The Touch of the Divine Ananda

Divine bliss, Ananda, is a different order of experience from what we know as joy in the vital life in the world. The experience of joy arises when we feel that a desire has been met, whether it is a physical desire or need that has been satisfied, providing a sensation of physical joy, or a vital or emotional desire or need which provides the excitement of a vital joy; or the satisfaction of various mental achievements, which provides mental joy. The Taittiriya Upanishad posits the situation of the human individual, young, healthy, radiant, successful, all desires being met, and this is consider to be the measure of one “human bliss”. It proceeds to show that there are numerous further levels of bliss, each one ” a hundred and a hundredfold” greater than the preceding level. Interestingly each level of bliss is then equated with “the bliss of the vedawise, whose soul the blight of desire touches not.” The Upanishad here is pointing the way for the seeker to come to the realisation of these higher states of Ananda which cannot be even remotely compared with the human experience of joy.

Sri Aurobindo elaborates: “But if the mind has once grown sufficiently subtle and pure in its receptions and not limited by the grosser nature of our outward responses to existence, we can take a reflection of it which will wear perhaps wholly or predominantly the hue of whatever is strongest in our nature. It may present itself first as a yearning for some universal Beauty which we feel in Nature and man and in all that is around us; or we may have the intuition of some transcendent Beauty of which all apparent beauty here is only a symbol. That is how it may come to those in whom the aesthetic being is developed and insistent and the instincts which, when they find form of expression, make the poet and artist, are predominant. Or it may be the sense of a divine spirit of love or else a helpful and compassionate infinite Presence in the universe or behind or beyond it which responds to us when we turn the need of our spirit towards it. So it may first show itself when the emotional being is intensely developed. It may come near to us in other ways, but always a Power or Presence of delight, beauty, love or peace which touches the mind, but is beyond the forms these things take ordinarily in the mind.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 7, The Ananda Brahman, pg. 568