THE MYSTIC'S VISION
ALL THIS IS GOD
(last revised: 2-9-24)
ALL THIS IS GOD
(A Collection of Articles from The Mystic’s Vision by Swami Abhayananda.
Published in the Public Domain 3-12-18 (last revised: 2-9-24)
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The Mystical Experience of Nonduality
In the unitive Mystical Experience, a soul becomes united with its eternal Source, and during that experience the soul no longer sees from a soul’s perspective but from the perspective of the eternal One. In my own experience, at the height of that mystical union, from that eternal perspective, all had become perfectly clear:
“All may now be told without effort.
Where is there a question?
Where is the temple?
Which the Imperishable?
Which the abode?”
In that divine clarity, though I searched, there could not be discerned, from that limitless perspective, any distinction between the Imperishable Spirit and the so-called temple—the bodily abode—in which that Spirit was said to abide. One Being, indivisible, was seen to comprise all, both form and essence, both body and soul:
I am the pulse of the turtle.
I am the clanging bells of joy.
I bring the dust of blindness.
I am the fire of song.
I am in the clouds and in the gritty soil.
In pools of clear water my image is found.”
In that mystical clarity, there is no Cartesian dualism, no separation or distinction between body and soul; for everything is seen to be God, everything is seen to be His manifestation, everything is seen to be contained in the one eternal Being.
Which The Imperishable, Which The Abode?
When I was a young man, I was accustomed to thinking of the body and the soul as two wholly separate and different realities: I considered the soul to be the imperishable Spirit in the body, and the body to be the perishable “temple” or “abode” of the soul. But then, God granted me His vision, allowing me to see from His divine perspective. And when I searched within the divine Spirit for the division between the body and the soul, I could see no division, and I wondered about it: “Where is the temple?” I asked; “Which the Imperishable, which the abode?” But, in the One, there was no such distinction to be seen. Everything in the universe—including my own body—was seen to be made of God. There was no “temple”, no “abode of the Spirit”; there was only the one Spirit, comprising all. He alone is everywhere, existing in and as everything. What I had considered to be ‘my’ body, was made entirely of His creative Light, and so, that body was therefore really God’s body. “O my God”, I exclaimed; “even this body is Thine own!” 1
I think most of us tend to regard only our incorporeal souls as divine, as imperishable, for our bodies clearly are not imperishable. When someone dies, do we not witness the decay of their lifeless bodies? But consider— though our bodies perish, that of which our bodies are made is imperishable. In the final analysis, all bodies are made of God’s Light, and at the world’s end, when the earth along with the whole universe dissolves, everything (including the physical particles remaining from all interred or cremated bodies) will transform back into that divine Light from whence it came. Just as God, the transcendent Spirit, is imperishable, His Light of which all the universe is comprised is also imperishable. 2 God and His creative Light are one and the same.
And so, though we tend to identify our individual selves with the bodies we inhabit, we must know for certain that our individual ‘I’ is but a temporary illusion. Bodies come, and bodies go; and with each incarnation, we as individual souls grow experientially, intellectually, and morally. Nevertheless, it is certain that eventually we must come to know the one true ‘I’, the one divine Spirit who is our eternal Self—containing all bodies and all souls. That One is our sole identity. So, put away all concerns and fears: realize that you are the one all-inclusive, all-pervasive Self of the universe. Know that you are eternally blissful and imperishable and be free.
1. For a complete account of the mystical experience referred to here, please see my book, The Supreme Self, available as a free download at my website: www.themysticsvision.com.
2. The imperishability of the Divine Light is formulated in the first law of thermodynamics (otherwise known as the law of the conservation of energy) which states that the total energy of a closed or isolated system (such as the whole universe) is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, it is eternal, imperishable.
Tale of The Two In One
God has always been. As an invisible Spirit, He is unborn and unending. But periodically He likes to take form in order to live multiple embodied lives within a multiformed universe. And, since He is the only Existence, if there is to be a universe of form, it must be produced from Himself. So, periodically, God manifests His own Energy in the form of a concentrated radiation of Light. And, as that Light spreads, it transforms into material wave-particles, which in turn become the many diverse forms that go to make up the physical universe, including all human bodies.
But did you ever wonder how God, who is famous as the universal all-pervading Spirit, or Consciousness, can also manage to create, or manifest, an immense universe of 'material' forms? It seems incongruous, doesn't it? He is Spirit, yet He produces and periodically reorganizes an incredible amount of Mass/Energy. These two qualitative definitions of Divinity seem to be distinctly alien to and incompatible with one another, presenting a perplexing conundrum that has baffled philosophers and theologians for many millennia. The solution to the conundrum that has surfaced in many different cultures throughout history is the recognition that God, though one, possesses two distinctly different aspects: He is the eternal Mind that serves as the absolute Ground of Consciousness in which all objects and beings are contained; and He is the Creative Power that produces an electromagnetic field of Energy (Light) that is capable of transforming itself into material wave-particles, which then aggregate into the elements and forces that go to make up the entire phenomenal universe of objects and beings.
A God who possesses two separate and distinct aspects seems a bit fantastic, to be sure; but that is the conclusion reached by nearly everyone who has deeply pondered this question―including those, like myself, who have been graced with mystical vision. In that divine revelation, it is clearly revealed that the one Being constitutes both one's body and one's soul, both one's mind and one's 'physical' substance. There is seen to be only one existent, one contiguous reality identified as 'I', and yet It is both Spirit and the Energy that becomes, or rather produces, the illusion of Matter. To give human expression to this duality-in-unity for the purpose of rendering It comprehensible, these two―the invisible Spirit and the form-producing Energy―have been given many different names over the centuries, like Purusha and Prakrti, Brahman and Maya, Shiva and Shakti, Jahveh and Chokmah, Haqq and Khalq, Theos and Logos, Godhead and Creator, and many other names.
