A few days ago, I said that mine was the awareness path and so I probably would not be seeing a form of God or a transcendent Light.
Rather my awareness would deepen in a transformative way.
However, I remarked, all roads lead to Home.
I’d like to expand on that remark.
Sri Ramakrishna, an avatar who lived in Calcutta in the mid-Nineteenth Century, explained that all genuine paths lead to God:
“Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, … he will surely realize Him. “(1)
God Himself, he taught, arranged the various paths to take into account our different levels of knowledge and different temperaments:
“God Himself has provided different forms of worship. He who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different stages of knowledge.
“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.” (2)
He reassured us that, if we transparently seek God, we can confidently take up a new path. We needn’t worry about offending Him through imperfect efforts:
“Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn’t God know that through it He alone is being evoked? He will be pleased with that worship.” (3)
My corollary to that view is that, just as the Divine Mother cooks different dishes for her devotees, so how they see or realize her will differ.
The reason I raised the matter was that, when my time came to see or know the Self, I experienced the space of it. Yes, my attention was arrested by the placid face of a man. But it wasn’t the face that caused the deepening of awareness. It was recognizing the space “around” him or in which he was ensconced or that was associated with him.
And the predominant characteristic of that space was peace.
If we sang devotional songs to the Mother at our altar, with a symbolic picture of her, chances are she’d grant our wish and, in a transformative way, we’d “see” her form.
If we pray to and meditate on the Sri Yantra or the Flower of Life, we may see sacred-geometrical forms, revealing great truths about the universe, perhaps.
The natural outcome of the particular spiritual practice I engage in is a deepening experience of awareness or consciousness, at some point as the basic substratum of everything and no different than love.
The experience I had and that I’m referring to here Hindus would call “spiritual awakening” and Buddhists would call “stream-entering” – an event associated with the kundalini reaching the fourth chakra.
That doesn’t mean that, after that initial revelatory experience, followers of the awareness path might not see a form of God, or the formless God, etc. I said at the time that I’d had other spiritual experiences that day, which I’d rather not talk about because they were not part of my path and I didn’t know what to make of them.
I actually still don’t feel comfortable talking about them. But the point I want to make is that, after the revelatory experience, things may happen which are not “on our path.” I found myself in circumstances which were strange and unfamiliar to me as a student of awareness.
So don’t be surprised if you have a different experience than I. Don’t let it confuse you. I assert that we get the experience that is – not the destination but – a waystation on the path we’ve been travelling.
(1) Nikhilananda, Swami, trans. Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953, 30.
(2) Nikhilananda, Swami, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 81.
(3) Ibid., 80.