination of an orgasm during sex.
J: Yes, it is possible, but very difficult. Still, remember that the ananda you reach beyond orgasm is yet not of the Self. It is merely a rush of prana through the body-mind complex and - if you are lucky - into the brain.
Q: I practice mantra meditation and often experience flashes of supreme bliss where my heart beats wildly, I sweat and the mind runs like wild.
J: That is ananda. Ananda is ecstatic and agitated even though you may be immobile like a rock while it lasts. In the beginning it is like this diagram shows:
Fits of ecstatic bliss before Self-realization
You get an initial bang-experience. Then time goes with no experience of bliss, then suddenly it is there again, but most likely not as deep becasue you try to hold onto it and that is not possible. So as time goes, your bliss experiences become less and less intense. Then suddenly it is there again. But subsequently noting happens, or only sporadic inferior blisses. Then another bang, and so forth. Notice the lines are sharp and vertical. In the beginning, that is before Self-realization, the bliss experiences will be like that: either they are there or they are not. there will be no inbetween and they will come in flashes during meditation.
Q: So what about after Self-realization?
J: Then it will be like this:
Lovebliss after Self-realization
As you can see, the line is continuous. The bliss never goes away and it is no longer ecstatic at all. It is just calm, constant vibrating love, which can also be called bliss, but which I prefer to call lovebliss. It is utterly silent. And most importantly, there is no longer an experiencer, the lovebliss simply IS and is The Self. Before Self-realization, which is the realization of no-self, there is an experiencer and the bliss will be seen as an experience. Of course both the notion of an experiencer and an experience is illusory, so the ecstasy is within the illusion and is , as an experience, not particularly interesting as far as getting Selfrealized goes. However, if you are working with kundalini, you will have bliss experiences, that follow kundaliniarousal and piercing of the nadis and chakras, and that is fine. But i still maintaibn the experience of ecstasy is rather uninteresting. The bliss of the Self is absolutely unmoving, non-ecstatic and silent.
Q: You start at zero bliss? There seems to be a period of no bliss according to your diagram.
J: Yes. In primary Self-realization, cosmic consciousness, there is no bliss. You will find a lot of spiritual teachers who are confused about this difference between bliss, lovebliss and no-bliss. They may have experienced ecstatic ananda as described in the first graph before they got Selfrealized. Then they get Selfrealized and suddenly there is no bliss, or they see clearly that the momentary ecstatic fits of bliss are of the mind-body complex. So they dismiss every kind of bliss as of the relative. This is why I felt it important to make the distinction between the relative bliss and the absolute bliss clear.
Q: What is the difference?
J: Lovebliss, or paramananda, is of the Self. It is not something that arises in the mind-body complex because of some rush of prana, like ecstasy is. Also lovebliss will grow steadily and smoothly once it breaks through after Self-realization. But you can be in a state of Self-realization for the rest of your life and never get any lovebliss if you want to remain in the state of void, you have reached. When ecstatic ananda comes, it comes with a whole lot of effects, like palpitations, sweating, shaking, extreme light in the head, etc. When paramananda comes, it is with no effects what so ever. Paramananda sneaks in on you and it is soft and calm; it is bliss, peace, silence and love at the same time.
Q: What makes the lovebliss grow?
J: The automatic breakdown of old identity-structures and the subsequent emptying out of content from the mind-body complex. This is corellated with kundalinis merging with Pure Being in the crownchakra. So the apparent growth of lovebliss follows clearing hindrances on the relative level. But in reality the lovebliss does not grow, only your perception of Self in the relative grows as layers of old ignorance gets cleared away, and this Selfrecognition is one with lovebliss. Now, here language fails, because this statement could seem to imply a duality between you as Self and the other as its Self and that the recognition of one Self in the other is full of lovebliss. But that is not so. Self recognizes Self in everything: in mind, in thoughts, in feelings, in objects and other people and this recognition is lovebliss and all the while lovebliss has been the very nature of the Self. So Self recognizes Self in other, and this recognition is Self.
Q: How does this relate to getting rid of karma?
J: Clearing old structures of ignorance is the same as saying you are burning old karma.
Q: It sounds like it's two different processes going on and that the two different processes give rise to different kinds of bliss.
J: Well, yes and no. Fits of euphoric bliss, ananda, is the result of a process and is a phenomena that is generated by prana and kundalini acting in the chakras; so it is within duality. Lovebliss, paramananda, is not generated by anything since it is the nature of the Self. However, there is a proces of revelation. So from the point of view of the relative, that is from the mind, there is in both cases a process going on. The ananda-process is a process of kundalini working itself up through the spine and the chakras. The paramananda-process is the process of kundalinis merging back into the absolute in the crownchakra. The ananda process is the process that leads to Self-realization, the paramananda process is the process that leads to recognition of the Self in everything. So in the first proces you transcend the relative, in the second process, you no longer transcend anything, because you are the transcendental field, instead you here begin to experience the transcendental in the relative in a divine recognition. One thing is important to remember, the first type of bliss is an experience because there is an experiencer. The second type of bliss is not an experience because there is no longer an experiencer; it is divine recognition.
Q: Does ananda grow gradually into paramananda? I mean is the paramananda-process a direct continuation of the ananda process?
J: No. Usually there is a period in between, where you live in pure Self-realization without bliss (cosmic consciousness). This period can last many years or even the rest of your life if you never get kundalini awakened and into the brain. On the other hand, if your sadhana has involved raising kundalini, like if you have done kriya yoga, then you might go quickly through the period of blissless Self-realization and go smoothly from ananda to paramananda. But the most likely in that case, is that you shift between ananda, paramananda and blissless void.