SAT CHIT ANAND
And I said to the man
who stood at the Gate of the Year:
safely into the unknown.'
and put your hand into the hand of God.
and safer than a known way.'
STAGES OF SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION
Isaiah 43: I have called you by name - you are mine.
You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.
There are 4 levels of spiritual growth: from individual > to collective > to universal > to Divine. We all make this journey, because we belong to the Divine, we yearn for the Divine, and we seek to re-unite with the Divine. This is the movement of love, the most powerful energy in the universe. It is expressed at the time of Easter in the self-offering and sacrifice of love that was made for humanity. Divinity is clothed with a frail human body, which is shattered to reveal love unlimited. The cross is a sign of love unlimited. We are called upon to offer ourselves, to joyfully give our lives as a living offering of love. If you open yourself up to love, it will possess you and raise you up.
The journey of spiritual evolution culminates in the experience of oneness with the Divine. It is the journey from unconscious unity (represented by Adam and Eve) to conscious unity (represented by Jesus): I and my Father are one. In the beginning, man lived in unconscious unity with God in the Garden of Eden. There was an experience of unconscious mutual indwelling: God lived in them and they lived in God. Adam and Eve were innocent and walked naked with God in the coolness of the evening breeze. But there was no awareness or consciousness of this unity. At the deepest level, Adam and Eve were already like God, having been created in his image and likeness, but it was an unconscious original innocence and purity.
Adam and Eve had no free will. They obeyed God who was a God of authority. The God of authority says do this and don’t do that; this is right and that is wrong. Authority is imposed from the outside. There was obedience to the will of God and harmony resulted. But then Adam and Eve rebelled against the God of authority and ate the apple. They rejected authority, even the authority of God, and rebelled against it. What they did was necessary to start the journey of spiritual evolution. Becoming an individual is a necessary step in the process.
Free will belongs to the evolutionary process of consciousness. We are not created with free will. We have to grow into it. Then we have to surrender it – Thy will be done, when God is acting in and through us – in order to be really free. We have to learn God’s plan of salvation, which involves doing Thy will as opposed to doing my will; living the life of spirit as opposed to following the dictates and demands of ego. Disobedience (my will be done) takes us away from God as with the first Adam and Eve; and obedience (Thy will be done) brings us back to God as with the second Adam and Eve (Jesus and Mary).
With the fall of man, we lost our original purity and godliness as we fell into our lower natures. The fall was necessary from an evolutionary point of view. It is a fall in that man becomes self-centered. But it is a growth in that it is necessary for evolution. We have to grow back into that state of purity and oneness. But we do so through our free choice, for love has no value unless it is freely given, and God wants us to re-unite with him in love and freedom. Mary and Jesus are the new Adam and Eve, and they were needed to give birth to the new man that is God-centered and lives in Christ consciousness, aware of our unity with the Divine; and the new earth where we can enjoy the Kingdom of God in our midst once again.
INDIVIDUAL: individual mind
As love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul. ~ St Augustine
Adam and Eve gave birth to the original sin of separation from God, wanting to do our own thing apart from God. We became self-centered instead of God-centered. When we act from ego-consciousness, our actions are not grounded in God, but come from ourselves as a separate entity. Instead of being a servant and instrument of God acting through us, we become the one acting. In this way, we perpetuate the original sin of Adam and Eve. “Sin” defined as separation from God.
Actions are done for me. I am the centre of the Universe, and I do my best to fulfill my needs and desires. My will be done, rather than Thy will be done. I will decide what is right and wrong for me, based on my preferences, likes and dislikes. Humanity fell from acting in accordance with the dictates and purity of the Spirit which is one with God, to acting based on our lower natures which are governed by our bodies and minds and their involvement with and attachment to sense pleasures. Our actions thus became impure and this is where “sin” enters the picture.
However, rebellion is necessary and part of the journey of spiritual evolution – to move beyond the God of authority; to become an individual; and then to surrender one’s individuality. The fall of man was necessary in order that our relationship with the Divine be transformed. The God of authority, with whom people had a relationship based on fear > had to become a God of love, with whom a relationship is a joyful celebration. It is based not on authority but on love, as in the New Testament when the law is written in the heart.
COLLECTIVE: social mind
Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love. ~ St Francis of Assisi
After becoming an individual, we have to make the transition from individual to collective. During this stage, you realize that you actually cannot be an individual, because nothing happens in isolation. Your actions affect others, and their actions affects you. You can only act because of the actions of others, everything we know we learnt from others. Everything is interconnected to all. By realizing the interconnectedness of all, one goes beyond the idea of a separate self.
UNIVERSAL: conscious universal mind
Jesus: I am in the Father and the Father is in me.
In this stage, actions are done for the welfare of all. You are aware of the interconnectedness of all things. You know you are not acting for yourself alone. The selfish work for their own benefit; the wise work for the benefit of all, said Shantideva, Buddhist saint. Because you are not acting for an individual self, but for all, you cease to create personal karma. At this level, you go beyond duality, and beyond karma. It is no longer I, but God that lives and acts in me: The works I do are not my own, but the Father who dwells in me. By you surrendering your actions to God, the responsibility and the burden of interconnectedness is taken away.
DIVINE: conscious unitary mind
Jesus: I and the Father are one = the experience of non-duality.
In the final stage, you realize your unity with God: I and God are one. This is not blasphemy or arrogant to say. It is actually very humble, because you acknowledge that only God is, and you have no reality apart from God: I have no reality apart from God, because at the deepest reality, only God exists. Only God is acting. You go beyond judgement, beyond good and bad. To live in God means to accept everything and not judge.
You go beyond karma. When you realize union with the Divine, then you are no longer bound by karma, because it is not you acting but God acting through you. All your actions are surrendered to God, and you know is it God acting and not you, because only God is. Jesus said: it is not I who does these works but Thy. You are free from karma, because actions are done by God and not by you. Actions done by God do not bind the soul of man [Upanishads]. If you are not the doer, then there is no karma.
The circle is completed and you have come back to the beginning: come from God and go back to God. I and my Father are one in the beginning and the end. There is once again unity, but now it is conscious unity. You participate in the Christ Consciousness, which is one with God, and this union is expressed as the bliss of love. This is salvation, liberation, freedom, moksha, enlightenment, Sat-Chit-Ananda.
When Jesus said: I and the Father are one, he completed the evolutionary process of human spiritual growth. Unconscious original unity became conscious unity in him, and he knew his oneness with God from the beginning – that he came from the Father and he will go back to the Father. But this experience is not limited to Jesus alone. He made a blueprint of the spiritual journey for every human being, that we may die to the false self (ego), be resurrected in love, and born into eternal universal divine consciousness.
“Out of his infinite glory, may God give you the power through his spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your heart through faith, and planted in love and built on love, you will grasp the breadth and length, the height and depth, until, knowing the love of Christ, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.” [St Paul]