There is one Self/Source/Universal Consciousness that pervades all of life. Some of us experience the Self as our highest nature; others externalize the Self and name it a god or deity "out there". This one Self has been described through time with many names: Source of life; God, Jehovah; divinity, the Voice, Zero Point Field, Holy Spirit, Ultimate Reality. Absolute; Brahman, Allah, Central Sun, Ahura Mazda, Ptah, and hundreds of other names.
When the Self is personalized, we often call it "my higher self" or "your higher self"
or "Pat's higher self." But in truth, there is one Self that manifests through all. The Self that sees through my eyes is the same Self that sees through your eyes. The same Self that causes my heart to beat is the same Self that causes your heart to beat. The same Self that created the galaxies is the same Self that created that rose garden outside your window, and the dimple on your chin. The same Self is as present in China, the moons of Jupiter, the Andromeda Galaxy, and Atlanta, GA, as it is present in your kitchen, at a roaring Denver Broncos football game, or in the silence of the small country church tucked in the hills of Vermont. Distance is irrelevant. Self is one and the same everywhere. We cannot "get away from" the Self; (not that we'd want to!).
Dear one, the Self is everywhere,
within all things, although we see him not.
There is nothing that does not come from him.
Of everything he is the inmost Self.
He is the truth; he is the Self supreme.
You are that, Shvetaketu; you are that.
-Chandogya Upanishad, 13.2-13.3
Imagine you and I are standing in the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean, here in Miami where I live. You dip your hand in the ocean and scoop up a palm full of water. Let's say that scoop of ocean water represents "you." Now I take my hand and scoop up a palm full of water and my scoop represents "Pat." We look down the beach and notice that every single person-hundreds, let's say-are scooping up water into their palms, and those scoops represent Harry, Jane, Rebekah, Thomas, Jim, and Orville, and so on. And while each of us may think, "This is MY water; it belongs to me and is "different" from everyone else's water, the truth is it is the SAME water, the SAME ocean. The only "difference" is that different hands are holding the scoops of water.
Ah, so the "difference" is in our hands, not the water. In the same way, the differences we see in one another
are in our bodies and thoughts, not in the Source/Self that gives each one of us life. And here's where the
challenge lies. Where the "veil" that separates illusion from awakening lies. Where the mystery of our life lies.
It's a matter of where we have placed our attention. Up until now, identification with our body and mind have won
out. As in the "hand scooping up the ocean" image, we identify with the physical body, the thinking and emotional
mind and we think, believe and proclaim to the world that we are those things: I am a nurse.
I am an uncle. I am happy. I am unhappy. I am Mexican. I am American. I am a Republican. I am a Democrat. I am progressive. I am conservative. I am broke.
I am wealthy. I am 5' 11". I am fat. I am skinny. I am religious. I am a skeptic.
I am a meditator. I am a seeker. I am a store clerk. I am a bank president.
I am a teenager. I am retired. And so on and so on.
But the truth is . . . we're not these "identifications" or "descriptions" anymore than we are the blue sweater or pair of jeans we're wearing. We'd be kind of nuts if we stood in front of the mirror, peered at ourself, and chanted in a hypnotic tone, "I am my favorite blue sweater. I am my receding hairline. I am the 10 pounds of fat clinging to my hips. I am my favorite blue sweater. I am my receding hairline. I am those extra 10 pounds of fat clinging to my hips." If someone heard us, we'd be hauled off to the funny farm. Yet, when no one's looking, this is exactly what we do and, worse, believe. I call these our "look in the mirror" daily prayers. The truth is, we've strung these "I am's" together almost since we were born. We just keep adding to the string with each passing year, accomplishment, choice, life event, promotion, body change, income change, job change, relationship change, downturn, dark night, criticism, etc.: "I am a divorced Harvard-educated, wealthy, 10 pounds overweight, successful, Armani-suit-wearing, balding, tennis-playing, politically progressive, corporate tax lawyer who owns 5 acres of prime real estate in Fairfield County, CT. " After a while, we're so lost in the labyrinthine ways of our "look in the mirror" daily prayers that we've just about lost any idea of who or what or why . . . we are. We just keep bouncing off our descriptors like a ball bounces off the caroms in a pinball machine. Boing. Boing. Boing.
