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?