There is only one ‘reality’ which has no cause and that is the ‘eternal now’, the timeless Absolute (see also my article mentioned in the first paragraph).
Although the understanding of the Absolute lies beyond our mind, experiencing the Absolute is possible. For thousands of years all kinds of mystics, saints or seers have witnessed of an absolute, unchanging primal cause of life. Whether this primal cause was pointed at as God, Allah, Brahman, Nirvana or another religious concept, all names refer to the same, unnamable, absolute, primal cause of life (if not, it cannot be the first cause).
Our ‘relationship’ with the primal cause can be made clear as follows: whatever object we see, we see its form but actually it is the material from which it has been made (a jewel is gold, a table wood, a shirt cotton etc.). Likewise all living creatures are ‘made from’ the Absolute, although our normal consciousness is only aware of the form and not of the formless Absolute itself.
The message of the seers from all times in this context is: ‘in becoming aware of what you really are your mind finds peace and fulfillment’.
That is the happiness of non-duality that all people are looking for, that is what life makes worth living and that is also in which our ethical consciousness is rooted.
In what way can people come to the realization of their oneness with the Absolute
Through the ages developed a huge ‘road map’ with information on how we should live to become more religious, spiritual or even enlightened.
Since ‘becoming aware of what we really are’ is our goal, direct self-enquiry seems the most obvious (as thought by the sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, 1879 – 1950). However, for most of us our life is too restless to accomplish this road (as demonstrated by ‘travelers’ who claim that there is ‘nothing to be found’).
Although everyone basically has to find his own way, I think that it is possible to map out a general ‘GPS’ road system against which all individual paths can be tested.
Please consider the following four stages. In my opinion these can be valuable to you for the rest of your life.
1. Exploring Reality
As I said before: all evil (‘sin’) comes from man´s egoism. When we want to grow spiritually we should contemplate questions like: How is life meant to be? How should we live together? How should we treat our planet?
The challenge is to dive deep into your mind and to become aware of those aspects of your life where your self interest is contrary to the spiritual laws which sustain life. What is meant by ‘spiritual laws which sustain life’ is up to you to discover (if needed, see my book Initiation into Reality).
Raising your children as good as you can is in harmony with these laws, to cheat other people isn´t.
Turning away from people in need is not, commitment to socially responsible entrepreneurship is.
Accepting natural death as a fact of life is, violence in the name of God is not. And so on…
The meaning of ‘Exploring Reality’ is therefore: find out in what way you should change your life to be able to live in harmony with the life sustaining primal cause (Reality) as much as possible.
The ancient sages of India called this: adapting to Dharma (Sanskrit: Dhr means to sustain, Ma means primal cause).
2. Living by Reality
Thinking right and doing right are not always the same. When you start to understand the spiritual laws which sustain life (eternity sustaining temporality by love, strength, awareness and spirituality), you should start to seriously apply these laws in your life.
This means ending living from the ego (unconsciously following everything that comes into your mind) and doing ‘what is right’ as much as possible.
Not for a day or for a week, but hopefully you will gradually succeed to stick to what is right (living by Reality) for the rest of your life. Or: to make your Karma (Sanskrit: making your actions Kar, in harmony with Ma, the primal cause).
3. Surrender to Reality
In the beginning the transformation from living by the ego to living by what is right may look difficult. So many ‘egos’ all around and nobody seems to care about how life is meant to be. At this stage of spiritual growth a form of meditation should be added. In general it is sufficient to keep a daily half-hour just for yourself (yes, every day). I cannot give a meditation course here, but the point is that your daily ‘going to yourself’ gradually brings you to surrendering to …..(your assumed Reality).
You`ll come to realize that you don´t have to carry the load of your ego all by yourself, but that you are part of an infinite ‘presence’ that supports you.
Or: you will develop Bhakti (Sanskrit: Bhaj is to partake in, leading to love, surrender and devotion to…..).
4. Realizing Reality
Daily meditation will calm down your mind gradually. You will realize that with ‘ego’ not the sense of ‘I’ is meant, but that ego is the ‘cloud of thoughts’ that covers the brightness of your ‘inner sun of Self behind that cloud’.
If you’ve come this far, the road is clear. You will train yourself to be Self-aware as much as possible.
One day this will lead to the gracious realization that your Self and the infinite (Absolute) to which you surrendered yourself are one.
This is the realization of Reality which is meant in Advaita, non-duality.
The meaning of religion
Although the term religion refers to ‘re-connect’ (Latin re-ligare, like Sanskrit Yoga, to join, to yoke), long ago the dualistic religions (Christianity and Islam) made religion something one has to believe in.
This dis-connection from the Absolute (Reality) is of an ‘importance beyond our comprehension’, as said before. It has resulted in world wars, terror, abuse of our planet etc. (by complete loss of knowledge of non-duality).
The most important thing that matters in religion should be: how can I come to understand life and my place in it?
In experiencing the right answers (such as: life is an expression of the Absolute and becoming my Self gives peace of mind, happiness) people find wisdom and the possibility to express the Absolute in the world (or in symbolic, religious terms: to live in accordance with the will of God).
Obviously religion does not give the right, understandable answers anymore. It is not belief (hope) that we need, it is understanding that we highly need.
In my book ‘Initiation into Reality’ I made some suggestions for each of the great world religions on how they could make their ‘inner treasures’ more accessible to people of our time (see Epilogue).
Obviously I have no illusions that my suggestions will ‘change the world’, but what I do know is that if (western) religion is not able to integrate true spirituality in their message, it will fade out eventually.
In my opinion it is very sad that religion seems to have lost the knowledge about ‘God’.
On the other hand, we see that spirituality is developing more and more outside the religious institutions.
How re-ligious (uniting) is this spirituality actually? Hard to say, but fortunately the spiritual quest is still relevant. Could it be possible that one day religion and spirituality will merge?
I hope this will be the case, not in the last place because of the world religions´ ‘infrastructure’ (as a means to spread the redeeming message of non-duality).
In relation to this I would make an urgent appeal to all spiritual people:
Please contemplate the ancient message of non-duality and see how you can serve ‘that which sustains life…..’