We can observe the mystical journey in the levels of spiritual practice and in the lives of the great mystics. If we are to take this journey, we have to start with a longing for God, for Love, for the Self of All, for the bottom line of existence.
Where most of us start is a state of outward-turned inertia. In this condition, we believe we are our physical bodies; therefore, we respond to the world through our senses. There is no agency and therefore no reflection—just the five senses looking out, blankly reacting. We think we are fine, but we do not grasp what we observe and learn from it; we have no real memory. Based on whatever we sense out there, life is either good or bad; what has happened to us is who we are. What we think of as happiness is the external world made to fit “our” liking. It is all about sense pleasure and the avoidance of discomfort.
This condition requires first-level practice, which employs the senses. First-level practice turns our senses toward objects that inspire an interest in God. That is all it does.
When we have followed this first step, we have barely begun. Now we become aware of an internal conversation that we have always had with ourselves—a “me to me” dialogue. Both of these voices are alternately seen as the subject; we do not yet see that both voices are the same voice, that there is only ever one voice.
With work, we disentangle enough that the entire mental conversation becomes observable, and therefore an object that we perceive. However, at this point the observer is still an object of the mind. We do not understand that seeing an object produced by the mind is not the same as seeing the mind. That said, here is where reflection can begin.
This is where second-level practice occurs. Instead of using the senses, we now engage with letters, words, and thoughts within the mind. We study scripture, we study ourselves, we question, and we work toward an intellectual understanding.
We have so far had interest and desire helping us along the way, without any understanding of the vehicle from which interest and desire arise. To deepen our practice, we must now actively engage the will.
We begin by turning our attention inward, literally into the chest, and bore inward. We are still at this point engaging the mind, but also the will. Eventually, this will take us in to the Heart. But it is not until we actually get out of the mind—when we have been graced with the experience of the Witness, rather than just another observer within the mind—that we are moving in the right direction. That experience of the Witness is a moment of Grace. It is the reason why a Guru and initiation are vital to this journey; without them, we will remain stuck in our minds.
When, after practicing at great length, without interruption, and with great devotion, we arrive in the Heart, we rest there. There is no thought, but stillness, bliss, and complete consciousness.
Eventually, we remain always in the Heart, enlivening our vehicles from there as needed to function in the world. This is the state of sahaj samadhi, or walking bliss. The mind, as the vehicle it is, thinks only when given permission. The Self does not think; it is pure consciousness, and knows.
Share this Post