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Tess on Iced up Rift 12-16-15 (1)
We hiked beyond the ski tracks into virgin snow


. . .  is the Eastern philosophical term for the reality beyond sense perception.

Satchitananda is comprised of three Sanskrit words — sat, chit and ananda.  In English — being, consciousness and bliss.

That’s pretty much in agreement with Western scientific thinking.

While scientists don’t yet have a unified understanding of what’s out there in the beyond, they do realize that it’s unknowable comprised of “dark energy and dark matter.”

And no one knows that 95% that’s still in the dark.

All that everyone has ever known, since the beginning of time, amounts to less than five percent of all that’s out there!

Nonetheless, Eastern philosophers contend that the nature of this unknown reality is blissful.

And they know this from personal experience.

They point out that our desire for sleep is always pleasant.  When we are in deep sleep we cannot know this, for we cannot sense anything while asleep.  Yet when we awaken, we always feel as though it was pleasant to have been asleep.

I am able to experience the bliss on every hike.  Let me tell about experiencing it on today’s hike.

We had nine-and-a-half inches of snow last night. The mountains got 27 inches from the same storm.  But the mesa had just five inches.  So Tessa and I hiked down on the mesa.

There had been only one crosscountry skier on any of the trails this morning and no hikers.  We trod the tracks of the skier all the way out to where the skier turned around to come back.  And we hiked a bit beyond that point.

It was an amazingly beautiful day.  My photos do it little justice.

Temperature was down to zero Fahrenheit and rose only a few degrees while we hiked. I especially love hiking at single-digit temperatures.

The air is crisp and dry.  Stillness is intensified.  The dry powder snow crunches squeaky underfoot as I trudge through it.

The trees and brush were coated with a frosty covering from moisture in the clouds that settled into the valley during the night.

We were visited by a few ravens and the occasional flittering of horned larks in the sagebrush.  The sun dodged in and out of the clouds.

I allowed myself to become absorbed in the stillness.  And yes, that happiness that is always there when I come to stillness filled my being.  It was a feeling that all is well in the world.  The ananda of satchitananda.


Bliss at Our Camp in Chaco Canyon

At another time, my wife and I were camped in the painted desert adjacent to Chaco Canyon National Monument.

Back then, we lived and worked in New York City and took frequent trips to Taos.

We had a routine of taking a taxi from our apartment to Laguardia, flying to Albuquerque, renting a vehicle, driving first to a Southwest restaurant, then a grocery, on to a town where we bought a bundle of firewood, and on beyond all towns, to Chaco Canyon and camped where we could not see nor hear anything connected with other human beings — not a utility pole, building, sound, not even an airplane flying by.

Joy at Chaco Canyon
My wife, Joy, meditates at our camp in painted desert near Chaco Canyon

Abruptly leaving the hubbub of The Big Apple and so few hours later, bedding down in the stillness of a remote wilderness, far removed from civilized life, was an extraordinary pleasure.

One morning at our camp, as I completed my half-hour meditation I was so immersed in the stillness that I understood, not in words, but deep inside, the meaning of our studies at the School of Practical Philosophy.

The teaching of course, was all in words and ideas, though the school also gave us many spiritual practices as well.

Over half the courses are in spiritual practices we did while doing our chores, similar to daily life of Benedictine monks.

And out there on the painted desert, the bliss was not in my talking about it, nor even in my thoughts.

It was sadchitananda.  We lived it.

The world and everything in me was “being, consciousness and bliss.”

Oh, the bliss!

I can’t say more about it, other than it was a state of being I did not want to end, though that wasn’t even a desire.

It was just the bliss of being there and being so, so aware of all of it.

Of actually being it.

No words can describe it!  I’ve done the best I can.  And I know of course, just how far short these words are, from what it was like.

It was long-lasting.  We were at the very beginning of our Southwest visit and were in no hurry to get on with it.

We would stay camped there another night before moving on to the hot springs at Ojo Caliente before driving on to Taos.

That was our routine.  A deliughtful way of unwinding from the intense vibrations of New York City.


Satchitananda Has Been Described Many Ways In the Ancient Vedas.

It is accessible to anyone.  It is only necessary to empty the mind.  And there are many practices that can help.

The difficulty is that we have had a lifetime of filling the mind with ideas.  It was essential to fill it with information to graduate from school and become employable.

We wanted these ideas to become sticky and stored in memory in order to pass our exams and do good work.  We buried our true being though,  deep beneath that accumulated information.

But it isn’t necessary to hold any of that information in mind while hiking or meditating.  The point of spiritual work is to empty the mind of all these thoughts — at least for the moments we do our practices.


A Mental Tool that Helps

The East has a model that makes it easier for me to get a grip on how to empty the mind.  The Sanskrit word Ahamkara shows how the mind gets glued to ideas.  And it gives a clue of how to shed the ideas and to remember the self.

The Sanskrit term is comprised of two words — Aham and kara.  Aham means self.  And kara any thing.

Thus, Aham kara is the self attached to an idea.  It is who I think I am.  And that idea changes with the different roles I play during the day.

I think I am an author.  Self + author equals who I think I am.

I think I am a father.  Self + father equals who I think I am.

I think I am happy.  Self + happy equals what I think I am.

The “I am,” remains the same in each example.

What comes after the “I am” is that which changes in each example.

If I can drop those attachments — even for a moment — I become able to experience who I really am — if just for that moment.

The ideas that casually come into the idle mind are attachments that are uninvited. If I can allow them to continue on out of mind, and prefer to bring my attention back to focus on just one thing, I can get a clearer experience of who I am.

This is so simple for me to say.  It is not so easy to allow it to happen, though.

And, It takes discipline to make progress, just as it takes practice to develop any skill.  The best places I have found for practice are while hiking and in my daily meditation.

In both, it is necessary to keep on bringing the mind back to focus upon one thing only.  Every time it strays, I must prefer the mind to come back to the one thing – the feet on the trail while I hike, or the mantra while meditating.

I must not force it.  When the mind wanders though, then I just simply prefer to bring it back to the one thing.

It is not to try pushing ideas out of mind, but gently preferring to bring attention back whenever ideas creep in, to distract the mind.  And bliss follows.  That is ananda.

But what about the Sat and Chit?  Not difficult.

We cannot deny that we exist, hence being is directly experienced.  So much for the Sat.

And if we didn’t realize that we exist we would not be conscious of it.  Hence the Chit.



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