Initiating Considerations On
Five Minute Life Changers
     Spiritual Realization as Identity Shift
Habits of Highly Spiritual People
excerpt from

Beyond Believing
Book 1 of The Practical Spirituality Series

by Chris Tong, Ph.D.
 
Dr. Chris Tong

1. Unlike a mere experience, a Spiritual Realization of any degree involves a fundamental and permanent shift in one's sense of reality

What is your sense of Reality right now? Odds are that, in spite of any "spiritual experiences" you may have had at one time or another in your life, the direct and tangible awareness of God or a Greater Reality is not your experience in this moment, and is not your constant or even regular experience.

If this is so, then regardless of all those meditation classes, regardless of all the spiritual reading you've done, it has not amounted to a Spiritual Realization — that is, a fundamental and permanent shift in your sense of reality, and all your conclusions about it. Every experience has its limit, because it doesn't fundamentally change the experiencer.

This is not to say that most people open to the possibility of growth don't experience some kind of shift in their sense of reality. For example, thinking of one particular friend of mine, perhaps one used to feel most people were idiots, and now one feels much more compassion for people (in part having seen one’s own liabilities, but perhaps also just because of a general increase in one’s sensitivity to one’s own suffering and the suffering of others). This is good! And it is a realization of a kind (a small "r"), if it takes the form of a permanent, positive shift in one’s relationship to others. But as good and necessary as human maturation is (and it is indeed a necessity at the beginning of genuine spiritual practice), why settle for little "r" realization alone? Big "R" Realization is available to you as well! The shift in sense of Reality that is a Big "R" Realization is profound. It is literally a shift in Identity. All the realizations associated with being merely the physical body are still little "r" realizations. But you are also Spirit (as is everything and everyone). And you are the Consciousness in which the universe is arising.

This is a very useful yardstick by which to measure our current realization, and our own life goals! Does anything we are engaging in now have the purpose of Realizing Perfect Happiness? Even close? Probably not.

The genuine Spiritual process is all about Spiritual Realizations, permanent shifts in one's sense of Reality. Such Realizations are the milestones by which one can mark one's actual progress in the process, and the process culminates in the Ultimate Realization of Most Perfect God-Realization.

It should be noted that there are profound cultural and religious taboos against God-Realization. Simply put, these stem from the misconception of God as "Creator", rather than God as "Source". In the former view, anyone who says "I Am God" is committing sacrilege, because built into the viewpoint is an unbridgeable gap between Creator and creature. Even mystics speaking of "communion with God" has been risky business throughout the course of the Great Tradition, but most of them survived that confession without torture or excommunication for heresy, and a few were even officially recognized as saints.


The truth of Christianity is Non-separateness, but It is expressed and made unavailable in a theology that necessarily has two exclusive terms: God (or the Trinity) and creature. Thus, even the mysticism of Christianity is a profession allowed to but a cloistered few, whose expressions are carefully monitored. And the mystics become doubtful to the church when they speak of non-separation from God.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

It's worth considering for a moment the common uses of the word, "realization". Two common uses are worth looking at.


uses of the word "realization":

The first use is defined by the dictionary as "bringing into concrete existence". "She realized her goal of earning a million dollars" is an example.

A second use is as a reference to a mental insight of some kind, often sudden in nature: “He suddenly realized that he had left his hat in the car.”


The sense in which we are using "Spiritual Realization" has something in common with both these senses, but also cannot be reduced to either. Spiritual Realization is very "concrete" in the sense that it is a fundamental, permanent, and tangible shift in one's sense of Reality. But unlike the "million dollar" example, what is Realized is not something that wasn't the case before; rather, like the "hat in the car" example, what is Realized was (and is) already the case. Spiritual Realization is more like awakening, like opening the eyes, than like achieving a goal.

Reality is always already the case. But "Reality Itself is no small matter!", Avatar Adi Da Samraj has quipped. And "Realizing Reality" is by no means some kind of merely mental insight, or mental shift in viewpoint, because Spiritual Reality is not merely mental. As we will see, the actual Spiritual process even requires a profound conversion of the entire body-mind, even at the physical, cellular level:

Divine Enlightenment is a literal change of the whole body. When you have acquired the human form, the literal change that must occur in the body is not really so much in your outward appearance, because you already have the necessary structure. The changes that must occur are literal psycho-physical changes, just as literal as if you were to acquire more legs and arms, except that the most dramatic changes occur in dimensions other than the shape of the body. Certainly changes occur in the flesh and the elemental structures of the body, but those changes do not really alter the body's outward shape. The changes are as literal as evolving from a dinosaur to a human being, and they are as dramatic as that, but they principally occur at more subtle levels of the physics of the conditional being. There are literal changes in the nervous system, literal changes in the chemistry of the body, literal changes in the structural functioning of the brain.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Divine Physics of Evolution

