Living life to its fullest.

Via on Sep 14, 2010
Photo credit: Polona Somrak

The purpose of life.

We all know that moment of bliss, where our ego melts away and all that is left is a feeling of absolute unity, complete perfection, perfect love. We all know it, because it’s in all of us – it’s our nature; our essence.
The real question (for anyone interested in living life to it’s fullest) is:

‘how to expand that moment until it becomes our primary experience, rather than just a fleeting, occasional glimpse…?’

The truth is, we have been educated NOT to experience it fully. Our society is focused on only one aspect of human ‘beingness ‘: the rational, masculine, aspect. We need to re-acquaint ourselves with the feminine, intuitive aspect.
It’s as Einstein said:

“The rational mind is a faithful servant. The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

So the answer to the above question is: we have to re-educate ourselves.
It takes training, discipline, and perseverance.
That’s the bad news.

The good news is that when we begin that work, when we step onto that path, and start to re-shape ourselves back into the ‘image of God’ – the divine essence of who we really are… then we are already walking our life path. Fulfilling our purpose here in life and on earth. And nothing feels better.
Because that’s what we are here for – to know ourselves better; to become self-aware.

About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston is a therapist, healer, advanced Sivananda Yoga teacher, and writer. His writings have been read by millions of people and can be found on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and various other portals online. He has been teaching Yoga for 16 years in hotels, ashrams, beaches, gyms and rooftops worldwide. And he runs a busy international therapeutic practice from his home in rural Croatia. Offering sessions in person or via Skype, his therapeutic work is based on healing trauma, and the tools he uses for this are varied – mainly RPT, Shamanism, and energy work. He has also developed some of his own methods, particularly in the area of abuse trauma; ‘resource state’ awareness; and boundary reconstruction. He regularly runs retreats combining Yoga and other energetic exercises with his therapy. He would love nothing more than to see you on one of these retreats, since he believes that this approach to personal development is really the only effective way of bringing love and peace to global human society. Connect with Ben on Facebook. Read more of his writing on his new website with integrated blog! Yes, he's excited about that :)

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Comments

46 Responses to “Living life to its fullest.”

  1. Randi Young says:

    Great work, Ben. Definitely something that gets overlooked in everyday life! Thanks so much for this one. It went deliciously with my coffee this morning. :)

  2. Ramesh says:

    Spoken like a true sage, Ben. Straight from the liver, as they would say in Norway!

  3. Irisblooming says:

    So beautiful Ben, thank you for writing this. Love to you, your wife and the baby you both are carrying and your animal friends. Peace is bliss, Iris

  4. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Absolutely agree with you Leah. Many people don't realize that they can simply CHOOSE to shift their perspective, anytime, any way they choose. We are completely responsible for our experience. That's what free will really means right?
    Thank you :)
    With love, Ben

  5. Padma Kadag says:

    Ben…I am not convinced that " We all know that moment of bliss, where our ego melts away and all that is left is a feeling of absolute unity, complete perfection, perfect love." ….is true. In fact I would venture to say that it is not true. We all may have thoughtless moments which do not last….I would have to say that if it is "bliss", for the most part, it is ego induced. The thoughtless moments are dullness. If you are saying that in all of us lies the potential to uncover our buddha nature because it is inherent in our being then yes there is no doubt. But bliss in it's self is not evidence of that buddha nature. Who among us knows true bliss which is free of the stains of delusion or ego? I do not think that your lovely writing is anything more than just that…lovely writing. All of this talk of bliss is very amusing. What kind of bliss are we talking about? And can we really say that all of us have experienced a complete enlightenment where bliss and emptiness are in union?

  6. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Hi Padma,

    Thanks for saying that my writing is lovely! Much appreciated.

    I didn’t however say, as you implied: “that all of us have experienced a complete enlightenment where bliss and emptiness are in union”. In fact, I didn’t use either word (enlightenment or emptiness) at all – they are entirely yours.

    I DO think though that we all know moments of bliss. For some it is in the moment of orgasm. For others, a good piece of chocolate. Or the look in a childs eyes. Those are moments when (whether through the senses, or emotions, or physical / energetic body) we experience our divine esssence: what we really are, beneath the veil of illusory experience.

    I also believe that those moment may be used as landmarks on our journey towards greater self-awareness.

    Thank you for your comment. I would love to know what you DO believe.

    With love, Ben

    ps – you say “Who among us knows true bliss which is free of the stains of delusion or ego?” … i have faith that we all do. Because I truly believe that it is our nature, and that the ego is really just illusory. This belief of mine is based not only on intellectual musings, but on many many years of serious exploration and research and experiment in the field of personal development; it’s what i do. I am love, consciousness, Godhead. So are you.

  7. Padma Kadag says:

    You may say and it is easy to say " i have faith that we all do. Because I truly believe that it is our nature, and that the ego is really just illusory." but you also said, " We all know that moment of bliss, where our ego melts away and all that is left is a feeling of absolute unity, complete perfection, perfect love." Those two statements are two entirely different animals. You are saying we have all experienced bliss beyond ego. Not all bliss is beyond ego..in fact I would say what people generally think of as bliss is really a state of pleasure devised by the ego. This is my point. Now we also must say that bliss is a word and a concept…nothing more. I do believe there is a bliss. But bliss without the realization of it's empty nature is pleasure…nothing more.

