“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology.” – Albert Einsteinadvertisement - learn more
“Those who aspire to the state of yoga should seek the self in inner solitude through meditation. With body and mind controlled they should constantly practice one-pointedness, free from expectations and attachment to material possessions.” — Bhagavad Gita
Mystics are driven by a desire to grasp and attain the ultimate truth of existence. Mysticism can be defined as a belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience. A mystic trusts in these subjective experiences and cultivates awareness of dimensions beyond the physical and intelligible. These levels of consciousness bring light to the vast mysteries of the world around us, the world that we create with our thoughts. In the Western world today, a shift is occurring in consciousness. This shift is a product of a myriad of factors. These factors range from our scientific progress in neuroscience, physics and psychology all the way to how India influenced us with the practices and tangible spiritual and psychological benefits provided by Vedanta-Yoga. How exactly did this happen? First we must take a look at the root of it all, consciousness.
What is consciousness? What is the origin of consciousness? What are the limits of human potential? We are at a point today in the world where we can ask questions such as these and others like them. With the progress of science such as the superstring theory and quantum mechanics we now have some ideas about how to begin to find the answers to such questions. These forms of science posit that all life is fundamentally one. There exists a unity at the basis of all of the diversity within life. Mind, body, and spirit create a sacred trinity that allows us to fully experience life on earth. (Though there is quite a bit of knowledge about the mind and the body, understanding of the spirit is actually quite lacking.) This unity, at the basis of mind and matter, is consciousness, and often referred to as universal consciousness. Quantum Physicist Amit Goswami says that consciousness is the ground of all being. Consciousness is theorized to not be created from the brain, but rather it is fundamental; it is at the core of all nature. (The Quantum Activist)
The superstring theory, which talks of the unified field, identifies a single, universal field of intelligence. The superstring theory is known less formally as the string theory, and is often referred to as the Theory of Everything (TOE.) There exists much debate about whether this field is actually proven science or not, but despite this it is a very stimulating piece of physics. Within this unified field exists quarks, electromagnetism, gravity, consciousness etc. It is a mathematical model that describes all fundamental forces and forms of matter in existence. Everything has a unified source in this field, and this field’s properties are nonmaterial, dynamic, self-aware, and intelligent. It is considered to be pure abstract potential. Many will ask potential for what? That is a good question. We (our cosmic consciousness) are just waves of vibrations in this unified underlying field. The idea of universal or cosmic consciousness posits that the universe exists as an interconnected network of consciousness, with each conscious being linked to every other. This essentially means there is only one consciousness, it is you, it is me, and it is everyone. The individuality of consciousness experienced by most people is theorized to be produced by the universal consciousness being filtered through the nervous system. Understanding that consciousness, or the self, is universal is the first step to enlightenment. Experiencing this enlightenment first hand has been sought after in many cultures and religions across the ages. In William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, he gives the accounts of many different people from across time and some claim that in their moment of divine existence they felt a perfect unity and transcendence (of consciousness.) If people continue to believe that we live in a universe of dead, motionless matter, then it will of course make it difficult to grasp that our universe is conscious at its roots. The string theory attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity.
