Last week, we started from the perspective of a person trapped by the inertia of profound sadness. We discussed shifting first to being angry for energy, then frustrated for increased meaning and purpose, then irritated as we gained focus and wanted more.
Once we crested the ‘ditch’ and got back on the road, we shifted from the contentment of being on level ground, to the happiness of having a direction. But there is still more room for us to feel even more. Beyond happiness, we can find exalted joy.
The question now is, what is the difference between experiencing personal happiness and exalted joy?
The answer is, the ‘personal’ part dissolves and our joy is no longer is ours. Instead, we become aware that awesome sensations are not happening within us –we are aspects of the entire universe and that exalted joy is the universe’s pure joy, travelling through us.
We all know this feeling. This is when something is both so beautiful, so precious, and so powerful that there are no words. Our feeble human brains cannot find any language capable of encapsulating the massive awestruck feelings that occur in states of exalted joy.
People feel these sensations when they see anything awesome, whether that feeling is for an incredible mountain sunset, or an expansive ocean vista. It can even come in human form, like when a parent first sees their child, or realizes that a loved one has escaped peril, or even during an orgasm with someone we love unconditionally.
These feelings are not contained within the confines of our physical body nor do they feel like they are. Everyone reading this can think of examples of their own. The feeling literally feels like it’s beaming through us, unimpeded by any thought at all.
To live in that state permanently would be impossible, and boring. Without the contrast of the other states, we could not even identify what we were experiencing. We would be perpetual babies, never comprehending anything more than pure experience.
We need this movement of sensation because everything is relative. Everything is dependent on everything else. Each part of the universe is both a tiny, seemingly insignificant part of the whole, and yet each and every one of us is entirely integral to the whole existing.
We cannot exist without the whole, and the whole cannot exist without us. There is great comfort in that idea. If we’re religious, it means that even when we think God may not be with us, God is forming everything we do, everywhere we are, and everything we experience.
If we’re scientific, then it means that regardless of what we believe about a state of reality, we know that experience exists simultaneously on many levels, be they biological, chemical, or physics or energy-based.
Because of this state of multiple realities, our intellectual knowledge of anything will perpetually expand the longer we study any aspect of the universe.
In this way, the universe expresses its infinite nature. This is why physicists will meet with scholars and mediators from the world’s religions. They are ultimately pondering the same questions about the nature of reality.
Asking those questions is not a superior life, it is just yet another way to live. The questions are in words, which are innately human, which means that they can only refer to exalted states. But their challenge is that those states cannot be described to any useful degree. Those can only be known through experience and, by then, our questions have ceased to exist.
Experience is reality. Humans become healthier when they stop trying to manage their external lives, and instead shift to managing their experiences.
People who see things clearly, and who can access their own sense of power and capability, are the same people who generate power not only within themselves, but they can actually incite that power within others too.
Inciting realizations about other people’s sense of personal power is all my work is designed to do. I never make anyone healthy because no one can do that. But I can show others how they can do that for themselves, in a consistent way that leads them to create the sort of lives that they feel have value.
Efforts to drive towards happiness always fail because happiness is not a destination, it is a manner of travel. Rather than describing success as a route toward something valuable, we can instead see it more accurately as our ability to drive/live itself.
Having mastered our movement through the universe, we will find ourselves perpetually surprised and delighted by having novel experiences, like actually being happy about how we’re dealing with our sadness.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.