When did the future become real? When did we overlay the here-and-now immediacy of childhood with an ever-enlarging fantasy of "the future?" Was is in high school worrying about upcoming report cards, or college when we began fretting about career, family and finances? By adulthood, however, "the future" grew so large that it consumed most of our thinking. We rarely lived in the present anymore. Then we got "old" and the future shrank down to short term plans – family celebrations, final trips, everyday errands - and fretful imaginings of the future eventuality of illness and death. And, paradoxically, there is also this abyss of time, the feeling that unfilled time is a wasteland that can spread out forever. What to do? No future? (never buy green bananas) or too much future? (stick with canned food). For many aging people confronting this conundrum, doing something, anything, creates a future worth living while having nothing to do is hell. Yet in truth, time is but an illusion of mind, the imposition of thought on the timeless divine present. For my part, I intend to keep exploring the sacred moment-to-moment mystery of being alive, which fully includes aging, decline, dying and death, for awakened consciousness transforms everything, revealing beauty and love beyond our wildest imaginings. Best to trade your thought-driven mind for timeless moments in the Garden. This is sacred living. This is mystical activism.
What if we experienced the presence and consciousness of the divine every time our thoughts ceased during meditation? What if that divinity-as-consciousness experience could be sensed directly as our own inner Self? What if we merged that divine presence with our own being and discovered spontaneous new expressions of love and creativity flowing from our depths? What if we knew in this deepening incarnation that we were God? How might we think, feel, see, act and believe differently? What if you experienced this transformative process? What if we all did? Let's find out. And in the process, we might change the world one awakening at a time.
Abraham Maslow, the father of humanistic psychology – the "Third Force" of American psychology, and its wonderfully enlivening concepts - "hierarchy of needs," "peak experiences," "self-actualizing personality," suffered a severe heart attack in his early 60's and died several months later. In the intervening months, a time of very fragile health he called his "post-mortem life," Maslow's personality changed dramatically, shifting from a nearly workaholic level of ambition and productivity to a steady state of transcendent calm, characterized by a deep serenity, unitive consciousness, spontaneous spiritual insights, and pervasive perceptions of radiance, beauty, and the miraculous nature of being. He described this state as the way the world would look if a mystical experience settled into a persistent state.
This experience changed Maslow. He now viewed humanistic psychology as a transitional state, a preparation for a higher transpersonal or trans-human one, a "Fourth Force" in psychology, one that could be taught and intentionally evoked. He called this new state of consciousness the "plateau experience" and said he could awaken it voluntarily and remain "turned on." He talked of teaching "classes in miraculousness."
I'm proposing that mystical consciousness, our long-forgotten but fundamental human capacity for the direct perception of Creation, can be one of the most important resources for healing ourselves and the collective illusions that are destroying our world. Indeed, the approaching climate apocalypse may be the turning point in human civilization, moving us from the greed and power and the false self to the all-infusing love and unity of divine reality. This climate disaster is not the end of humanity, but it is a call to grow in sacred consciousness. It's a call to conscious elders and all who long to transcend the straitjacket of identity, time and story to come home to a new revelation of Eden.
I'm also proposing that we work together to enlighten human consciousness. Borrowing Maslow's brilliant intuition, what if we taught classes in "miraculousness," classes that dissolved left-brain illusions in right-brain mystical awareness? Re-balancing left and right brain functions we would envision a new kind of civilization, one where thought arose from divine consciousness to serve all life. Matthew Fox calls this kind of creativity "art as meditation" and I believe its unifying consciousness was the implicit goal of the University of Creation Spirituality and its later incarnation The Fox Institute. In such an awakened teaching environment, the whole spectrum of false self identities – rich, poor, teachers, homeless, mentally ill, doctors, soldiers, athletes, academics, scientists and seekers – discover that they are not who they think they are but so much more. When welcomed, a mystical pedagogy could thrive in countless places such as schools, businesses, nonprofits, churches, environmental agencies, community centers and activist organizations.
Fox concludes, "My conviction is that we need not only an outbreak of creativity in the fields of technology and science but also education, politics, religion, media and economics, but especially a spiritual awakening–What Joanna Macy and David Korten call the "Great Turning" and Thomas Berry calls the "Great Work" and I call a metanoia or change of consciousness from an anthropocentric…world view to an Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality worldview." This awakening is the essence of mystical activism.
