I walk, talk, drive and thrive in this bustle of divine activity, which is not limited by physical space. There is no limitation to the sphere of this activity; I see it filling up immeasurable space. It is the same universal environment that is the very fullness of the relationship of the Creator to His/Her creation.
Heaven is not in a heaven somewhere in the far distant sky. It is right here, right there, wherever we might look or be. The divine beings that reside in these regions are personified, Selfluminous, universal consciousness. They have been perceived and described by ancient cultures and spiritual teachers of the world through religious teachings, myths, fables and in artistic expressions. These beings are very beautiful. Their beauty does not lie in how they look or are attired, though they are of great splendor, but rather in the perfection of their existence and divine purpose. Their existence is the source of our lives and we are the source of theirs.
Heaven has a very practical function; it is the home and source of the universal activities of nature and from where they are administered for the benefit of all creation. Similarly, on a more personal level, the mother and father in a family look after and love their children and get great fulfillment in return.
We love our own families most, and when we finally see how closely our daily lives are aligned with our sublimely cosmic family the expansion and happiness of our love naturally extends to universal proportions.
Years ago, when I first experienced expanded awareness as an intangible background it was not particularly interesting. Until I understood what I was experiencing, consciousness appeared flat and uninvolved in my life. Later it was the acquisition of basic understanding alone that woke up and stirred the background stillness into a far more noticeably shimmering state. Certainly, the ability to spontaneously see and understand this stillness made its harmonious nature and movements far more significant, far more satisfying.
As simple as it sounds, learning to drive a car is essential before a car becomes truly useful and fully appreciated. In the same way, learning to meditate familiarizes the mind and body with the nature of consciousness. The only reason Self-awareness is desirable is because it has tangible, personal benefits. It is the fulfillment of every stream of desire, every desire of the heart, mind and body. It delivers unbounded contentment, a quiet, comprehensive understanding and happiness beyond all expectations.
Even though differences are minimized through the knowledge and experience of unified consciousness, they also become brighter, richer and more heart-felt. They no longer hide the experience of Self-awareness. In fact, it is the great variety of differences—inner vision, physical activity, family, friends, feelings or any activity—that gives rise to the day-to-day living of Self-realization. The inner Self is realized as inclusive of normal life, not exclusive, for it certainly includes the normal experiences of life. Nothing is excluded. After all, the inner Self naturally desires experience in reference to something tangible. Separation from even surface experience, however insignificant it might seem, is just not possible and is not the nature of the awakened heart and mind.
Some one once asked me if I believed in free will. I blurted out that I don’t really care if there is free will or not because in all ways it certainly feels like there is and that’s all that really matters. Perhaps this very simple response is the best answer of all.
The state of free will is enjoyed when the mind automatically resides on the level of infinite choices. When the mind is not
bound to any one choice or any specific direction, then the sense of freedom is supreme. The awakened mind is freedom
itself. Herein the whole field of choice is permanently fulfilled; in the presence of God, all choices are possible.
I like to think of determinism as a partial experience of free will wherein all decisions are guided by the wisdom of cosmic reality, as needed, to speed individuals on to their eternal freedom as fast as possible.
When we have a large bank account, the choices available to us greatly exceed the choices available to a person who has less. Not only the choices but also the quality and quantity of experience are tremendously enhanced. Similarly, the more access to consciousness we have the more enjoyment is available. Overflowing Self-awareness, like overflowing wealth, is easy to share and positively influences more and more people.
We determine our own freedom by making choices that minimize restrictions to choice. Determinism is just a limited form of free will, which, with maturity and understanding, grows to greater and greater freedom of choice.
If we are driving down the street and we come to a red light, we understand that it is sensible to stop and wait for a green light. We do not view the red light as a restriction to our activity even though it told us to stop and delayed our progress. Just like red and green lights, laws—natural and man-made—are not restrictions to free will but are the rules that ensure our survival to make more intelligent choices.
In our early twenties, Catherine and I, like many of our generation, were living in an old farmhouse in the country. On one occasion I was outside furiously constructing a bench from old pine lumber; I was totally obsessed with getting it finished quickly. Completely out-of-the-blue something switched inside, a flash of clarity washed over me and I suddenly understood that there was no reason to rush, that I should slow down. I had shifted to a smoother way of acting. It felt almost as if I went into slow motion and immediately the whole process became effortless and faster; the nails started driving true and I stopped hitting my fingers.
When I went to finish the bench the next day the exact same experience of rushing to get it done began again, and again
I experienced a sudden stillness and as if heard a voice glide through my mind, “Easy now, slow down.” I slowed down
without even trying. This time the expanded calmness did not stop. I never again felt that frantic, anxious-to-finish experience while working or in any other activity. With this small jolt of intuitive understanding I saw that the silent stillness of my background experience was not actually disconnected from physical activity, that it has a real purpose and benefit for practical activity. This understanding made the reality of my inner silence more noticeable. From this point forward, the growth of knowingness and the close relationship of my so-called ‘inside’ experience and my ‘outside’ experience continued to unfold quickly.
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So here I am, a completely normal fellow having completely normal experiences. The events of my daily life, coupled with
my so-called ‘inner’ experiences, have created over time a unified understanding of the simple connectedness of all the
levels of my awareness. To arrive at this state of integration I did not withdraw from regular activity except for some short periods of time when I attended meditation retreats to gain deeper rest and clearer experiences. Meditating daily, coupled with the demands of helping to raise two creative, intelligent daughters while running a business, certainly constitutes being ‘immersed in daily life’ and, in my opinion, helped to develop and stabilize my current level of experience.
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