Self And World: One Awakening – Part 1

The spiritual path that the human being walks towards his true self gradually enlivens all the fields of life that the cosmos possesses in his own microcosm. Man awakens within them. This ascent, this path into perfection, is also a path from an isolated being into oneness.

Self And World: One Awakening – Part 1

The awakening within must therefore also take place in the relationship to the world. It even has to be an awakening “within the whole world”: causally in the spheres of the eternal Self, where there is neither separation nor death, and as a consequence – or side effect – also in our transient sphere. For the true Self is universal and all-one, encompassing all that is.

The Chandogya Upanishad paints the two sides of the true Self when it speaks of the âtman:

“My Self within my heart is smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a grain of barley, smaller than a mustard seed, smaller than a grain of millet, smaller even than the kernel of a grain of millet. The Self in my heart is larger than the earth, larger than the mid-region, larger than heaven, and larger even than all these worlds. “

When a person devotes himself to the âtman in the heart, he equally discovers him “outside in the world”, at least if he is prepared to regard the whole world and all beings as interwoven and sustained by this universal Self. Even more: all this is one’s own self, is a momentary, fragmentary expression of it, or as Indian wisdom says: tat tvam asi. This is you.

Above all, the universal self is a transcendent being that can embody itself in a human being in the course of a spiritual path – but never in its fullness. Nevertheless, at least a shadow of this unity underlying everything also falls into transience with its fateful encounters, its unwanted but essential experiences and the drawn-together existence of all in our globalised village. What I refer to here as the shadow of unity is a connectedness of those who share common experiences and a cooperation of all, even if not (yet) on the basis of a consciousness of unity. Rather, all create the conditions for the existence of all; it is a common doing and learning. Today we experience its difficulties more than we could have imagined: For we are more immobile than we thought, and still involuntarily place competition above commonness. At the same time, everything is interwoven with a subtle possibility of self-knowledge that goes deeper than a mere mirroring of oneself. In the beginning, it is only a hunch: that the whole is struggling for consciousness in all of us.

Here we can start to perceive oneness, here begins a path to the unfolding of a consciousness that ultimately detaches itself from all concrete focal points [1]. To be able to think or feel oneness is the beginning of a path of healing and liberation. But to solve the crises of the world, it takes more. The omnipresent oneness must awaken in the multitude: in ourselves and through ourselves.

For most people, the search for the All-One leads through their own inner being. However, one who walks this path always experiences both sides, and he or she notices that both illuminate and inspire each other. So when we approach the âtman within and in the world-at-large, we walk a path based on the successive change of identification from the transient I and its world to the eternal Self and its unveiling sphere of life. In this transformation of his whole being, man experiences that oneness is present and active everywhere. Insofar as he (even as a personality) is liberated from the transient, a deeper connectedness arises – from the ever-same, all-fulfilling centre of everything, the Self. Attachment transforms into connectedness, awareness and responsibility. We do not create this new connection, rather we discover it, we allow it to happen. At the same time, it essentially remains a mystery that we can only entrust ourselves to.

Every real change in one’s own being is a contribution to making the world, its countless interactions and inseparable interconnectedness not only more transparent, but also to making it more accessible to a transformation from the universal self. The transcendent core then becomes more visible in everything, it begins to convey itself.

We can only realise our responsibility, which results from the unity of everything, if we can perceive it in concrete terms – without the aid of any kind of philosophical crutch. What counts here is consciousness, devotion and readiness in the respective moment. Where this real consciousness is not yet present, ignorance, resistance, indifference or dogmatism are at large.

The freedom to act in a new way is based, among other things, on consciously perceiving the dual nature of transient ego and imperishable self in one’s own being and no longer projecting those intuitions and impulses that aim at the perfect and all-encompassing into the material individuality and the impermanence. As a result, it becomes possible to accept the limitedness of the transient and, above all, the limits set by the coexistence of many such limited beings for each individual, and to integrate them into a new consciousness and prudent action.

When I and Self become clearer to us as poles of our being, our relationship with the world will change. The ego’s urge to realise individual aspects of the self in the outside, perhaps even to act them out, will then diminish to the same extent as awareness grows. The urge to expand, which makes us long for more – more space, more mobility, more possessions – and which is always accompanied by the drawing of boundaries to define and secure our belongings, can shift inwards. The adventure of spiritual growth then can begin. Just when the universal self awakens within ourselves, its aspects – vastness, power, perfection – are experienced by the soul and realised through transformation. This has to prove itself in the relationship to the world, in an action characterised by growing empathy, compassion and intuition.