I live in God's actual consciousness. I experience it every day. My consciousness is God's consciousness. And this consciousness changes me. It opens the perceptual gates to the divine world described by countless mystics. Heaven on Earth is not a fairytale and it holds the secret to the escalating crisis of climate change.
I know many will regard this statement as arrogant and judge me with the belief in a world populated only by false selves, but it has nothing to do with my false self which disappears in this consciousness anyway. "I" as a personal construct have no reality in thought-free mystical awareness (which is the secret behind the joy of awakening). You, too, can experience this sacred expansion of consciousness. Its clarity, freedom, joy, guidance and love will ease your suffering, but more importantly, its collective use can ease the suffering of our sacred Earth and her beings.
We are not the fictional, problem-ridden personas we enact daily in the world, and the world is not what we think it is. We are the divine consciousness that dissolves artificially-constructed false selves and the imaginary soap-opera world they project. The character you play will not bring the happiness, spiritual realization, or a divine world, nor will it heal our escalating global crisis. But we can discover the divine Self that lives in and through us and experience its life-transforming consciousness.
The journey of age is also transformed in divine consciousness. Conscious elders no longer need to be prisoners of the past, trapped in outdated identities, personal stories, or ossified reality constructs. In conscious sacred aging, we are witnesses to a new Creation and can bring this revelation to the world. Everyone has an exciting new job in Creation.
How do you experience divine consciousness? Here are some suggestions:
1. Believe this shift in consciousness can happen. Read about it. Understand it. Want it! Then do it for yourself and the world. Only you can transform your consciousness. Be serious.
2. Practice the experiential exercises in my books. They were created from the firsthand awareness of divine consciousness and open this same awareness to anyone experiencing the steps described. It's all about the direct experience of the sacred. The exercises are not difficult and include Mystical Consciousness, Presence, Heaven on Earth, Divine Self, and Interactive Dialogues with God, Soul, Earth, Ancestors, Angels and other spiritual beings. These exercises build on one another synergistically until you finally grasp the truly simple path to awakening. Yes, you will have to buy the books, but bookselling is simply a means of distributing information; the vast majority of authors do not get rich and don't write for the money. For me, writing is a spiritual discipline.
3. Practice daily. Waking up needs to become a daily, even hourly, experience in order to replace the left-brain's robotic personality functioning. The primary obstacle to waking up is the habitual return of the false self that occurs the second we start thinking again. We are addicted to our preoccupation with obsessive thought.
4. Be patient but notice the thrilling expansion of consciousness that signals progress. Every experience of divine consciousness, no matter how small, offers immediate and immense reinforcement. The sense of release, relief and freedom is amazing.
5. Notice divine consciousness transforming your perception and behavior. This is the whole point! Become the mystic you were meant to be and evolve into the artist and prophet that arise in mystical consciousness. Then help save Creation.
These spiritual teachings will also be found in the forthcoming book, Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis coming out early next year. Its moral: Wake up to who and where you really are, and watch problems dissolve into the firsthand experience of divinity as Creation herself. Then ease into the divine flow of Creation and discover the reason you came into the world.
Mystical activism means waking up to the firsthand, timeless experience of Creation and sensing what our work is in the present moment. It is a hands-on, action-oriented mysticism - mysticism in action. The flow of Creation becomes the source of our work and our creativity. In this awakened consciousness, the mystic becomes the artist and prophet, revealing - and defending - the divine as the nature, source and purpose of life against the destructive forces of the patriarchal false world. We sense that reality is alive, conscious, love-drenched, and always brand new, an experience so precious and profound that we defend it with our lives. The illusory dualities of sacred and profane, divinity and humanity, Heaven and Earth disappear. Experiencing the inner divine Self, we always know what to do; we dwell in Garden consciousness and care for it as like a newborn baby. In sum, mystical activism is about returning to - and embracing - the divine world as our very self.
