“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust
In July and August of 2001 I spent two months on a retreat that dramatically altered the course of my life. During that time I discovered a secret that accelerated my spiritual path beyond anything I had imagined possible. What I learned was how to open myself up to the consciousness of the cosmos. In the journal I kept at the time, I repeatedly described the back of my head being opened to the eternity that I am.
I know this is possible for anyone and I want to share what made it possible for me.
Cosmic consciousness is the realization of oneness with the cosmos, or the direct recognition of your cosmic being. It is a form of nondual realization that reveals the universe to be a conscious living being and ourselves to be one with that. When your heart and mind are burning with this realization everything becomes possible. The spiritual path that had seemed arduous and effortful is now nothing more than a natural expansion into the truth of who you already are.
Perhaps more than anything else, my deepest desire is to share this secret of eternity with others. I want to share the secret that changed everything for me – a subtle, but magnificent inner shift that I believe anyone can learn to make.
There is a specific inner orientation that you can adopt and when you do a doorway opens inside you. On the other side of that door is the love and wisdom of the living cosmos. It is literally an opening to the infinite that can be attained, not with effort, but with courage and surrender.
To open this inner door you must surrender all effort and stop trying to do or attain anything. You must know without doubt that inside of you there already exists an opening to the infinite. As I write these words I can feel it vibrating inside my own head.
All it takes is a tiny shift in awareness. Once I learned how to do it, I would make it every time I sat to meditate and periodically throughout the day. This opening became the foundation of my spiritual life and nothing was ever the same.
I desperately want to share this inner shift with you. It's a movement of your inner vision, not the vision of your physical eyes, but the internal vantage point of your mind. There are many ways to describe it. Carlos Castenada’s teacher Don Juan called it the second attention that offered a glimpse of the actual grandeur of the universe. In Eastern spiritual traditions it is described as a shift from the physical eyes of the body, to the third eye of spirit.
“The body is the first attention, the attention of the tonal.
When it becomes the second attention,
it simply goes into the other world.”
~ Carlos Castenada
The way I have learned to enact the shift begins by allowing my normal sense of vision to fade away so that the source of my attention, the place I am seeing from, shifts backward to a position slightly deeper in my head. I can still see with my physical eyes, but now I also see directly from this other position that lies behind my eyes.
This new sense of sight is different because it feels like it is passing through me rather than from me. It is as if the back of my head has opened to eternity and the cosmos itself is looking through me. To maintain this strange sense of seeing I must avoid forcing myself to see through it or turning myself towards it. If I do either, I lose contact with it, and find myself once again back in my ordinary sense of perception.
If I allow the cosmic vision to flow through me without trying to do anything with it, a gentle energy begins to fill my body and a sense of the infinite surrounds me. From here I sit and am carried along into ever-increasing experiences of expanded consciousness. There is nothing I need to do as the path to deeper awakening naturally and spontaneously unfolds before me.
The key to making this shift into higher vision is placing yourself in a state of consciousness that is surrendered and doubtless. You must know without any doubt that the cosmos exists within you, and that nothing you do will ever open the door to cosmic consciousness because it is already open inside of you.
“The soul should always stand ajar,
ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”
~ Emily Dickinson
You don’t open the door, you surrender and find it open. The first time I experienced this I immediately remembered the biblical line, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” I now understood what it meant.
This shift requires no effort, but it does demand tremendous inner fortitude and courage. The cosmic opening is available to you as soon as you surrender your normal perception of reality. To do this you let go of everything you are aware of and everything you think you know and enter into oblivion. You blink out of existence for less than a moment and find yourself in a new awareness that is blind but sees everywhere.
Spiritual practice, as I have come to understand it, serves two functions. First, it places us in a position of surrender which is the knock at the door that Jesus spoke of, and second, it prepares us for the intensity of that brief instant of transition when it comes.
From one point of view the shift is a tiny, nearly instantaneous flip in perception, and yet it feels like the death of the only life we know. I believe that this is what the phrase “ego death” was meant to refer to. As you pass into the new awareness you cross a fleeting but terrifying threshold, but on the other side there is no sense of danger. It feels like coming home to who you truly are. All you can do is sit and marvel at the majesty of creation and allow yourself to be taken on the journey of unfolding enlightenment.