The Bliss of the Eternal in the Gnostic Evolution

Ananda. Translated as “bliss”. In the Taittiriya Upanishad, there is considerable focus on the principle of Ananda as underlying the manifestation of existence. The seeker, concentrating conscious-force in a profound state of meditation, successively attempts to find the principle by which all things are created, upborne and provided significance; and eventually the seeker recognises that it is Ananda, the “bliss of the Eternal” which provides this foundation. Sri Aurobindo describes Ananda as a constituent of the triune manifestation of the upper hemisphere of consciousness Sat-Chit-Ananda which is the source of manifestation. In the Taittiriya Upanishad the nature and intensity of this Ananda is extensively examined. It is beyond words to describe, and in its higher manifested forms it far exceeds the utmost measure of human pleasure, delight or satisfaction.

Each level of consciousness has its own characteristic seeking for fulfillment in what may be considered to be a “watered-down” form of this Ananda. The physical body seeks its ease and happiness, the vital life seeks its enjoyment, the mental its own forms of mental delight. The seeking for delight continues in the higher levels of the evolution of consciousness as well, such as a seeking for a deep satisfying peace or ecstatic divine states. Sri Aurobindo points out that this consistent seeking for bliss is part of an essential nature of existence: “…for Ananda is the very essence of the Brahman, it is the supreme nature of the omnipresent Reality. The Supermind itself in the descending degrees of the manifestation emerges from the Ananda and in the evolutionary ascent merges into the Ananda.”

The seeking for enjoyment, pleasure, vital excitement of all kinds, mental stimulation of joy are all pale attempts within the limitations of the consciousness of each plane or principle to experience Ananda. Sri Aurobindo indicates that the future evolution of consciousness develops a consciousness of bliss: “In the liberation of the soul from the Ignorance the first foundation is peace, calm, the silence and quietude of the Eternal and Infinite; but a consummate power and greater formation of the spiritual ascension takes up this peace of liberation into the bliss of a perfect experience and realisation of the eternal beatitude, the bliss of the Eternal and Infinite. This Ananda would be inherent in the gnostic consciousness as a universal delight and would grow with the evolution of the gnostic nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 27, “The Gnostic Being”