Monday, June 15, 2009

2009 06 15. Monday.

2009 06 15. Monday.

A few days ago I started wearing sandalwood paste between my eyebrows. In Hinduism, the location between the eyebrows is where the sixth chakra is located. Many Hindus (male and female) put a dab of sandalwood paste there. If I remember correctly, the sandalwood paste helps to cool the emotions and calm the mind. I had some dry sandalwood powder from some Hindu rituals and ceremonies I attended a few years ago. It took me a few times to learn the correct amount of water to get the right consistency. When the mixture is the right consistency, you dab a little circle between the eyebrows and it dries in a few minutes to a lighter color. Most of the westerners here wear sandalwood paste. As my friend Sanatan would say "Now I'm with the Cool Club!" Membership provisional.

The synthesizer player was back this evening. Cool. Toward the beginning of the men's bhajans a short rainstorm blew in and cooled things off nicely. Soon after that a nice wave of bliss settled into me. The bliss is nothing special, just a nice experience that comes and goes. What I feel is not a devotional bliss, but more of what I call an advaitic bliss, as best I can describe it. The bliss makes it much easier to concentrate on the bhajans. The bliss faded toward the end of the bhajans but the afterglow of peaceful feelings remained for a while.

I'm guessing the nuero-physical correlates of the bliss state have to do with a combination of certain brain regions turning off or on and certain changes in nuero-transmitter levels, like endorphins, norepinephrins, serotonin, cortisol, adrenalin, etc. I'm also guessing that some of the brain regions that regulate emotional arousal (I think called the limbic system) somehow become unusually quiescent when the bliss state arises. When the bliss state is active in me, certain thoughts *seem* to enhance the bliss. When I'm in bliss I'll say things in my mind like "How wonderful that it totally doesn't matter whether this bliss comes or goes." or "What I really am is beyond any feeling of bliss or any other feeling." And thoughts like that seem to deepen the bliss state. So perhaps those kinds of thoughts have their origination in a part of the brain that is connected with the bliss state. In any case, the bliss usually only lasts 5-30 minutes at most. I bet some nueroscientist somewhere has studied this. In some of the spiritual books I've read they talk about how one of the purposes of meditation and spiritual practice is to purify the mind so it can handle longer and more intense periods of bliss. Anyone who has experienced this bliss knows that it can be powerfully addictive. Many of the spiritual books I've read talk about the importance of having no attachment to the bliss state. Just another transient experience. Nothing special.

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