Modern Physics calls it the unified field. It is also called the transcendent and the absolute. The ancient rishis, as well as some modern physicists, call it consciousness. It is oneness… the one thing out of which all things emerge… similar to how all sorts of ‘things’ emerge from your consciousness when you dream. As you evolve, this understanding moves from an intellectual notion, to an inner sense, to a clear certainty, to a direct/perceptible experience. That evolution takes place within you. Though it may be prompted by a notion presented to you, it is how clearly you find it within yourself that really matters. To take the notion and put it in your closet proclaiming, “I already know this, what else can you teach me?” is a wasteful relationship with that knowledge. Your ‘knowledge’ must become your ‘Knowledge’ with a capital ‘K’. All knowledge is there deep within you, but it is shrouded, not totally clear. Yet it is that inner knowing that spurs you on, that you live in dedication to. You do well to work with the knowledge of the transcendent in diverse ways to make it more and more clear, more and more of a certainty for yourself. Proper meditation is, of course, the most important tool. But deep thought and careful reflection are also of great importance. Everything has to make sense TO YOU. And making sense is not just about the intellect. It includes all level of your being… thoughts, finest feeling, emotions, common sense, wisdom level, etc., etc. It is not a matter of convincing yourself. It is a matter of finding the truth of the Absolute within yourself, through your OWN convictions, your own reasoning, your own personal experience. Without that, you are merely parroting something you heard. You only own it when you become it, when you find it within you. That process of becoming is called evolution.
What are examples that may help you find the Absolute within? Well, how is it that all fields of knowledge parallel one another? How is it that principles in business parallel principles in music and science? If you reflect on this you will see that it is only possible if all things are coming out of the same one thing, like spokes of a wheel all spinning around the same one axle. But it is up to you to see this from within yourself more and more and more clearly. It is not a matter of accepting it, or clinging to your current level of understanding of it, but of exploring that notion more and more to see it more and more clearly. Do not try to convince yourself. Try to find truth within yourself. These are two very different things.
Another example: Look around you right now. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you experience? Now for an exercise in total honesty: How do you know any of it is real? How do you know it is not just an illusion, like in the movie “The Matrix”? What do you really know? Maybe everything you are conscious of is an illusion, but one thing is for sure… irrefutable: Consciousness is. If you are just honest with your ongoing experience, the deepest secret of the universe is revealed to you. All is born out of one thing… consciousness… your consciousness. There is only one consciousness, or as it is said, you are one with God. The only difference is your angle of approach, your relationship with that one consciousness. That is what makes you uniquely you. So there you have the second example, but are you going to work with it and explore it and discover the truth of it within yourself? Or are you going to put it in your closet and say you get it? The exploration is yours, no one else’s. Exploration tills the soil that uncovers deeper and deeper understanding. Evolution is not so much about learning more facts as it is about finding a deeper relationship with the facts you already know.
Remember, real knowledge of anything and everything is found within YOU. Find ways to explore the notion of oneness for yourself. To own it, you must become it. And that is a process called evolution.
So Point #1 is Discernment. Point #2 is that there is one thing that birthed and underlies all things. Spend time with these.
Students who excel in academics are the ones that really listen to what the professor says. It is so easy to tweak or distort what the real message is. To stay true to it and work with it until you really know it from within yourself is not so simple. Commonly, you read it, ‘get it’, and then move on with your distorted version of it (a.k.a. “the I get it syndrome”).
Now enter the real world. Suddenly there are a multitude of diverse opinions pushing and pulling you in all different directions. The natural inclination is to pick and choose what you like from each and distort or reject what you do not like in each. This leaves the bulk of your distortions, biases, and limitations of thoughts and emotions perfectly intact.
Needless to say, weight loss guidance is a great example. Who do you listen to? Well, at least in that arena, you can try diverse approaches until you find what actually works. However, that too requires giving each approach a chance… which leads us back to the challenge of listening. Of course, then you only need to listen for a few weeks or so before you have definitive results.
Now enter the spiritual arena. Real spiritual progress is not as easy as weight loss. Real spiritual progress is more abstract and also takes more time. Of course, people cling to superficial things to try to convince themselves they are growing spiritually. But real spiritual growth is something much deeper and far more elusive than a sugar coating! Yet there are plenty of alleged spiritual leaders out there walking the sugar coated walk and encouraging you to do the same. There are plenty of alleged spiritual leaders out there offering limited, simplistic, or distorted spins on the knowledge. Even the writings of truly great Masters have been lost in translation or in your interpretation. For sure, the spiritual arena in this age is a real mess. Even more disconcerting, it seems most everybody from the atheist to the self-proclaimed spiritual scholar is certain that their understanding is the correct one!
So now, how hard is it to listen? Who do you even attempt to listen to? The process of determining that is called discernment. You may want to try it out on something easier than spirituality and see how you do. Explore for example, your convictions on diet. Every time I bring that topic up in a group, the passions and convictions run wild… so many strong opinions. Do not feel alone in this. I experience it also when I read something from a new diet or exercise guru. But I do my very best to discern.
Can you let go of your current indoctrinations? It is not so easy. Even when you think you are listening and decide that you ‘get it’, well, do you… do you really? Even when you think you are listening, even when you think you are being discerning, well, are you… are you really? Is what you are hearing resonating or conflicting with your bias or the truth that lies deep within you? The normal inclination is to believe that your bias is actually truth. But is it… really?
Discernment is not done with just the mind. It is certainly not done with just the emotions. It is not a matter of the mind rallying around the emotions to create a rationalization to justify your reactions. You need to start on steady ground… unbiased, unconditioned, open, refined in feelings, and free, while solid, balanced, reflective, rational, and willing to take a look, not just at the information, but even more importantly, how you receive and process that information… what it resonates with or clashes with inside you and why!! Are you reinforcing your biases or are you moving beyond them? Only as you explore this, will you begin to cultivate your ability to discern, will you begin to cultivate your ability to listen, to know how to listen, and what/who to listen to. As Adi Shankara said, the spiritual path is the path of discernment.