Here, however, we will continue to call them "Spirit" and "Energy", noting that the Energy is born of the Spirit, belongs to the Spirit, and that therefore the Spirit and Its Energy were never divided, were never two, but are simply two complementary aspects of the one Divine Self we call God. It is also important to note that it is that One, as Energy, who becomes our material body, and it is that One, as Spirit, who becomes our individualized soul. It is clearly evident, therefore, that we are, from head to foot, inwardly and outwardly, nothing else but God; that, in accord with His wishes, God is indeed living an embodied life within a multiformed universe as us. Isn't that awesome and marvelous!
The Metaphysics of Duality
If we think carefully and accurately, we must come to the conclusion that God constitutes everything that exists. That being understood, it must also be understood that He exists in two different modes or aspects: He is the ultimate reality, the divine Mind, the one conscious Spirit―formless, invisible, and eternal — who exists as the conscious Self within whom we exist and who is thereby within all of us; and He is also the Creator who periodically projects His own Light-Energy that becomes the material particles that form the substance of the phenomenal universe in which we live and of which our bodies are composed.
So, we have an apparent duality within the nondual Reality: it is a duality between Spirit and Matter, between the universal Consciousness (which manifests as our own individual consciousness) and the world-substance. This apparent duality of Spirit and Matter is reiterated in the perceived duality of body and soul; but we must remember that these dualities are apparent only. God is both soul and body, both the invisible Spirit and the 'material' universe. He exists in two different modes; He has two different aspects: He is the eternal Spirit, the absolute Ground that constitutes our conscious Self; and He is also the Light-Energy that He projected fourteen billion years ago that gives (apparent) form and 'material' substance to our current world. So, while these two modes or aspects exist separately and independently, they are both God, they are both eternal. It is true that the material world with all its forms is both changing and transient: it has a beginning and an end; but the Light-Energy of which it is constituted is nonetheless eternal. For, while the multi-formed appearance that is the material universe is eventually dissolved back into the pure Light of God of which it was made, that Light-Energy itself, by virtue of its divine nature, lives eternally in God.
I would like to propose a simple remedy to the confusion that often arises when discussing the absolute Nonduality that underlies the apparent duality: The one Spirit, the Divine Consciousness or Supreme Self, is to be regarded as “God I”; and the Light-Energy that constitutes the material world is to be regarded as “God II”. I feel that, with the implementation of this terminology, confusion will not arise, and it will become clear that there is only God I and God II, and that it is to be recognized hereafter that God, in His dual aspects, constitutes everything that exists.1
1.I can’t help thinking that, had Renė Descartes truly understood that Mind and Body are both constituted of God, he would have found a solution to his Cartesian duality in the realization that the nondual One, while appearing to us to be a duality, is in Itself a single unified and integrated reality. This fact is not known through reason but is realized and subjectively confirmed in the God-given mystical vision, for, as a soul experiences itself in the mystical vision as the all-inclusive Divinity, it knows no distinction between its form and its essence, its body and its mind; all is in fact experienced as the one indivisible Self.
Where Is God?
In the days before the modern revolution in astronomy and cosmology, back when the heavens were conceived in the old Aristotelian/ Ptolemaic manner as concentric spheres within spheres, we knew where heaven was and where God dwelt. It was up there! All was one great multi-layered reality, enclosing both the terrestrial world and the heavenly world above. A stationary sphere, surrounding the fifty-five concentric transparent spheres rotating at different velocities, was the domain of the “Prime Mover,” God’s heaven. But today, the heavens are no longer beyond our ken: our telescopes reveal that the clusters of galaxies go on and on for billions of light-years; and heaven—the eternal abode of God—has been evicted from the upper regions of our universe. Today, we understand that the eternal abode of God upon which the universe of time and space is projected is a timeless, dimensionless realm of Consciousness coexisting with and underlying the physical world as its substratum. And while we can accurately determine particular locations in the physical universe, there is no method of determining the location of God’s place in His eternal realm. For God, and heaven itself, are noumena1, spirit entities, made of Mind-stuff, having no physical location in time and space.
How, then, can we answer the question of ‘Where does God live? From whence did He fling forth this vast universe of space and time, and from where does He watch and govern the doings of creatures here on earth?’ One answer is, ‘Why, from right here, of course!’ God’s invisible Spirit-realm transcends our own time-bound spaces, to be sure; but these two, the noumenal and the phenomenal realms, the spiritual and the material, are nonetheless parallel, synchronous, and inseparable. All the heavenly bodies, and earth, and every human being is formed of, permeated and inhabited by the Divine; therefore, God is not in some distant heaven, but is here, co-habiting this universe, co-existing in and constituting this very present here and now.
God, the Divine Mind, is the causal agent for the production of the Energy of which universal matter consists, and so it is natural for us to regard Him as separate from, and other than, the material universe. But this universe—with you and I in it—is co-present with the Divine Mind. Though we use language suggestive of temporal and spatial relations, such as ‘emanated from’, or ‘dwelling within’, we must understand that the material world has no spatio-temporal relationship to the Divine Mind, its noumenal substratum, but is co-existent and co-present with It. The Divine Mind is the Ground of which the universe is the figure. The universe is not somewhere outside the Divine Mind, or even “within” It; but is made of It, permeated by It and co-extensive with It.
