To bliss or not to bliss?

This is Padmasambhava, also called the ‘second Buddha’ in some Buddhist traditions.

I ‘met’ him during a meditation course in a Buddhist Retreat Centre, some years ago.

And even though there was so much beautiful Irish nature to look at through the big windows of the meditation room, I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

It felt a bit like falling in love with someone, when every secret look at each other is pure electricity…bzzzz! His eyes pierced right through me, it nearly hurt.

I was mesmerized by the intense look at his face, an expression somewhere in between shock and pure bliss. But you can see that he is not focused on an object. It’s more as if he is looking right through you with his third eye, from deep inside. And he’s seeing the truth: naked, raw, overwhelming, breathtaking, beautiful. He seems to be in a place that is free from all bullshit, all pretension, all clouds, all veils, all stories.

A place we’re all longing for…Right?!

Last Sunday, maybe for the first time in my ‘meditation-career’ I got a little taste of this state. Actually, it happened right after meditation, when I already started writing down some thoughts that came up into my journal. BOOM!!! As if I got struck by lightning. I suddenly felt incredibly awake, my eyes as big as lakes, my whole face wide open. For some reason, I immediately had to think of Padmasambhava’s face and thought “So this is what it feels like!” There was an intense tingling in my third eye area, my feet and hands felt gigantic and my butt became really warm (seriously…). And I experienced a bliss that was nearly unbearable.

You would think that this is exactly what you want as a ‘yoga-person’, but my mind thought differently. It actually made him very nervous and restless, he started to think about cauliflower or pumpkin for lunch and some other extremely urgent matters, trying hard to run away from this literally ‘mind-blowing’ experience. But by gently inviting him back, again and again, ‘we’ could stay for more or less half an hour in this indescribable state, going in and out of it, sometimes giggling in surprise, sometimes ‘woooohoooooo’-ing gently, enjoying the trip to the fullest, and all this time, I was just sitting on the floor in my living room, my dogs lying next to me, gently snoring, my husband sitting on the sofa reading the newspaper, asking every now and then if I was ok (he doesn’t get shocked too easily ;-)).

Legendary!!! Life-changing!!! The next level!!! I’m getting there!!!

Very tempting thoughts….

But only one hour later, I found myself very much back on earth, walking nice and grumpy through the park, irritated by other people’s behavior (to be honest, just by other people’s existence), angry at one of my dogs that had rolled in something very dead and very stinky, shuddering from all the much too earthly household chores that were waiting for me at home – not exactly enlightened, as my beloved husband pointed out oh so subtly.

First I was disappointed that the ‘ride’ was already over. That after this incredible experience, the world was still the same stinky old place and I was still the same stinky old me, running in circles in my own destructive thinking patterns, like a tired pony on an eternal merry-go-round. But then I remembered the saying: 

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” 


Don’t get attached to a certain state of being, don’t think that if only you meditate well enough and do many pretty asanas, you reach ‘the goal’, and afterward, you shall just chill out in everlasting happiness. As if the work would ever be ‘done’…


While contemplating all this, I found another humbling Zen saying:

“The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything.”


That’s definitely one to chew on for a while. One to remember next time I walk through the park, meeting people that are behaving differently than me. Next time I talk to my intense mother on the phone. Next time I clean the bathroom. Next time life is NOT too blissful, which I guess is 99% of the time.

That doesn’t mean this beautiful moment I experienced is less precious to me now. But I understood that it’s not the point. It seems to be much more about the wood and the water in the end.