We meditate upon that Divine Sun,
the true Light of the Shining Ones.
May it illuminate our minds.

The Gayatri Verse of the Vedas

 

 

That Light is not somewhere "else", not somewhere "beyond" our physical existence, nor is it simply a universal condition that existed in the distant past and is now out of reach. It shines within us right now as the very source of our being. In that Light, we are quite literally unified with the entire Universe. We always have been and always will be.

This transcendental state of unity is certainly an abstract concept, and in metaphysical languages we might have to refer to it as a higher dimension, but that higher dimension is not separate from our everyday experience of the physical world. On the contrary, it provides the very substance of our entire experience of being here now. It is the "stuff" of both consciousness and matter, from our living bodies to inanimate rocks to the distant quasars. If that Cosmic Light were not shining forth at this very moment, nothing whatsoever would exist.

 

The essence of mystical knowledge resonates with our deepest level of being, yet it persistently defies our logic-oriented minds. Normal objective logic is based on the knowledge of material separateness, and as far as our everyday existence is concerned, this is what reality is. To the ancient mystics, this is the classical trap.

The physical level of experience is that part of our being which makes us think we are separate, when in Reality we are not. If we think the physical is the only mode of being, we have fallen into the trap of the ego-self -- we have become so fully attached to the material realm that we too easily think of our body as our only mode of selfness, and have come to think of it as the only part of our being. This causes us, for example, to fear death. We fear death because we cannot see beyond it -- we have essentially no awareness of our true multi-dimensional reality and those modes of our being which are independent of the physical body.

The material world is transient -- things come and go, bioforms included. To the mystic, all forms of impermanence are a type of non-reality, and in many of the ancient teachings, such as in the writings of one of the most highly revered nondualists, Shankara, we find the physical level being referred to as illusion. This is not to say that it doesn't really exist, but rather that we see its true form in a limited, illusory sense. There is no doubt that the physical experience is real. If we walk into a brick wall, it hurts -- both the wall and the pain are real enough. But the pain will pass, the goose-egg will heal, and the wall will eventually crumble. What is important to realize is that through all the experiences of change, the true reality which underlies and creates the physical world of change does not change. That level of reality which never changes is the most real -- everything else is temporary and illusory. The ultimate substance and reality of the Universe is not separate particles scattered around in space, but rather a timeless condition of Universal Light.

 

 

It cannot be stolen by thieves, cannot be taken away by the king, cannot be divided among brothers, and does not cause a load.
If spent, it always multiplies. The wealth of knowledge is the greatest among all wealths.

 

Integrating the Realms

The general aim of transcendental mediation and yoga (yoking, union) is a conscious state of spiritual enlightenment in which the experience of maya (the illusion of time-bound separateness) is recognized for what it is. In the old Eastern traditions, the desired result of dhyana (absorption into Reality, as during meditation) is the overcoming of the illusion and fear of death, so that, at the moment of death, the individual may obtain total liberation from samsara (the time-bound process of life-death-rebirth), resulting in a total dissolution of the individual psyche into the Supreme Reality. The individual spirit, having been recognized as the only true reality by virtue of its immortality, remains in a state of blissful rapture with the wholeness of Being; where, of course, it has been all along.

This classical view has been criticized for its tendency to de-emphasize the importance of the creative expression of the Supreme in the material world. Most of the ancient teachings contain an element of material world denial and involve a systematic negation of or withdrawal from the physical level. This may have been appropriate for the day, and is still useful in meditation exercises since any connection to the "logicalness" of the physical senses tends to contradict and otherwise distract the meditator from the higher levels of experience. However, this can leave the meditator with the feeling that the physical world is bad and physical sensations should be shunned, or with a sense that the physical world is so unreal that we don't have to worry about it at all. Also, if a meditation begins with the classical type of material-world negation, and if a samadhic (rapture-like) state is experienced as a result, it can leave the seeker with the feeling, after "returning" to the normal state, that the samadhic state was actually somewhere "else", again loosing track of that essence of connection between the physical and spiritual realms, the main goal of the meditation in the first place.

Fortunately, more contemporary teachings and meditation techniques tend to stress that the sensory perception of physical objects need not necessarily be "disconnected" during the supersensory perception of transcendental experience. In fact, the experience of physical life-senses should take on a more vivified reality, having been recognized as an integral part of the individual's ever-present connection with the transcendental Reality. This reflects an important aspect of our current stage of conscious evolution, which emerged in one form earlier this century in the Integral Yoga of teachers such as Sri Aurobindo and Haridas Chaudhuri.

Individuality...is an active center of dynamic self-expression of the Supreme. In that case, true wisdom cannot consist in mere self-negation in an absolute void, or in self-annihilation in the formless absolute. The path of wisdom rather lies in the realization of one's essential oneness with the whole of existence and in the reconstruction of one's life on the basis of that realization.

Haridas Chaudhuri
Being, Evolution, and Immortality

1974, The Theosophical Publishing House

 

The Light in Our Life

When the Soul "descends" to Earth, it puts on an earthly garment, according to the Zohar, the most important text of the Hebrew Kabbalah. "When Adam dwelt in the garden of Eden, he was dressed in the celestial garment, which is the garment of heavenly light, ... light of that light which was used in the garden of Eden."

