“In the beginning, there was Existence alone —
One only, without a second.
It, the One, thought to itself:
“Let Me be many, let Me grow forth.”
Thus, out of Itself, it projected the universe,
and having projected the universe out of Itself,
It entered into every being.
All that is has its self in It alone.
Of all things It is the subtle essence.
It is the truth. It is the Self.
And you are That. ”
The knowledge of the One God, One Consciousness — the primordial and eternal Intelligence which is the sustaining force and power of existence — is enshrined by every major religion. “The records left by those who have known, ” wrote Aldous Huxley, “make it abundantly clear that all of them, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Taoist, Christian or Mohammedan, were attempting to describe the same essentially indescribable Fact.” (from the Introduction to Song of God: Bhagavad-Gita).
The essence of awakening to the God/Self is the same for everyone, as evinced by countless firsthand spiritual accounts which uncannily overlap in their descriptions of this sacred territory. Yet the meaning individuals derive from their awakening is colored by their personal background and ability to understand what they have been shown. While no one can perceive or know the whole picture, we are all vantage points of God/Goddess describing the picture back to Itself.
This is why there are widely divergent views between different religions (for example, the chasm between the Buddhist and Judaic conceptions of divinity) and why there are innumerable splinter-sects and schisms within the same traditions.
I had no idea at the time of my realization that so many others throughout history had experienced this same awakening. Even if I had known, the last thing I wanted or needed to do after my enlightenment was to proclaim myself any kind of advanced soul. This would have been in contradiction to the realization itself, since it had been made wholly clear to me that at the ultimate level, there was no one in existence but the One, and that even God-asleep-to-God in so many “dream” forms of multiplicity was by divine design. There was no one else for me to attempt to awaken.
“On seeing through the illusion of the ego, it is impossible to think of oneself as better than, or superior to, others for having done so,” Alan Watts aptly put it. “In every direction there is just the one Self playing its myriad games of hide-and-seek.” (from The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are)
The God I experienced had not set up the universe as a labyrinthine game of solitaire, the sole purpose of which was to find the way back to the starting point and win. The game, if one would call it that, is infinite, and both poles are necessary: self as individual and Self as Cosmic Source; world as Self-creation and world as everlasting mystery; yin and yang in eternal embrace. “One has to live in the two extremes; like the snake, up and down, right and left,” wrote Jung. “One cannot take the road of life without taking both sides of it because one side alone would lead to a standstill; if one wants to live one must endure the opposites because the way is two-fold.” (from The Visions Seminar)
My awakening bore more resemblance to the Zen depictions (“Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water”) than to the celebrated yogic Self-Realized superhero playing paranormal stuntman blissfully ever after. Supernatural powers were available to me in my God-Realized state, but they held no allure. (I use the term “supernatural powers” with reservation.
From the view of the God/Self, neither “supernatural” nor “power” is relevant. Rather, there is unlimited creativity, in which anything imagined is easily and effortlessly produced. At the God/Self level, all manifest existence is demonstration of this creative process and perceived as simultaneously “miraculous” and “nothing special.”) Nor was there anything the world offered that drew me back except the possibility of relationship. It was only here, in the sphere of sweet duality, that I could experience communion with other selves.
This was not necessarily a failing on my part. “Most yogis who went up to this level came down and rested in the heart center,” Kaushik told his students. “Only in that center can you stay in a state of relationship to the rest of the world, as other human beings — not high, distant, withdrawn from the rest of humanity. Though you have gone to the highest, yet you come down and rest in the heart center.” (from The Ultimate Transformation)
I now regard my early enlightenment as a gift of a different order than what it is generally touted to be. It spared me years of searching for the Secret of the Universe. I wasn’t driven, as my lust to understand everything would have otherwise compelled me, to follow the yellow brick road in a desperate desire to meet the Wizard (or to torment myself with doubts over the Wizard’s existence). For me, that was all gotten out of the way from the start, so I could spend the remainder of my life learning to “rest in the heart center”.
“The spiritual world is one single spirit who stands like unto a light behind the bodily world and who, when any single creature comes into being, shines through it as through a window,” said Aziz Nasafi. “According to the kind and size of the window, less or more light enters the world.” This single “spirit” is the Self/Source addressed by the Katha Upanishad: “Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest, this Self forever dwells within the hearts of all.” The same spirit/Self/God is, as Joan Borysenko writes (in The Fire in the Soul), “present in all things, all experiences.”
Spiritual awakening seems to be a process whereby we each in our own way become aware of our Source/Self while, by evolving through each one of us, God also becomes aware of Itself and learns through its own creations: every one of us.
In Borysenko’s words,
“The Universe knows itself and expands itself through me.”