(Continued from Part 4.)
Enlightenment is the Reward of all Action
We say that a Perennial Philosophy or Ageless Wisdom exists underneath all religions because we hear all the world’s religious and spiritual masters agreeing on many important matters. And one thing that all agree on is that enlightenment is the supreme goal of life and the reward of all action.
To really imagine how sublime the experience of God is that makes it the central aim of all our existences, we may wish to take a moment out to listen to how the sages describe it or its aftermath.
I remember a time when I was having spiritual experiences regularly. And each experience was so totally satisfying that it compensated for all the effort I put into pursuing the spiritual path up till that time. It erased all the pain of separation I felt and refreshed me for the next leg of the journey.
Although he was speaking of experiences much, much more profound, still I could well say with St John of the Cross that “such is the sweetness of deep delight of these touches of God that one of them is more than recompense for all the sufferings of this life, however great their number.” (1)
Zarathustra says that “the wise find bliss in all things within Thy (Majesty), O God.” (2) Julian of Norwich testifies that “to behold God in everything” brings a “fullness of joy.” (3)
Sri Krishna tells us that the realization of God “is said to be the greatest of all achievements.” (4) He adds that “the reward of all action is to found in enlightenment.” (5)
Sri Ramakrishna explains that “if you realize God, you will get everything else.” (6) The converse of this statement comes from Zarathustra who says that “he who has not yet won the soul has gained nothing.” (7)
To those who think that the realization of God must result in a flat and desireless state, Paramahansa Yogananda reminds us that “to know God is not the negation of all desires, but instead their complete fulfilment.” (8)
“By contacting God in the world and in meditation you will find all your heart’s desires fulfilled. Then you will be a true man of renunciation, for you will find that nothing is more worthwhile, more pleasant or attractive than the all-beautiful, all-satisfying, all-thirst quenching, ever-new, joyous God.” (9)
How do the sages recall their past experiences of God? Walt Whitman thanked God on bended knee for the ray of light granted him many years previously:
“Thou O God my life has lighted,
With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee,
Light rare untellable, lighting the very light,
Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages;
For that, O God, be it my latest word, here on my knees,
Old, poor, and paralyzed, I thank Thee.” (10)
If we see how deeply grateful Whitman was, then we can appreciate why the Buddha would say:
“Though one should live a hundred years,
Not seeing the Region of the Deathless,
Better were it for one to live a single day,
The Region of the Deathless seeing.” (11)
And this region of the Deathless starts with the Fifth Dimension, where we lose the need to be reborn into a physical body again.
It is this same region of the Deathless that Plotinus points to when he counsels us that “it were well to cast kingdoms aside and the domination of the entire earth and sky if, by this spurning, one might attain this vision.” (12)
Since the Fifth Dimension was known to the ancients as “Heaven,” we can see that Jesus too was talking about it and the supreme joy and pleasure of it when he said:
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (13)
Thus the wisest men and women, who say they have turned their backs on all the world has to offer do not turn their backs on the Knowledge of God or enlightenment. It remains the object of all our quests, the destination of all our seeking.
(Continued in Part 6.)
(1) St. John of the Cross in Maurice Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness. A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. New York: Dutton, 1969; c1901, 149. [Hereafter CC.]
(2) Zarathustra in CC, 205.
(3) Julian of Norwich in Brendan Doyle, ed., Meditations with Julian of Norwich. Santa Fe: Bear, 1983, 60.
(4) Sri Krishna in Sri Krishna in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 54. [Hereafter BG.].
(5) Sri Krishna in BG, 54.
(6) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 615.
(7) Zarathustra in Duncan Greenlees, trans. The Gospel of Zarathushtra. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1978, 112.
(8) Paramahansa Yogananda, The Second Coming of Christ. Dallas: Amrita Foundation, 1979-86, 1, 17. [Hereafter SCC.]
(9) Ibid., 16
(10) Walt Whitman, in old age, in CC, 233.
(11) The Buddha in Edwin A. Burtt, ed., The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha. New York and Toronto: New American Library, 1955, 46.
(12) Plotinus in Elmer O’Brien, ed., The Essential Plotinus. Representative Treatises from the Enneads. Toronto: New American Library, 1964, 41.
(13) Jesus in Matthew 13:45-6.