  8. Padma Kadag says:

    " I DO think though that we all know moments of bliss. For some it is in the moment of orgasm. For others, a good piece of chocolate. Or the look in a childs eyes. Those are moments when (whether through the senses, or emotions, or physical / energetic body) we experience our divine esssence: what we really are, beneath the veil of illusory experience." Please tell me what the result would be to your subtle body or consciousness if you were to prolong this socalled bliss as provided by eating chocolate or the look in a child's eyes for the remainder of your lifespan? I would like to know if you would attain something positive and useful by doing this.

  9. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Padma, with love:
    first off, I don't understand your statement that two of the things I said are 'different animals'. Do you mean they are contradictory? If so, please tell me why, because I don't see it.
    Next, I believe that *all* bliss is beyond ego. Bliss by it's nature is beyond ego. Anything touched by the ego is not Bliss – it's pleasure. Maybe very heightened pleasure, but anyone who is self-aware enough to know the difference, cannot confuse the two. However, 'how many people are self-aware' is another question entirely…
    So, you said that your point was to do with pleasure versus bliss, and on this I'm sure we agree… I'm not sure what we really disagree about :)
    You are clearly Buddhist, right? I gather that from your mentioning emptiness so much. Well, at that moment when one tastes the chocolate, or experiences orgasm, or is completely in love (with a partner, or a child, or a flower, or whatever)… in that moment I believe there *is* an emptiness – by which I mean that everything else disappears (the world stops, and ego dissolves into that empty moment of bliss). So again, I believe we are in agreement. There is an emptiness together with the bliss: isn't there? So why can't we call it bliss??
    And to answer your last question: "Please tell me what the result would be to your subtle body or consciousness if you were to prolong this socalled bliss as provided by eating chocolate or the look in a child's eyes for the remainder of your lifespan?"
    I believe that if you were able to remain in that state of bliss for the rest of your lifespan, the end result would be a blissful lifespan. You would be detached from the need for more chocolate too! Whether that's positive or not is entirely subjective. To me, it would be pretty positive though! And I suspect my wife, child, family, and anyone I came into contact with would benefit too…

  10. Padma Kadag says:

    One more thing…" Well, at that moment when one tastes the chocolate, or experiences orgasm, or is completely in love (with a partner, or a child, or a flower, or whatever)… in that moment I believe there *is* an emptiness – by which I mean that everything else disappears (the world stops, and ego dissolves into that empty moment of bliss). So again, I believe we are in agreement. There is an emptiness together with the bliss: isn't there? So why can't we call it bliss?? "
    In regard to that statement…no I do not agree. Many books have said what you have stated here but it does not make the "emptiness" true. Emptiness is not "nothing ness". Nothing "dissappears" as you say. If we push away negative and seek only bliss then we are continuing the cycle of samara as we have always been doing since we have remained in delusion and continue to remain. Tell me the difference between pleasure and pain…is there a difference?

  11. Padma Kadag says:

    Wow! Too bad…I thought the discussion was important. What you see as criticism penetrates your "bliss" and you not only judge me you also believe your ego is threatened your bliss is threatened. Then you judge the Buddha's teaching as being "may not be the best path for this time and age." Your ego and the ego of those that only seek bliss and push away suffering is ingrained very deeply….What do you thinK? I think it is a very basic trap to make spirituality as a business and a livelihood. many people are selling this thing you call bliss which to me will only create mor suffering.

  12. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Padma,

    There is no understanding Bliss: it is an experience. You can know it, but you can never understand it. It is beyond understanding. Understanding is limited. You cannot ever hope to understand everything. If you try to do so you will be disappointed.

    Understanding is a function of the mental process – as such it’s very limited.

    Bliss is an all-encompassing experience which, in order to attain it is necessary to balance understanding (head) with compassion (heart) and action (body)… this is a simplification of course… This balancing act is what I refer to in the original piece as: “we have to re-educate ourselves.

    It takes training, discipline, and perseverance.”

    If you think about that a little instead of ‘reacting’ (which I feel is what you’ve been doing so far in our little debate) you’ll see that I’m certainly not one of the ‘many people promising bliss and providing… pleasure’. Those people don’t talk much about training and discipline.

    You’re very critical: of ‘many books’, ‘many people’, ‘many buddhists’.

    I suggest that there are healthier ways to be (than being critical).

    I also suggest that clinging to ancient teachings which are of another time and place entirely, may not be the best path for this time and age. All enlightened beings (Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj) often contradict each other (and sometimes themselves!). Are they all wrong? No of course not – they understand that they must adapt what they say to the people who are listening, so in every age, different teachings are required. Those teachings are timelessly useful, but to cling to them is to be attached.

    With all respect, I suggest listening to your heart (by which I simply mean your inner voice / wisdom). Only within can absolute truth be found.

