Almost every day I experience moments of overwhelming bliss and joy - and I'm not going to hide it from you anymore. In fact, my goal is to help bring other people into this level of existence. There's no way to describe higher states of consciousness; they must be experienced by the individual themselves.
Depth of Experience VS Content of Experience
An easy way to describe 'depth' of experience is to contrast it to 'content.' Let's take a look at the Olympic Games. Although we see competitors in many kinds of sports, what is really significant is the level of achievement the competitors have reached. Sure, they have learned different skills, but they all share the thousands of hours of training, and the millions of decisions which led them up into such a high level of competition. The joy you see after a successful attempt, dive, lift, or routine does not vary between athletes.
In this example, we see the different sports as the content of experience, and the depth lies in the symbolic success of qualifying for the Olympic Games. Although the content of experience is important, it's really the depth of experience that creates the meaning.
Now, this concept doesn't just apply to sports or other competitive activities. In fact, it doesn't just apply to careers, interpersonal relationships, artistic expression, and technical skills. This idea applies to our lives as a whole. Our very awareness itself changes. As a result, we not only become happier and more successful, but we become more sensitive to the profound beauty we can engage.
Why Did I Cry at the Chinese Restaurant?
I found myself stuffing my face after another day of lifting. This evening was typical, since I was at my favorite Chinese place, deep in Southeast Portland, OR - just two blocks from my house. Although this is one of the poorest neighborhoods here - and ignorance always accompanies poverty - I sat down cheerfully, and started to open another book.
But, I was instantly distracted: On the TV screen overhead played a Chinese TV station, with some kind of documentary about a famous Chinese gymnast. Although I could not make out the words, it was blatantly obvious that this man was in the peak of his career - and example of the pinnacle of human achievement.
As they started showing his routines, I was completely entranced. Ecstatic waves of pleasure swept across my entire body as I awed at the strength, precision, and psychological commitment this man is able to create. As the show continued for the next few minutes, the sensation rose and sank, at times reaching levels where I literally found tears coming out of my eyes.
When it was finished, I looked around. Nobody else had paid more than a glance at what had happened. Here I am, having a moment of existential fulfillment, and everybody is chit chatting and stuffing their faces (although, I will admit that the food is absolutely amazing).
It was in this moment I realized how privileged I am to have experiences like this: Most people don't even have any context for what this sensation is like. Here I am, breaking down in tears while I'm trying to order my gravy seafood noodles, my consciousness aligned with the achievements of one of the greatest athletes on the planet. And, I realize how few people have the capacity to allow this to happen. In fact, there are many people who's experiences of emotional immersion are usually limited to strictly negative processes - sadness, anger, regret, or even hatred.
Consciousness is the Root of All Victory and All Failure
Without consciousness, reality does not exist. This isn't just Eastern mumbo-jumbo, either. Ask any serious student of philosophy or psychoanalysis how reality emerges. Ask any sociologist or anthropologist where cultural values live. Ask any economist where value really lies. Ask any athlete, any musician, any artist what the most difficult aspect of their performance is. It's psychological, it's all housed in the mind.
Don't Tip the Scale - Smash It Into Oblivion
Meditation is a way to increase one's depth of experience in our own minds alone. Profound inner experiences are absolutely critical to personality development. But, without a simultaneous growth in our outer life, we're not really moving into higher states.
Although most humans place far to little emphasis on inner growth, human potential does not blossom until happiness is in a state of continuous expansion. Instead of thinking of a balanced scale between inner and outer growth, we should place more and more weight on both sides, bringing our entire existence deeper and deeper into the expanse of human reality.