All is indeed permeated by, encompassed by, and contained “in” the One. The Divine Mind acts as the bridge between eternity and time by sending forth Its Energy to become a substantial material world of spatio-temporal form superimposed “upon” Itself―the one eternal Consciousness. We err when we think of God as being in some distant realm apart from the universe that He created. The two are not separate in place; they overlap, one superimposed, or “intraposed on” 2 the other. The eternal One is the Spirit-Ground of all appearance. He is equally present everywhere. There is no place where He is not in His fullness. Truly, “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
The One is the only one. He/It is without a second. Strictly speaking, He has no ‘inside’ or ‘outside’; so, while we may say, figuratively, that all is ‘contained within’ Him, there is really no spatial relationship such as “within” for the noumenal. The Divine Mind, or Creative Power, is the form-creating faculty of the One, but we cannot say that it is “within” Him either. Terms of spatial relationship, such as “within” or “outside of”, are applicable to phenomena, but not to noumena. Nevertheless, the Divine Mind cannot be separated from the One. Can you separate the creative power of your own mind from your consciousness? I don’t think so. Your mind’s creative power is integral to your consciousness. Likewise, the attempt to separate the Creative Power (the Divine Mind, God) from the transcendent Absolute (the One, the Godhead,) is futile. His power of creating is inherent and integral to Him. They are not two. Recall the Biblical dictum: “I am the one Lord. There is no other beside Me.” 3
Plotinus spoke of the ‘emanation’ of Soul from the Divine Mind, but we mustn’t be deluded into thinking that this connotes an exterior out-flowing, similar to the case of photons of light streaming from the Sun in the material universe. Nothing is outside of or other than the Divine Mind. The relation of Soul to the Divine Mind is not a spatial one; they are not two. As the various thoughts in a man’s mind exist together in that mind, so do all souls exist together in the Divine Mind. In short, we are merged in God; everything is merged in God. How could it be otherwise? Where else could we be?
We are able to see God ‘reflected’ in and as the phenomenal world around us, but it is only within our own souls that we are able to know Him directly. This is because it is the conscious Soul in us that is, itself, the Divine Mind, the all-pervading Spirit. That self into which we look when we look within is truly none other than Him. His Consciousness is our consciousness. We are comprised of His awareness and His Light-energy. He is both our conscious awareness and our form, comprising both the fabric and the sentience of our existence. If we could see into our nature clearly, we would realize that we ourselves are entirely Divine. Nothing else but God exists; every form is His own. No other ‘you’ exists but Him.
God, being so close, is easily accessible to us.
He is always within the reach of our call,
Always ready to provide succor in our need
And the light of wisdom in our times of darkness.
Our own soul is the conduit of this accessibility,
This communication, this succor and this wisdom.
In our own soul, when the chattering of the mind is silenced,
And all our attention is focused on His presence,
There He is found in the very qualities of the soul.
For we are rays from His brilliance,
Diminished only by our hesitance
To manifest His light.
He is the air in our nostrils and the earth under our feet.
He is the light of our eyes and the music in our breast.
He is the bright awareness that lives as you,
And He is the storied tale your living tells.
You dance in His firelight; you float on His sea.
You breathe by His breathing; you move by His joy.
No matter how far you may gaze into the rolling
Galaxies cascading above,
No matter what dark or clownish scenes you dream,
Or terrestrial landscapes you cross,
Whether in the depths of the ocean, or on the chilly
And even in the abyss of death and darkness,
You are ever within His close embrace.
You cannot leave Him, nor scamper from His sight.
For you are in Him as a fish is in the ocean
Or a bird is in the sky.
His love surrounds and holds you,
And He sees all through your eyes.
1. The word, noumenon, or noumena (pl.) is intended in the sense in which it was understood in classical Greece, as a derivative of nous, or ‘mind’, and signifies those things that exist solely as mind or thoughts of the mind (See Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book I, Chapter 13, 'What is thought [noumena] is opposed to what appears or is perceived [phenomena].' ). This division is specifically applicable when we are speaking of the thought-production of the Divine Mind (Nous in Platonist philosophy): Noumena are immaterial entities, such as the Divine Mind itself, ‘souls’, or ‘heaven’, whose existence can only be apprehended by a special, non-sensory, faculty that some have called ‘intellectual intuition’, and others refer to as ‘spiritual perception’ or ‘mystical vision’.
The eighteenth-century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, attempted to alter our modern usage of the word, noumena, with his book, Critique of Pure Reason. Kant believed that, even if such immaterial entities as noumena existed, there was no reliable sensory or non-sensory human faculty by which they could be apprehended and known. He therefore reassigned the word, noumenon, which had long meant a mind or mind-born reality, to mean the signification of a thing—not as it appears to our senses and understanding, but as that thing is in itself—thus intending to render the word inapplicable as a useful human term or concept. In fact, Kant only succeeded in proving the sad fact that he himself had not been graced with spiritual vision and was therefore unable to speak knowledgeably on the subject of noumena.
2. You will have noticed that I used the words “on” and “upon” to suggest the relationship of the universe and God. That’s because it is almost impossible to avoid words that suggest a physical relationship between them. As illustration of how ill-suited phenomenally-based language is to describe noumenal realities—such as the relationship of the eternal to the temporal—try to come up with a word in the English language that indicates the simultaneous presence of a noumenal and a phenomenal reality existing in the same place. Shankara called it a “superimposition”; but even that word does not fit the reality perfectly. So, please accept my woefully, but unavoidably, inappropriate language.
3. “I am the one Lord. There is no other beside Me,” from the Old Testament, Second Isaiah: 45:4; probably borrowed from the Egyptian “Papyrus of Ani”, dating from the 30th century B.C.E. (Budge, Wallis, Egyptian Religion, N.Y., University Books, 1959; pp. 37-40), wherein is found the following text:
“God is one and alone, and none other exists with Him; God is the One, the one who has made all things. …He has endured for countless ages, and He shall endure to all eternity. God is a spirit, … the Divine Spirit. He is a mystery to His creatures, and no man knows how to know Him. … He has made the universe, and He has created all that is in it; He has stretched out the heavens and founded the earth. What His heart conceived came to pass straightway, … and it shall endure forever.
"God, Himself, is existence. He lives in all things and lives over all things. …He multiplies Himself millions of times, and He possesses multitudes of forms and multitudes of members. God is life, and it is only through Him that man lives. … God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and He hears those who call upon Him. He protects the weak against the strong, and He hears the cry of him that is bound in fetters. …God knows those who know Him; He rewards those who serve Him, and He protects those who follow Him.”
