Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and the imminent dawning of a New Year…
...you might be taking some time to think about the larger questions in life––like the reasons you draw near to family and friends, and the things you want to accomplish in life.
Because it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s really important, I dug into our archives this week and pulled an extraordinary essay that Bill Harris wrote, called, “What is Reality?”
In this feature, below, Bill addresses the wisdom of the mystics, the energy of the Universe, and why we aren’t happy most of the time. And of course, true to Bill’s nature…
...he offers brilliant answers to timeless questions.
P.S. As a special gift for our Mind Power subscribers, we have a FREE COPY of Bill’s book: Oneness Isn’t Metaphysical for you.
Don’t miss it...in the Check It Out section below.
What is Reality?
Excerpted from Oneness Isn’t Metaphysical
By Bill Harris
For thousands of years human beings have been asking, “Why are we here? What’s it all about?” Another way to frame this question would be to say, “What is reality?”
So let’s start with a very big picture look at one answer to this question.
Through the centuries, mystics have said that there is but one energy in the universe, that the universe and everything in it is the play, the dance, the unfolding of one energy, and that underneath the seeming multiplicity, everything is made of the same substance.
This energy, they would claim, is everywhere, and even “everywhen,” in the sense that it is eternally behind all the changing forms we see.
This idea of Oneness is sometimes referred to as Omnipresence, or God. The Hindus and Buddhists call this principle, Sat: one energy, everywhere, fundamental to everything, always, past, present, and future.
Quantum physicists say something very similar. They have noticed that on the sub-atomic level, particles come into being, seemingly out of nothing, and dissolve and disappear back into nothing.
Sometimes, when two or more particles collide, one, two, three, or more particles, often of a different kind, appear as a result. Or, all the particles disappear.
There is a “something” that everything comes out of and returns into. This something is the background of everything, in the same way that the blank page is the background of what is written on it.
These awakened human beings, however, go one step further. They also describe this one energy as being aware of itself, aware that it is everything, everywhere, and everywhen.
This energy, they say, is conscious. You could even say that it is consciousness. Hindus and Buddhists call this awareness Chit.
Chit is not what we typically think of as knowing, in a cognitive sense. This is not an intellectual knowing, but rather an experiential awareness, often without mental naming or commentary. It is an experience of being consciousness, not knowing about it.
This Oneness, then, this underlying unity, is aware of itself being everything.
Pretend for a moment that you are this one energy (in fact, you are it). Since you are everything, there is nothing outside of you to be afraid of. That would be like fearing your own hand. If everything is you, and you are everything, what is there to fear?
In the same sense, there is nothing to get, nothing lacking, since you are everything. There is also nowhere to go, no journey to take. Seeking is unnecessary. You are everything, always, everywhere, with nothing to want, nothing to fear, and nowhere to go.
If you were established in this awareness, having this experience—that there is nowhere to go, nothing to get, and nothing to fear—you would be happy, peaceful, even blissful.
The third characteristic of reality, then, according to those who describe it in this way, is called Ananda, which means bliss in the ancient Sanskrit language.
The mystical explanation of reality, then, is that reality is Satchitananda. One who is aware of being the one energy from which everything comes and into which everything returns, is blissfully happy and peaceful.
This energy, this Satchitananda, according to the mystical view, is who you really are.
Your fears and desires, your idea that you have to get somewhere, and your idea that you lack something, is, in this view, an illusion. You are not a separate ego in a bag of skin, estranged from the rest of the universe and subject to its whims, but, instead…
...you are the very universe itself.
Why, Then, Am I Miserable?
Inevitably, several questions arise:
If this is true, why don’t I experience it?
Why am I unhappy so much of the time?
Why do I often feel so powerless?
Why does it seem as if I am a separate creature in what certainly seems to be dangerous and perilous world?
To live, I need a constant supply of air, and without it I would die in just a few moments. I need food on a regular basis, or I die. The temperature must stay within a very narrow range or the chemical reactions that keep me alive can’t happen.
And then there are ultraviolet rays, and other dangerous electromagnetic forces, and poisons, and dangerous people who want to hurt me, or at least have an agenda that often hurts me, and if I get just a few miles away from the surface of the Earth, I can’t survive.
This is hardly a perspective of peace and bliss and knowing that I am the one energy of everything.
Awakened teachers have an answer for this: You aren’t happy and peaceful and in touch with the fact that you are all and everything, everywhere, eternally peaceful and blissful, because of your mind.
Your mind is in the way of your experience of who you really are.
Your mind (through what I have called your Internal Map of Reality) is creating a mental reality that acts, in a sense (to use a metaphor from Eastern philosophy), like dust covering a mirror…
...keeping you from seeing who you really are.
Realizing that the mind gets in the way and obscures what mystics would call your true nature, seekers have discovered methods for directly perceiving the reality they describe, without filtering it through the mind.
The most effective and most popular of these methods is meditation. Over time (unfortunately, often after many years of practice), meditation stills the mind. This decreases your identification with your mental map of who you are, your idea of who you are.
When this happens, you are able to experience reality directly, without filtering it through the mind.
As long as you are identified with what the mind creates and see the representation of reality it creates as the reality, you miss what the experience the mystics describe. When you identify with this mentally created representation of reality, it will grab all your attention, and that is all you will see.
As the mind becomes quieter and your identification with it decreases, you begin to see the spaces between what the mind creates…
...like parting the branches in a thicket to see snatches of the meadows and mountains beyond.
This essay way excerpted from Bill Harris’s extraordinary collection, Oneness Isn’t Metaphysical. To read more, download your free digital copy below.
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Get the real secrets to spiritual growth in this fascinating collection of Bill Harris’s articles on mysticism, “reality” and your place in the Universe.
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Holiday Wishes from Centerpointe