. . . one day in a moment of quiet, when we're staring out the kitchen window on a late Saturday afternoon, with the sun casting long shadows, and the light catching the leaves of the sugar maple just right, a moment of inner stillness overtakes us. Our mind falls silent and drops into our heart space, and for a few moments, time stands still. And in that moment, we align, head and heart synchronize, a key turns, and a passageway, however slim, opens. And the Self peeks through.
Like brilliant blue sky peeking through an opening in the clouds. The Self makes an appearance. The irony, of course, is that, like the blue sky, the Self is ALWAYS there; we - our ego selves - are the ones who aren't home. We're too busy chasing our thoughts, emotions and assorted one million other identifications. Our minds chase around, chattering, like a hundred hungry monkeys, but the Self is silent, still and unmoving. Reminds me of an advertising slogan . . ."Like a good neighbor, the Self is there." The Self is always "there," is always Home for us. The Self is always the ever-present blue sky, but we want to focus on the clouds. The Self is always the ocean but we want to focus on the tiny bit of water in our hands. If we could just make the connection with Self, we'd realize that the Still Point is the place to be. Just look at the image of a galaxy, a shell, a rose, a fingerprint. That Center Point holds the key, and the Self that we truly are, is the Center Point. If we could live from that Place, we'd be as happily intoxicated with Love and Joy as an ecstatic poet-saint.
At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards;
at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point
There would be no dance,
And there is only the dance.
-T.S. Eliot, "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets
The "real you" may use these identifications to express itself but your Self does not lie in any of these expressions that are time-bound and space-bound, expressions that will die or pass away, crumbling into bits and dissipating back to dust. The real you is timeless, immortal, was never born, will never "die." The real you is imperishable, fills all of space, is without attachment or limitations. The real you is pure Love, pure Joy.
Who are you? You are the Self. Life. Light. Truth. Space. That which gives rise to all works, all desires. That which is beyond words. That which is joy abiding. (Chandogya Upanishad 3:14.2)
Who are you? You are the Self. "Smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a mustard seed is the Self. This is the Self dwelling in my heart, greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than all the world." (Chandogya Upanishad 3:14.3)
Who are you? You are the Self. "Those who realize the Self enter into the peace that brings complete self-control and perfect patience. They see themselves in everyone and everyone in themselves. (Brihadaranyaka 4:4.3)
Strange, isn't it? If you asked 100 people: Do you know God? Do you know the Self that makes you, you? Can you feel the Self in you? Have you ever experienced your Heart, your Essence? - well, you'll probably get a very weird stare and be passed off as some kind of New Age nut, right? Its odd how humanity takes the extraordinary experience of life for granted: we're born, educated, marry, have children, work, get old, die. Only a few will stop and ponder: What is life all about? Where have I come from? What incredible Mind figured all this out and keeps it going? Who came up with the color blue, black holes, and kangaroos? And perhaps the most important question: Who - or What - am I? But there have been pioneers of the inner worlds, the famous and the hidden, the storied and those whose lives have remained unknown who "took the plunge" and dove deep into the Heart of life. Their experiences may point the way, but can never take the place of our own plunge into the Self:
No one but your own self is at the heart of your joy.
Your own Self is the center of everything.
Day in and day out, everyone in the world spins in all four directions
trying to find the answer to the question "Who am I?"
I am reminded of the words of Swami Ram Tirth, a great being: "Who am I? Unless I know this, I will be utterly incomplete. As long as I do not discover who I am, then no matter what I do I will be like a man walking in the dark, thinking that something lies ahead."
