Recognizing the Radiance


 What I care about most is a certain inner event, a stirring in the soul - which might also be described as a certain action of knowing. (Pictured above is someone not quite there)

 Words will fail to describe it, but it has something to do with the awakening of a particular and powerful yearning, or longing for being, but it’s more than that. It’s always more, always more...

 Somehow, too, there is a satisfaction in that longing that compares to nothing else. And, it's more than that.

 In such a state, there is the feeling that nothing remains to search for, for you are in the truth, in the beauty, in the goodness - you are in what you’ve been searching and longing for - absorbed in it.

 One has become, by the experience, undone, and yet at the same time completed. It is most strange.

 I was twenty years old when, in a Christian context, a surge of energy flattened me. A rush of heat took me out of my ordinary world into an extraordinary one - into some kind of other, or deeper realm. 

 Was I out there somewhere, that is, beside myself, or was I, in here, that is, inside myself?

 Was I in a transcendent dimension, or an immanent one?  The sense was actually of being in a level of unity deeper than out or in - a state of nowhere, in a sense, and yet experiencing some kind of domain of wonder and joy.  A phrase like ‘pure being comes to mind.

 The experience has been my reference point ever since as to what is really real. The real is what happened that day. The unreal is everything else.

 When I sense that awakened force at play in others there is, I’ve noticed, a certain radiance that comes shining through them. It’s the most attractive force in the world.

 I recognize that radiance shining through in someone who has been similarly smitten or blessedly afflicted at the core of his being. He has somehow come into contact with that force which took me to the ground. 

 One hopes that such a radiant one will stay with her experience. Alas, many do not. That experience gets traded for something less, and I’ve never understood why.

 William Temple referred to the experience of this splendour as when the mind recognizes itself and is satisfied.” (quoted by Robert Earl Cushman, in TherapeiaPlato’s Conception of Philosophy, p. 180)

 What is the mind recognizing? It is, I think, sensing a deep affinity with the Ultimate.

 Which is, to express it in other words, that there are moments when one’s mind feels so close to its ground or support, so bathed and saturated by a penetrating, illuminating, energizing, force, that it feels itself to be in the heart of Reality. 

 Swami Shantananda, for instance, writes of a felt power and a presence in an experience that turned his life around.  “I could feel it move to the base of my spine and proceed, gently, up the spine until it reached the top of my head.” (Swami Shantananda, The Splendor of Recognition, p. 10)

 This former university Professor, now a Siddha Yoga monk, describes how the enlightening energy wrapped itself tenderly around his mind and then “put it to the side.”  “I became,” he says, “totally serene.”

 Not a few of us might wish, at least for several moments, for our restless minds to be set aside in order for a finer, liberating energy to come streaming through.  As someone said to me: 'I’d like to break through to something. Existence as it is, is a little hard to take.'

 It might be said, as I find another way of expressing this, that there is a reference here to the actualizating of a certain capacity

 This is a capacity that all of us have, but perhaps rarely recognize. 

 Thus the capability is there, but is buried or dormant, covered over, or, as Daniel N. Robinson says, lost in the hurly-burly, in the flotsam and distraction of daily perceptual, sensory, sensual life.” (Daniel N. Robinson, The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, Lectures 1-30 p. 124)

 To become re-acquainted with that lost power, or indeed, ever to encounter it, is to come into your own in all the fullness of your integrity, into a state of unified consciousness called samadhi

 This is that state "in which your intellect, your mind, your subconscious mind, your heart and the ego have all come to terms with themselves."

 "They all know what they are doing. It isn’t that the heart wants one thing, the mind wants something else, and the intellect wants to do yet another thing. All these instruments, all these elements, are in agreement so there is supreme joy, the ecstatic experience; there is harmony." (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, quoted by Swami Shantananda, The Splendor of Recognition, p. 341)

 Samadhi, the integration of our separate parts into a state of unified consciousness, is what, I think, we are all looking for, but typically, as the song says, we’re 'looking for love in all the wrong places.'

 It may be that we continue to find on a daily basis all kinds of  ways of avoiding contact with this higher part of ourselves, and thus, in such an unrealized state, display perhaps either a zombie-like numbness, or appear to be almost continually torn apart by inner conflicts of one kind or another.  

 Thus the impression we make is of being only half there, half baked or half alive. 

 And thus over the years, not having ever really addressed that limited condition, we become less and less a flourishing possibility, just as how it is, for instance, that a white fence doesn’t become whiter by being left alone. 

 The fence needs a good paint job and everyday awareness, which Colin Wilson described as a state of depression, needs likewise to vivified and elevated by an eruption of the great radiance.

 Therefore since what I care about most is to recognize this radiance, my predilection is continually to be on the look-out for its possible occurrence. My way on the planet is to try to elevate conversations towards this depth, this orientation. 

 I almost always fail, but still keep trying. I fall down over and over, but always, so far anyway, get up, brush myself off, and try again with someone else, somewhere else.

 I am forever attempting to get past the games that people play as they, as it seems to me, constantly subvert each other by their jocular modes of being. 

 My observation, for what it’s worth, is that many carry on with each other in such a way so as to ensure that each other’s souls will never appear. Thus, many things do appear in most social contexts, but not the radiance I’m writing about.

 A soul might show up momentarily, but be gone in the next, and not even missed by anyone, because the gathered crowd is united in being somewhere else. Conversations that move towards the domain of the soul are but a distant possibility in most contexts.

 But then, late at night, as I have heard from countless numbers of people - after an evening of burying one’s soul in concert with other lost souls, there is only emptiness and dissatisfaction. 

 And yet, lo and behold, it’s the same thing again next Saturday night. Off everyone goes, along with the same kind of non-inquiring, non-listening , uncomprehending crowd of friends. Then, just like the week before, there is the late night angst and, in the morning, more blue funk.

 Eventually one hears about affairs and divorces.

 I want to exclaim, though gently, to one and all that “there is a dynamic force inside you. When it is awakened, all the senses are purified, and great joy courses through the veins of your body. Everything becomes beautiful. Your speech changes. Your thinking becomes sublime. Your inner and outer worlds become one. Everything is perfect.”

  "And you say, “Oh, really?" (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Kindle My Heart, Volume 1, page 84)  

 That’s how it goes. “Oh, really?” and the conversation is over. But not always!

 Sometimes, if one’s yearning for the Divine radiance has become strong enough, it might be one’s great, good fortune, to come in contact with someone through whom the radiance is shining.

 Such a one for me as been the philosopher, Jacob Needleman, through his writings and through two brief encounters. 

 Someone interviewing him felt as I have felt. This is how it went. Says David Ulrich about his interview with Professor Jacob Needleman:

 "What struck me immediately was his silence and presence, an expansive silence that I felt in contrast to my restless energies."

 "With the first question, he listened, really listened, and maintained a period of quiet, going into himself to find an answer. There were moments of deep silence as he collected his thoughts, and I literally attempted to collect my fragmented energies. I could see myself with heightened clarity due to his inner attention." 

 "I saw and felt an image of myself as a racehorse, wanting to proceed, to get on to the next question and answer. Thanks to his silence, something quieted down in me, leading to a growing presence of mind and feeling on my part.” (David Ulrich, The Slendor Thread

 The splendour of the Divine radiance will be our experience if that is our desire. Everything depends on the intensity of our longing. Until then, upon hearing of its possibility, one may well shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh really?"