Recent Developments In Mystical Theology
Over the centuries since the time of Plotinus, many others have also experienced the unitive vision of God, but our metaphysical understanding has changed very little. What has changed is our understanding of the origin and nature of the material world.1 Ancient Greek thinkers found the subject too daunting, and simply accounted for the existence of the material world by positing an unoriginated sea of Chaotic matter, which the divine Thought (Logos, Sophia, Psyche) then permeated, bringing organization and life into it by Its power. But the last few centuries of our current era have seen a worldwide focus on the discovery of the secrets of nature, most especially through the study of physics and astronomy. In the twentieth century, Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding led to the formulation of the concept of a definite beginning to our universe approximately fourteen billion years ago, and Einstein’s realization that Energy and Matter (mass) are interconvertible gave a solid explanation for the manner in which the universe of matter came into being, and impelled science into the forefront of a rare advancement in our common philosophical understanding.
Most of us, when asked, “What is matter made of?” would answer, “It is made of elementary wave-particles, such as quarks—which constitute protons and neutrons—and leptons such as electrons and neutrinos. But if we were asked, “What are these various particles made of?”, we might answer, “No one knows.” However, that would be incorrect. Physicists know very well that all these wave-particles are made of energy—electromagnetic energy—or more succinctly, light-energy. All matter, in fact, the entire universe, came from the initial burst of Light that we refer to as “the Big Bang”.2 For empirical scientists, however, the question of where that universe-originating light-energy came from, however, is still a controversial matter of opinion.
Clearly, there was a sudden immense burst of electromagnetic energy where prior to it there had been nothing; and that energy coalesced into the wave-particles that make up our material world. Philosophers can no longer hold to the notion of an eternal universe; there was a creation moment, and the ultimate ‘stuff’ of the universe is now revealed: it was light—an inconceivably large burst of high-frequency light (which we refer to as ‘electromagnetic radiation’)—that almost immediately began converting to material wave-particles.3 Up to the point of that empirical discovery, philosophers speculating on the origin of matter were free to imagine many possible scenarios; but now speculation is dead. Matter is converted light; that is a proven fact. And material particles, when collided at high velocity, convert back into light (photons). Since Einstein, what previously had seemed two different things—energy and matter—were now seen to be one indivisible physical reality with two alternate aspects.
Though so much of what passes as ‘science’ today is merely the passing fashion of the moment or a speculative theory that can never be substantiated, the current understanding among scientists that all matter is an evolute of an original light is one which seems to allow of no possible future refutation. That energy and matter are interconvertible, and that the light-energy of the so-called ‘Big Bang’ of fourteen billion years ago transformed into the quarks and leptons that make up the entire world of matter is a discovery that is so incontrovertible, so uncontestable, as to effectively put an end to all future speculation as to what our world is made of.
And so, for the first time in history, after centuries of philosophical inquiry and intense scientific exploration, we now know with certainty exactly what the material world is made of. Physicists have announced it, astronomers have proclaimed it, and technicians have proven it without a doubt in their laboratories; and yet hardly anyone in the world seems to be aware of the fact that everything is made of light. Even those physicists who describe how the primordial photons of light transformed themselves into material particles do not seem to fully grasp the significance of the fact that everything in the universe is made of light. 4
Despite the fact that scientific thinkers believe that that pristine burst of light was a ‘natural’ phenomenon (whatever that means), and spiritually oriented people are certain that the light came directly from God, the fact remains that an unimaginably immense blast of high-energy light flashed at the dawn of time in a nascent universe, and each photon of that light became a matter-antimatter pair that contributed to make the phenomenal universe of form and substance that we live in today, where everything is made of that light.5
Everyone has heard of the ‘Big Bang’, and of how all forms of energy and all material particles were produced from that initial ‘fireball’ of high-energy photons; and yet, in the minds of many, there is still the burning question: ‘Where did that abundance of light come from?’ Scientists have concluded that the light from which the world of matter is made had to have come from the explosion of an unstable super-dense chunk of matter which they call a “singularity”, while people of religious or spiritual beliefs have understood since the most ancient of times that that light was caused by an act of God.
That the matter that constitutes this physical universe was produced by an initial high-energy burst of Light around fourteen billion years ago is accepted by the entire scientific community; the empirical evidence for this conclusion is formidable and incontestable. Physicists and cosmologists of integrity have declared that this is as far as science can reach, that to extrapolate farther back than that would be nothing more than conjecture and supposition—certainly not science. Nonetheless, some scientists have reached beyond the empirical evidence into the realm of unfounded speculative theory and have declared that the cause of that burst of Light was the explosion of a submicroscopic speck of matter that existed prior to the manifestation of the universe, a speck that contained all the mass of the universe within it. And often this is declared with a straight face.
On the other hand, those who have experience of God’s presence, regard science’s discovery that an ancient originating burst of Light (referred to as ‘The Big Bang’ or ‘The Great Radiance’) was the source of the entire material universe to be a delightful confirmation of the Divine Creation that has been famously heralded by the wise of long ages past. It is clear, however, that neither the speculation of the theoretical scientists nor the tradition of the religions is subject to incontrovertible proof; we can only weigh the two positions and see which seems to us the more credible.
Can we really accept that a tiny rock is the ultimate creative Force from which sprang the entire vast living universe? Or perhaps the tiny rock is not the Creator, but rather the Creator, having decided to make a universe, first put the whole thing into a tiny speck, and then had it all burst forth somehow. Did life exist in the rock prior to its existence in the universe, or did life spontaneously arise once the rock exploded? Well, you see how difficult it would be to defend such an originating principle. But such difficulties do not arise if we assume that the same God whom we know in our hearts was also the originator and fabricator of the universe and all its living variety.
If we accept that God breathed forth or otherwise manifested from Himself an immense burst of light-energy that possesses the capacity and propensity to ‘evolve’ into wave-particles in time and space, constituting the elements of our universe, then why couldn’t He have similarly predisposed the resulting matter to produce living bodies by a further evolutionary development? And why couldn’t those first primeval living bodies, such as bacteria and eukaryotes, be predisposed to evolve further into larger creatures, such as fish and fowl, mammals, primates, and eventually humans? 6 Somewhere along that chain of evolution, why couldn’t God’s all-pervading Consciousness manifest as self-awareness in sentient beings in accordance with the Divine intent programmed into that divine light from the very beginning?
