What is God Realization?
In the West, we do not use the term “God realization”, because to the western mind, this seems impossible. How can any of us claim to be the God who created the heavens and the Earth? But to those who have studied the religions of the East, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc., God Realization is the logical realization of the one who realizes everything is One, God is everything, and that there is no separation between me and God.
So if we believe our relationship with God is not realized“out there”, in the heavens or the clouds or wherever, then God can be found WITHIN us. And the realization of that is called God realization. This is the principle of non-duality, which says that we are all connected, and God is experienced inside of us, in our consciousness. Even in the West, there are forms of the 3 Western religions which are non-dual. In Christianity there is gnosticism and mystical Christianity, in Judaism there is the Kabbalah, and in Islam there is Sufism. These are “mystical” branches of the Western religions, and Mysticism is the experiencing of God within our consciousness.
The word GOD therefore is a very charged word in the West, and many folk are more comfortable with using words like Spirit, the Divine, divine consciousness, creator, Atman, the Universe, and even Divine love. For the purposes of this article I will use the word “God”, which to me represents all these inclusive terms.
Why should we seek God Realization?
I believe that the realization of divinity within us greatly enhances our ability to be present in the moment. As we train our minds to not dwell in the past nor dream and wish for the future, then we are absolutely present for the person who stands in front of us, needing to be heard, needing help or counsel from us. We can recognize and feel the suffering of the World, and of others, and as we are present, our compassion pours forth to the world and to those around us. Also, if we are present in this moment, then we know what we are feeling inside, and we know what we really want.
God realization also helps me to understand and escape my own suffering. I come to realize that if I am miserable, it is not because of anything “out there”, such as a job, or lack of worldly goods, or the rejection of a lover or spouse. It is my perception of my state of being that must change. Much of the suffering of the world is because we worry about things we cannot control, or we fear events coming to pass, or we regret things we have done, or we have anger or hatred against others, which causes us to hate ourselves. Our suffering is in our mind, and as we learn to let go of the constant barrage of thoughts then we can find peace and an end to our suffering. We then can learn the timeless lesson from St. John of the Cross, that our suffering can lead us to being initiated into God (realization).
We also begin to experience ourselves as infinite, as
connected to all things and all things in union with us.
This is not as spooky as it may seem.
William Blake said:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
The experience of infinity (or oneness with all) is not simply to see the redness of a rose or to marvel at a spectacular sunset, but to experience an expansiveness in our consciousness: the feeling like we are “bigger” than we thought we were. The result is that we see things that were seemingly impossible…as possible, and that our participation in the extraordinary events of life ARE possible. We also begin to see the whole world as our responsibility, not as a pressure to us, but as a challenge to affect the problems of our world by taking ownership of them. We also see that having compassion for the person in front of us is having compassion for ourselves. That is when we look back to when we learned to really love ourselves unconditionally, and we then realize that with the same love by which we love ourselves, we LOVE the world.
In the last chapter we learned that by loving ourselves we discover our authentic self. The authentic self is the self that is free from the expectations and control of others, family, cultural conditioning, and institutional expectations. It is when we finally can say, “it is OK to be me!”. It is your core where you find all those things that make you unique, and find that they are very good It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and find ways to expression, rather than what you were expected to be and do.
In the 11 steps, this is the step where Jesus is in the Temple teaching the priests, and his Mother comes back angry and looking for him. Jesus rejects her expectations and her attempts to control him when he said, “Did you not know I would be about my Father’s business?” This is His statement that it is “OK to be me”, and as with the rest of the 11 steps, Jesus patterns for us the necessity of finding freedom from our cultural and family programming so we can be who we are. This is the discovery of the authentic self. Because it is found at the very core of oneself, and because we believe that we are all connected and that God lies within, then the experience of the authentic self and God realization are one in the same.
The reason it is helpful to call this experience “God Realization” is because in the West we are raised and taught to believe in the God “out there” who can save us from Hell, and give us blessings, and answer our prayers, and help us to endure life. This false perspective dulls our consciousness and keeps us immersed in the illusion of duality. By calling the experience God realization we are saying, that we look to no one outside of ourselves for the power to live an authentic life and to meet the challenges of life with compassion and peace and joy. This is the experience!
Next: A story about this realization!