 

 

The Tree of Life
painting by Patricia Waldygo

The Kabalistic Tree of Life

 

The Sephiroth:

The 1st Sephirah
Kether, the Crown

The 2nd Sephirah
Chokmah, Wisdom

The 3nd Sephirah
Binah, Understanding

The Invisible Sephirah
Da'ath, Knowledge

The 4th Sephirah
Chesed, Mercy

The 5th Sephirah
Geburah, Strength

The 6th Sephirah
Tiphareth, Beauty

The 7th Sephirah
Netzach, Victory

The 8th Sephirah
Hod, Glory

The 9th Sephirah
Yesod, Foundation

The 10th Sephirah
Malkuth, The Kingdom

 

 

Just as big bang cosmology is paralleled within the quantum realm, just as the entire history of cosmological evolution is ever-present in the structure of the atom, the entire history of human evolution is ever-present in the structure of the body-soul vehicle. The relationship between the heavenly Light of the Garden of Eden and the earthly world of the manifest Universe, is reflected directly in the relationship between the soul and the body, mind and matter, consciousness and spacetime. In each case, both realms exist simultaneously in an intricate web of interdependence, and in each case, the higher, more ethereal levels provide the primary substance for the lower, more corporeal realms. In transcendental meditation, an increasing transcendence is a progression toward the source of conscious unfoldment and toward the central source of the Universe itself.

Consciousness thus proceeds from the more limited to the more comprehensive, from lesser to greater intensity, from lower to higher dimensions, and each higher dimension includes the lower ones by coordinating its elements in a wider and more intricate structure of relationships. ... Thus the reality of a lower dimension is not devaluated or eliminated by the higher one, but only relativized.

Lama Anagarika Govinda
Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness
1976, The Theosophical Publishing House

 

Spacetime and Consciousness

Ancient mysticism teaches us that spacetime and consciousness are polar aspects of the process of creation. The entire field of spacetime is like a reversed image of consciousness -- matter is literally mind-stuff. This is the subject-object polarity.

If there were no objects, there would be no subjects; and if there were no subjects, there would be no objects. For on either side alone nothing could be achieved. But that (the self of pragna, consciousness, and prana, life) is not many, (but one). For as in a cart the circumference of a wheel is placed on the spokes, and the spokes on the nave, thus are these objects (circumference) placed on the subjects (spokes), and the subjects on the prana. And that prana (breath, the living and breathing power) indeed is the self of pragna (the self-conscious self), blessed, imperishable, immortal.

Kausitaki-Brahmana Upanishad
III Adhyaya, 8

 

Just as on the objective side the universe is an unending process of space-time continuum, so also on the subjective side pure consciousness is an unceasing stream of self-transcendence.

Haridas Chaudhuri
Being, Evolution, and Immortality
1974, The Theosophical Publishing House

 

The close association of space and consciousness can also be seen from the fact that in the higher stages of absorption (dhyana) the experience of the infinity of space (akasanancayatana) immediately leads to the experience of the infinity of consciousness (vijnanancayatana). After the elimination of all thing- and form-ideas or representations, space is the direct and intuitive object of consciousness.

Lama Anagarika Govinda
Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness
1976, The Theosophical Publishing House

 

Vajrayogini Mandala

 

 

Individual consciousness has a depth of extension equal to that of the Universe itself. As incredible as this may seem, it is a very real metaphysical reality -- the depth of space is a direct reflection of the depth of consciousness, a externalized experience of the magnitude of our consciousness. The dimension of depth-consciousness is transcendental, and we do not see its magnitude of extension as such. It is like viewing a line end-on, thus appearing as a singularity in three-dimensional space with the length of the line not being perceived at all. Indeed, this dimension cannot be seen because it is what we see with -- it is experienced as the force of consciousness, life itself.

The polarity of consciousness is the very same polarity that we experience as time, and space is its polar aspect projected outward.

In other words: we do not live in time, but time lives within us; because time is the innermost rhythm of our conscious existence, which appears outside of ourselves as space...

We could also say: space is the possibility of movement, time the actuality or the realization of movement; or, space is externalized, objectivated time, time projected outward.

Lama Anagarika Govinda
Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness
1976, The Theosophical Publishing House

 

The integration of spiritual and physical knowledge is a key part of the awakening process that our planet is experiencing today. It will obviously involve a fundamental paradigm shift in our understanding of space, time, and matter.

This paradigm shift began earlier this century with the birth of both relativity and quantum theory. These scientific theories deal with universal principles, and being firmly based in the objective logic of physical knowledge, their deep revelations have appeared as very strange ideas. It has taken this entire century to formulate and accept the full impact of their implications, although they have become no less strange to the logical mind.

Only when we fully integrate mystical knowledge into our worldview do the strange implications of modern science begin to make sense. At the same time, the language of modern science becomes a great help in understanding ancient mysticism.

 

 

This then is the message which we have heard of Him,
and declare unto you, that God is Light,
and in him is no darkness at all.

1st Epistle of John (1:5)