Beyond this everyday reality there is a deeper reality that we don’t normally perceive because it’s beyond perception; beyond space, time and mind. It’s the subspace; the causal reality from which this phenomenal world is continually evolving; emerging from, existing for a time and merging back into. It’s the ultimate reality within which our perceived reality exists.
Now, as human beings we’ve lost sight of that ultimate reality. That’s the human condition.
The other day I went to a supermarket and noticed a bird flying around. When I pointed it out to one of the employees he said that it had been there for the last three years because it hadn’t been able to find its way out again. He said that it survives on water which melts from the ice of the fresh food department, and breadcrumbs from the bakery.
In a way we’re like that bird. We’ve gotten ourselves lost in the supermarket of this perceived reality we call the world!
The human condition is one of having lost sight of the ultimate reality. But it’s also the process of regaining sight of that ultimate reality. To do this, though, we need to live a life in harmony with the flow of the universe: a life which balances our perceived external reality with that of our deepest internal reality.
In our modern society we have been living life out of balance. We are now in the process of regaining our balance; of creating a balanced life where we not only take care of our physical, intellectual and emotional needs, but also our need for spiritual awakening and fulfillment. Our physical, intellectual and emotional needs only play a supporting role in our search for fulfillment. They are only the means to the end, not the end in itself. Through our upbringing, so-called education, the media and corporate advertising, our society has conditioned us into believing that they are the end in itself but we now know that’s not so. Pleasures of the body and mind can never fulfill our deepest longing for infinite happiness, perfect peace and contentment — bliss.
As human beings on this planet we have not yet reached the culmination of humanity. We have evolved through many lifetimes to the human stage, and we are now continuing that journey from humanity to divinity. On other planets throughout the universe there are human civilisations less advanced than ours, and there are human civilisations more advanced than ours. I use the term advanced here, not in terms of science and technology, or the arts, but in terms of spirituality. True spirituality.
That is, we are on this planet to realise our inner divinity; our innermost self. By its very nature, this involves an expansion of awareness; from our small self to the Greater Self; from our limited sense of awareness, our limited consciousness, to the unlimited awareness; the infinite Consciousness.
In order to fulfill our deepest longing and realise the infinite within ourselves, we need to cultivate a deeper awareness. We need to look within ourselves. We need to search for the essence of ourselves; to connect with our inner selves; because the essence of ourselves is the infinite happiness — bliss — that we all long for.
As human beings we are now in the midst of a shift in consciousness where we are doing just that. Gradually we are coming to the realisation of our own selves as the infinite self of the universe. It’s happening individually, and it’s also happening collectively. It’s a shift in individual consciousness as well as a shift in collective consciousness. It’s happening on our planet, and it’s also happening on other planets. We are all — humanity on our planet and humanity on countless other planets throughout the universe — in the process of attaining that ultimate realisation of our deepest reality.
This is the process of evolution of humanity to divinity throughout the universe. Universal consciousness is in a continual and constant state of re-imagining itself; of re-affirming itself; of realising itself through each and every one of us; through each and every being; through each and every being of its Being. This is the cosmic play, or drama. But I won’t go into that now. It’s too dramatic!
The more we realise our inherent divinity (and the inherent divinity of all beings), the more we will satisfy our inherent longing: infinite happiness (bliss); the essence of infinite consciousness; the inherent divine within our own consciousness and the consciousness of all others.
Consciousness is the core of our being; the essence of our existence; the essential reality within which all things exist as a continuum of expression; the common thread within which the entire fabric of existence is interwoven. Our own consciousness is part of the greater consciousness which is the core of all being; the essence of all existence.
At the deepest level we are all unified in consciousness. Just as the many waves on the surface of the sea are one with the sea, so too are we all expressions of the unified whole. We are all one. There are no others.
“The beginning of the spiritual journey is the realisation (conviction) that there is a higher power: an Other. The second step is to try to become the Other. And finally there is the realisation that there is no Other. You and the Other are One. Always have been. Always will be. You just think that you weren’t.”Father Thomas Keating
What we are ultimately looking for is not outside us. It is within. In fact, it is more than that. It is us. We don’t actually have to become anything other than what we already are. We just have to realise the essence of our own existence; our deepest selves. We only have to realise ourselves as part of the Greater Self. In fact, not only as part of, but one with the Greater Self. We are the infinite consciousness. Our own consciousness is the infinite consciousness of the entire universe.
When one realises one’s own consciousness as one with the infinite consciousness; one’s small self as one with the Greater Self; the Greater Self as one’s own self — that’s self-realisation. The essence of that realisation is the experience of exquisite happiness; infinite happiness; bliss… a sublime experience far above and beyond any worldly pleasure, happiness or enjoyment.
So we are all on a journey towards self-realisation; towards realising the divinity within us. That is our destiny. We are all destined to that same realisation; the realisation of our deepest self; our ultimate state of being.
