Relationships with blissful people

Joseph Campbell formulated what became his most quoted dictum, "Follow your bliss" in the decade before his death. Join this conversation to explore this idea and share stories.

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aecleo
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Post by aecleo » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I am a single 20-something female. And, I am attracted to men who are passionate about something (following their bliss). There doesn't seem to be a lot of them out there, but I have found a few. And when I find them, it never works out for one reason: people who follow their bliss are on an individual path - they are so determined to do their bliss (as am I) that we cannot find a middle ground for a long-term relationship.

So, this makes me wonder what it is like to know - as friends, relatives, and lovers - people who follow their bliss.

I, for one, am fairly private. My father asked me to write a letter for him to read in case I die, which I did, and allowed him to read early. He was shocked by my feelings about my life. Even my closest relatives don't know about my bliss.

My close friends know. I talk to them about everything and vice versa. But few people, other than my closest friends, really know me.

So how do we come off as people who are trying to follow our bliss? Do we appear to be like anyone else? Should we? Do we try to inspire others to search for their bliss?

I think perhaps I am not a good ambassador for bliss. But, maybe that's for the best!
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Post by BandAid4MySoul » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-11-01 02:12, aecleo wrote:
So, this makes me wonder what it is like to know - as friends, relatives, and lovers - people who follow their bliss.
aecleo,

I have been lucky to have had several teachers in my life who have loved their life's work with a passion. From American literature to cell biology and systems thinking, the thing they shared in common was a contagious enthusiasm. These teachers made their material come alive because they came alive. You can hear it in their voices, see it in their eyes, and feel it in their presence.

Another place I found passionate, caring and super intelligent people is the place I volunteer. Once I met the first person involved in the group, I was hooked. I knew right away that I had to do whatever it took to get closer to this person. Little did I know, every person involved with this organization (Oregon Judicial Department Citizen Review Board) was equally passionate. I don't know how to explain it, so I'll quote Joe. I borrowed the following from this site. :smile:

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Emphasis is mine. Learn how to identify people who share your bliss and then get close to them.
I, for one, am fairly private. My father asked me to write a letter for him to read in case I die, which I did, and allowed him to read early. He was shocked by my feelings about my life. Even my closest relatives don't know about my bliss.
Damn! I have never asked my mother what makes her happy. I will when she calls on Sunday. Thanks for sharing this.
So how do we come off as people who are trying to follow our bliss? Do we appear to be like anyone else?
Find some passionate people and answer that one for yourself.
Should we?
"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. -- Marianne Williamson, Lecturer on Spirituality
Do we try to inspire others to search for their bliss?
I was inspired by the inspired. I want to be like them.


We was raised on rotten fruits. - WEBEI
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Post by Mossa » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Well said Bandaid! And hang in there aecleo!! It's hard to imagine the sensation which Joseph Campbell describes as finding yourself on a track which has been waiting for you all the while until you notice it start happening to you. Individuals are passionate about many different things and, perhaps, to just be passionate isn't enough - but heck, sometimes that's the most we can ask - and it seems like a lot! Where I live I seem surrounded by what I call the "living dead". And, yes, a "blissful" person sticks out like a sore thumb. I know them immediately and have no trouble in pledging to them friendship for life. I know only a few. But these are not romances... and that may be the difference. On the subject of romance I must remain utterly silent. I have yet to figure that one out. But perhaps its secret lies somewhere in the anima/animus thingy... we could start a whole new debate on that one!
Peace kids!
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Post by aecleo » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello!

Thanks for the interesting replies. I want to say a few things in response.

First of all, I am 100% okay. I am not married because I have not found a person who will not hold me back.

Second, one of my pet peeves is when people color what they say so as to indicate an answer. Please don't mistake the lack of this for naivete. I simply want your true opinion - unaffected by me.

Third, I disagree that people who are following their bliss are visible. In fact, I think that one can never KNOW, even of their closest friends/relatives/lovers. What people say and what is really going on inside are completely different. I've known a lot of people who are first class fakers. And I think it's a tactic that is very successful for them socially. In fact, I had to work on my charisma skills at my last job! People responded, but I was faking it and left when my contract expired.

Sorry....this sounds a little offensive. But so many people think that because I don't try to influence them, I'm an idiot. Please forgive me if I have offended any of you. Please understand that a nerve has been touched and that's all.

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Post by Mossa » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

That's a shame.
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Post by Damienne » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I think when we follow our bliss, we are being our most authentic self and to people who are ready to perceive the presence and the power of an authentic person, they will even if they do not know what to make of it.

I think we are developmental creatures and are only able to perceive and understand that which we are ready to perceive and understand. In the meantime, what we encounter in life provides background of information that prepares us and helps provide a framework to which we can then make sense of the speaking of our bliss to us.

We also have to be willing to entertain the thought of changes to our lives if we accept the reality of our bliss in our lives. That can be a pretty scary proposition, too scary until the pain of living without bliss overwhelms the fear factor, then it's time to make the move.
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Post by Damienne » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Whoops! I kind of missed the point of the conversation, sorry! I had a long distance relationship with someone who is following his bliss and I came to a point where I had to bow to the sacred of his bliss - it's his most important thing, so I acknowledged that there would be times when he would have to shut his office door to do his work and I would have to live in hope that when he opened his door at the end of the day, he would seek a human face and hoped the face he sought would be mine.

It helps when you have the same bliss and can be community.
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Post by creekmary » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I dunno. Maybe I'm a romantic, but I don't think there ought to be that many one and only soul mates for me running around. I dont' have that many souls, I guess.