How could we possibly doubt that that Light is a miraculous energy that proceeds from the power of God? At its highest frequencies—such as were produced in its original appearance—it has the ability to convert to electrically charged wave-particles that make up the atoms of every known or unknown substance that has existed through time and provides the energy of every known or unknown invisible force or field of force appearing in the universe at both the microscopic and the macroscopic level. That is to say that, not only did that original Light produce all the matter in the universe, but it produced the force of gravity, the so-called weak and strong forces that bind matter into cohesive entities, and all the electric and magnetic forces that exist in every wave-particle and produce so many effects on earth and beyond. These electrical charges are not only produced in every particle of matter, constituting its properties, but they also constitute every chemical reaction governing our digestion and metabolism, and every electrical impulse such as the firing of axons in our system of nerves, the firing of neurons in our brain, the beating of our heart, and the blinking of our eye. Everything—every visible or invisible thing and every perceivable or imperceptible variety of energy owes its existence to that initial Light. How can we believe, as some scientists profess to believe, that the Light, containing in its potentiality an entire universe such as this one, is the result of a random accident?
And yet, in the view of some materialistic scientists, this efficient mechanism of matter-energy interactions provides evidence that every bit of the functioning of man and the universe can be accounted for without the need to postulate a supernatural origin or underlying non-physical support. By some process of selective reasoning, they are able to ignore the question of where that light came from, how it manifested, and how it happened to distribute itself as discreet particles and electrical charges in just the proper “fine-tuned” relationships to produce so inconceivably complex a cosmos of form and awareness.
Be that as it may, it is certain that any physical or metaphysical theory framed in the twenty-first century must begin with the certain premise that the origin of all matter is light—regardless of whatever one might speculate was the cause of that burst of light. And, even if it had not been revealed to every enlightened soul that the material world is a manifestation of Divine energy, if we were to apply the rule of Ockham’s razor, which suggests that we shave away unnecessary assumptions, the simplest and most obvious attributable cause of that burst of light is the Divine Creator. The assumption that the explosion of an unstable and super-dense chunk of matter (a singularity) was the cause is simply an unwarranted, irrational, and unjustified supposition.
But those of a materialist bent could scarcely be expected to concede that that Light came from a supernatural Source; they could be expected rather to fight against this notion with all the powers of their imagination. “The light resulted from the explosion of a single densely compacted speck of matter,” they said; “a ‘singularity”. And they ignored the fact that it was now necessary to explain where that came from. For these people, that was the end of the line. Their position is reminiscent of the dismissive attitude of those people who held that the world was supported by a giant turtle, and who, when asked ‘What supports the turtle?’ answered, “It’s turtles all the way down.”
Today, it is common knowledge that all wave-particles of matter were born from the high-frequency (EM) energy released in the ‘Big Bang’ event of fourteen billion years ago; and that it was those wave-particles that evolved into the stars, our world, and all that we know as matter and energy. However, an important question arises: ‘Did the qualities of life and consciousness exist intrinsically in the light-energy and in the wave-particles that arose from it [as many scientists believe], or was there an infusion or suffusion of a divine Consciousness into that primordial matter that served to purposely organize and arrange those wave-particles toward the presently evolved state of life and consciousness that we know and experience today?’ And what should we call such a principle? Anaxagorus called it “Thought”; Heraclitus, and later Philo, called it “Logos”; the author of The Wisdom of Solomon called it “Sophia”, or “Wisdom”; Plotinus called it “Psyche”, or “Soul”.
No matter what word we use to denote this principle, it is necessarily a Divine, consciously governing and organizing Spirit akin to the “Thought” or “Will” of God, acting in and through all the sensible universe. There are no other alternatives: for either that initial Light itself was and is purposeful, living and conscious, or that purposeful living Consciousness acts within and through that light but is distinct from it. And since both light-energy and matter in its pre-organic state appear to be both inert and insentient, we must assume that they are also not conscious, nor do they intrinsically contain the seed of consciousness. It would seem, therefore, that we are forced by the evidence to conclude that an invisible living Consciousness operates within and throughout the material universe, guiding its operations, advancing its evolution, and bringing Its own life and consciousness to light in the living creatures appearing on at least one planetary body orbiting the star we call the Sun.
Philosophers and sages from the beginning of time have declared that, in addition to the light from which all ‘things’ are made, there must be a conscious deliberate force at work in the world that functions as the organizing principle of design, and as the source of life and awareness—a conscious force which has been referred to as “Spirit” or “Soul”. Materialists deny that such a universal principle exists—even though by doing so, they tend to deny the existence of their own intelligence; while the mystics, seers, and all the worshipers of a transcendent-immanent God affirm the principle of a divine “soul”, and stake their lives and actions upon it, living to give expression to the Divine source within them.
That the universe began in a sudden burst of light is unquestioned; but that light did not burst forth from a “singularity” into which all the matter of the universe had been compressed. Rather, that initial abundance of light burst forth from another kind of ‘singularity’: the energy potential of the eternal Mind, who is both the universe’s Creator and the universal Soul pervading it. Who or what else could produce an Energy that transforms itself into substantial forms as material particles along with the purposeful forces required to establish such a universe? Who or what else could pervade that universe as Mind, and animate each fully evolved form with a living consciousness? Who or what else could fill the universe with His own Consciousness, imbuing living beings with distinct identities and an individualized self-awareness?
Clearly, that eternal Mind that we call ‘God’ is the source and power of all that is. He has produced all these bodies and their evolutionary developments from His all-powerful light; and He is the inner Soul permeating all matter which we identify within ourselves as ‘I’. Indeed, all is He, and all glory is His. What else might we imagine exists? Who else might we imagine ourselves to be?
