True Self, False Self
What is Unitive Consciousness ?
A personal account by Trisha Feuerstein,
quoted in "Sacred Sexuality" by Georg Feuerstein
first memory of that incident is of awakening one morning after a night of lovemaking and feeling as if I had not
been asleep. I felt as though I was conscious or constantly awake on some higher plane. That entire day I remember
feeling totally and perfectly relaxed.
In this perfect relaxation I stood outside of time.
It was as if time normally flowed in a horizontal plane, and I had somehow stepped out of this horizontal flow
into a timeless state. There was absolutely no sense of the passage of time. To say there was no beginning or ending
of time would seem irrelevant. There was simply no time.
I remember coming home from work a few days later,
standing in the living room of my little studio apartment, and suddenly realizing that I had no edges. There was
no me. The thought arose, and these are the exact words, "This is what I AM in truth." I remember looking
over to the door of my apartment and thinking, "There is no difference between door jambs and smog."
There is no difference between anything whatsoever. Everything is the same. There is only apparent difference.
I remember that the thoughts also arose, "You
could shoot me in this moment and I would laugh." Everything material seemed superfluous. It was all spontaneously
and playfully arising from one great source, and it could just as well cease to arise in any moment.
Somehow I had become infinity with eyes. I felt as
if I had just been born in that moment, or that I had been asleep all my life and had just awakened. I also remember
thinking that this was the true condition of everyone and that everyone could know this.
This particular moment remains, seventeen years later,
the single most significant moment of my life. It was also the most ordinary, simple, happy, normal, neurosis-free
moment of my life. I was simply being what I AM, and what everyone else IS, in truth.
I remained in this state of edgelessness for about
three weeks, and life was intensely magnified. When I walked, I felt so light it was as if my feet did not touch
the ground. I had no appetite for food—in fact, most of what I tried to eat left a strange metallic taste in my
mouth. And although I ate almost nothing during this period, I lost no weight. I remember telling my lover that
it felt as if my spine were plugged into the "universal socket" and that it was a source of infinite
During this time I was more creative than I had ever
been—or have been since—both at work and outside of work. All the limits on my thinking were no longer in place.
I also became prescient—seeing into the future and then later experiencing the scenes I had foreseen down to the
last detail. This astonished me.
I also remember sitting at my desk at work one day
and turning to look at one of my officemates. In an instant I was drowning in bliss, overwhelmed with love and
compassion for my fellow worker, and for every being and thing I looked at. I loved everyone, including my lover,
the same—infinitely. There was really no one separate to love. Tears silently rolled down my cheeks. I felt infinite
love and infinite pain at the same time, the pain arising from realizing the power and primacy of love, yet how
little we love.
I remember thinking that this universal love is what
the Madonna symbolizes. Then suddenly I felt as if I were the source of all creation, that the universe was arising
from me, or through me—from whatever this infinite thing was I had become."
Heart of the World's Great Religions
There are many paths to the experience of "unitive consciousness."
This deeply felt Oneness with the Source of Life is the essential common ground of all great religions. Realizations
of the true Self have been described by the renowned mystics of every spiritual tradition, including Buddhism,
Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. In the words of the Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart:
"The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me: my eye and God's eye are one eye,
one seeing, one knowing and one love."
From German Sermon No. 12. )
Unfortunately this insight has not been given a central place
in mainstream Christianity. According to Timothy Freke, in his book on "The Wisdom of the Christian Mystics:"
"Mysticism is the spiritual essence of Christianity.
The great Christian mystics, however, have often found themselves horribly persecuted as heretics by the established
Churches for their outrageous claims and idiosyncratic ways. The mystics are not content to have a relationship
with God via priests and institutions, but look inside themselves to know God directly. When they do, God is revealed
as an all-embracing love that unites the universe into one indivisible whole. In communion with God, the mystics
no longer experience themselves as separate individuals but as expressions of the Oneness. God is the only reality.
God is everything. God does everything. This mystical vision is not a psychological anomaly: it is the natural
state. Human beings fail to experience it only because they believe themselves to be separate from God, when in
fact He is their very essence. All mystical practices are designed to dispel this pernicious illusion of separateness."
How did we get so lost?
According to philosopher and transpersonal psychologist, Ken Wilber:
mysticism was condemned, or at best barely tolerated, because it brought the soul up too close to God. And the
Church became absolutely apoplectic if anybody expressed a causal-level intuition of supreme identity with Godhead—the
Inquisition would burn Giordano Bruno at the stake and condemn the theses of Meister Eckhart on such grounds.
But that was an old story for causal-level Realizers at the
hands of mythic believers, starting with Jesus of Nazareth, whose own causal-level realization ("I and the
Father are One") would not be treated kindly. "Why do you stone me? He asks. "Is it for good works?"
The pious reply: "No, it is not for good works: it is because you, being a man, make yourself out God."
His reply that "we are all sons (and daughters) of God" was lost on the crowd, and that realization led
him, as it would al-Hallaj and Bruno and Origen and a long line of subequent Realizers, to a grisly death for both
political and religious reasons—it was simultaneously a threat to the state and the old religion.
Church dogma handled the case of the extraordinary Realizer
from Nazareth in a very ingenious way, using all the powers of rationality to prop up the myth. It was true, they
granted, that Jesus was one with God (or, as they would later put it, God is one substance with three Persons—Tertullian's
trinitas—and the Person of Jesus has two Natures: Divine and Human). But let the causal-level Ascension stop there.
No other person shall be allowed this realization, even though, as everybody plainly knew at the time, Jesus never
made a single remark suggesting that he alone had or could have this Realization, and he explicitly forbade his
followers to use the term "Messiah" in reference to him.