Of course, people will want to tell you that this mystical "woo-woo" is a waste of time and that you should be doing something more important, but here is the counterpoint: the most authentic doing comes from divine being. In conscious being, we know in the moment what to do whether that means driving and flying less, avoiding plastics, filling our gardens with drought-resistant plants, or simply being kind. When we fall in love with Creation, we do everything we can for the Beloved. Yes, we absolutely must heed the warnings of science and make huge changes in civilization, but all that comes more easily when we know who and where we are: divine beings in a divine world. Explore mystical consciousness, step into the divine world, and then do your work. In Mystical Activism, we hold the power to perceptually change the world right where we are. Who can do this? The answer is anyone who tries. Maybe not all at once or all the time, but as a spiritual practice, Finding Heaven Here will steadily open our eyes to the real world we are meant to live in.
The Ultimate Choice
We stand at the threshold of the divine world and the ultimate choice of humanity: the choice of which world we want to live in. Warring thought-driven worlds always perish in time; Creation as divinity always survives and flourishes in eternity. Let us choose the latter and restore thought to its rightful place as a divine gift in service of Creation. At this moment in human history, our greatest work is to wake up to who and where we really are and birth a new flowering of civilization.
If this article doesn't change your consciousness, read it again. Read it a thousand times. Read it until you see what I see, what the mystics see, what truly is. Read it until you wake up from the self-perpetuating illusions of this suffering world. Wake up and help others do the same.❤️
(The documentation behind this work can be found in the forthcoming book, Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis, and throughout my writing.)
Finding the divine world cannot be an intellectual exercise. Because we need to see it directly, for ourselves, let's explore an experiential exercise. This exercise is an experiment in the mystical consciousness. Don't worry about doing it perfectly. Don't worry about whether anything is happening. Don't try to figure it out. Just follow the directions and notice what you notice. Take all the time you need, go slowly, and try to experience the sensory qualities described in the instructions Ready? Here goes…
1. Find a relatively quiet and peaceful environment free of interruptions for at least fifteen minutes.
2. Keep your eyes open throughout this exercise. You can't see the divine world with your eyes closed! And remember, this is not meditation, guided imagery, or spontaneous fantasy. In fact, it may be different than anything you've done before.
3. Take a moment to quiet your mind. Let your thoughts slow down and unwind. Get comfortable in your chair, centered in your own personal space and physical being. Focus attention on the sensory perception of the immediate here-and-now.
4. Now, slowly, consciously and deliberately, focus your attention on something near to you: you hand, a watch, a pencil, the fabric of your pants. Let it be your visual focal point for the exercise. Just keep gazing at whatever you've chosen.
5. While you're looking at this focal point, listen to the silence and sense the stillness of the present moment that is everywhere. Any time your thoughts resume, remind yourself to stop thinking and return to silence and stillness as you gaze ever more deeply at your chosen point.
6. Now in this still and conscious moment, I want you to heighten and sharpen your senses even more. Become as alert, awake and aware as you possibly can. Wake up!
7. Heighten this awareness even further by opening the awe response. You already know what awe feels like. You felt it when you stood in rapt attention as a child gazing up at the night sky or, as an adult, down at your newborn infant. That intense, wide-eyed, breath-catching, thought-free awareness. Awaken that intense consciousness and you expand your sense of awe as you continue gazing at your focal point.
8. Now carefully examine its visual properties of your focal point: its colors, pattern, and texture. Experience its depth, beauty and perfection. Notice how the light plays on it. Smell it. Touch it. Look deeply into it with your soul. Love it. Merge with it. See it exactly as it is without thought. This is pure perception. See it as if you've never seen anything so clearly before. Be amazed.
9. Keep looking at the object. As you gaze at it, become aware of your own consciousness, in other words, become conscious of consciousness itself, remembering that all consciousness is divine consciousness. Keep gazing at the object with this pure awareness. See if you can sense that divine consciousness now exists all around you, as if space itself were becoming alive and aware. Just notice.
10. This heightened state of mystical consciousness may further change your perception. Leave your focal point and begin to look around you. Notice that your environment may seem brighter, more beautiful, interesting, radiant and alive, and it is because you are dissolving the lens of thought that separates you from the divine world. In this consciousness, everything is incredibly beautiful, infinitely precious, perfect, enchanting, radiant, shimmering with light, conscious, alive, and full of love. The divine world is still here, you are looking at it, you are looking into it. You knew this world as a child, you can find it again as an adult. Be amazed. Be grateful. Take your time to absorb this profound revelation. You are in deep communion with divine being as the world itself. Just experience it.
