We all believe ourselves to be someone in particular. We’re born into a physical body, given a name by our parents, grow and biologically ripen alongside the inevitable psychological conditioning bestowed upon us by the socio-cultural machine that we find ourselves in. Gradually we start taking ourselves to be merely body-mind persons, and reality for most of us is nothing but this three-dimensional plane of existence, and we are mere puppets that move about in it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s undeniable truth and magic in this perspective on reality as well, i.e. taking ourselves to be localized body-minds that’s trying to make sense of the world around us as we go along with our lives, that is, learning, loving, suffering, adapting and surviving.
But could there be something more or different than this way of understanding the world and universe? These following insightful passages may suggest ‘something more’ indeed, but that is only if you’re open to that possibility.
If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
William Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790-1793)
William Blake suggests here that our perception is often clouded, and if we could see beyond the limitations of our senses and our conditioned minds, we might recognize the infinite nature of existence. Could it be that or usual way of seeing the world is constrained, and a more profound understanding awaits those who can cleanse their perceptual doors? How? Contemplation, philosophy, art, meditation, conscious living might be a start.
The more that the soul receives of the Divine Nature, the more it grows like It, and the closer becomes its union with God. It may arrive at such an intimate union that God at last draws it to Himself altogether, so that there is no distinction left, in the soul’s consciousness, between itself and God, though God still regards it as a creature.
Meister Eckhart (Sermons – The Self-Communication of God)
Meister Eckhart, one of my favorite Christian mystics, explores transformative nature of spiritual growth, emphasizing a union with the divine that transcends the conventional boundaries of self. It suggests a path where the individual soul merges intimately with the divine, blurring the lines between the self and God.
If melodiously piping flutes sprang from the olive, would you doubt that a knowledge of flute-playing resided in the olive? And what if plane trees bore harps which gave forth rhythmical sounds? Clearly you would think in the same way that the art of music was possessed by plane trees. Why, then, seeing that the universe gives birth to beings that are animate and wise, should it not be considered animate and wise itself?
Zeno of Citium (Quoted by Cicero)
Zeno’s analogy between the universe and music-producing trees challenges the notion of an inanimate and indifferent cosmos. It proposes a perspective where the universe itself possesses qualities akin to the beings it gives birth to, implying a deeper connection and wisdom embedded in the fabric of existence.
I see, yes, I see unspeakable depths. . . . I also see a Mind that moves the soul. By a holy ecstasy I see him that moves me. You give me power. I see myself! I want to speak! Fear holds me back! I have found the beginning of the Power above all Powers, and who does not himself have a beginning. I see a fountain bubbling with life. . . . I have seen. It is impossible to express this in words.
Hermes Trismegistus communicates the ineffability of profound insights and experiences. The passage reflects the difficulty of articulating spiritual realizations, suggesting that there are dimensions of understanding that transcend the limitations of language.
All teems with symbol; the wise man is the man who in any one thing can read another.
Plotinus (The Enneads, 270)
Plotinus underscores the interconnectedness of all things and the symbolic language inherent in the fabric of existence. It implies that wisdom lies in recognizing and deciphering these symbols, allowing for a deeper understanding that extends beyond surface appearances.
Do not go by revelation;
Do not go by tradition;
Do not go by hearsay;
Do not go on the authority of sacred texts;
Do not go on the grounds of pure logic;
Do not go by a view that seems rational;
Do not go by reflecting on mere appearances.
Gautam Buddha (Kalama Sutta)
Buddha’s advice emphasizes a discerning approach to understanding truth, discouraging reliance on mere authority, tradition, or superficial appearances. It encourages an independent and thoughtful exploration of reality.
The Truth is yourself, but not your mere bodily self.
Your real self is higher than ‘you’ and ‘me.’
This visible ‘you’ which you fancy to be yourself
Is limited in place, the real ‘you’ is not limited.
Why, O pearl, linger you trembling in your shell?
Esteem not yourself mere sugar-cane, but real sugar.
This outward ‘you’ is foreign to your real ‘you;’
Cling to your real self, quit this dual self.
Rumi (The Masnavi, 1258 – 1273)
Rumi explores the distinction between the superficial, limited self and the deeper, transcendent self. The passage advocates for a shift in identification from the dualistic and physical self to a recognition of a higher, more profound aspect of one’s being.
There is a thing inherent and natural,
Which existed before heaven and earth.
Motionless and fathomless,
It stands alone and never changes;
It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted.
It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme.
Lao Tzu (Dao de Jing)
Lao Tzu introduces the concept of an inherent, nameless force that predates the cosmos. The term Tao symbolizes this ineffable essence, suggesting a primal, pervasive energy that can be considered the source and essence of the entire universe.