The Nature of Spiritual RealizationThe Nature of Spiritual Realization
The Nature of Spiritual Realization

Realization also involves a deepening
in self-understanding and self-transcendence

since it is the unconscious activity of self-contraction
that is keeping one locked into
one's currently limited sense of Reality

The view of Reality being presented here implies that what we must "find" is even now the case. In fact, it is always already the case. But we are not currently aware of it. In order to become aware of it, we need not go anywhere else. We don't have to wait until after death. It is, rather, a process of becoming more sensitive, more aware now. God is Real, God is present right now, in this moment and every moment; and in every moment, we are not truly separate from God. But we are genuinely suffering a sense of separation (from God, from everyone, and from everything) that is our own doing. If this act of separation could be understood and undone, we would be able to be directly aware of (and ultimately identified with) God right now. It is as though we are closing our eyes, and making all kinds of poor judgments about what to do with our lives (including walking off cliffs), without being in a position to be fully aware of what we are doing. In such a situation, clearly, our highest priority is to open our eyes!

In addition, we are constantly and actively being acculturated out of the direct experience of God, because everything is reinforcing the view that "separate self" is factual and fixed, and nothing is reinforcing the view that "separate self" is an activity that produces suffering unnecessarily and which can be transcended.

We described the Great Realizations that one proceeds through on the way to the Full or Perfect Realization as permanent shifts in our identity. Because sense of self or identity is created by our unconscious activity of self-contraction, these Realizations necessarily also correspond to increases in understanding and progress in transcending the self-contraction.

We first understand and transcend our own primal, separative activity as it manifests in that fraction of Reality that is our current Realization: the material sphere.

Having mastered our self-contracting activity on this level, thereby allowing our body-mind to be fully absorbed in God, the Spiritual Reality becomes apparent. It is something like Maslow's "hierarchy of needs", where he suggests that, generally speaking, our needs manifest themselves in hierarchical fashion. For example, "physiological needs" such as air, food, and water, generally command one's attention and energy when they are not met, and generally must be cared for, before one gives much attention to "love, affection and belongingness needs". In this same kind of manner, the physical level of existence must be brought into equilibrium and rested in God (as God is manifest at that level), before the next "level" of Reality makes Itself known in any kind of stable way.

But once the Spiritual has been Realized as one's stable, primary Reality, one must then learn the same mastery of the self-contraction as it manifests on this level. As long as there is still a "me" and an "other" (whether "me" is body, spirit, or Consciousness), self-contraction – the activity of separateness – is still being engaged, and must be understood and transcended at the level in which it is still evidently manifesting.

Thus the final mastery of this act of self-contraction at its most profound and primal depth occurs in the identification with Consciousness itself, still separate from manifest existence. When that most primal gesture of self-contraction is understood and transcended, God is Most Perfectly Realized. The paradoxical state of Most Perfect Happiness, in which there is no "Me" (even a Divine "Me") over and against an "other" (even the entire universe) is an Indivisible Unity that is impossible to imagine from our current viewpoint of being identified with a separate physical body. But that state of Most Perfect Non-Separation is the final and Most Perfect Fruit in this process of self-understanding and self-transcendence. It is in this sense that Socrates' famous dictum, "Know thy self", has ultimate import.


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