His disciples asked,
”On which day will peace for the dead come about?
When will a new world come?”
”What you desire has already come,
but you don’t realize it.”
– The Gospel of Thomas
From the moment I first stepped into a church, a Catholic one, my five year old mind was immediately, irresistibly drawn to the ceremonies, and the sensations, produced by the Mass. The solemn, somewhat intimidating rituals didn’t repel me as they did, and do, others of different sensibilities. I came into this world ready to receive and follow, and the Mass, my first conscious engagement with the world of following, provided the structure, ceremony, and compelling mystery to lure my mystic soul that already had conscious mystical experiences prior to setting foot in a church.
Of those experiences I call mystical, I had them before religion entered my consciousness and as well within the different religious realms into which I would immerse myself in my lifelong spiritual quest for truth-of-being. Through the learning and the un-learning in various thought-schools, congregations, and communities, I’ve come to understand that the mystical experience – the conscious, though mysterious, experience and resulting awareness of the Divine in you, through you, as you, in all, through all, as all – is not generated from without but from within and is not exclusive to any specific context, system, or identity. It doesn’t matter where you, who your are, or what religion you identify with, Divine consciousness, the consciousness of the unity of all things seen and unseen, is possible and available to all, though few choose to exercise or experience it.
The religious among us, raised in religion and/or shaped by it, are programmed with a concept and image of the Divine, an image not just of form but of thought and word and feeling and function. And if we don’t conform our way of being and operating to this image projected onto the screen of our consciousness, we, by rote and by reflex, recall the coda, its letter more than its spirit, that we have learned by which we self-govern and through which we get back into conformity, obedience. If you do it well enough you are counted among the righteous. Don’t conform and you are marked with the scarlet letter of disobedience, rebelliousness, even heresy – all marks worn, by the way, by the true and faithful who follow an unruly conscience.
We are conditioned to be passive in life, to receive what is given and not take what’s available, except in the realms of material gain and plays at power imperialist expansion where ambition rules. Otherwise, we wait with open hand to see what life offers. In religion, we sit, listen, follow, and then pray and hope for an experience of glory with the god being publicized. The desire to be close to god, to be at one with god, as publicized by the church, became my chief preoccupation in childhood and my first expressed aspiration – ‘I want to be a priest when I grow up’. It was merely the first of a number of
It was this desire, chief among all of my desires – TO BE ONE WITH CREATOR – that would shape and navigate every other aspect and unfolding of my life, even those choices I would make that, on the surface at least, would seem to go against this desire. They didn’t.
And then it happened, or they happened: experiences – mysterious and, some, ineffable – that I had no way of putting into context in the terms I came to understood as the content of the truth I came to believe in the church teachings.
In the church there was always the promise of a coming, an arriving, a fulfilling, all future, none of it here and now. But through my mystical experiences I learned there was no coming – I AM here, all is here; no arriving for I had arrived, all had arrived; and no fulfilling as all was fulfilled. In other words, mystical experiences gave me momentary glimpses beyond the veil of time of an ever-present reality hidden to the five senses and to the ego that can only perceive by these five. An ever-present reality of unity underlying the illusion of duality, separation, and the egocentric world-view that gives rise to the illusion punched through the nebula of my beliefs with piercing clarity, to introduce my Self (eternal) to my self (ego). A reality wherein all possibilities exist at once, as one, and expressing as this one called Sariyd. I was born again…and again…and again…birthed by the single, continual birth of all things seen and unseen, perpetual and without pause, by the unifying creative impulse that produces infinite variety in the innumerable expressions that emerge from its cosmic womb.
In the religious world you seek God; in the mystic world you experience God.
In the religious world you worship God; in the mystic world you express God.
In the religious world you sit; in the mystic world you stand.
You are the expression of the originating creative urge that births all in existence, seen and unseen. Each breath you take originates in this One Life. You are Unity expressing as you. The mystic experience offers you the experience that will seal your consciousness with this truth and way of being.