Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed….I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. But this cannot be seen, only believed and “understood” by a peculiar gift.Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written is us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billion points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely….I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere(Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander p158)
How does one reach the state of consciousness that is commonly called “enlightenment?” You don’t often see a really good answer to that question. Either it is very vague, giving you little guidance, or it is steeped in layers of tradition, and requires navigating your way through a very complex path. So I was pleased to read in David Hawkins’ book, I – Reality and Subjectivity – a relatively simple and straightforward approach to enlightenment, as he describes his own journey. The steps are:
1. An intense desire to reach this state of consciousness.
2. Develop constant universal compassion – cultivating acceptance, forgiveness and gentleness to absolutely everything and everyone without exception.
3. Surrender the personal will to God (the Self). Each thought, feeling, desire or deed is surrendered completely to the Divine will, the mind grows increasingly silent. At first, individual thoughts and feelings vanish, then entire concepts and ideas. Finally, one is able to surrender the very energy of thinking before thoughts arise.
4. Focus intently on each present moment, not allowing extraneous thoughts of the past or future to enter. Make intense focus on the present task in the present moment a constant meditation. At first this is quite difficult and requires a lot of energy. Gradually it becomes habitual.
At that point, interesting things start to happen. As Hawkins describes it:
Suddenly, without warning, a shift in awareness occurred and the Presence totally prevailed, unmistakable and all encompassing. There were a few moments of intense apprehension as the self died, and then the absoluteness of the Presence inspired a flash of awe. This breakthrough was spectacular and more intense than anything before. It had no counterpart in ordinary experience. The profound shock was cushioned by the love that is the Presence. Without the support and protection of that love, it seems that one would be annihilated.
There followed a moment of terror as the ego clung to its existence, fearing it would become nothingness. Instead as it died, it was replaced by the Self as Everythingness, the All in which everything was known and obvious in its perfect expression of its own essence.
Hawkins book goes own to elaborate on this process and how to achieve it. I’ll work on a review of the book when I’ve finished it. Hawkins claims that simply reading the book raises one’s level of consciousness, and I tend to believe him, based on my experience with reading it so far.