The direct experience of God is one of the most significant events in anyones life. Even more profound to live it, to become what has been experienced. At it’s crown, this is God Realization. And yet our culture often suggests this is an illusion, an effect of blind faith, or a mere question of philosophy. Even within religious orders and spiritual groups, direct experience can horrify some leaders. The story of Bernadette Roberts, for example.
We are also challenged by many examples of God and gods, the dominant one in these parts being a grumpy old man in the sky who should be feared. Hardly an image inviting an intimate relationship.
Priests and spiritual leaders have often positioned themselves as arbiters of our relationship with the divine. If that supports our connection, fine. But they should never stand in the way or tell you what is a wrong experience. A teacher should be one of feedback and support, never condemnation. If it doesn’t match the teaching, it does not mean it’s false. If we meet evil, it doesn’t mean we are evil, it means we’re seeing what’s there.
The journey to God is the journey to the truth of our existence. The fundamentals of reality. A process that can give a deep understanding beyond anything concepts and teaching can offer. God Realization is something that takes place after Self Realization, usually after Unity as well. Thus, much of what I describe here is post awakening. But how it unfolds is unique to each person. Believe it or not, unfold it will. It is the natural course of human evolution.
There are 2 primary paths through which one might experience God – the impersonal and the personal. The personal has 2 branches: through the object side of perception and through perception of the form of the subject. Through the world or through yourself.
Roberts journey sounds like the impersonal, what she described as the contemplative path. This is the path of being, of direct experience of the underlying reality. It is called impersonal as it is an experiential journey into the formless, without qualities. It is a stepping deeper and deeper into beingness. Isness. That.
Broadly, we step into an internal unity of Self, then a deep connection with formless God, then all duality ends and Self and God become one. Unity.
The challenge of the impersonal is the clarity it requires in seeing who one is, beyond any ideas of it. Not being distracted by the many concepts, feelings, and experiences that take us away from that.
Personal by Object
The Personal is similar in “distance” but has more apparent steps. It is the path of experiences and revelation. For some this will be a feeling journey, for others more sensory – it is heard and seen. Beginning such a journey, our first experiences will tend to be of an energetic nature. That is to say, energy beings like spirit guides or angels. We literally see laws of nature. I talk a little of the mechanism over on Seeing with the Heart.
The challenge of the personal is we can come to believe too much in the experiences and not become, not go deeper. They can be very powerful and informative. But revelation is just the opening. Experiences open the door but we must then step through the door and let them go. Then we can move forwards and become, just as in the impersonal journey. A deep connection with our inner being can help reduce the “stickiness” of revelation.
Stepping deeper into the celestial, we meet the messengers and organizers of ‘Gods works’ we could say. The angels, archangels and gods of yor. How we experience this varies widely, depending on expectations, our cultural background and so forth. These experiences are probably the ones most affected by what we bring to them.
Beyond the celestial we come to meet God in form. This has been described as our highest ideal but I’ve found it’s a 2 way street. Both bring something to the experience table. Shankara describes 6 forms of God, the formless (impersonal) and the Pancha Devata, the 5 primary forms. Thus, you may experience more than one, each reflecting a fundamental principle of God like Love or Power. This is the abode of the avatars of Vishnu, Christ, Shiva, and so forth. Ways we can experience God directly.
When we step to the source of creation, we come to experience the Divine Mother, the fully embodied creative feminine. There is profound love and intimacy possible here that transcends anything you may have experienced prior.
Somewhere along here, we begin to see ourselves as children of God, that all beings are the sons and daughters of God. Everything is relative to the One.
Beyond Mother Divine is one of the impersonal values. We transcend creation and it rolls up into nothingness. This is the field of the ‘Word with God’, where the unmanifest qualities of liveliness and alertness stir in the flow of awareness.
Beyond that is Godhead, what we might call Father God. The observer of all things.
Stepping back from Godhead, we discover all of God embodied. A body of God with Godhead, the Word, Mother in the heart, then all of creation. All within the body of God.
And the body stands within the Unformed inclusive Totality. This is the meeting of the impersonal and personal paths.
Personal by Subject
There is another personal series one might follow to return home. Rather than climbing the objects of creation, we climb the subject side. We go deeper into our own form and find it is none other than God.
First stage here is in the recognition that our body is rich with life. Everything happening is being done. The beating of the heart, the flow of blood, cell processes, and so on. This finally explains the independent witness where we experience everything happens without our doing.
As our inner experience deepens, we discover our cosmic nature, then our role in the cosmic body. All of us are found to have roles and places in the cosmic body, just as the devata got things done in the personal body. We are a part of the whole.
At some point, the cosmic body is found to be none other than the body of God. And thus the 2 chains of subject and object come together.
Of course, this process has no hard and fast rules. Language varies widely as does the details of perception. It’s not necessarily at all sequential. Each of us has our own journey, our own role in the cosmic, our own experience to add to the whole. Some will experience one path, others all of them.
The point here is to offer a general outline so we can place our unfolding experience in context and get an idea of where it’s going. This simple clarity can greatly ease the journey home.
As we fulfill our role we fulfill our reason for being. And that has a richness to it, beyond belief.