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, deals with physical phenomena as microscopic scales. It provides a mathematical description of much of the existing dualism between particles and waves and interactions of energy and matter. It tries to explain the relationship between how our intangible consciousness comes about from particles and energy, or if matter and energies are a product of consciousness. Quantum mechanics is the play and display of information, of potentiality. (Hagelin) It is considered the world of potential electrons, not just electrons. The deeper a person looks into what everything is composed of, the more alive and conscious the universe seems to become. In the unified field, there exists just pure being. Many cultures and spiritual practices have discovered ways to transcend to a higher plane of consciousness, but why are these seemingly very important practices not used by everybody? The techniques to experience a pure consciousness and unbounded awareness are easily lost because they are so subtle. These are often characterized as being simple, universal, and most importantly natural. In order to transcend, consciousness has to calm and slow down. This is a goal of meditative practices. In efforts to reproduce such an experience, one will find difficulty in succeeding, because effort calls for too much conscious activity. The experience of pure consciousness really transcends any one religion or philosophy, even though it is the desired end result of mostly all religious and spiritual practices. This is discussed in my section on perennialism later on. This pure consciousness is theorized to be the direct subjective experience of the unified laws of nature. The unified field unites the observed with the observer and provides the experience of one’s true self, or the Atman. In Sanskrit, Atman means to Buddhists the ‘essential self.’ The essential self is pure consciousness. Though consciousness, or the essential self, is intangible, it is the one aspect of experience that has been with us since childhood. Consciousness gives continuity to our experience, it is the atman, the self. (Hagelin) Within the unified field exists unbounded subjectivity, much like the observing self. Quantum Physicist John Hagelin believes that the world of diversity and the world of unity both exist, not just one or the other. They are simply different levels of description of the same reality. On the physical level, you and I are separate, but at deeper levels we have a common source. Where all of the particles come together as one, this is the unity of consciousness, the unified field of all the laws of nature. (Hagelin)
Quantum physics has many seemingly metaphysical properties; it is also quite mystical in many ways. Most quantum physicists report highly mystical interpretations to their findings. Quantum mysticism grew out of quantum physics, and it was a topic of much debate a just a few years ago. It is essentially an umbrella term for all of the beliefs that try and relate consciousness, intelligence, or mystical world-views to quantum physics and its myriad of interpretations. Quantum mechanics is a quickly maturing science of consciousness, but still has a long way to go. There is much more to consciousness than an objective science, subjective inner-experience is where the real truth may lay for many people.
Many Americans who practice yoga or meditate are not aware that these primarily came from India. In the early 19th century, British scholars produced the first English translations of India’s sacred texts and Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau all quickly got a hold of them. Gurus came and gave lectures that made the message of India increasingly alluring to Westerners. This was the case predominantly in the white, urban and educated folks who were seekers of truth, of God and of self-improvement. Walt Whitman once wrote, “India represents meditation, oriental rhapsody, passiveness, a curious schoolmaster-teaching of wise precepts.” The Influence of India spread slowly, then surged in the late 1960’s due to a myriad of forces coming together- “mass communication and ease of travel; social unrest; war and nuclear anxiety; psychedelic drugs; and alienated but idealistic youngsters with the time and money to explore new ways of being.” (American Veda, Goldenberg) The portion of India’s spiritual legacy that hold the most appeal to Westerners are the philosophical system of the Vedanta and the mental and physical practices of Yoga. Vedanta literally means “end of the Vedas” and refers to the culmination of the knowledge contained within the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. Yoga usually refers to a collection of methodologies and practices aimed at achieving spiritual ascension and experiencing the union of the individual and the divine. Together, the Vedanta-Yoga practice constitutes an empirical science of the inner life.
