Every sense, every divine quality, and every stage of evolution is or has a path. As Sri Ramakrishna said:
“God Himself has provided different forms of worship. … The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children. Suppose she has five children. If there is a fish to cook, she prepares different dishes from it — pilau, pickled fish, fried fish, and so on — to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion.” (1)
God has designed all the paths. Many paths exist but have only one destination and it isn’t hard to imagine what that is.
The path of devotion or bhakti yoga is available to those who wish to experience love; compassion, the path of service or karma yoga; awareness, the paths of Zen, Vipassana, Vedanta, human growth, etc. Emergence is suitable for those who wish to explore the divine quality of will.
In the case of many other disciplines or paths, a degree of satisfaction has to wait until long practice has occurred. But emergence gives us a taste of the goal early on.
We can will ourselves to come forth. We can presence ourselves, as Werner Erhard used to say. We can call ourselves forth or take a stand, and all of us do this at one time or another. Most movies, and probably any of the great heroic epics of Mel Gibson, Charlton Heston, and similar stars, are about emergence as are many historical tales such as The Diary of Anne Frank or Joan of Arc, etc.
If forty percent of narratives are about “boy meets girl,” another forty percent, I would estimate, are about emergence. The person in the crowd who stands up to dictatorship, the captive soldier who will not be cowed, the woman who faces her assailant – we think of these as high moments, moments of great dramatic impact, or defining moments in our life.
When we watch a movie about emergence, we usually say we’re stirred, roused, inspired. When we get in touch with our own ability to call our higher self forth, what results is definitely inspiring. Most people don’t know that this capability exists until an emergency strikes. An emergency for most is the only time they emerge. But it needn’t be.
To “call oneself forth” is a spiritual operation. It’s isn’t as if one takes hold of something with one’s hands. It isn’t as if one follows steps as in making something. Just as it might be difficult to say how one learns to ride a bicycle, so it would also be difficult to say how one “calls oneself forth.” But once one has done it, it becomes easier and easier to do it again.
I emerged once at a meditation retreat. The Self that came forth I still have only been able to find one word for and that is “regal.” Noble, even-tempered, immoveable – and then within an hour it was gone. But I was struck by that emergence and I carried a wee bit of it with me back into this domain of the Third Dimension.
When we emerge and see who we are, if even for a brief moment, it leaves an impression on us. Because the higher dimensional Self that we all are – we all have higher dimensions to our being – is uniformly regal and noble. It’s well worth making our acquaintance with.
We commonly think that there isn’t anything we can do about a social situation or that a single person is not powerful. But those beliefs fly out the window when a moment of emergence comes. For me, anyways, it isn’t about what I’m able to do or not do. It is about who and what I am. And in the moments that I emerge, as during the moments when you do, I am in touch with my own magnificence. I am enough. I am not lacking. I am complete.
Emergence puts me in touch with my own magnificence. I am in love with it just unto itself, never mind wherever it may take me. The same Self that I am, everybody is, and so it could be said that the Self is magnificent. Everyone’s Self is magnificent. And an instance of emergence is the moment when I get to experience it, savor it, and remember it.
To emerge together is a heavenly experience. I’ve only had it a few times in my life, usually in a situation of heightened concern or importance.
Every path has its pitfalls. The pitfall of the path of emergence is swaggering, arrogance, domination. But the more we travel this path, the more we’re able to emerge and yet remain aware of these pitfalls and avoid them, remaining relaxed and open. And the more we emerge, the less we want to stay suppressed, insular, and hidden away.
A moment of emergence is a mini-satori for me, more addictive than anything I can think of. Perhaps it’s meant to be that way because people who are emerged like Gandhi, Joan of Arc, or countless other saints and sages almost universally say that they wish only to experience the state itself and to use it in service to others. And what is that service aimed at? That others may emerge as well.
(1) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 81.