“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
In mystical traditions around the world you find a common theme. They all tell us in different ways that we have become separated from our source and that through practice and devotion we can reconnect with it. It is worth a few minutes to think deeply and simply, free of dogma and religious imagery, about what this means.
We have come to see ourselves as separate individuals, and although this is certainly an aspect of who we are, it is not the limit of who we are. Yes, there is a real part of us that is individual and unique, but below the surface we are also connected to everyone and everything else. Discovering this deeper Oneness has always been recognized as the pinnacle of spiritual attainment the world over.
Imagine an island in the middle of the ocean that thinks of itself as a separate floating object, but then discovers that below the surface it is connected to an underwater mountain and realizes that all the other nearby islands are peaks of the same mountain. Suddenly the island is not an independent object but is part of a larger whole that was invisible. As the island looks more deeply, it discovers that the mountain is connected to the entire planet and now knows that everything is one whole.
In a similar way, when we rest in the depths of meditation, we discover that the conscious life force that animates us is not separate from the living energy that animates every other living thing. Beyond this we see that the distinction between living and nonliving things only exists on the surface. There seems to be a difference, yet with closer examination we can never find a precise line that indisputably separates life from nonlife.
As our journey continues, we see that existence itself is attained, caused, generated. The emergence from nonexistence to existence requires energy, and that energy is part of the living energy that brought the entire cosmos into being. We are part of a living cosmos and the energy that animates our minds and bodies is the same energy that brought the entire cosmos and everything in it, into existence. You will find variations of this truth in every religious tradition on Earth.
When we rest deeply in meditation, we have the chance to shift how we relate to the experience of life and consciousness. Rather than thinking of ourselves as a living thing that is conscious, we can choose to see ourselves as a portal, an opening, through which the conscious living energy of the universe pours into the world. When we make a sustained effort to relate to ourselves this way a dramatic shift takes place. We experience the light of consciousness flowing through our individual identity.
If we continue to rest in this altered experience of reality, it will gradually feel more and more real to us. Eventually we will experience a shift in awareness and in a tremendous burst of insight it becomes clear that this is real. We are a vessel for the living conscious energy of the cosmos. Suddenly the wisdom, love, and power of the living universe is flowing through us. We don’t just feel connected to the universe, we are the universe. We are not a person experiencing cosmic consciousness, we are the universe experiencing itself in a human lifetime.