There is a prevalent strain of spiritual endeavor which treats the wide peace of the Eternal as the ultimate experience and goal of consciousness. This view treats the experience of spiritual ecstasy as a lower and less central realisation. This may be an expression of the “refusal of the ascetic” and a reaction to the vital experience when the first ecstatic experiences enter the consciousness during the spiritual evolution.
There is however a significant truth to the experience of Ananda, in that it is one of the essential principles inextricably linked to Existence and Consciousness in Sat-Chit-Ananda.
Sri Aurobindo puts this issue into context: “But in the highest ascents of the spiritual bliss there is not this vehement exaltation and excitement; there is instead an illimtable intensity of participation in an eternal ecstasy which is founded on the eternal Existence and therefore on a beatific tranquility of eternal peace. Peace and ecstasy cease to be different and become one. The Supermind, reconciling and fusing all differences as well as all contradictions, brings out this unity; a wide calm and a deep delight of all-existence are among its first steps of self-realisation, but this calm and this delight rise together, as one state, into an increasing intensity and culminate in the eternal ecstasy, the bliss that is the Infinite.”
While this state of consciousness permeates the entire being in the gnostic individual, it also manifests itself in all actions of the body, life and mind. “In the mind, it translates into a calm of intense delight of spiritual perception and vision and knowledge, in the heart into a wide or deep or passionate delight of universal union and love and sympathy and the joy of beings and the joy of things. In the will and vital parts it is felt as the energy of delight of a divine life-power in action or a beatitude of the senses perceiving and meeting the One everywhere, perceiving as their normal aesthesis of things a universal beauty and a secret harmony of creation of which our mind can catch only imperfect glimpses or a rare supernormal sense. In the body it reveals itself as an ecstasy pouring into it from the heights of the Spirit and the peace and bliss of a pure and spirutalised physical existence. A universal beauty and glory of being begins to manifest; all objects reveal hidden lines, vibrations, powers, harmonic significances concealed from the normal mind and the physical sense. In the universal phenomenon is revealed the eternal Ananda.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 27, “The Gnostic Being”