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Sam: Please explain the difference between experiential and non-experiential bliss.
Sundari: Blissful implies bliss-less. The bliss of knowledge is very different from bliss as most people understand the meaning of that word. The bliss of the self is not a feeling. It is just knowledge. The problem lies in the misunderstanding of the word “bliss.” There are two kinds of bliss: ananda, which is experiential bliss, and anantum, which is the bliss of the self. The bliss of the self, that which is always present, unlimited and non-changing, is not an experience, because it is your true nature, anantum.
The bliss of self-knowledge can be experienced as a feeling though, such as the bliss of deep sleep, which is inferred when you wake up, or as parabhakti, where love is known to be you, your true nature, meaning consciousness, the self. Parabhakti is having all you could ever want and knowing that it will never leave you. It is love loving itself. It is limitless satisfaction, parama sukka or tripti are words used in the texts.
When I know I am awareness, I am prema, limitless love. This love is knowledge because awareness is intelligent. Prema is only known when self-knowledge has negated the doer. That is not to say that the bliss disappears when self-knowledge is firm. It is just does not matter whether the experience of bliss is present or not, because the bliss of self-knowledge is always present because the bliss of self-knowledge is the bliss of the self.
Below is what Swami Paramarthananda says about the two kinds of blisses.
Anantum versus Ananda
Paramarthananda, on the Taittiriya Upanishad, takes up this question of anantum versus ananda, the “two kinds of blisses”:
“In the scriptures both ananda and anantum are used to describe the indescribable Brahman. ‘Sathyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma’ is one of these definitions, ‘Sat Cit Ananda,’ referring to Atma, another one.”
Paramarthanda now gives the following explanation: “Sathyam means ‘time-wise limitlessness,’ Anantam means ‘space-wise limitlessness,’” so he translates “Sathyam Jnanam Anantam Brahman” into “Brahman is the eternal, all-pervading consciousness.” Anantam as a term to describe limitlessness is not sufficient, as it does not include time.
Ananda in “Sat Cit Ananda” again means limitlessness. There are two kinds of ananda: bimbaananda and pratibimbaananda. Bimbaananda is the original ananda, also called atmaananda. It is my nature, always present but not experienceable. It cannot be gained; it is to be claimed and owned.
Pratibimbaananda is reflected ananda; it can be experienced in a sattvic mind. Translating ananda into “bliss” is reducing ananda to pratibimbaananda, experiential bliss. In the spiritual world, you find this mistranslation and misunderstanding all over, especially in Yoga.
~ Om, Sundari