Our global village with its intensive economic and tourist interdependencies, its resource consumption and rapid urbanisation is prone to epidemics; epidemiologists have known this for a long time, and we have experienced it in the last few years. At the same time, the Corona Crisis presented many issues that humanity individually and collectively, indeed as a developing spiritual-emotional organism, had to and still has to deal with.

The first exercise was to come to terms with the 2020 lockdowns [2] and to accept their concrete impulses for self-knowledge. For: What do I really need? What is normal, what is necessary in my life? How broadly do I define myself in terms of the distractions that are suddenly no longer possible? How connected do I feel to family, friends, fellow human beings when I hardly ever meet them in person anymore? Does a lack of meaning perhaps dawn on me in the silence, have the rat race and the distractions I needed to compensate obscured essential life questions? Many people have also experienced this time in a positive way, as a turning inwards, as an becoming aware of what is essential for them, as a liberation from the superfluous.

The symptoms of the first virus variant gave us a clear mental picture: In severe courses of the disease, the lungs hardened and became scarred. Breathing, which represents an exchange with the world, a taking in of the “outside world” into the body, was severely disturbed. The image of a giving and taking of life energies, which came to a standstill through hardening, can certainly be seen as a description of a state of the soul. For the environment, as we usually call it, is not a self-evident co-environment for us, and above all we have not yet grasped or experienced humanity and the world as a holistic organism and therefore do not generally act accordingly. The lung disease Covid 19 has shown us that our relationship to the world is fundamentally disturbed.

When we recognise that we need to find a new connection, indeed a unity with the world that supports and sustains us, it does not mean that we should return to the mystical state in which humanity lived before the awakening of the lucid mind. Rather, it means that we can draw a new consciousness from the spiritual origin of everything and awaken in the universal. The course of events even suggests this to us.

One step in this direction is the acceptance of unity. What we are as humanity and as individuals was expressed in the total picture of the Corona crisis. In it we can observe the whole panorama of human weaknesses and egoism. More precisely, we see fears (including the desire for absolute security [3] ), the desire for profit, the inability to admit mistakes or learn from them, taking action out of wrong motives and the consequences of all kinds of materialism. The latter has manifested itself, among other things, by degrading the population in lockdown to mere existence and disregarding known influencing factors [4] of physical and mental health considering the epidemic because they are not directly measurable. We all carry the above-mentioned motivations and character weaknesses within us to a greater or lesser extent; but in the Corona crisis they were acted out on a large scale with the corresponding consequences for others. So there are plenty of reasons for criticism, but also occasions for personal reflection. In general, I agree with Charles Eisenstein: “There is no need for evil motives” [5].

Our actual personal knowledge is limited. Lies and fake news cloud the view. Accepting our own ignorance in this situation and yet consciously connecting with the whole, which we cannot escape in any way, has two effects: We can recognise ourselves in the events and check our truthfulness, because we too generate our own truth every day and every second, inwardly as well as in relation to others. We, too, arrange the facts in a way that is comfortable and useful to us.

We should therefore accept our general interconnectedness with the overall state and action of humanity, which is as “good” as it is “evil”, but above all limited. In the acceptance of a “unity without exception”, the path to realisation opens up from within. Unfortunately, it does not begin with the realisation of individual facts (which would immediately divide the unity again). Rather, it begins with recognising the inevitability of a development in which every human being and every institution is stuck – if they do not dare to break out of their old corset. One wrong attitude leads to another, one lie to another – until nothing more can be done because one is unable to move or is exposed.

(To be continued in Part 2)

[1]     As Jan van Rijckenborgh writes, for example, in Dei Gloria Intacta in the chapter on the sevenfold circle of Neptune.
[2]     For many, this could have been a relatively easy exercise. However, those who worked in care, were on short-time work, became unemployed, had to close down their company, change professions and possibly still became assistant teachers at home and had to guide their children through the new and narrower world had a very hard time.
[3]     According to my observation, many of the people who fearfully observed all the physical safeguards and also many who went into denial are driven by the same dominant need for security. For the parallel world with its simple answers also provided security, albeit at the price of seclusion.
[4]     „The microbe is nothing, the milieu is everything.“ Louis Pasteur
[5]     Charles Eisenstein | The Coronation – only in a former version of this essay.

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Date: March 21, 2023
Author: Angela Paap (Germany)
Photo: heaven-Marcel on Pixabay CCO

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