Vedanta and Yoga are two of the six systems of Indian(Hindu) philosophy. The other four are a bit more outwardly religious and wouldn’t be taken to as kindly here in the West. Vedanta is similar to perrenialism, which was brought to public attention by Aldous Huxley in his Perennial Philosophy. Perrenialism essentially posits that the mystical components of religious traditions call forth remarkably similar descriptions of reality across many walks of culture. This is not to say in any way that all religions are the same, but “While religious customs, rituals, and dogmas vary, all traditions, if taken deep enough, can bring practitioners to essentially the same place- our silent origin, or essence, which transcends all notions of place, all words, all concepts, all theologies.” (Goldberg) Organized religions in the West seem to be lacking in transformation of becoming a more fulfilled and complete person and transcendence to satisfy the yearning to enlarge the perceived boundaries of the self. Millions of Americans have likely been influenced by Vedanta-Yoga without even being aware of it. As stated in the introduction, the initial draw to Vedanta-Yoga was the promise of tangible spiritual and psychological benefits. The changes are noted to be improved well-being: greater peace, self-awareness, happiness, wholeness, and a connection to something bigger than themselves. The Psychology of happiness and well-being says that people are far more resilient to negative emotions, which expands their thought-action repertoire, when they have some sort of supernatural order guiding them through life and feeling connected to something greater. A large part of the appeal of the Vedanta philosophy is that it is experience-oriented; it offers a way to understand the divine that does not go against pure reason or require blind-faith in the nonsensical. (The American Veda, Goldberg)
The goal of Vedanta-Yoga does not have to be union with God. In fact, the western view on the purpose of Vedanta-Yoga largely differs from the eastern view in many cases. Westerners often believe it is good for more active reasons such as lowering blood pressure, alleviating anxieties and depression, making physical changes to the brain, and just having a clearer mind. While all of these benefits are real and have been experienced countless times, Easterners often use meditation for more spiritual reasons. These can include union with god, self-realization and transcendence of the ego. Through this, comes the elimination of suffering, the realization of the oneness of all things, a shift in perspective, and the experience of universal consciousness. One begins turning their attention from the physical and mundane features of the world where problems seem significant to simply living mindfully in the present. Many people try to hold onto life, and prevent change from occurring, even though this is simply fighting the nature of life. Everything is changing, always, every second. Meditation allows one to experience life through a broader, more interconnected perspective. It can help change the amount importance placed upon seemingly prominent discomforts and troubles, whereas in a meditative state one may realize these problems are just trivial which can bring about a very peaceful state of consciousness. Meditation can serve for some as a sort of incubation period for aspirations or goals (both short-term and long-term.) People in the west often lead lives of pure “doing” and little to no being. “Being” should be understood as truly becoming in touch with the core self. “Being” can be noted as the observing self. “Doing” is referring to the thinking self. One of these two is always dominating the stream of awareness. In the East, many cultures are based around primarily “being” and living through the observing self to an extent. Living a life combining these two intermittently will prove to be quite fruitful according to many quantum physicists and spiritual leaders. When one meditates, one can truly connect with the core self and truly discover one’s core beliefs. These core beliefs are the foundation upon which all expectations are formed. In this state of “being” one’s decisions and thoughts are not clouded by the ego or desires, how one desires to be perceived by others, or poor intentionality. One breaks away from the ego that is ever so prominent and debilitating at times. It is theorized that as one shifts towards a goal, the universe will sometimes shift along in accordance. A new action equals a new creation. This personal power of consciousness is most powerful when one wholly shifts their habitual centre of personal energy towards what it is that aligns to their new core beliefs. (William James) This ability of consciousness is especially effective when what one wants to happen is what one expects to happen. It is believed that the feeling of individuality, of disconnection arises when who we are does not align with our core beliefs. William James talks much of this and one’s habitual centre of personal energy in his book The Varieties of a Religious Experience.
Western schools build, emphasize, and strengthen the left brain, which is responsible for linear thinking. The right brain is not considered to hold an important place in corporate America. There are many studies done displaying how Western schools stifle and can even kill creativity. A neuroscientist named Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke and watched her mind deteriorate from the inside out. In her particular stroke, her left brain would shut off intermittently. When the left brain shut off, she explained she felt pure euphoria, pure transcendence. She felt one with everything in the entire cosmos and this sense of unity was a very beautiful experience. She even went so far as to say that when her arm was up against the wall, she could not tell where her arm began and where it ended, she could not differentiate between her arm and the wall as all of the particles looked the same. There is a TEDTalk on this woman and her story, and as she discussed the euphoria she felt she began to cry. Some forms of meditation and other forms of Eastern spirituality emphasize the right brain, living purely in this very moment, eliminating all anxieties about the past or future and attaining this oneness that Jill Taylor spoke of.
