I’d like to offer a roadmap to realized knowledge.
I do so not as a spiritual teacher – a term I reserve for beings enlightened to the seventh-chakra.
I’m not a spiritual teacher but a writer interested in spiritual matters. On that basis….
I’ve said before that people seem to follow a gradient of knowledge. They first get the idea of something. That intellectual knowledge follows its own gradient from getting the message to actively reflecting on it.
At some point, and for various reasons, the individual’s comprehension goes beyond the point of simple understanding. They may have an “Aha!” moment and actually find themselves feeling the feelings that the idea points to, getting the “sense” of it, getting it at an experiential level.
Let’s face it. Most of us are out of touch with our feelings. That’s normal reality in our global society today, in my estimation, some societies more than others.
If we’re out of touch, our experiential knowledge is impacted. It’s less likely that we’ll rise to the gradient of experiential knowledge if we come face-to-face with it, because we wouldn’t recognize a breakthrough into it if it happened to us. Or we’d dismiss it as an inexplicable but singular event and carry on with our lives as if nothing happened.
“Well, maybe something a little weird happened … once….”
But on the awareness path, each of these milestones is appreciated for what it is and how it impacts our overall access to our Natural Self.
If it further obscures our vision or increases our tension, then maybe we should reconsider following that particular path. If it leads to increasing relaxation and love, then let’s continue on it. The development of discernment is one of the benefits of the awareness path.
On the awareness path, everything is grist for the mill. And nothing more is asked of one than simple awareness of him or herself, as they go about their daily life.
Those who were actually and consciously aware that they just broke through into the experiential realm on whatever was at issue may enter into and stay awhile in the experiential domain of knowledge. They feel how that is for a while and then the space naturally dissipates. (1) They find themselves back apparently where they were, but wiser.
What does it feel like to break through into the experiential domain? We now find ourselves suddenly knowing through our feelings. We become aware of how we feel about things, what we really want, how others feel, what we sense and intuit and take in energetically. We come alive to our bodies and our senses and get way more information than before much of it from sources we never knew existed.
How does it differ from the intellectual? Imagine the difference between eating a mouthful of dry oats and eating a mouthful of nicely-cooked porridge with maple syrup, milk, and strawberries.
There’s no aliveness to intellectual knowledge. There’s no conscious awareness. Aliveness, conscious awareness, spontaneity, joy begin to make themselves known – or become sensitive enough to feel them – at the experiential level. They only deepen after that.
The experiential domain is the door into all the other, higher spaces.
So intellectual knowledge is a beginning. But it’s poor fare. We need to use intellectual knowledge as a very useful tool – like a large and crude crowbar – but not stop with using it only and use it ever more sparingly and responsibly on the road ahead.
OK, we’ve felt into every aspect of the experience that we broke through into. We’ve made all our choices around whatever shakeup the experience caused in our otherwise comfortable lives.
We now want what’s next. We’re alive to the fact that we broke through into another domain once. We now suspect there’s more.
Of course here’s where my fantasy and speculation take over. Since I’m not an enlightened man, from here on you’ll have to allow me poetic license.
Realization is next, but realization, like love, peace, etc., itself falls along a gradient or spectrum of depth.
We can have a simple “Aha!” moment, as in “Aha! I left my keys over there.” That’s a very ordinary realization.
Or we can have an earth-shattering recognition of our true identity, such as Bayazid had:
“I went from God to God, until they cried from me in me, ‘O thou I!” (2)
Both are realizations. They fall on a spectrum, a gradient, going ever deeper. But me remembering where I left my keys is pretty small potatoes whereas Bayazid’s Self-Realization was fundamentally transformational.
The only realizations we’re probably interested in are on the deeper end of the scale. And we’ve got our scuba suits on.
If things were to work out to perfection, (3) then we’d go straight from intellectual to experiential to realized knowledge by a direct route.
But usually it’s hit and miss, snakes and ladders, tumble over top of ourselves and find ourselves there nonetheless.
But only a spiritual teacher could say for sure what’s so on that matter. In this area, I’m simply speculating.
However I do mean my statement of the relationships to represent a general roadmap, which I’m willing to bet the farm on.
It’s based on the study of the enlightenment literature. Someone undoubtedly said it before me: Intellectual knowledge –> experiential knowledge –> realized knowledge. In my view, that’s the roadmap.
(1) No experience short of Sahaja Samadhi is permanent. It may leave its traces and after-effects, but the space in its full bloom never lasts, unless the person has entered into Sahaja – the Natural State. Sahaja is moksha or liberation.
(2) Bayazid of Bistun in Aldous Huxley. The Perennial Philosophy. New York, etc.: Harper and Row, 1970; c1944, 12.
(2) The fact that the path can be messy at times is why Ramakrishna would say: Run into the lake, jump into the lake, get pushed into the lake. The important matter is to get into the lake of bliss.