Each of us is on a relentless quest — a pursuit like no other. You guessed it right — happiness. For some of us happiness is a state of mind — while what matters most is taking the idea to the next level. You’d call it bliss, or ecstasy. There is also yet another related element that resides in-between. You’d call it true happiness. For the philosopher Plato, happiness, or “eudaimonia” — in simple terms, wellness — is the utmost objective of honourable thought and behaviour, while “arete”, or excellence of any kind, represents requisite skills, or virtues, including temperaments essential to realising it.
This is analogous to the sublime doctrine of true ecstasy that philosophers refer to as deferral of all conscious responsiveness — from the conscious unconscious to divine awareness. It does not, however, connote or relate to unqualified deferment. It is a fleeting hiatus, or spur-of-the-moment foray of our inner resolve, or will — one that drives our “mindful engines”. You guessed it right, again. This wellspring holds the fountainhead of our life’s experiences — from our instinctive awareness of the self and also all external impressions, which are as unique as our fingerprint. Ecstasy, however, is unlike happiness, which is self-limiting, or epitomised by a non-specific “expiry” label. On the other hand, complete ecstasy, including harmony, is relished long after a particular voyage called experience — most often all through life. It reaches its zenith as a difficult-to-define manifestation. This is, of course, not the remarkably blissful state that enraptures mystics to enter into over long periods, while deflecting the outside world to the realms of deferred vitality.
There is a major difference, though. For true mystics who are in a state of advanced awareness, their physiology, or bodily function, is unequivocally efficient and alert during such a state. What dissipates into the distance is the monotonous world of everyday life and existence — a domain devoid of the “egoist self”, or glorified personal attributes. That most true mystics remain mindfully wakeful and impeccably functional, despite the near-absence of a physical world, is obvious. What also exemplifies such a “suspended reality” is their expanding competence in keeping their senses on “hold” without being disturbed by shifts in their perimeter of inward self-experience.
While not all of us are mystics, or yogis, we can seamlessly galvanise our attentive efforts with good values and serene compassion for others. This heightened, yet achievable, premise is allied not so much to fixated alertness, as much as our inner dynamism and frames of mind in terms of our self-consciousness. This is an achievable prospect. It just needs a little empathetic push to enable our mind to remain observant, resolute and interested in soaking up all of our life’s experiences like the sponge.
The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author