“We are at a pinnacle time at which all of our senses are telling us that we are approaching a turning point. Humankind is (we are) in the middle of an all-encompassing process of change. In the external world we are experiencing an increase in the density of events, not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively in their intensity. We realize that a significant number of these events correlate with our own inner mental and emotional processes. The increasingly ineluctable confrontations with these processes inevitably lead to a change of consciousness. It appears as if each one of us is challenged to his limits. At the point of our limits, we are faced with a decision. The decision to either continue to engage with the existing structures, or to take a new approach. On this new path, we recognize our true and divine potential. It is the path from the illusion of separation to wholeness. On our journey, our consciousness is expanding rapidly. It extends to increasingly frequent moments of insight facilitating this big decision.” –Dieter Broers
In modern times, all of the previously described phenomena including spiritual and intellectual forces are shaping and rewriting personal philosophies on a global scale. There is a new mystical movement spreading; this movement is known by many names. Some call it lightseeking, others call it spirit science, while a large group call it the paradigm shift. More and more people/cultures are beginning to stand up for their human rights. Thanks to technology and the ease of the spread of information and the internet, one uprising leads to many and self-worth is sprouting up all around the globe. People are experiencing an awakening, where they are becoming more aware of their power to change their situations, their life, and not have to be oppressed any longer. Religion and spirituality were given to many of us by the church. The church passed down doctrine that restricted our beliefs and gave meaning to life. They were challenged during the Renaissance and Reformation, and this is when science truly began to take on these mysteries of the world. Doctrine, mythology and gods filled in the gaps of what we did not know about the world. As our progress in science furthered, these gaps were filled in by empirical evidence and logical science, rather than blind faith in a mythology. Over the course of the past one hundred years or so, people sought after accumulating material wealth to pass the time and provide a transient satisfaction. Now, people are truly waking up to what is going on in the world. All of these movements place great emphasis on the Mayan Calendar and what it is predicting for 2012. There are so many interpretations these days by so many prominent scientists that it truly is impossible to know exactly what is going to happen.
The aforementioned movements (there are many more besides these) are predicting a shift of consciousness rather than end of the world. They believe it will be a transitional state of frequencies and higher energies. People within these high frequencies are experiencing a number of coincidences everyday, which are thought to be synchronistic events rather than coincidences. We are living at a landmark time in the history of this planet, at a crossroads. We may reach ascension and move into a higher frequency where more is possible. More would be possible because once one has transcended their consciousness, which many religions and cultures have striven for throughout the ages, a sort of enlightenment is reached. One must stay tuned to a higher frequency, exuding love and appreciation as the vibrations from these are infectious and will spread to those around you, eventually manifesting positive auras and phenomena in the external world. This will build a sense of connection with the world around you. (2012: Time for a Change) Happiness is not a goal, but rather a state that can be attained at any given moment. The psychology of happiness and well-being states that circumstances do not determine happiness. As long as your basic needs are met such as food and water, the man who makes 30,000 dollars a year can be just as happy as the man who makes 4 million. Likewise, many Americans and now beginning to realize that material comforts and corporate success do not in any way produce lasting happiness. The happiness from these comforts is fleeting and unreliable.
As for the shift in consciousness in 2012, it is my opinion that because so many believe something grand will happen, we are all essentially manifesting it, creating it. This ascension of consciousness in the modern day paradigm shift is all about emanating love, appreciation, and respect. Not identifying trees, animals and other forms of nature as separate entities, but feeling and truly knowing that we are all nature, connected through a constantly moving exchange of energies and vibrations. Once this ever-pervading sense of love for everything has been infused into our consciousness and we become enlightened, the potential of our consciousness is limitless. If the potential of our consciousness is limitless, and quantum mechanics is correct about consciousness being the ground of all being and the unified field being at the base of absolutely everything, then all of life has unlimited potential in the spiritual, mental, and physical realms.
What the Bleep Do We Know- Documentary
The Quantum Activist- Documentary
2012:Time For A Change- Documentary
Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight- TEDTalk-
Varieties of a Religious Experience by William James
John Hagelin’s talks on consciousness-
The American Veda by Phillip Goldberg
The Bhagavad Gita
Zen Buddhist Meditation instructor in North Shore, Chattanooga
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