March 24, 2017I have been writing about the duality caused by thought for several years: one mental world composed of beliefs, ideas, and assumptions superimposed on the actual divine world found in pure, thought-free awakened consciousness. Scores of mystics from across time and tradition have told us that in the awakened consciousness, the everyday world is revealed to be a sacred place, literally Heaven on Earth, filled with Presence, love and beauty (Finding Heaven Here). We were never expelled from the Garden, we left of our own accord to build the exhilarating world of thought we now call reality.
Over two thousand years ago, Buddha described this inner mental world. The Dhammapada begins, "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world." Every word we say, even simple words like "you," "me" and "tree," embody a vast structure of thought. But thought is not the same as the world, an archetypal understanding found in the mystical traditions of every religion. Indeed, The Tao Te Ching begins, "Existence is beyond the power of words to describe…if name be needed, wonder names them both. From wonder into wonder Existence opens." Wonder, of course, is just another word for mystical consciousness.
This bicameral split in reality perception appears to be related to our neuropsychology: As the left cerebral hemisphere gained ascendency in human evolution for its obvious survival value, we began to see mostly what we think. We name and label everything and rarely stop to really see it in awakened consciousness. As a result, the radiant ground of Creation gradually faded from view despite the fact that the right hemisphere still holds the capacity to see it. For example, the left hemisphere strokes of neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor (My Stroke of Insight) and spiritual teachers Bede Griffiths and Ram Dass opened up waves of bliss, love, and unitive consciousness from the intact right hemisphere.
So, if the world is not simply what we think, nor are its problems, can we really "fix" "our" "problems" with more thinking? On this issue, David Nicol, the author of Subtle Activism, confides "I participated in numerous rallies for peace and environmental issues and helped out with a progressive political campaign. Yet amid these efforts, I sometimes wondered how much our activism was truly effective in bringing about the world we desired. Many of the legal and political actions I was involved in, although well intended, seemed only to add to the cycle of reactivity and suffering we were attempting to resolve." It so often seems that actions based on beliefs trigger counter actions based on opposing beliefs and the thought world stays rigidly in place still having almost nothing to do with the divine world it obscures.
In sum, it seems clear to me that thought-based problems are rarely truly solved with more thought. As Einstein compellingly argued, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." So here's one alternative: Thought-based problems dissolve when thought ceases. When we shift from cognition to pure perception, and add a little awe, we return to the world as it is and discover it is not what we thought. Our judgments and descriptions are not the world. Even more powerfully, what's left when thinking ceases is consciousness, which the mystics repeatedly assert is itself divine (The Divine Human, Breakthrough, The Three Secrets of Aging). How can this understanding contribute to healing the world?
Nicol's work in Subtle Activism has yielded a profound theory and methodology for engaging spiritual energies and the deep ground of being to bypass thought wars, creating instead coherent energy fields that change human thought and action in traumatized places. I have been exploring a somewhat different though very similar path while helping conscious elders discern their own unique way of giving back to the world (presented recently at Sag-ing International, The Conscious Elders Network, and in a Shift Network Summit on Aging). I describe one spiritual aspect of this path as the Divine Human - a person who has come to experience him/herself as literally divine. This natural culmination of my work across two decades in mystical consciousness argues (along with countless other mystics) that "my" consciousness is in fact God's consciousness, "my" being is God's Being, and that the merging of pure consciousness and being leads to spontaneous Sacred Activism (this model is described in depth in The Divine Human). Experiencing these realities changes us at cellular levels.
So I began wondering how we could further evolve and intensify this approach to solving the world's problems. What if we could…
• Change humanity's whole collective mental world of ideas and beliefs? Might we use our own access to divine consciousness to spread the energy of love throughout the world's myriad belief systems? Could we modify the collective beliefs that cause war and famine? In the unity of self and cosmos we discover the personal power of divinity. We are made of God and can infuse humankind's noosphere with love.
• Work from a thought-free love-infused consciousness in all we do? What if we each lived from this vast tide of love released in the Divine Human experience? Freed from the constraints of the thought world, blind to status, station, identity, social rules, and frame of reference, we would act so differently and bring divine consciousness into the world right where we are.
• Ask the ancestors to return home to assist and guide us? I had this prophetic dream recently in which my deceased father visited me and told me that the ancestors wanted to return to Earth to love, live in, and help the world. He said that my understanding of Heaven on Earth was spreading across the realms and thinning the veil between them. I was stunned and began to wonder how we could use their ongoing guidance and assistance in all we do? I feel my father in life now in ways I never anticipated. We are working together.
Where does all this lead? I am a pretty major introvert: intrapsychic, contemplative and deeply mystical, perhaps like Aurobindo who worked so deeply in his own divine depths. But I want the world to know that anyone can be a mystical activist and contribute to the transformation and transfiguration of our world either individually or via group synergy.