Going Beyond the Universe,
By James Bean
(Exploring the World Religions Column) —
Copyright February, 2012 — All Rights Reserved
In this Internet Age we seem to be drowning in information, distracted by a million voices. A world of knowledge and opinion my be at our fingertips, yet wisdom remains a bit more illusive. My goal with these articles, blogs, public speaking, and podcasts is not so much about sharing of information as it is about revealing a state of Being and Becoming.
The Less Organization, the Better
Each of the great world religions presents its own version of a “treasure-map” to enlightenment or God, along with voluminous histories, customs, and beliefs, yet souls do not yearn merely to collect “maps” containing information. Swami Ji Maharaj of Agra once said of the world religions: “Without Bhakti [love], they are all hollow and sham, outer husks without a kernel.” It is the inner “kernel” or “seed” of Life we’re really after, not developing attachments to institutions or organizations.
Throughout history, it has often been certain rigid religious organizations that ultimately: 1) become the adversaries of mystics and Gnostics; favoring institutional life over inner exploration; 2) can be fearful of scientific research and academic freedom; 3) might have a tendency to overreach, ever thinking up new and excessive rules or regulations, at war even with their own members; 4) on occasion have banned books and “unauthorized” gatherings of those re-labeled as being “heretics;” 5) often claiming to be superior to all other sects — the “one-and only-true path”, and, 6) have sometimes been opponents of equality and human rights.
I love this quote by Huzur Baba Sawan Singh about need to always maintain humanity, compassion, genuineness, honesty, and simplicity as the guiding principals and foundation for public gatherings in the name of spirituality, which in the East are called “Satsangs” or “Sanghas”. “‘Satsang’ has more than one meaning: First, it means the meeting of the Master and a disciple. Second, it means the meeting of all Satsangis [followers, devotees] who may attend, whether the Guru is present in body or not. There is no formality about it, none at all. It is a simple meeting of all disciples who can attend. We avoid formality and anything that may have the appearance of a rigid organization. The less organization, the better. And there must be no idea of leadership. The only leader in Sant Mat is the Guru. Just the Master and His disciples meeting together is the only organization we have.” I love the libertarian, heart-centered simplicity of this statement.
Pulling Back the Veil — Being and Becoming — Knowing Ourselves
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a Light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” (Carl Jung) That’s very close to the definition of Guru according to Hinduism: “one who takes the darkness away”, or is, in other words, a “Light-giver”. The role of the genuine spiritual Master is to escort us into Heavenly Realms so we may have our own experience of the divine and see for ourselves the beauty that up to now has remained hidden.
The soul seeks to actually realize the “treasure” of it’s own Self — Buddha Nature, Atman, New Adam, Pearl of Great Value, Christ-within-you, the Light-Spark of the Divine, which is the Real Me/You. Says Namdev: “I wandered through the cosmos in search of the treasure but found it within me.” Says Tulsi Sahib: “Within thine own self, behold the splendor of thy Beloved.” Rumi says, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the door-sill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.” “Open a window to God and begin to delight yourself by gazing upon Him through the opening.” (Rumi) “The Lord will make the pupil of your eye his home, and your eye will expand to contain the entire universe.” (Namdev)
This mystic-poem by Tulsi Sahib of Hathras, India beautifully reflects upon the inward journey of the soul back to God:
Within this body
breathes the secret essence.
Within this body
beats the heart of the Vedas.
Within this body
shines the entire Universe,
so the saints say.
Hermits, ascetics, celibates —
all are lost
in endless guises.
Seers and sages perfectly parrot
the scriptures and holy books,
blinded by knowledge.
Despite their perfect practice,
they discover no destination.
Only the saints
who know the body’s heart
have attained the Ultimate, O Tulsi.
Realize this, and you’ve found your freedom
(while teachers trapped in tradition
know only the mirage
in the mirror).
When we sit for meditation and gaze into the darkness with eyes closed, we’re encountering the world of “within”, opening up to the possibility of seeing via the Third Eye, also known as the Wisdom Eye. This is the Portal or Door to the Kingdom of the Heavens that are inside. This is what Rumi and the Masters are attempting to show us. For those taught the methods of meditation practice by a qualified living teacher and spiritual guide, we soon will discover that the darkness is no longer dark. There is a pinpoint of light, and an inner sky, inner stars, moons, suns, many colors, dark voids, and tunnels that go into the Light.