You have immediate access to the Self. You don't need religion, you don't need science, you don't need a priest, rabbi, or imam; you don't need a system or technique, you don't need to read 1,000 books, wear a string of crystals, do yoga at 5 am everyday, or pay $600 to attend an enlightenment seminar. (Don't get me wrong. Some of these may help. But they only point the way. If they don't help, drop them.) We realize the Self through Stillness and an open heart. Stillness so that we may hear the voice of Self within us; an open heart that invites the Self to make Itself known. Its about taking your eyeballs and turning them around so that you're looking inside. As Muktananda said, "You will never find God by searching outside, because He is inside you."
When a person breaks through this deception [that God is outside of you],
then for the first time in his life rays of light shimmer in all directions-
rays of knowledge, bliss, and an ecstasy that is oblivious to all else.
The kingdom of heaven is within you.
Realizing the Self is delightful and changes everything. It is no mere intellectual exercise
or triumph. Muktananda again: "By attaining and experiencing
the nectar of the Self, which is supreme love, one becomes ecstatic. One who is completely established in the Self becomes utterly quiet and serene; he becomes
the Self. When the love of God, the ambrosia of the Self, is revealed, one finally attains the Truth and begins to dance . . ."
That Self is always ready to bring you to an experience of Itself, to an understanding of itself, to help you "remember" that you are the Self. Those of us who are waking up, may find ourselves "searching," "struggling," "studying," "seeking" (what is it with all these "s" words?) as well as being the perennial "student." Its time to retire the cartoon of the realized yogi sitting at the top of the mountain and the struggling student climbing up the mountain only to ask the realized master, "What is the secret of life?" In fact, we already are everything we are searching for. Realizing the Self is not so much a matter of "searching" as it is a matter of "waking up." Ditch the guru that lies at the top of the mountain. The Self has been sitting quietly in our own Heart. Turn your eye and look within!
When I was about six years old, I had a conscious experience of that Self. (At the time I didn't and couldn't process it this way, as I was experiencing this with a six-year-old's brain!) I was swinging on my neighbor's swing, one that his father had hand-made and attached to a tree limb. One day, while on the swing, looking over at the lilies that were planted against the base of their house, out of the blue, I experienced a luminous, sparkling body of light all around me and through me, from below my feet to beyond the top of my head. The feeling was of utter delight, happiness, and looking back now, I would call it "ecstasy." If was as if every cell were teeming with life and happiness. It was a feeling of wholeness, completeness, utter contentment and happiness . . . and aliveness. It was the feeling that there was something "More" and "Bigger" and "Just beyond me" that would overflow or announce itself through me every once in a while.
I don't know what kind of "Magic Kingdom" lay hidden in my friend's back yard, but many times, over the next three months, while playing there, I would experience this 'body of light' and the ecstatic feelings that accompanied it. In these instances I felt connected to the air around me, the sky, the trees, the grass and bushes, the lilies and all the colors I was seeing. It was like an "awakeness" would happen through my body and for a few moments declare itself through me. The feeling would start below my feet, then make its way up my body and out my head, like a spiral of energy rising upward, so that it soon encompassed all of me. Then, it would pass out through the top of my head and I would slowly return to "normal life. Though I was very young, I began to realize that there was a "Life" that was hidden behind things, that was "invisible," and made me feel very good.
A few years later, I was playing catch with a boy several years older than me (who, by the way, happened to have a very strong throwing arm). Long story short, I got smacked with a baseball right in the forehead, just about where the third ("psychic") eye is. Shortly after that, I began having spontaneous out of the body experiences. When these experiences occurred, it was like a giant eye was opening inside me. I'd feel a slight shudder go through my body, then I'd "pop out" through an opening in my head. It was like being let out of a bag, or suddenly turning the light on in a room that had been in darkness. A new world opened to me and I was free to explore it. I would just think of going to the top of one of the oak trees that lined our street, and I'd be there. Or I'd think of flying down to the bottom of the hill down from my house, and, I'd immediately feel the wind rushing against my face as I sped down the street - bodiless! How was this possible? I didn't try to figure it out, I just enjoyed it, and thought everyone had these experiences. It was the freedom of not being confined to a body that was so exhilarating. I felt like a bird, free to soar wherever I wanted to go.
