Monday, October 01, 2007

Coming Back to What You Really Want to Do

Which shall it be, the question was asked of the leader of his people, The love of power, or the power of love?

Coming back to what you really want to do means doing what you love. The oft-quoted phrase (from Joseph Campbell) is Follow our bliss. The big problem in parsing what that means is the word bliss; far too often misunderstood, Campbell was not referring to the pleasure principle, or "doing your own thing," or equally soft-headed new-age excuses to avoid becoming a responsible, integrated person. He was referring to that purpose in your life that, once you discover it, will not let you go.

No matter what it is, your soul will never be satisfied until you make the attempt. You'll always mourn, if you hold yourself back from taking the risk. You'll alwasy fill something is missing, like a tooth; your tingue will worry at the gap, when it's extracted, or falls out, or breaks and must be removed.

It will demand your allegiance in the face of all rational, sensible advice to be respoectable, conform, and don't go crazy. It is that siren call that keeps you up all night, till you get busy listening to it.

Bliss is not a light, easy cruise between happiness and satisfaction. It is a soul-deep demand to do what you're supposed to do. To find out what you were made for, and get about the business of doing it.

It won't leave you alone.

It's what you really want to do.

All you have to do is find permission to follow it. And therein lies the problem.

Most of the time, permission won't come from anywhere outside. There are always bills to pay, responsible, adult tasks to be done, the house to clean, the kids to take to school, the mortgage, the car payments, all the ordinary, everyday, mundance details of surviving a contemporary existence. And maybe that's okay. Could you really give up everything in order to follow your demanding bliss? Most people won't, even if they could. They can't let go of what they think they need to hold onto, what they think matters. And maybe it does.

You think you can put it off till later. And maybe you can, for a little while. Maybe you can squeeze it in, on weekends, during vacations, when you have some free time. But one morning you wake up, an know you've put if off too long, and the opportunity is passed. That's when regret begins to be a stabbing pain rather than a dull ache. That's a device we torture ourselves on all too willingly.

And we actively avoid it, because of the changes it will force us to make in our lives, of the allegiance it will demand from us, which often flies in the face of what is respectable, familiar, comfortable, middle-class, and ordinary. Could you really give up your security and safety, and take a big risk? Could you really?

What makes a person take that journey, finally? Sometimes it seems like fate. But "fate" is a word you only get to use if you don't really know how the Universe operates. (So is "coincidence." So is "miracle.") "Fate" is a word you only get to use if you choose to remain unconscious, and refuse to grow up and become an adult. The illusion is that outside forces are working on you, forcing you to do things you don't want to do, or would not have chosen to do. But all the time, it's your inner self (or selves) which are manipulating you into situations in which you are constantly faced with decisions; all of which can be summarized as the choice to remain unconscious and asleep, or wake up and become consciously responsible for your own life. Your inner life projects itself onto the screen of the world apparently outside you, and appears to be somehow separate from you; in reality, it only appears to be separate from you because you remain unaware that it is a part of you.

Gordon Dickson postulated a three-way split in human consciousness, between the Warrior, the Mystic/Philosopher, and the Man of Faith. Of course there is some overlap; the pure forms of each have their domains of direct application, and they also combine in alliance in the pragmatic world. But Dickson also postulated that this split can best be healed by combining all three functions into one person, which he called the next step in human evolution: Responsible Man. Dickson is neither the first nor the last to postulate that the next stages in human evolution will be less physical, and more spiritual and psychological. The Responsible Man integrates the disparate parts of self into an integrated whole, which is a good way to rid oneself of self-delusions. You know how you think and feel, and you can watch yourself reacting to events in ways that you learn to see as patterns.

Integration of the varous parts of the self into your awareness means that they don't have power over you any more. Once you become aware of some habitual pattern of yours, you can choose what to do about it. You may even choose not to change it; but you'll never be able to pretend again that you don't know what's going on, or that you're being acted on by some outside force of "fate." You can no longer pretend you don't know. You don't let yourself off the hook, and pretend to be ignorant. That's what becoming Responsible, and living consciously, means.

Coming back to what you really want to do in life—what you are called to do; your purpose; your reason for being; the thing you were born to do this lifetime—that then becomes a choice. It's an available choice you get to make, now. You can no longer pretend you don't have any choice. You already know what you've chosen, and are no longer able to kid yourself about it.

Coming back to what you want to do becomes a work of art, a creative act, a choice to move into alignment with your highest purpose. And everything becomes energized. Life surges forward. Thigns appear brighter, and you feel healthier in your body and soul. Obstacles fall out of your way like bowling pins; or, if they remain, your attitude towards them has changed. You are full of sudden and impossibly unlimited enthusiasm. You vibrate in a field of living ecstasy, you are positively charged with electricity, with life-force.

That is what bliss is. Agreeing to go along with the process that makes you feel that way, is what it means to follow your bliss. You learn to stay with that feeling, and you learn to trust it as a clear and present signpost. if you veer off-course into fear-based rather than bliss-based responses towards life, you'll instantly know. If you stay with the bliss, wherever it leads, you will be fulfilled, no matter what else happens, or however you feel like you've failed, or however anyone else feels like you've failed, or simply doesn't understand.

Staying in alignment with the living electrical feeling, the life-force; learning to listen to it; learning to trust it; that's what it means to follow your bliss. Because bliss is, after all, the core and root and branches of happiness, if happiness is that joy which fills you whenever you know you've done the right thing.

And that is what turns your life, no matter what you do, into a work of art.

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Blogger runnerfrog said...

I have a directory for posts I like to revisit, or posts with a profound signification. This amazing one is linked there now. Since I revisit your blog often, I also linked the blog from mine (poor act in the end).

Once a person unties itself from instant gratification, it starts to move towards its bliss... the social problem of "how early or how late" was solved by the ancient greeks with their Paideia. We've lost the Paideia (or they were the only ones having that), so following this path to fulfillment it is more lonely than in some other cultures, I guess. That makes the decision much more painful for most of us, so many get lost, but well, there are always barriers, and existential loneliness is one. Although, never like this barriers nowadays, I believe.
It is a outstanding post.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi, and thanks.

I like your fractal work. I like fractals as a model for philosophy, too, as they are complex and interfingered, and the self-similarity on different scales is also very much like real life.

1:02 PM  

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