But, as many commentators have pointed out, if the Nazarene
had in fact realized a Godhead that belongs to all, equally and fully, then there was no way he could be made the
sole property of an exclusive mythology. Put bluntly, there was no way to market him. So Jesus was made, not the
suffering servant of all humankind, which is all he ever claimed, but the Sole Son of Jehovah, literally. In other
words, he was tucked downward and seamlessly into the prevailing mythology, and was seen as yet another (But much
greater) instance of a miraculous and supernatural intervention in history to save a new group of chosen people:
those who embraced the Church, the one true way and only salvation for all souls (which meant: the only way for
imperial-political cohesion of the mythic empire).
The realization of the Nazarene was thus placed on a pedestal
and made an utterly unique property of the Church (and not directly a property of the Soul).  It should be
remembered that at this stage in development, the moral and political spheres (church and state) had not yet been
fully differentiated (which is true for all mythological structures—the head of state gains legitimacy, we saw,
by claiming mythogenic status, by claiming to be specially connected to, descended from, or one with the gods/goddesses:
Cleopatra is Isis). As Tillich explains, "This meant that the person who breaks the canonic law of doctrines
is not only a heretic, one who disagrees with the fundamental doctrines of the church, but he is also a criminal
against the state. Since the heretic undermines not only the church but also the state, he must be not only excommunicted
but also delivered into the hands of the civil authorities to be punished as a criminal." 
The Church would produce many great philosophers (reason),
and many great psychic and subtle mystics, but no matter how much these realizers tried to downplay the myths,
no matter how much they allegorized them or as-iffed them or interpreted them away, there was always the one fundamental
dogma that hung like a weight around their attempts to transcend, that crashed down on their shoulders and pinned
them to the ground and never but never budged an inch: the utterly unique and nonreproducible realization of Jesus.
The Ascension itself was immediately mythologized, following
the very old mythic motif of the three-day-dead-and-resurrected lunar consort of the Earth goddess (in the pagan
rituals, as well as in the Christanized version, one would "eat the flesh" and "drink the blood"
of the consort, thus to participate in its resurrected powers).  Individual Christians who shared the proper
mythic belief (or faith) would therefore also be resurrected, after death, on Judgment Day, in another world, where
their bodies woud be reassembled.. to sit forever with Jehovah, His Son, and Company. There was no way for individuals
to find enlightenment or ascension in this life, on this earth. Any and all who claimed otherwise were thus immediately
both heretics and criminals.
Again, I have no quarrel with that phase-specific mythic-rational
structure and the interpretation that it (necessarily) gave to the Realization of the Adept from Nazareth. It was
a crucial component of social integration and cultural meaning at that point in development, and it apparently
served its purposes quite well. The problem, rather, was the degree to which and the fury with which this Realization
was so thoroughly reduced to mythic levels. Rarely has a causal-level realization been translated so dramatically
downward. Rarely has such a powerful realization been allowed to produce so few same-level realizations in its
Not Buddha, not
Shankara, not Lao Tzu: not Valentinus, not Numenius, not Apollonius:
not Dogen, not Fa-tsang, not Chih-i: not Garab Dorje, not Tsongkapa,
not Padmasambhava—none would be so thouroughly reduced. It is simply
astonishing. Myths would, of course, grow up around all of those
realizers, precisely for those who relate to reality in that degree;
but their final teaching, causal/nondual, was available to all who
embraced the practice, engaged the injunctions, went beyond myth and
reason and psychic and subtle, and discovered the Empty Ground in their
own case. And to any student who awakened to discover that he or she
was actually One with the infinite Ground, in formless identity, the
reply came back, in all cases: "Congratulations! You finally discovered
who you are!"
The reply that came back from the Chruch was: you shall now
The peculiar and net effect of all this was that, although
the God of the Church was primarily an Ascending God—in this aspect, otherworldly to the core—there was no way
to consummate the Ascension, not even for the leading-edge few: only Jesus had done that.  And while we might
to varying degrees "participate" in Christ's nature, there could be no true and whole-bodied Realization
and Ascension until after death, at some other time, and certainly in some other world. This world is merely a
ruway for the real takeoff.
Precisely because there was no way to consummate the Ascension
in this body, in this life, on this earth, there was no way whatsoever for the Way Up to spill over into the Way
Down. No way, that is, for causal-level Oneness with the Good to issue forth in all-pervading, all-embracing Goodness,
grounded thoroughly in this world, resplendent as the entire world.  That extraordinary reversal that Plato
(and all nondual realizers) had made—transcend this world, awaken as this world—could not be called upon as compass.
Precisely because the Ascension could not be consummated,
the West was locked into a perpetually frustrated Ascendent yearning—a yearning for a Goal that would never be
officially allowed, and therefore a perpetual yearning that could never be satisfied and let go of —the perpetual
itch in the Western psyche that was never allowed to be scratched and then forgotten—the ascendent carrot on a
very long stick held above and in front of the collective donkey that assured that the poor beast would always
lurch forward and never be allowed to eat.
It was these frustrated
Ascenders, these frozen Ascenders, who would call on (1) the other-worldly Aristotle, (2) the other-worldly half
of Plato, and (3) the mythic other world of the Only Begotten and Only Ascended Son of God. And there was the true
Holy Trinity, the unearthly Trinity, that carved out the next thousand years of Western culture, a Trinity that,
if it never totally ruled the scene, always officially dominated it."
—Ken Wilbur, "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality:
The Spirit of Evolution," Shambhala © 2000, pp. 362-36
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