    Peace, Ben

  13. Padma Kadag says:

    Really my biggest concern about the state of "spirituality" in the west, including western interpretations of those "out-dated" ones you refer to is the lack of love for the countless beings that are now suffering. Your own article is more about personal bliss than it is about finding a way to end all suffering. You have the personal goal of attaining bliss and the goal for your students as individuals to attain bliss. You will say" but with bliss we will end suffering" You have not said that. If you were to say that…I would say bliss is not enough. No compassion for other's suffering ..enlightenment is impossible. A path of seeking bliss is in my mind selfish and seeks pleasure for one's self. Do you renounce the world as it is? Are you satisfied with the world in any capacity?

  14. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Padma,

    It would not be better if I were a banker or a butcher! I would not then be able to do what I’m here to do, which is to teach. I would instead be contributing to the economic suffering (via banking) or the animal suffering (butchering) you would appear to be so concerned over. I would also be suffering myself by doing something that I had no interest in doing! So no, you’re wrong there. It could not be better for me to do that. If you are drawn to doing that work or any other, I urge you to do it. Follow your heart. Don’t tell me what mine says!

    Your comments about your ‘biggest concern’ being the lack of love for the countless beings that are suffering: only one who is truly beyond suffering herself may truly help another. Your biggest concern should be your own liberation from suffering. Until then concern yourself with nothing, and you will get there quickly!

    When you are liberated, then you will be of help to others. Until then, don’t worry about them. By all means have compassion (I already spoke about compassion being important in relation to the heart – did you miss that?), but don’t let it blind you to your own path.

    In answer to your question: do I renounce the world as it is? I did. I went into training to become a Swami. I set out on a path to renounce all sensory pleasures. There I met my wife, and realized that it was not my path. It is a path that suits very few, especially us (I assume you also) westerners. Renunciation is not the only path Padma. There *is* no ONE path. There are as many paths as there are people, because we all have a unique path. That is why I say that to blindly follow anothers path is pointless.

    Didn’t Buddha say: “Be a light unto thyself”? That is one of the most beautiful things I ever heard anyone say, and to me it means ‘look within’. Follow your OWN wisdom.

    love, Ben

  15. Padma Kadag says:

    I am not advocating that anyone be a buddhist. It is not easy nor is it for everyone…so if you have interpreted my comments as evangelical then I certainly do not mean them to be. i was doing my best to try and clarify my points.
    In regard to professions …here is what I said," Ben…It could be better if you were a banker even a butcher…why not?" It COULD be better not it would be better. I am saying only that with a good teacher and diligence to the teaching your profession does not matter one bit. In fact, there are many opportunities for spontaneous teaching to arise when dealing with the drudgery of samsara. Peace, Peace is Bliss, Follow Your Bliss, Love and Light, Padma Kadag

  16. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Are you right? Nope.
    Wrong about so many things: actually reading and thinking about what I have said would be a good start, but it seems that isn't going to happen anytime soon, so I'm off to bed :)
    Goodnight!

  17. Padma Kadag says:

    You use the word "Wrong"….about so many things" Ben…I wish your philosophy well.

  18. Sothos says:

    I think you may have been mistaken by drawing a firm line between rationality and intuition. Intuition is not purely irrational. Moreover, seeking that "feeling of absolute unity, complete perfection, perfect love," as well as the "essence of who we really are", from which we all derive pleasure, is in no way irrational.

    I have a blog post on human motivations that may interest you. It discusses the human need for mastery, self-direction, and purpose, in addition to and not in place of, monetary gain. You can read it here.

    Nevertheless, thank you for the blog post. I still learned a lot. :)

  19. Good article, Ben! Always thought-provoking. Hope all is well.

  20. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Hi Man2sting,
    Thank you for your comment. I agree, but… do you see God as something separate from yourself?

  21. man2sting says:

    Hi Ben, it’s a good topic to share. I’d like to say life is full of happiness as long as we know what life’s for. We should know ourselves and God best, thereby.

    Best wishes!

  22. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Hi Janene,

    Someday?

    Today! Now! What you waiting for? :)

    You never know what’s just around that corner…

    Love, Ben

  23. judy says:

    There is nothing wrong with making a business of

    spirituality!

    Yeah, like it’s too bad Buddha didn’t copyright his teachings so people wouldn’t be using it to make a buck.

  24. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Hehe, Padma, you again. What a surprise…

  25. […] especially around this particular holiday season–had the potential to limit my ability to lead a full life, here I sat, still struggling with the notion of ‘simply’ letting […]

  26. Maureen Miller Maureen Miller says:

    As always, Ben, love your posts… I just got back from Acupuncture and so I'm in that space and know that yoga, meditation, being in nature and Acupuncture are ways that I am able to stay authentic and connected to my life's purpose.
    Peace,
    ~Maureen

  27. Outstanding website. Numerous techniques right here. I’m delivering the idea to a few close friends ans furthermore sharing with scrumptious. Not to mention, thanks a lot on your sebaceous!

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