As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.” A living teacher, being fully acquainted with the ‘landscape’ of Inner Space, is able to impart to initiate-candidates valuable guidance on how to safely make the journey of ascension to the Inner Regions during meditation. This kind of spiritual transmission and the details of meditation practice are not found in books, old scriptures of the past, and are not for sale, but are given freely.
We also will discover during extended periods of meditation that there is Sound coming from beyond the silence. “When I am silent, I fall into the place where everything is Music,” says Rumi. “Bring the sky beneath your feet and listen to Celestial Music everywhere.” (Rumi) Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has a great description of the Inner Sound in his book, Mind Beyond Death: “It is easiest to hear this Sound when it is quiet, particularly at nighttime. Once you have identified this Sound, then you place your awareness on it without wavering. Resting your mind in the Sound, you continue to listen, going further and further into the Sound itself.”
More On Inner Sound Meditation In Buddhism
“Listening to the inner Sound brings the heart into a position of acute inner awareness. The Sound is always there. We don’t have to create it. It is ever present. So it is a good symbol for Ultimate Reality itself.” (Ajahn Amaro)
“How sweetly mysterious is the Transcendental Sound of Avalokiteshvara [Quan Yin]! Is is the subdued murmur of the sea-tide setting inward. Its mysterious Sound brings liberation and peace to all sentient beings who in their distress are calling for aid.” (Surangama Sutra)
“You can experience the Sound of silence in the mind. You hear it as a kind of high frequency Sound, a ringing Sound….. When you’re just with the cosmic Sound alone, there is pure attention, no sense of a person or personality, of ‘me and mine’”. (Ajahn Sumedho, The Sound of Silence)
“When meditating with this Nada [Inner Mystic Sound], it is essential that the aspirant always seek and follow the particular aspect of it that is most subtle and ‘ultra’ in pitch as well as in brilliance. Even when the Sound becomes very shrill and loud in moments of deep concentration, he [or she] must not be tempted to be satisfied with it merely because it is sharp and resonant. He should relentlessly attempt to rise further and further into ever more subtle spheres of its mysterious Invisible Kingdom.” (Edward Salim Michael, “The Law of Attention – Nada Yoga and the Way of Inner Vigilance”, Published by Inner Traditions books of Vermont)
We are all connected to these subtle realms of Light, Sound, and Heavenly Regions but normally remain deaf and blind to them in our day-to-day experience, being always completely enmeshed in the worlds of mind and matter. It rarely occurs to most that it’s possible to explore consciousness itself, the “lost” buried treasure, our true Self or Soul, the Observer.
Going Beyond the Universe
“So long as a spirit does not rise above the body-consciousness, it remains a stranger to the spiritual realms beyond”. (Rumi)
“God is perceivable only through the soul or spirit. But our individual soul has become surrounded or covered by several sheaths or subtle bodies [astral, causal, etc…]. So long as it remains in the captivity of these various subtle bodies and the physical body, it will be under the knowledge of these bodies and organs only, will be under illusory knowledge only, and will not be able to realize God. In order to know Him, the Jiva-atma or the individual soul shall have to liberate itself from these bondage’s. The one who is able to liberate himself from the body and subtle bodies, is able to lift himself beyond the universe, also.” (Param Poojya Shahi Swami Ji Maharaj)
Here, Shahi Swami, referring to his own mystical explorations and that of others who follow this same practice, speaks of Inner Light and Sound meditation — transcendental seeing and hearing, and how it’s possible during meditation to transcend the physical body (rise above body-consciousness), transcend the astral subtle body, transcend the causal or akashic subtle body, ascend beyond the mental subtle body, and shed the etheric subtle body. All that remains is one’s true naked identity: atman, self or soul. After stripping off the garments of the outer worlds (the subtle bodies and corresponding realms they are associated with), the soul exclaims, “I Am That! I Am That! I Am That!” In this sense, the soul has ascended beyond all the universes of space-time and experiences knowing itself in the Timeless State (Akal) or True Eternal Realm. What an amazing thing to proclaim to “child humanity” — we can go beyond the universe.