I knew, at that young age, that "I" was not my body. "I" was perfectly intact when I was separated from what looked like "Patty." I even watched "Patty" catch baseballs, think, talk to others, and laugh while "I" looked down from 10 or 20 feet above "myself." Who or what continued the "life" that was in my body? What "mind" was thinking and laughing in me? Wow. These were huge questions for an eleven year old!
Once again, I experienced myself in a way that was "different" from the body consciousness that was "normal" everyday life and which I came to see, defines humanity. I just didn't fit in that mold. I came to understand that "I" never was my body to begin with! I was that non-physical Self that used or expressed Itself through my body, much like an actor wears, and expresses herself through a costume. I also came to realize that "I" was not my thoughts: I would be 10 or 20 feet from my body, yet "Patty" would be having thoughts, and talking and laughing with friends. It was as if I was living in a doorframe (or doorsill, as Rumi describes it) between two worlds: every waking "normal" reality and a world of light, invisible to most, filled with amazing wonders, feelings, and experiences. And as time went on, it would only get more interesting. (A near death experience in the Catskills.)
On another occasion - I believe I was in the sixth grade - I was lined up with my team on one side of the classroom nervously counting how many more words before it was my turn. Just as luck would have it, I popped out of my body just as it was my turn to spell a word. From my disembodied location near the ceiling tiles and fluorescent lights, I thought, 'This is going to be good', when to my amazement, the "Patty" that was lined up against the chalk board correctly spelled the word as if nothing abnormal was going on. That was an out-of-the-body moment I've never forgotten. I could somehow "feel" Patty's heart pumping loud enough to be heard in China, I could somehow "feel" the sweat on "Patty's forehead, as well as the self-consciousness of performing in front of 45 sixth graders, but those sensations and emotions belonged to the "Patty" down below. I was perfectly calm and serene, just witnessing the event from my perch 15 feet up!
You've had a little glimpse of my experiences. Perhaps you can now understand a small piece of my passion for the Self. These experiences of the Self are what have opened my inner eye to understanding what the great saints and sages meant when they said things like "Be still and know that I am God" or "The kingdom of heaven is within you" or "To be the Self is to go beyond death." I can't think of a greater work than to help others experience the Self within them.
These experiences of the Self led me to choose training and studies in theology, spirituality, and pastoral counseling, as well as in various healing modalities. I found that in my counseling and teaching work with clients, I would often receive "downloads" of information about the person before me. Or, as I was offering a Reiki or Reconnective Healing session, I would be given healing images to pass on to the client, images that they could take with them and use for their own healing, meditation, and life. Particularly, after Reconnection sessions, I'd sit for a few minutes in deep meditation and receive a stream of images, teachings, and specific words that the Universe/Self was offering the client through me. It was like I was an antenna, picking up colors, shapes, words, teachings and passing these on to the client I was working with.
Information included: soul information, intuitions about one's energy body, chakras, physical areas of weaknesses
or challenges, emotional or mental issues, spiritual insights, past live/parallel life information, as well as see
"images" to use in self-healing. I would often receive words or teachings for the client. Often my client and I
would have the same "visions" and teachings - unbeknownst to them and me, until after the session when we'd
discuss the healing experience. At other times,
I would experience an image of healing, and my client would later tell me that he/she experienced that same image while being worked on.
With Intuitive Soul Readings, I'm now making this "soul information" available to you.
It's been great visiting with you. If you have comments or questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear some of the stories of your own experiences of the Self. We all have these experiences. Remember, the Self that looks out through your eyes is the same Self that looks out through mine. There is only One Self who is the Life of all of us. As we focus on the Oneness, we'll gradually come to experience the Oneness. Experiencing the Oneness, we'll finally come to know who and what we truly are. I'll close with one of my favorite stories about the Buddha. It's the story of all of us, and my intention for you:
It is said that when Buddha was first Enlightened he was asked,
"Are you a God?"
"Are you a saint?"
"Then what are you?"
And he answered, "I am awake."