All the material universe and all the forces operating within it are evolved from His outspreading light, breathed forth nearly fifteen billion years ago. Yet this immense burst of light-energy would have remained but a teeming chaotic mass, random and lifeless, without His conscious direction, without His indwelling Spirit. His manifestation of a material universe is plainly evident to us; but His guiding Spirit is subtle and hidden from our view. We may infer the existence of that subtle Spirit by observing Its effects in the universe and in ourselves; but It is known directly and with certainty only when He reveals Himself as our inner Self.
So, as I hope I have made evident, there are two different ways in which the one Creator-God manifests: (1) As the Mind, Spirit, or Soul that permeates all matter, and which constitutes the limited mind, or soul, of each individual sentient being; and (2) As the producer of the light-energy that transforms into the material particles that make up the physical universe. So that, with these two aspects of Himself, He constitutes both matter and Spirit, both body and soul; thereby constituting all that exists. Though some might object philosophically to what appears to be a dualistic perspective, I would point out to those objectors that, since both the substance of the material universe and the indwelling Mind, or Spirit, both derive from one and the same supreme Being, there is, in fact, no duality, but rather an undeniable Unity, or Nonduality, in all of Existence . That the one God manifests in these two different ways does nothing to detract from His oneness, His singularity, as is clearly realized in the mystical experience wherein a soul is united in vision with the eternal One.
There is one other issue I wish to resolve: and that is whether the light-energy that the Creator produces to form the material universe is His own substance or a second substance other than Himself. I maintain that the great burst of light-energy which formed the vast universe is a projection of His own power and is therefore identical with His own essential Being. He did not borrow some other substance to make the physical cosmos; from where would He borrow it? No; He breathed forth that dynamically active light-energy from Himself. Though the universe is not synonymous with the supreme Consciousness, it is a projection of His inherent power and does not belong to any other category than Himself. It emanates from Him and is therefore of His Being.
Both the light-energy that transforms into the material universe and the indwelling Spirit, or Soul, derive from the same Divinity; and yet they are not the same. They are different in quality and characteristics and are distinct and obviously separable from one another. The forms that evolve from His light-energy are subject to entropy and dissolution. They appear for a brief time; and when those material forms cease to function as viable entities, the indwelling Spirit departs. The forms of His light-energy are therefore transient and subject to decay and dissolution; while the divine Energy as well as the Spirit, or Soul, continues to exist eternally. It is immortal.
Now, to the question of how the Spirit, the Soul, the Divine Consciousness “permeates” the material world: Some ancient philosophers posited a pneuma that the Creator breathed into man exclusively, constituting the human soul; others suggested that the Divine Consciousness fills the entire universe as a numinous and all-pervading intelligence. Accumulated evidence—both from empirical and mystical sources—supports the latter premise. An all-pervasive Consciousness may be inferred from the “fine-tuning” effects evident throughout the cosmos, though such an all-pervading Intelligence remains undetected by our technological instruments. It is witnessed directly, however, by the human mind, or soul, during what we call “mystical” experience.
During the “mystical” experience, the individual mind (or soul) is drawn into union with God, the Divine Consciousness, and perceives through and as that Divine Consciousness, seeing from the perspective of that Divine Consciousness. While seeing from God’s perspective, the all-pervasiveness of the Divine Mind is experienced and known. In such awareness, that Divine Consciousness is revealed to the soul as both the initiator of the creative act of universal manifestation as well as the living Spirit pervading it. Though this knowledge (gnosis) is not what we consider to be ‘empirical’ knowledge, it is experiential knowledge. It is knowledge obtained from a transcendent perspective and carries a certainty for the experiencer far above any mere temporal knowledge. ‘Very well,’ you may say; ‘but just how does the Divine Consciousness pervade the material universe? How can I picture it or form a conception of it?’
I don’t believe it can be pictured, since that Divine Consciousness is an invisible and noumenal reality. But we can conceive of it by way of analogy: He is present within this world as our individual consciousness is present within our thoughts and dreams. Our thoughts and dreams are within our minds; and because of that, they are permeated by our own consciousness. In this same way, God is present within us and within this world, because this world exists within Him.
This universe, fostered by His light, exists within Him. He is all-encompassing. When the “Great Radiance” of God’s light burst forth as an expanding universe of time and space, of substance and form, where must that ‘Radiance’ have occurred? It had to have occurred in the Mind of God! Where else could you put a universe when there is nothing outside of that Divine Mind, when nothing exists or can exist but that all-encompassing Mind?
And so, without the need for an “infusion” of the spark of life and consciousness as suggested in Biblical texts, this world, by virtue of its presence in the Mind of God, is naturally and effortlessly suffused with His living presence. And what we speak of as the ‘soul’ of individuals is simply the embodied expression of His all-encompassing conscious presence. The inclusion of the universe within the Divine Mind obviates the need for an infusion of God’s presence as ‘soul’, since His life and consciousness are inherently the very Ground, substance, and support of the world, and constitute its very being. It is this realization that prompted Saint Paul to declare, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”
Some people speak of “intelligent design” in the universe, as though God were similar to a human craftsman or architect who had thought out and prepared a blueprint prior to building the universe. But a little reflection on the nature of God reveals that He is neither a maker of blueprints nor a builder. What He is is an unfathomable Intelligence, the all-pervading Mind in which the universe exists, and by whose power it operates. God does not stand apart from the universe, like a builder fashioning a building; He does not “fine-tune” the universe as an object separate from Himself; rather, the universe exists within the Mind of God, and every single speck of it is controlled and coordinated by His will.
Though we have given names to all the various forces comprising our universe, such as ‘electromagnetic fields’, the ‘force of gravity’, the ‘strong’ force, and the ‘weak’ force; all these are simply manifestations of the cohesion inherent in His Mind-born creation. We have also named the material particles mysteriously formed from His light, such as ‘quarks’, ‘protons’, and ‘electrons’; but these also are simply the evidence of the scintillating effusion of His imagination. Only in these last centuries have scientific investigators come to understand just how inconceivably evanescent and indescribable these sub-microscopic particles really are.