 

2. God-Realization involves a series of permanent shifts in identity until the Ultimate Divine Identity is Realized

Shankara
Shankara

The shift in Realization from the sense of reality as a God-less universe to one in which one is standing as the Divine Being is an extraordinary one. And so the Ultimate Realization is not likely to happen overnight, nor even in a single Realization. Instead, a progression of Realizations typify the Way. And at the core of these Realizations is a shift in Identity. Avatar Adi Da Samraj often refers to a particular quote by the Indian Master Shankara, because it nicely summarizes these shifts (and the change that spiritual practice undergoes as well):



 

In [the] tradition of Advaita Vedanta, there is a very interesting summary statement, associated with Shankara, of devotion to the Divine: 'From the point of view of the body, I am Your servant. From the point of view of the mind, I am a part of You, a fraction within You. From the point of view of the Self, truly, I am You. Any statement of equation with the Divine is authentic only from the "Point of View" of Ultimate Realization. Yet identified with the body, or, even more advanced, identified with the mind, subtly as Yogis are . . . from the point of view of such identification, the great statements are not true, the statement 'I am You', or, said another way, 'Thou art That', is not true. Identified with the body you are the servant of God, subordinate to the Divine. From the point of view of the mind, you are not the Divine. You are a part of the Great Unity, seeking Union with the Great Unity, or That Which is One. Therefore, previous to Ultimate Realization, the philosophy, the philosophical point of view, the presumption, must acknowledge the position you are in, acknowledge what you are identified with.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj


Thus, the growth in Realization, the increasing depth of Realization, will generally proceed through the following sequence of Realizations:


1. I am the physical body in a still, often, apparently God-less, materialistic universe, the universe of my physical senses. But I now have sufficient human maturity, and have been sufficiently Graced with the Revelation of God (through my Spiritual Master's Transmission), that I am now aware that the degree to which I am not feeling God for Real on any regular basis is not evidence that God doesn't exist. Rather it is an exact reflection of the amount of counter-egoic (even bodily) work that is required of me in order for the "vision of God" to be restored as my ordinary Realization in every moment.



2. I am the physical body, but now tangibly aware of the Divine Presence, thanks to the unrelenting Transmission of my Divinely Realized Spiritual Master. I am now rightly practicing as the 'servant' of God, conforming the body-mind to better serve as a vehicle that conducts the force and Presence of the Divine. The core of my practice is conscious absorption in You, conscious surrender of all my (otherwise unconsciously self-contracted, self-absorbed) parts — mind, body, emotion, and breath — so that they are absorbed in You. I am fulfilling what was for Hamlet only a yearning:

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew!

Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2



3. I am spirit or energy. The physical body is spirit or energy. The entire cosmos is spirit or energy. E = mC2, but I am now directly aware of the equation of matter and energy as my actual experience. I have "lived to God" long and deeply enough that a fundamental, even physical conversion has occurred in the body-mind. What I am is not fundamentally that which dies when the physical body dies; I am most primarily the "mind" (or “soul”) part of the body-mind, which survives the death of the more superficial "body" part. Thus I have been set free of my mortal fear. I am now directly aware that "I am a part of You", and what I used to have to even muscularly feel through to You, my physicality, has now been transformed to become as if transparent (to feeling). My practice continues to be absorption in You through contemplation of You in the form of my Spiritual Master, but it is now easier and more profound.



4. I am Consciousness. Even “soul” is understood to be a limit — like the physical body, it too is not immortal, but rather, a passing thing. The entire body-mind complex, body and soul, has been brought into a profound equilibrium through steady, prolonged absorption in You, and the moment Gracefully occurs when the self-contraction is relaxed even beyond any identification with the body-mind. I suddenly discover: "I am You". What I am, most primally, is neither matter nor energy, but simply Consciousness Itself. You are my True Self, only appearing in the apparent human and Spiritual guise of my Master for the sake of bringing about this Realization of Identification with You. My practice has shifted from communion with and absorption in You, to Identification with You. Even so, there still appears to be a "difference" between Consciousness and the universe of arising phenomena.



5. There Is Only God. The Great and Ultimate Realization, Divine Enlightenment, has occurred. I have completely Awakened. I am Consciousness, but there is not the slightest difference between Me and anything. All beings and worlds are arising in Me. Everything is directly tacitly recognizable as a modification of My Own Consciousness. I am Perfectly Eternally Free. I am Perfectly Eternally Happy. Paradoxically, I may still be associated with My human body for the span of its years, and thus may serve as an Instrument of Realization for all beings who still suffer the illusion and activity of separateness, effortlessly and continuously transmitting this Revelation of God to all other beings.

This excerpt is taken from Book 1 of The Practical Spirituality Series.
For more information about this series, click here.

Also visit the Beyond Believing website. More Articles

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