It is fogged and the sea is black. Large stinking rip curls give off brown foam. Dead kelp is strewn across the beach in patches, and tiny flies cloud the rot. The gulls are swarming; they nosedive for fish; it is a feast beyond the break. An ominous fin slices through the sloshing stink.
This world is not for worrying… worrying has no place here… do not worry…
What is that feeling? It is a peace that defies understanding, a wonder that shines through a horror, a ray of God’s Awareness dawning on this world of rot and fog. Standing before a dark, destructive sea, I cross into a realm where everything is and always will be ok.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle writes that when God’s Awareness comes into our life, “the whole world seems like waves or ripples on the surface of a vast and deep ocean.” What I mistook to be the world was just a play upon the surface of a bottomless Awareness. “You are also a ripple,” he continues, “but a ripple that has realized its true identity as the ocean, and compared to that vastness and depth, the world of waves and ripples is not all that important.”
The face of the world, its concrete drama, its waves and ripples, is something dreamlike to God, a flickering play at the edge of His Awareness. The ripples come and go; they aren’t important in themselves; they are expressions of the ocean, the depth we trace upon, the Consciousness of God, which at once might be our own if it weren’t obscured by the sea foam at the break. Living only at the edge of this ocean of Awareness, when stormy waters come we are roiled to despair, as if reality itself were in an uproar.
But sometimes, on the crest of a wave that crashes and explodes, I sense the ocean that abides underneath my scattered life. I feel the swell – infinite in power – as the source of who I am, a Presence which survives the broken picture of my self. When this occurs, though still on earth, I cross into another realm. I escape from God’s Subconscious to enter what’s been called the Kingdom or Nirvana, the sea of God’s Awareness that upholds our rippling world.
When I am Here, I know that there is nothing left for me to do, no other place for me to go, I must at all costs dwell in this eternal home. Yet in time, God’s Awareness fades into the background of my life, I rise again onto the storming surface of the world and lose myself in worry in its tumult. I can’t seem to commit myself to the realm where everything is ok. There is a realm where things are not ok, and I am so caught up in it that I am helplessly entangled. God’s oceanic Presence is a phantom at the bottom of my life. His depth and vastness haunt me as the latent underside of my own being.
Paramhansa Yogananda, who traveled to America in 1920 and wrote the pioneering Autobiography of a Yogi, said about the aftermath of one early spiritual experience: “Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstasy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God.” Despite my constant fading in and out of God’s Awareness, what endures is a legacy of inspiration to seek God. He went on to write that God’s Awareness “comes with a natural inevitability to the sincere devotee. His intense craving begins to pull at God with an irresistible force. The Lord… is drawn by the seeker’s magnetic ardor into his range of consciousness.”
To dwell in God’s Awareness, each moment of each day, is like learning to breathe water instead of air. It is a change of state that is actually possible to achieve, but the one essential thing is to know that our life stands for God alone. Only when all our particular hopes for life are seen as mere disguises for the everlasting dream to remember and express the vast ocean that we are, when God’s Awareness is the only goal and other goals are only partial symbols for the one, only when we finally lay our burden down, releasing our attachment to the trial of this shallow life, only through the power of surrender will God’s Awareness start to dawn upon the world, and only then, though still on earth, will we cross into another realm where everything’s ok.
Nick Astraeus received his M.A. in theology from Union Theological Seminary. He is a freelance writer. You can reach him for queries at Nick.Astraeus@gmail.com.