The Ecstatic Life: Fulfilling the Soul’s Need for Passion and Intimacy

What do we mean by the ecstatic life? In Webster’s Dictionary some synonyms for ecstasy include the following: overwhelming emotion, rapturous delight, mystical trance, intense exaltation of mind or feelings, a state of intense bliss or beatitude, a powerful emotion that lifts us out of our self, an experience of radical wonder, awe and amazement, a luminous vision of beauty, a state of sublime reverie, an tender and elegiac mood, a diaphanous state of transparency to Being in itself, contemplative serenity and peace, intimate communion, sensuous and spiritual surrender, transcendental joy.

In her book, “The Hunger for Ecstasy: Fulfilling the Soul’s Need for Passion and Intimacy,” Jalaja Bonheim writes, “There comes a time in each of our lives when the inner ‘serpent’ (see the Kundalini Tantric Yoga Tradition) demands its freedom. We know that this time has come when we begin to long for new avenues of self-expression. We begin to dream of dancing with wild abandon, of writing poetry, traveling to faraway places, or making love with total freedom. Though we might be frightened, we yearn to take risks–to speak the truth when doing so feels risky, to reveal ourselves in new ways, to experience, to explore the outer boundaries of our potential. Unlocking the cage take courage, no doubt, but once we taste the joy of full self-expression, there is no turning back.”

In the chapter of her book entitled “The Practice of Presence,” Bonheim explores such pathways to transcendent and transformative ecstasy as divine presence, healing ritual, slowing down, meditation and silence. In the chapter on beauty she explores such themes as beauty as the mirror of the soul, the senses as divine messengers, adorning the body, the power of natural beauty, everyday beauty, and music. She writes, “Anything beautiful allows our senses to savor the sweet taste of the Divine.” The ecstatic life is one in which we learn to “savor” the  wonder and beauty of life, to experience radical amazement and intoxicating joy.

The poet and essayist Diane Ackerman who calls herself a “natural ecstatic” writes: “Ecstasy is what everyone craves –not love or sex, but a hot-blooded, soaring intensity, in which being alive is a joy and thrill. That enravishment doesn’t give meaning to live, and yet without it life seems meaningless.”

“The ecstatic life” is not incompatible with the contemplative life. Contemplation and ecstasy are two aspects of the same awareness of expansive and intensified experience. Nor is the ecstatic life incompatible with the life of rational reflection, ethical integrity and creative purpose. The ecstatic life integrates the natural, physical, emotional, social, aesthetic, imaginative, rational, volitional, ethical, intuitive and spiritual dimensions of life, much as is symbolized in the image of the seven yogic “chakras” or “energy centers” of sentience and consciousness that all need to be opened, honored, expressed and synthesized. The ecstatic life is what “integral yoga” is all about. Someone has described it as “full-blast living.” Someone else has described to as a beautiful flower opening up and blooming. Sometimes the ecstatic life will be experienced as a profound sense of serenity and peace. At other times it will be experienced as euphoric pleasure and joy. Sometimes it will be experienced as heartache and melancholy. Or it may make its presence known as luminous light or flaming heat.

Below are some beautiful pieces of artwork that evoke the spirit of the ecstatic life. Enjoy!

4a6ef50761add25ed379aafad6b15be5 5fea80f348e639e86a8673806db62bc5 283494_135298936555094_100002249653987_248499_1175900_n 375607_3976953156462_1554262579_n - Copy (2) 228251335_f3e760ada1_z 12468643778735 a44e29395ca95929f789a2e987052a8a branco couple-kissing-over-coffee dc3b8db828949d4fcc28687ab9d237d4 f60beabe81b0ebf770e25e98210f8435 Find-Ecstasy-girl flowers,red,romance,flower,colour,light-e691e615404c9832ddd53402a7ea3d62_h Woman doing yoga in the nature GoddessWomanRedDress-850x567 healing2 image_4f6be031751cd meditate-jungle Mindi_Abair_-_Jazz_Alley_-_Seattle_-_2011 quietPlease quote-srichinmoy sylviahensel_jesusloverofmysoul_2 vision102021 z_7f9e1281 (2)

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2 thoughts on “The Ecstatic Life: Fulfilling the Soul’s Need for Passion and Intimacy”

    1. I’ve read this blog a number of times and each reading—-accompanied by exquisite images—-leaves me transported. It is a powerful and much needed reminder. The needs of the soul are too easily ignored. As always, thank you Rich.

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