As dream-stuff responds to our human will, the stuff of this universe, produced from Himself, responds to His will. And, since He transcends the confines of space and time, those evolutionary changes that, from our human perspective, require eons for their accomplishment, He accomplishes in an instant. Because His Consciousness is all-pervading, all things move together of one accord; assent is given throughout the universe to every falling grain. What appears to our eyes to be random and uncaused is, in fact, the unfoldment of His Will.
Consider: If an invisible and omnipotent Mind caused the decay of one particle of uranium and left a second particle intact, would it not appear to those witnessing it that what had occurred was the random spontaneous decay of a particle? And if that same invisible and omnipotent Mind caused a gene in a strand of DNA to mutate, would it not appear to those examining that DNA that what had occurred was the random mutation of a gene? How would one be able to distinguish whether such an event had been divinely caused or was simply random? The truth is that everything is within His governance. All is occurring within that one Consciousness. He has only to breathe, and a million worlds begin and end; and in this breathing, all that is contained within this universe is nourished and sustained.
This body that you regard as your own is actually His—as pebbles are the earth’s, as waves are the ocean’s. In accord with His purpose, the sun daily stirs the waters of your heart, and the vapor of your love flies to the four corners of the world; while at night the moon stills you, and the cold darkness is your bed. All is in accordance with His design. He is the life-pulse of every creature; and when the clanging bells of joy exult within you, it is His joy; the fire of song that inspires you is also His. Even the obscuring dust of unknowing that blinds us to His presence is brought by Him. He is in the clouds and in the gritty soil; and if you bend over a pool of clear water, you may see on the water’s surface the reflection of His face.
How does He pervade every particle of this universe? He is the Mind from which the universe took birth, and the universe exists within Him. All is contained in Him. In Him, there is no I or Thou, there is no now or then. In Him, life and death are undifferentiated. And that transcendent deathless Self is our eternal Identity. So, you see, there is nothing to vanquish, nothing to lament, and nothing on which to pride oneself. In Him, and by Him, all is accomplished in an instant.
NOTES AND REFERENCES:
1. Of course, not everyone agrees with the notion of a material universe. Some believe it was never created. Since there is no way to prove the existence of the universe outside of our mental perceptions of it, every few centuries someone frames the theory that the entire physical universe has no actual being outside that interior perception, that the world exists solely in the human mind. It is a theory that has been postulated by the eighth century Indian mystic-philosopher, Shankara, by certain Buddhist philosophers; by the eighteenth-century English philosopher, George Berkeley; and by certain popular modern thinkers. But it is a theory that is at once contradicted by the fact that man (homo sapiens) did not exist prior to two million years ago—modern humans (homo sapiens sapiens) did not exist until around 200,000 years ago; and life, even in its most rudimentary stage, did not exist on this planet prior to around four billion years ago. However, the universe itself is around fourteen billion years old—clearly older than man—and therefore could not have been originated in the mind of man, or in the consciousness of any living creature, since the nature of time does not allow an effect to precede its cause. The only continuous consciousness capable of producing the appearance of the universe is that of the eternal Mind of God. Therefore, the theory of a humanly subjective production of the phenomenal universe will not be considered here.
2. According to the current scientific evidence, around fourteen billion years ago the universe was created by a great burst of light that some call “the Big Bang” and others prefer to call “the Great Radiance”. In order to produce an entire universe as vast as this one, that light had to have been at the highest end of the energy spectrum. The most energetic light in the electromagnetic spectrum is that with the highest frequency, and shortest wavelength; that radiation is referred to as “gamma radiation”, a term coined by Ernest Rutherford in 1903.
3. Gamma-rays, or gamma radiation, is radiation that reaches a frequency of at least10 exahertz, or 1019 Hz, with a wavelength less than 10 picometers, and energies from 400 GeV (billion electron volts) to 10 TeV (trillion electron Volts). Since energy and mass are interconvertible (E=mc2), energy converts to mass, and mass converts to energy. In that immense “fireball” at the beginning of time, trillions upon trillions of photons of gamma radiation collided, and each of these photons converted to a particle-antiparticle pair. So long as the energy of the photon is equal to or exceeds the mass of the particles produced, this conversion occurs. The reverse process also occurred: for example, the mass of an electron-positron pair equals 1.02 MeV (million electron volts); when such a pair collides, it is annihilated, and in its place are two photons of at least 0.51 MeV each. In “the Great Radiance,” particle-antiparticle creation and annihilation were occurring at once on a grand scale. A full explanation of this process in the creation of the material universe may be found in my earlier book, Body And Soul; and for a more expertly scientific explanation, see Michael Zeilik, Astronomy: The Evolving Universe, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ninth edition; pp.470-475.
4. The medieval English philosopher, Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253) theorized that primeval matter was expanded to form the universe by the impetus of light. But he had not the benefit of the knowledge introduced much later by Einstein that light and matter are alternate forms of the same thing. Regarding light and matter as two distinct categories, he understood that light, since it “diffuses itself in every direction,” provides a likely medium for the extension of matter in all dimensions.
“Thus light, which is the first form created in first matter, multiplied itself by its very nature an infinite number of times on all sides and spread itself out uniformly in every direction. In this way it proceeded in the beginning of time to extend matter which it could not leave behind, by drawing it out along with itself into a mass the size of the material universe.” (Robert Grosseteste, On Light, trans. From the Latin by Clare C. Ried, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Marquette University Press, 1942, 2000; p. 11.)
From our vantage point today, it seems quite amazing how near Grosseteste came to anticipating the astrophysics that only emerged seven hundred years after him. His theory influenced his Oxford student, Roger Bacon (1214-1292) as well, though both still held to an Aristotelian cosmology consisting of spheres within spheres. Neither could guess that it was the light from the Divine that actually transformed or converted into the material particles that constitute the universe of form, and which, through its expansion gave birth to space and time.