But as human beings we also have many secondary desires. We want to express ourselves physically, intellectually and emotionally. We have so many goals. We want health, wealth, recognition, friends, family, love. That’s fine, as long as we don’t mistake or substitute these secondary desires and goals for our primary desire and goal.
To live a balanced life we must not only give importance to all the secondary supporting goals in our lives, but also to our primary goal, our internal search: to connect with the infinite source of peace and happiness within ourselves.
This process is sometimes known as devotion (or love for the infinite). It is the introversion of mind towards the one all-encompassing object of desire and fulfillment, rather than the extroversion of mind towards many limited and disparate objects of desire (and hence limited and disparate objects of fulfillment).
The cultivation of devotion, or love for the cosmic consciousness within us, gives meaning to our lives; a higher purpose to our existence. We live and breathe the cosmic dream in each and every moment.
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one.”George Bernard Shaw
The realisation of our limited selves as the cosmic self is the primary purpose of our lives. The fulfillment of that primary purpose is the fulfillment of our deepest desire for infinite peace and happiness. That realisation will be the consummation of our deepest desire, our deepest longing, because our deepest desire is the essence of our deepest self.
And that realisation is inevitable for each and every one of us. We are all on the journey to realising that ultimate state of eternal bliss. There is no possibility of ending up in the wrong place forever; only the right place. There is every reason to be hopeful. There is no scope for hopelessness in true spirituality because our destiny is automatically tied up with the inevitable fulfillment of our deepest longing. It’s the ultimate inbuilt mechanism.
True spirituality is not the imposition of any belief from outside yourself. It’s not about believing what someone tells you to believe or experiencing what someone tells you to experience. It’s about experiencing and believing what you find within yourself. It’s about you. It’s about finding the essence of yourself within yourself and realising that essence as the essence of all things and the entire universe.
True spirituality is about looking within and realising ourselves. It’s about transcending the mind into the consciousness within which it exists: the Cosmic Consciousness.
My guru used to say: “Cosmic Consciousness abides in the very sense of existence, in one’s very heart’s desire.”
And the more we realise that; the more we feel it; the more we connect with our inner selves and truly identify with that infinite awareness; that infinite state of being; the more we feel that our own being encompasses all beings. That we exist within, as part of, indeed as one with, an all-encompassing universal oneness pervading everybody and everything. The whole universe exists within it, everything an expression of that one universal consciousness.
The more we realise ourselves as the ever blissful cosmic being, the more we feel the essence of ourselves as the self of all beings; the essence of each. and every one and thing. And the more we feel that, the more we embrace others within our own sense of being; within our own sense of wellbeing; the more compassionate we become, the more empathetic, the more caring and loving and willing to help others and share with others and make this world a better place.
Our own emancipation lies in the emancipation of all. People get anxious, fearful and depressed when they feel disconnected, cut off from the joys and sorrows of the rest of the world, imprisoned in their own concerns. But the more we expand our sense of self and connection with others; the more our own sense of self encompasses everybody and everything; the more we feel at one with the world and everything in it; the more happy, inspired and connected we feel with the flow of the world; with the essence of all things. And naturally the more we feel all things as a part of ourselves the more we are able to see others as ourselves and inspired to help others as part of ourselves, the Greater Self.
So as human beings our mission is Self-Realisation and Service to All.
When one lives a truly balanced life, one’s internal search inspires one to help others and helping others inspires one’s internal search. It’s a perfect feedback loop. The more you feel it internally the more you feel like sharing it. And the more you share it the more you feel it internally. The two aspects — self-realisation and service to all — are complimentary.
So we need personal as well as social transformation. The two are interconnected. The wellbeing of each and every one of us is linked to the wellbeing of our society and vice versa. One realises this as one’s own sense of self expands to encompass a greater sense of self: a greater sense of oneness with all things. The more one’s own being becomes identified with a greater sense of being, the more one is concerned with the collective wellbeing as a natural consequence. We embrace all within ourselves.
This is subjective approach with objective adjustment. We must take care of our individual needs as well as the needs of our family, friends, community and society. But at the same time we must also take care of our inner need; our ultimate desire. And it is this balance that will bring about personal as well as social harmony. We are on a great journey together and we have a bright and blissful future ahead in fulfilling our shared destiny.
This process is true spirituality, or yoga. Yoga means “union” (the word “yoke” came from it) — the union of the individual self with the Greater Self.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”The Bhagavad Gita
And of course we all know by now that it is not just the yoga postures, but a whole lifestyle, the central practice of which is meditation.
“Med” means middle or centre. So meditation means gravitation towards one’s centre.
Meditation is the process of looking within, of centring yourself on your inner self, of connecting to your true self; the essence of your existence; the core of your being.
To connect with your innermost sense of self; your deepest self; and be open to the possibility that it’s part of a greater self that encompasses everyone and everything. Be open to the possibility of realising yourself as that Greater Self, the Supreme Consciousness.
If you would like to try meditation and know more about the lifestyle of yoga, you can try this free online introductory course: www.anandamarga.org/learn-meditation/