When you take the popular phrase “Follow your bliss” and trace it back to its source, something more powerful was intended. In a late interview the famous expert on mythology Joseph Campbell first used the phrase, saying “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you.”
This implication that bliss is a personal path, and that the path is pre-determined, is much more than “do what you really like to do,” which is how most people interpret “Follow your bliss.” Let me expand on this point by showing that “bliss” is much more fundamental than almost anyone realizes. It holds the key to transforming the mind.
Doing what you really like to do is certainly a good idea; it is much better than the opposite, doing what you have to do even if you don’t particularly like it. But no one can engage in pleasurable activity all the time. The human mind brings us experiences of pleasure and pain, and since the two are paired as inescapable opposites, mental tension and conflict are inevitable no matter how positive and pleasant you try to make your life be. (For deeper background, please see my most recent post, “Can You Make Your Mind Your Friend?”)
Campbell deeply understood the cultural and spiritual roots of “Follow your bliss.” He emphasizes the universal quality of bliss in the same interview. “Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.” This gives enormous power to the life you are supposed to be living, and it also points out how to get there.
Bliss in the ancient Indian tradition is Ananda, one of the three primal aspects of creation. “Sat Chit Ananda” is often translated from the Sanskrit as “eternal bliss consciousness,” which is the foundation of existence. What is implied is that existence ,consciousness, and joy belong together without beginning or end. That’s very different from the modern scientific assumption that the mind, especially the human mind, evolved over billions of years from inert, mindless matter.