Bliss, Atman, Brahman – Jnana Yoga Q&A

Today I got a Jnana Yoga question from Roy:

“How can Bliss be part of the essence of Brahman? The ego seeks bliss, i.e. to feel good (at minimum a feeling of well being), even at the expense of truth. Doesn’t the concept of Bliss being part of the essence of Brahman ultimately fulfill the ego? Also, if Bliss is part of the essence of Brahman, isn’t it incongruous for an individual who has become one with Brahman to feel compassion for individuals who have not? Whence comes the desire to help them? If the essence of Brahman is purely Truth, the ego is not fulfilled and compassion is a natural expression of the unifying nature of Truth.”

This question only makes sense if you don’t get the ultimate oneness of everything. The neighbour you don’t like, is as much a part of Brahman as you are – whether they know it or not. The Divine doesn’t ‘care’ whether someone realizes the oneness – it’s just there. Whether a fish knows it is swimming in water or not – that’s still where it is.

So yes: bliss is part of the Ultimate source of everything, and realizing Oneness means experiencing that bliss. But how can one NOT feel compassion for those who haven’t realize that yet?

And no – this is not about the ego. This is not about the small self, that seeks fulfillment. This is about realizing that fulfillment doesn’t come from gratification, but from just being, and giving.

Perhaps your confusion has something to do with the words used. There is the word ego that’s used generally to talk about pride. He has a large ego means, in normal day to day talk, that someone thinks highly of himself and is likely to be offended if you don’t.

In some spiritual traditions the Western word used for the Higher Self (Atman in Jnana Yoga) is also ‘Ego’ (capitalized). But the Higher Self is not a self in the usual sense of the word. There’s a reason Buddhists refuse to call it a Self at all. The Higher Self is one with Brahman – it is eternal, impersonal, wise, compassionate – and yes: blissful. To realize Brahman is to realize that we are all connected. That there is a universal something that is Me in the most ultimate sense, yet it is Every Other person as well.

As long as the personal in you feels pride as a result of insight, it is not really there yet. Pride is the ultimate spiritual trap: feeling better than others means feeling separate from them.

Another way to put this is as follows: how can the ego that delights in the sorrows of others be the same as the ultimate source of all consciousness? And yet, that ego has it’s roots in that ultimate source. Looking at the Ultimate from the perspective of the small self is hard. From the perspective of unkindness, kindness is hard to understand. But from the perspective of kindness, unkindness simply equals sorrow. And it’s easy to feel compassion for sorrow, isn’t it?

6 thoughts on “Bliss, Atman, Brahman – Jnana Yoga Q&A”

  1. If you look discriminatingly at your response, you’ll find that it lacks logical rigor. You seemingly draw the conclusion, “So yes: bliss is part of the Ultimate source of everything, and realizing Oneness means experiencing that bliss” out of nothing – it must taken as a given that realizing the oneness of everything necessarily entails bliss. This leaves the question open.

    The reality is that not everyone is one. Do not confuse latent capacity with reality. We are not one until all are one. Compassion is a natural expression of the unifying nature of Truth. How can there be bliss when all are not one? A sense of discontent remains until all are one – unless, of course, the ego finds a different source of contentment, which manifests itself as bliss.

  2. I sat under a tree and prayed to thee,
    For some one to come and set us free,
    I did not know that it would be me.

    For who can change this world we have created,
    The soul so divine it keeps me elated,
    The inner BEING that became so frustrated,
    Loneliness grew as I watched the world fated,
    To greed and corruption so unrelated.

    It was the voice of a hermit so far,
    Hiding away in his tiny jar,
    A home he made in a far away place.
    Ignoring the rest at this crazy race.

    These people are mad he thought to himself,
    They steal everything from the top of the shelf,
    Taking from others to feed their desire,
    Material goods that keep them on fire.
    All the things that they must acquire,

    The more that they have the more to let go,
    Like running around in dark blackened snow,
    Falling face first into all that they show,
    All that it needs for the ego to grow,

    That is not them it is their ego you see,
    The one that stops them from becoming free,
    To have and to hold the immortal tree,
    And knowing what life can truly be,
    Free of all this insanity.
    My dreams I awaken for all to see,
    Changing this life that I call me.

    I have few wants and little desire,
    There is nothing that I must require,
    Freedom to choose is all I ask,
    And that is but a simple task,
    Look within and you will find me,
    Sparking the life to set you free,

    Let go of the madness that keeps you embalmed
    The shackles and chains that your ego command,
    Know its not you that holds you back,
    And climb right off the stretching rack,
    Now is the time for it is here,
    To find the one that you so fear.

    To know thyself is a daunting task,
    Speak to yourself is all I ask,
    For who could judge you if it is not you,
    To open up to that which is true,

    There can be no separation in a conscious mind,
    And that is the truth that you must find,
    Within yourself all answers dwell,
    Free thyself from tortured hell.

    The light shines bright in the darkness of night,
    Opening up to your birth right,
    Giving and sharing all that delight,
    Opening up to the one that is caring,
    Giving in to all that is daring,
    Opening up to the one on the right,
    Giving in to the fear of a tear
    Opening up to the flight of the light,
    Giving in to all that is night,

    Cage it not but set it free,
    That tiny whisper you call thee.


    Namaste… Henry… HOO

    There is but one law, the law of one. All else is speculation. Deduction and induction, reason and intuition have there place but will always lead to a simple ultimate truth, ALL IS ONE. Nature can not be separate in any “form” other than the 3d illusion that is the creation of consciousness on a cosmic scale. What is real is not to be seen with the eyes alone, the senses of the physical man, but the savouring of such delights, to appreciate the senses the artist must commune with that which is around him. By smelling a rose, painting a picture, writing a song, maybe a poem, what ever is your bag. To create through artistic inspiration is how it all began, for what is art but forever creation, all is art, be your own creator…

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  4. My feeling says me there is Bliss and there is Bliss.
    Each of us experience things differently. I experienced the Bliss of being all joy, but is that the ultimate BLISS ? I don’t know, but experiences it made me go the new paths in my life. Seeking many ways, questioning many teachers. Finding teachers, leaving them. Be with many people, leaving them. Going from bliss to no-bliss, walking my path.

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