When someone uses the term Divine or God, it’s important to look for context to see what they’re talking about. This is because Divinity is different in different stages of development. Put another way, there is one Divinity but many, many ways of experiencing.
For the average person, the terms come down to concepts and belief. Do you categorize yourself as a Theist, Agnostic or Atheist? These are about belief. What of direct experience?
Many people have had glimpses or experiences of something greater. Often, this is seen through the filter of their beliefs or it may cause them to become a believer. But if instead we can deepen our experience, we can go beyond passing phenomena and come to know directly. Belief not required.
As we develop refined perception, our experience of the world changes. This process happens somewhat distinctly from development in consciousness. It may arise well before awakening or long after or anywhere in between.
Often, we first gradually notice energy flow and resistance, perhaps visually or by feel. This may be internal or in the world around us or both.
This deepens until we become aware that we’re surrounded by life and that beings exist at all levels of the universe, not just physically.
Commonly, we’ll first experience beings of an astral nature that correspond with our emotional and mental bodies within. As something new, it may entice us to interact with them. But we go there when we dream at night so it’s usually better to keep most of our awake time here in the world.
The astral has the same hazards as the physical world. You can find the good, the bad, and the ugly. While many beings have taken roles of service to further their growth, others are self-motivated and looking out for themselves. Just as in the physical, you can’t take a random beings word for it. Being aware of them can be useful but be sure to discriminate.
Unless you’re also experiencing true Divine beings, you can assume they’re astral. Divine beings are distinct, partly because they’re motivated by the whole rather than themselves. They support your growth and would never do anything that might hinder your progress, like culture co-dependency or ask to take over your body-mind.
After we wake up, we gain a solid platform for experience to unfold in. Purification and refined perception can develop faster. Soma becomes much more common to support that.
If there is sufficient clarity, we can recognize some of the processes taking place to support our unfolding. For example, purification and resolving karma can lead to many curious changes. Some laws of nature will depart leading to changes in circumstances and inclinations. Yet what falls away, what stays, and what changes are likely to be a surprise.
If we have sufficient refinement and the heart opens, the God Consciousness stage unfolds next. This can bring the experience of the more major laws of nature, also called devas or gods. Here I’m not suggesting polytheism, although such philosophies are often derived from such experiences.
After the heart opens, we can develop a relationship with a specific form of God. This is known as the Personal God. We might call this form a primary expression of the Divine or primary law of nature. It’s not something you plan but rather they show up a specific way for you. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi described this as our highest ideal.
We may find that love flows to the Divine but it may not. Our object of devotion may take other forms. For example, we may find flow easier with our teacher or mate (upaguru). Ramana was famously devoted to a mountain.
In devotional countries or faiths, a Personal God (ishta devata) is used as an object of devotion and may be determined by family, birth, or choice. This may or may not be how the Personal God arises later. If we’re more intellectual, we may relate better to a formless, impersonal version.
With a few exceptions, we’re all composed of the same laws of nature. But each of us has a unique emphasis. This will influence how this process unfolds. For example, what is our dominant sense, our inclinations, and our dharma?
Someone like Kristin Kirk is called to work with specific types of beings. Others are aware of them but only work with them occasionally, such as when something is being taught.
After the next major change in consciousness, Unity, that same refinement process continues but now in the new context. No longer do we experience other. Instead, everything we experience is recognized as myself. This is myself as a bird, this is myself as a law of nature, and so forth. At it’s climax, we unite with our Personal God in God Realization.
With refinement, we have the potential to become aware of the mechanics of what is here and how it comes to be. We discover ourselves as not just cosmic in consciousness but cosmic in mind, emotions, and body. We recognize we are the body of all bodies.
As we become more clear and conscious of the laws of nature, we raise their consciousness in the process. The body itself wakes up, along with everything that supports it. As some of this is operating on a more cosmic level, we’re waking up the laws that support everyone.
Often, the “inner guru” comes on-line. Because we’re established in the unchanging, the ability to know things as they are kicks in before the mind filters them.
After the Brahman shift outside consciousness, we can become aware of the origins of consciousness itself. But the old ways of relating to the world fall away as Brahman is beyond even the process of experience and the devas. If we’ve developed a relationship with a Personal God, this commonly falls away too as we’re going beyond all forms and phenomena. Ideally God Realization happened first.
This can lead to a fallow period post-Unity. We can be more aware of what has fallen away than what is here now. But this soon matures into a deeper realization that then allows Refined Brahman to unfold. Except that now there is no perceptual value to refine.
More importantly, Refined Brahman opens the door to ParaBrahman or Pure Divinity. We come to a place where Divinity itself can unfold beyond any constraints, form, or specificity. This is the source of the source, the reality behind all realities, the Divinity behind all the styles of Divinity known so far.
While this is difficult to describe, it’s profoundly easy to live.