11. When you're ready, bring yourself back to normal everyday consciousness. Move around a little, sit up, and reconnect with your customary self-experience. Get the operating system of your mind back on line, as the computer folks might say, so you can reflect on this experience and perhaps write in your journal.
What did you experience in this exercise? Reflect on the little or big things that surprised you and any curious intuitions you had. Understand, too, that mystical consciousness, like any skill, will develop with time and practice. As you practice this exercise again and again, try to keep track of what did happen, not want didn't, in order to continue developing your mystical awareness.
One of the wonderful things we can learn from the practice of Finding Heaven Here is the extraordinary beauty and freshness of everyday life. It heals us naturally because thought-free sensory consciousness is where the divine is found, where wisdom arises naturally, and where our hearts come alive. It is literally the threshold of Heaven on Earth! Because conventional reality beliefs are so deeply ingrained, however, we often cannot even conceive that the world is more than just a collection of material things and processes, so here are some additional suggestions for transcending our collective blindness.
· Start with positive expectations for seeing Heaven on Earth. We see what we expect, so expect it. Remind yourself, "This is Heaven on Earth" or "I am in Heaven on Earth" and see what happens.
· Feel the joy of this potential revelation. It's like saying, "It's an amazing day" and then discovering that it really is.
· Look for beauty everywhere. The mystics have long said that beauty is a doorway into the divine world.
· Practice seeing your environment with gratitude as an incredible and sacred blessing. Practicing gratitude will further awaken the perception of the imminent sacred.
· Practice loving the world unconditionally just as it is. Love is itself a channeling of divine energies and a transformation of consciousness.
· Practice awe, for awe is always related to the sacred.
· Practice happiness. You already know how to feel happy, just do it. Happiness also profoundly affects our perception of the world.
· Practice silencing thought-driven consciousness in thought-free awakened perception.
· Practice often. Remember the adage, "Practice makes perfect"? It works here.
Coming Next: The Ultimate Choice
Global warming, an existential crisis of monumental proportions, is rapidly descending upon us. We don't know where this escalating apocalypse is going and we can't instantly stop or reverse it. Science is working on it. Countless enlightened governmental and grassroots organizations are mobilizing for action. The news cycle is finally admitting the crisis is real. Will this concerted effort be enough? In consideration of this critical question, there is, yet, one more avenue we should pursue: mystical activism. This three-part blog explores the questions: What is mystical activism and how might it help us find our way through this time climate reckoning?
What Is Mystical Activism?
Mystical activism begins with mystical consciousness: an intentionally awakened, thought-free, sacred of awareness that transforms the experience of our self, our work, and the world itself. In its fullness, mystical consciousness reveals the exquisitely beautiful, infinitely precious, and timeless reality known as Creation. Permeated by the divine Presence, everything is perceived as sacred, including us, for the Beloved now manifests as the world itself. This transformation of self and consciousness leads naturally to mystical activism for we instinctively love and protect that which is sacred to us. In the process, weco-create the kind of world we want to live in.
How Does Mystical Consciousness Change the World?
The dualistic mind created by the evolution of the split-brain fools us into believing that there is only one world and one way to fix it. It says we live in a physical reality properly described by thought, that reality is what we think it is, and that logical thought processes are the best ways to improve the world. This is the left-brain approach to problem-solving and western science, technology and industry are extremely good at it. But when we name and explain things with intellectual constructs only, we lose touch with the magic, mystery, and wonder of the divine world and the sacred fabric of existence fades from awareness and memory. In fact, we may not believe it even exists. Jewish mystic Abraham Heschel explained, "As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind." He added that the greatest hindrance to an awareness of the sacred is "…our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental clichés." The answer? "Wonder or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is therefore a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is." And Heschel warned, "Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation…"
Mystical consciousness is a powerful antidote to the conceptual mode of problem-solving. In mystical consciousness, we temporarily leave the left-brain's thought world, heighten sensory awareness, experience reality in a consciousness free of thought, expectation, agenda and self, and then open the transformative power of pure consciousness. With practice, we discover that nothing is what we think it is, everything is literally sacred, including us, and that consciousness is not just in me, I am in it and it is the consciousness of divinity. This is mystical consciousness, offering us a revelation of the infinite beauty and perfection of Creation and the untapped power of mystical activism. It's not that we would ignore the left-brain's prodigious skills but we would imbue them with sacred consciousness so our work benefits all of Creation. Left-brain planning with awareness firmly planted in the divine consciousness would make a huge difference in healing the world at both individual and collective levels.
