In our teaching, we use words in a way that can be challenging for some people. It is not that our terminology is particularly complicated: the building blocks of the language that we use are simple, but they are subtle. To go deeply into our teaching is a journey of self-discovery and one has to be able to open to new things, new terms, new concepts and an entirely new perception. This teaching is not a philosophy but a very direct and exceedingly precise description of the inner reality and of who we really are in our ultimate simplicity and complexity.
One of the fundamental terms that we use is ‘me’. Everybody uses this word in different contexts, but they do so without any understanding of what it means. If the nature of me is not understood, there is simply no way to grasp the nature of the spiritual path: one cannot meet the light of I am if one has not first of all met one’s very me. Those who expand into various altered states of consciousness may assume that they have transcended their separate self. But if they were to examine their experience more deeply, they would see that their ego-structure has remained intact. Being temporarily spaced-out from their ordinary consciousness, they may lose the sense of being separated and suffering, but sooner or later they will land back in the same condition as before.
I often come across seekers who have gone through various awakening experiences or a long process of meditation practice and yet continue to suffer and remain incomplete on so many levels. Why? To understand this matter, we must have the correct model of human evolution and the proper understanding of what makes a human being whole.
First of all, we need to understand what awakening really means. Any awakening, if it is real, is an actualization of an aspect of our higher self. Our higher self, our soul, has several dimensions or components that need to be realized for her to become complete. What makes the matter more complex is the fact that for awakening to be valid, there has to be a meeting, a merging, between the personal and impersonal aspects within our inner existence. In our teaching, we speak about the meeting of the deepest dimension of me – pure me – with the light of I am. If one has expanded into a higher state but that meeting has not taken place, this kind of expansion is not an awakening; one merely has access to the impersonal energy. Because there was no meeting between me and I am, the soul has not been awakened and the state cannot be embodied. Only when a state is embodied, and hence fully realized as one’s higher identity, can we speak about awakening.
One can be in a very deep state, such as the absolute state – unity with the source realized through the doorway of tan t’ien – and yet not be awakened in the proper sense of this term, meaning one still doesn’t have a soul. To awaken is much more than to expand into impersonal energy; it is actually very personal, very intimate. One not only needs to expand into the light of I am, one’s identity has to shift into that new dimension for the soul to be realized.
One may ask which or whose identity needs to shift? If our old identity is what we want to transcend or get rid of, who is shifting? One of the greatest and gravest errors of past teachings is the idea that our relative human consciousness – ego, I, me – is all false or illusory. Unless we create a positive relationship with our me, unless that very me begins to honor and love itself, it will keep living in self-denial in the name of being on some kind of path to enlightenment. It is that self-denial that will jeopardize any chance for transformation and evolution into our higher self.
It is not our me that is the issue, it is its absence. What most experience as me is a me which is lost in the mind, which has no substance and no continuity of self. That thing which has been called ego and criticized by so many as something evil is in fact divine – its essence is light. However, for that light to be realized, not only does me have to evolve into its own pure subjectivity – to extricate itself from the mind-construct – it must be reunited and integrated with the light of I am, with the impersonal aspect of its existence. So the one who shifts into our higher identity is the same one who was living all along in the lower identity of the personal self. Through its own awakening and surrender to the impersonal light of I am, our old self becomes our new self, our soul. The soul is our higher identity, our higher individuality that lives in a natural state of unity with the universal existence.
There are two evolutionary processes that run parallel: awakening and surrender. Awakening refers to the actualization of our higher being, while surrender represents the process of our merging with the source of creation. Sometimes one is more emphasized than the other, but they are fully interconnected. The more the soul is awakened, the more she can surrender; the more she has surrendered, the more profoundly she can meet the light of her pure subjectivity.
There are three dimensions of our existence that need to be awakened for our soul to be complete: consciousness, heart and being. These three centers have different functions, and yet they deeply influence one another until they are fully integrated and unified into one self. Consciousness is the light of cognition and perception that, when awakened, becomes conscious of itself. On the lower level, it is conscious of itself as me, and on the higher level as the unity of me and I am. Heart is the feeling center of our existence through which the light of love is realized and the doorway to the divine open. On the lower level, the heart is the feeling center of our human, psychological identity; on the higher level, it is the feeling center of the soul. However, for that to be realized, the deepest dimension of the human heart – pure me of the heart – must merge with the I am of the heart. Being is the portal to the source. When that doorway is fully open, it leads to realization of the absolute. However, it cannot serve as a true portal for the soul to transcend unless it is first embodied and awakens as an essential aspect of our identity and body of the soul. This threefold description is a simplified model of the soul’s awakening.
The next subject is how the evolution of our human identity, our psychological self, ties in to the awakening of our higher being. It is of the utmost importance to understand this matter. The human self is our lower self; the soul is our higher self. The fact that the human is our lower self does not mean that there is something essentially wrong with our human identity; it simply has a valid but lower place in the hierarchy of our existence. Our limitation is not that we are human, but that we are human without a soul.
In our terminology, the soul is who we are in the universal context, our higher being who lives in the natural state of wholeness and freedom. Although the soul must absorb our human me, she exists on a much deeper plane of reality. The nature of the soul is difficult to explain because her existence is paradoxical: she is neither personal nor impersonal but is born in the exact meeting place of these dimensions. She is individual and has unique characteristics, and yet her essence is universal. While her consciousness and intelligence are in the process of never-ending evolution, when realized she is already a perfect reflection of the beloved. She is present from the place of absence. She is living her individual existence from the natural samadhi in the source of creation and unity with the manifested world. Her essence is love, her nature is clarity, her abiding place is the unbroken rest in the heart of god.
Coming back to the subject of how our human self is seen in the context of the soul’s awakening, we must understand that without the human, without our me, the soul cannot awaken and it cannot come into existence. One may ask: If the soul is eternal, why does she need to come into existence at all? The soul is eternal within the future, not the past. When the soul is realized, it is that eternal substance which is realized, but this does not mean that she existed before. Our past is mere unconsciousness, the absence of soul. Moreover, the lower self cannot become the higher self by any kind of spiritual exercise, self-enquiry or artificial practices. One simply cannot become who one is not. Rather, the process of awakening begins when the light of I am enters our existence, which most commonly happens through initiation by a human teacher. Me must then begin to develop the correct relationship of practice and surrender with that impersonal energy. I am is both a doorway for me to reality and the substance through which the identity as the soul can become established.
What those who experience any kind of spiritual shift which is real – not just a spaced-out state of consciousness that debilitates the function of me – are really experiencing is an opening to the energy of I am. However, for that shift to constitute an actual awakening, me has to merge with I am. When it is embodied, that state becomes real; it becomes who we are. The problem then is that our human self is complex, with its many psychological layers, and as such the merging of me with I am may or may not transform our human reality as a whole. For instance, one can have realized the soul very deeply and yet still have some serious psychological issues on the human level.
Our psychological reality has its purpose; the idea is not to get rid of it or to dissolve it entirely, but more to align it and integrate with the higher intention of the soul. Some level of imperfection on the human level often needs to be accepted as a part of our human maturation, which involves gathering various experiences and fulfilling some of the root desires. This should not be confused with indulging in our lower human tendencies. The human has to work diligently towards his maturity and accelerate the process of healing and purification with his total devotion to the light of the soul. It is the supremacy of our soul and her empowerment that sooner or later transform all the elements in our psychological existence that are not in harmony with our light, love and intelligence. The spiritual journey is not just the pursuit of awakening various inner states. It is a journey towards wholeness, towards becoming a complete divine being, free and yet totally natural, universally ordinary.
For a definition of the terminology used, please visit the.