“… you are already the one consciousness, you already are the unified state but you have to go off and say ‘yes’ to the great adventure of life … you have to leave who you think you are, and via a strange route, you come back and rediscover that principle of unity in a much fuller way.” ~ Philip Jacobs
We continue the conversation between Paula Marvelly (the host) and Philip Jacobs (the guest-interviewee). Part 3 closed with Philip’s remarks re a key aspect of nondualism: the “… rediscovered sense of ‘I am everything’, … a fully empathic experience …” … in this part 4 he shares his thoughts on the oneness inherent in nondualism …
Rumi in the Mathnavi tells a story about a man who lives in Baghdad who keeps dreaming about a great treasure in a particular house in Cairo. He dreams about it so often, he sets off on a journey to Cairo and he has many troubles and adventures along the way.
Eventually he finds himself in Cairo and he is wandering around looking for the house he’s dreamt about so much. Then he meets a man on the street and he tells him about his dream. The man from Cairo says, ‘Well, that’s rather strange because I keep dreaming about a particular house in Baghdad, which also has a great treasure hidden in it.’ He describes the house and the man from Baghdad realizes that it’s his own house. So he goes back home and digs in the cellar and finds the great treasure.
What this story illustrates for me is that you are already the one consciousness, you already are the unified state but you have to go off and say ‘yes’ to the great adventure of life. In a metaphorical way, you have to leave who you think you are, and via a strange route, you come back and rediscover that principle of unity in a much fuller way.
That same story appears in multiple different traditions. In the Gospels it’s very clearly the story of the Prodigal Son who goes off and squanders his inheritance, and then at a certain point he comes unto himself and starts the return journey.
In the turning ceremony, the mukabele, we turn on a circular floor, or semahane, and that represents the exact same thing. Initially, when the Sheikh leads the processing in the first half of the circle, it represents the outflow of one to many; so in other words, it’s the one consciousness, the one mind, manifesting itself as a creation of multiplicity. And then, when you pass the center line of the circle, that’s called the return to source, and that’s the many going back into the oneness.
In Buddhism they call this process wisdom and compassion, because wisdom is the inward journey, which is using the discriminative mind to return to its source. Once you realize that everything is part of one whole and everything exists within you, compassion naturally arises, which is effectively like the outflowing back into multiplicity.
These stages we have been discussing can be related to as four levels: the physical level; the subtle level; the causal level; and the divine level.
The physical world on the big scale is the physical universe, consisting two hundred billion galaxies, which is an infinite unlimited world. On the individual level, it’s the physical body of flesh and bones. It can all be weighed and measured by science and normally it is our basic sense of self or our basic sense of identity.
The physical level is contained within the subtle level, though subtle really translates as psychological. On the individual scale, it is the world of your psyche; all your thoughts, feelings, and sensations take place within your psyche. It’s a private world and no one knows what’s going on there except for you yourself; though of course, it can be expressed through the physical. So when you are very angry, for example, you go red and shake and it’s visible on your physical body!
In terms of states of consciousness, the physical level is your daytime waking state; the subtle level is sleep with dreams. So when you go to sleep at night, your physical body settles down and then you enter a world of images and little dramas, which go on within your psyche.
According to this tradition, both the physical and subtle levels are contained within the causal world. The causal is like the great stillness that lies behind your physical and subtle body.
When you look behind your psyche, you get a sense there is a great emptiness, a great stillness. It terms of states of consciousness, that equates with deep sleep. It’s totally timeless, there’s no experience. When you are in dreamless sleep and then you go into deep sleep, from the moment of going in to the moment of coming out is totally instantaneous. As there’s no experience, no time, you could be a dinosaur who fell asleep a hundred and sixty-five million years ago and went into a deep sleep who then wakes up today, and it would be as if you had dropped off a minute ago.
Deep sleep is also the realm of deep meditation, when the thinking and feeling processes are transcended and just for a split second, you go beyond into the realm of stillness. A split second at the causal level can set you up for several weeks just in terms of what you experience from it.
This is not quite the end of the story, however; all these levels – physical, subtle, causal – are enclosed within the divine level, …
… but the divine isn’t really a level, it’s simply the whole thing and is also sometimes referred to as the ground of all being.
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The interview with Philip concludes in Part 5 with his remarks on the divine level and more on nondualism … so, stay tuned.
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Images: (all edited and logo added) 1) Summit by Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain, 2) Explosion of Light by darkday, CC BY 2.0, 3) Many by geralt, CC0 Public Domain, 4) Autumn Forest by valiunic, CC0 Public Domain, 5) Divine Sunlight by Glegle, CC0 Public Domain.