Next up: The Practice of Finding Heaven Here
This new book with a foreword by Matthew Fox comes out early next year. A summation, renewal, and extension of my work on the psychology, spirituality and mysticism of aging, it is meant to bring new readers to my earlier groundbreaking work, encourage previous readers to re-examine it, and apply its vision to the immense political and environmental challenges of today.
To call these "end times" is hardly hyperbolic. We are in trouble and the signs are everywhere: extreme political divisions; xenophobic violence, enormous wealth inequity; poverty and homelessness; racism, sexism, and ageism; arms buildups and unending wars; and, most critical of all, terrifying climate disruption associated with manmade global warming. This unfolding crisis is already resulting in food and water shortages, species extinctions, unlivable climate zones, and catastrophic weather, flood and fire events. It is also obvious that we are the cause of these dark times. Each of these crises originates in the human psyche – yours and mine. Driven by left-brain beliefs, illusions and obsessions, we race headlong toward the collapse of civilization. Fortunately, the solution to these mounting crises also lies in the human psyche, arising from a most surprising source: the right-brain's natural mystical consciousness. Our survival depends on whether we grasp and resolve this paradox in time.
I'm proposing that mystical consciousness, our long forgotten but fundamental human capacity for the direct perception of Creation, can be one of the most important resources for healing ourselves and the psychological split-brain schism that is risking our very survival. Indeed, divinity is pouring through the conventional world but for most sacred reality is still unseen. But this fast approaching apocalypse may be our turning point, moving us from the excesses of greed, power and false self to the all-infusing love and unity of divine being. This is not the end; it is a call for mystical consciousness and a time for mystical activism.
This book is about changing the world in a most unusual way - by transforming ourselves. When we awaken the power of mystical consciousness, we walk into a radiant new world before our eyes. Conventional problems and issues disappear and we return to our original Garden consciousness in deep communion with an all-pervading divine reality. Mystical activism is not about changing the world we think we see, it's about seeing through it into Creation as our truest home. From this awakening, we discover multiple tools of mystical consciousness that can change the way we process crisis, hardship, and loss, and awaken a new kind of human being.
This visionary transformation also reveals that the next stage of our spiritual evolution is happening right now, right before our eyes, evident in the multiple transitions described in the chapters of Mystical Activism - from spirituality to mysticism, left brain thinking to right brain consciousness, personality to Presence, Patriarchy to New Aging, false self to divine human, soul to prophet, and, with a little help from our friends on the "other side," from conventional reality to Heaven on Earth. In this new integration, earlier and new works combine for a new vision of human spiritual activism and evolution.
The mystical activism of self-transformation is here-and-now activism. We transform ourselves not to convince others to believe something or force institutions to change, but to convert our individual and collective experience of reality itself. It's about being utterly transformed and, as divine humans, letting life happen spontaneously from within the direct experience of divinity. This is a totally different kind of activism - unpremeditated, unpredictable, unprescribed, and unselfconscious. We become divine humans living in the flow of conscious sacred being working in ways never before possible.
What I Learned About Life I Learned the Hard Way: Stay True To Your Path. Guest Blog by Austin Repath
It's not often that a young woman decides to chat me up in a coffee shop.
But that's what happened a few days ago, a twentysomething blonde
conversing earnestly with a stranger three times her own age. It was
obvious she wanted something, but felt too uncomfortable to ask, and for
the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was. I had the feeling, as
we parted company, that in some way, I had let her down.
Later, I figured it out. She'd been curious to know what I had learned
about life, this old man, three score and ten. In an attempt to somehow
make it up to her, I began writing a letter, hoping I could find some way
to get it to her.