5. When gamma radiation photons collide, they convert to matter, becoming a particle-antiparticle pair, such as a proton and an antiproton, or an electron and a positron. These two members of a symmetrical pair possess opposite electric charges, and annihilate upon contact, turning back once again to light (photons). One would expect that, this being the case, every matter-antimatter pair would have annihilated over the course of time, and that consequently there would be no material universe. However, there is a material universe. And so, we must assume there was an asymmetry that found its way into this process, sparing approximately one matter particle in every 10 billion produced, which matter particles now constitute what is our material universe. Why and how this asymmetry should exist, however, has not yet been explained.
6. Many believe, as the respected Biologist, Michael Behe, believes, that the propensity for ‘life’ was pre-programmed into the evolution of matter from the beginning:
“I am not saying the origin of life was simply an extremely improbable accident. I am saying the origin of life was deliberately, purposely arranged, just as the fundamental laws and constants and many other anthropic features of nature were deliberately, purposefully arranged. But in what I’ll call the “extended fine-tuning” view, the origin of life is merely an additional planned feature, culminating in intelligent life. The origin of life is simply closer to the very same goal that the other, more distant anthropic features (laws, chemical properties, and so forth) were also put in place to bring about.” (Michael J. Behe, The Edge of Evolution, New York, Free Press, 2008; p. 216.).
Excerpt from The Phenomenon of Light
The Light-Energy that emanated from God [the Divine Mind] at the moment of Creation around 14 billion years ago was, and is, a spiritual substance. The material universe which developed from it is still a spiritual substance, though we call it “material” due to its form, mass, and apparent substance. The differentiation between spiritual and material is imaginary, is non-existent; matter is Light-Energy, and Light-Energy is God’s breath. Nothing exists but God, whether manifest or unmanifest. All matter—all that we experience as the world about us, including ourselves—is born of God's Divine Light. Our bodies are formed of the ‘matter’ that was produced from that Divine Light, and they consist therefore of a Divine substance. Our bodies are God’s Energy manifest in form. In the soul’s interior experience of union, it is clearly seen that all that exists in this world is God’s manifestation, and the soul cries out:
O my God, even this body is Thine own!
Though I call to Thee and seek Thee amidst chaos,
Even I, who seemed an unclean pitcher amidst Thy waters,
Even I am Thine own.1
From the initial ‘Great Radiance’ comes all that exists as material objects and all that exists as active forces in the universe today and for all time. Every exploding star, every movement of gaseous nebulae far-off in space, every object and every motion—including the blinking of your eye, has its source and origin in that initial burst of light. According to the Law of the conservation of mass-energy, the First Law of Thermodynamics, the Energy that initiated and constitutes our universe is an undeviating quantity of Energy. According to this Law: ‘the sum of the mass-energy within a closed system (like the universe) remains constant’. In other words, the total initial Energy of which all material forms and all manifestations of energy in the universe are constituted, remains always the same total. It means that all that we do and perceive, including our own bodies and its movement, is made of that initial Light, and is nothing else but that original Light produced by and consisting of the Divine breath of God.
It is of paramount importance that you understand that this body in which you exist is made of God's Light. Every atom of your body originated as a photon of His eternal Light. The body's form will not last, of course; it will decompose and turn to ash or dust, but it will always remain God's Light, regardless of the form it takes. Eventually, that Light that forms this universe will return to its original state in God; but even while it continues to form an element of this ever-changing world, it is still God's imperishable Light. The vast array of stars and galaxies and clusters of galaxies―all are His. And don't forget that the Light of conscious awareness within you―that too is His, all His.
At every moment of your existence―from birth to final breath―you are in God, composed of God, enveloped in God. How could you ever be apart from Him? How could you ever be anywhere but safe in His infinitely blissful bosom? Give praise to God!
1. From Swami Abhayananda, “The Song of The Self”, in The Supreme Self, Fallsburg, N.Y., Atma Books, 1984.
This Is The Truth
This is the truth: Nowhere is there anything other than God.
This world is a drama performed by one actor in a multitude of roles.
We, His distinctly variant roles, are nothing but Him!
What can we do but dance to His tune?
He has made Himself into all these worlds and all these beings,
And we are but His manifold forms.
Though we appear to be independent entities,
Our characteristics and our inclinations are all programmed by Him,
And enacted by Him.
Everything being done is being done by God!
Whatever is to be done in the future will also be done by Him.
And so, glory be to God—in the highest and in the lowest!
Glory be to the One who lives as you and who lives as me!
Waves on His ocean, we think we’re distinctly our own,
Unaware that we’re forever inseparable from Him.
Calling Himself “I”, He lives us, He breathes us.
Only in the depths of His Grace are we able to know Him as our Self.
Look Around You!
Without any doubts, this world, this vast universe, is made by God, of God, and resides in God. For there is no other Reality but Him. God is the one all-inclusive Spirit, or Mind, in whom everything and everyone has its being. This truth has been clearly revealed through Grace to countless individual souls in an enlightening inner vision. If there was something else—something other than Him, it is in that divine inner vision that we would learn of it. But it is there, in that divine revelation, that we learn that we are made of God-stuff, that there is nothing else! We learn that it is the One Great Mind who brings all to light, and that it is He in whom everything resides and of whom everything consists. There, by His Grace, we learn our oneness with Him. There, two-ness cannot even arise as an imagination. You will be happy to know that, by searching for Him within, you too can experience His Grace. You too can know Him as the one and only Reality and solve this great riddle of Nonduality conclusively for yourself.
Look around you! Do you not see that every blade of grass is bursting with Consciousness? Do you not see that every chunk of gravel is alive with Consciousness? Do you not see how perfectly timed the planets move, how the Sun and moon tell the unveiling of the moments in your life?
O what good fortune is this—to see with the eyes of the Divine, to bathe in the bliss of His living presence, to delight in the heavenly breezes wafting in the summer light! Look around you!
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