If it doesn't work out it doesn't work out. Wrong number, wrong fit, not the one. Quote from the TV show Frasier "if the shoe don't fit, it ain't your shoe"

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Post by Stormcrow » Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:52 pm

Remember that sacrifice is a key part of bliss. Sometimes that sacrifice is the sacrifice of a conventional relationship. The Buddha, a happily married man, left his family to follow his bliss. Great artists, writers, composers, etc., often have a stormy and broken relationship with others.

On the other hand, a relationship with a loved one can in itself be a form of following one's bliss. Once again, sacrifice is required. We sacrifice to the relationship itself, not the other. Campbell calls this an "ordeal," but one well worth it.
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Post by Lizpete » Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:32 pm

Hmmm. Now I have to ask: Do blissful people push buttons and make you angry? Or are they just blissful to be with?
All human wisdom is contained in these words: wait and hope. Alexandre Dumas <br>America: The call that every generation must improve itself. *Member Generation &quot;X&quot;*
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Post by jvrgrc » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:32 pm

Some thought provoking comments by everyone.
I am not married because I have not found a person who will not hold me back.
My view is that relationships by their nature affect me. They also affect my bliss. If the relationship did not work out--it did not fit. If my bliss sent me on a divergent path, then I believe the relationship was not strong enough.

"'The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: If there is any reaction, both are transformed.' Carl Jung.
Third, I disagree that people who are following their bliss are visible
My view on this is that people can’t help be who they are at all times—if you know where to look or if you can see clearly (both of which are sometimes difficult and are clouded by our own prejudices and projections)

"He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of every pore." Sigmund Freud

When I run into people who are truly following the bliss, I find that they are more alive and vibrant and I can’t help but be affected. I find them very visible. They are a fire in the midst of darkness.

I have a friend who personifies this to me. She follows her bliss more than anyone I know, at the same time she is married and cannot imagine living without her husband. Her bliss is not separate and distinct from her relationship
Do blissful people push buttons and make you angry? Or are they just blissful to be with?
I think blissful people make those around them more alive. My above friend at times has also made me angrier than anyone I know, of course being around her I have also learned to feel more joy and enjoyment. However , uniformily being around her help me feel more alive. I think that is what draws me to people who follow their bliss.
I for one, am fairly private. My father asked me to write a letter for him to read in case I die, which I did, and allowed him to read early. He was shocked by my feelings about my life. Even my closest relatives don't know about my bliss.
My curiosity is of course piqued. While I understand that you are a private individual, there is the relative anonymity of a posting forum :). If I may be so bold to ask, why so secretive? and what is your bliss?
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Post by Lizpete » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:34 pm

JVRGRC: What an interesting reply! May I ask some questions?

1) "My view is that relationships by their nature affect me. They also affect my bliss." True for your bliss and everyone else's or just your's?

2) "If my bliss sent me on a divergent path, then I believe the relationship was not strong enough." and "Her bliss is not separate and distinct from her relationship." So bliss is not one's individual path, independent from one's primary relationship?

I guess I've thought that Campbell's following one's bliss is as Hollis finds "following one's passion." In reading your interpretation that if I find my bliss in the practicing law, I require of my primary partner to practice law rather than lets say be a singer.

Yet I believe you to say, really, they inter-work?
All human wisdom is contained in these words: wait and hope. Alexandre Dumas <br>America: The call that every generation must improve itself. *Member Generation &quot;X&quot;*
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Post by Pussycat » Mon May 26, 2008 4:59 pm

This bliss seems very paradoxical to me because 'bliss' is such a blissful word and seems to exclude pain. Taking the bliss path for me though, is to expect pain and tension as well and to take on that voluntarily as part of the process. I seem to remember Campbell saying, though I can't quote directly, that taking on the horror of the world and accepting it as a truth is also part of that bliss. It isn't very romantic and is bound to clash with the relationships seen in that light. But the time spent apart to do one's own work needn't exclude the other but perhaps give a higher feeling for that other. Then there is no romantic expectation - though our culture drives this one home. Expectations are something we hold within ourselves and perhaps looking at those is part of the bliss process. Letting the other alone is a tremendous passion in a strange way ....
Perseverance brings good fortune
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Post by Myrtle » Mon May 26, 2008 6:18 pm

Joseph Campbell said in The Way of Myth: "This whole idea of bliss that I've been talking about is not an easy one to explain. If one associates it with happiness as opposed to unhappiness, one gets on the wrong track, because it includes the unhappiness system."
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Post by bodhibliss » Mon May 26, 2008 7:48 pm

Joseph Campbell also mentions the example of James Joyce, whose singleminded pursuit of his bliss left his family impoverished and contributed to his daughter's break with reality. Joyce is an example of someone who followed his bliss, but Campbell points out he's not the model you'd want to hold up as a good father.

Similarly Picasso followed his bliss, creating incredibly transcendent works of art - but he sacrificed relationships with wives, mistresses, and children to his bliss.

Following one's bliss doesn't automatically mean one's relationships are bound to flounder - but neither does it guaranteee the success of our relationships.

For most people, duty to family, to society, and other obligations come first (I recall my mother years ago, pleading with me to get a job and "follow your bliss in your own time" - which misses the point - if it's just a hobby, ya ain't living your bliss).

Following your bliss can mean painful, excruciating choices and suffering in life - but if it's your bliss you're following, it's worth the sacrifice ...
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