Dear Young Woman,
I realize now what you wanted: You want to know what life is about, and
you sense that, from the far end of the road, I should be able to tell you
something essential about the journey. I can, though I'm not sure you'll
want to hear it.
I think of the Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and the first line of
one of his poems: "Telling lies to the young is wrong." I don't want to
give you conventional truths, polite lies or what I think you want to
hear: that life is good, follow your dreams, expect to be rewarded in the
end. The platitudes you hear from parents, teachers and the like.
I'm not a person who can do that.
In fact, I'm not sure I want to tell you the truth. It wouldn't prove
useful to you. Yet, I feel under some obligation to share what I have
learned, with the caveat that it is my reality, not yours. You'll discover
your own truth along the way.
To begin with, the essence of my journey has been finding the courage to
move from illusion to reality. The wonderful dreams of my youth, of my
adulthood, had to be tempered by what is possible in life – possible in my
own life. It's been a hard learning process that has made me more human,
more humble, more humane. I thought I was capable of great things. I
imagined I would create great beauty with my music, capture a special
vision of life in my writing. I believed I would enter a world of truth
and harmony when I joined a therapy commune. I expected that I would find
unconditional love in my marriage.
And even before all that, I grew up within the sheltering arms of
Christianity, believing there was a guardian angel who protected me,
saints to whom I could pray for lost objects, special favours. I loved
being one of the "chosen ones," with the promise of eternal happiness in
heaven after I died. These were some of the illusions that carried me
forward on my path through life. And after they had done their work,
drawing me along from stage to stage, each belief was shattered.
The same can be said of dreams. Dreams fulfilled, dreams destroyed; either
way, it doesn't matter. They take you out into life, after which their
purpose has been served. You're left with the challenge of dealing with
who you really are.
The process for me was one of deflation – from a belief that I was a
gifted, special, being loved by the Divine, to a simple human, limited in
capacity, aware of my mortality, kin to all creatures who walk – and crawl
– on this Earth.
And here I am, nearing the end of my lifespan. I ask myself if I would
have been better off remaining within the protective world of my
illusions. Just as a child doesn't have a choice about remaining in the
womb; however, I didn't have the option, plus some questing side of me
hungered for the truth, even though it wasn't always what I wanted.
Yet, this isn't the whole story. There is a boon given to those who are
faithful to their path. With the collapse of every dream, the breaking of
every illusion, I found myself becoming more vulnerable, more open. And
out of this transformation came an awakening of what I believe is the most
human of all virtues, compassion. Having suffered, been hurt, failed at so
many attempts to gain "success," I find myself able to reach out to others
in a way I never thought possible – with compassion.
How to describe compassion? For me it is an awareness that others, too,
share the regret of mistakes made, failures endured, loves lost. That's
what happens as we become human. Realizing that we all suffer helps us
accept others we meet along the way. And perhaps that is why my life
unfolded as it did.
But there is something more that makes age worth the struggle. Recently, I
have found myself able to love. Not the romantic love of youth, but one
that can embrace all who share this planet. It's a strange and wonderful
phenomenon that seems to come unexpectedly to those of a certain age who
have lived their lives honestly, doggedly. Some might call it cosmic love;
others, Christ love.
Regardless, finding the truth about oneself, humankind and one's place in
the universe is an awesome discovery. And then to experience this ultimate
gift of aging, this open heart, is a blessing of the highest order. So
here I am, at the pinnacle of my life, looking back across the distance
I've travelled, conscious of all the twists and turns and detours. To be
able to reach out in love and embrace this world as it is – that is where
life has taken me, and what for me it's all about.
Austin Repath lives in Toronto.
Greg Bell sent me this thought. What do you think?
"This time is indeed a new period of growth and generativity as we enter our final years. But what to call it? Old Age just doesn't describe it with its baggage of deterioration and irrelevance. This is the time of culmination when all one's life comes together and what is lost is what we willingly give up, which truthfully may be everything to become our truest self. Culmination seems to be the time when paradoxically all things hold together while everything shakes apart. I call it Culminescence, the coming together of all a person is, thriving even in the face of suffering, frailty, illness, weakening of heart or loss of mind. The time of soul strength and emergence of the deepest self.
Has anyone named this new period of human development? Please let me know your thoughts."
I like it. What do you think?