Written by Steve Beckow
Again, in honor of Sri Shankara, who recently appeared on An Hour with an Angel, I’d like to give a second cut at a statement of the perennial philosophy, written originally many years ago now.
Last revised: 22 July 2011
Spiritual Evolution: The Divine Plan for Life
1. Every man, woman, and child on this planet is God. Every man, woman, and child lives forever, through countless physical lives.
Everything known and unknown, everything that is and is not is God. There is nothing that we can see or not see that is not Him (Her, It – God has no gender. I’ll follow the conventional use of sages here and refer to God as a “He”). That being the case you are God and I am God and everyone else is as well. Being God, we’re not capable of being destroyed or ceasing to exist. We’re therefore eternal, though our physical bodies are not.
The “immortality” that such teachers as Jesus spoke of is not immortality of the soul, which is already immortal, but the cessation of the need to be born into a physical body again. As it happens we reincarnate endless times until we reach the point of needing no more to be reborn physically. But that is not the end of spiritual evolution, which continues until we return to God, whence we came, through a virtually endless process of successive enlightenments.
Spiritual evolution means that, not simply the physical body evolves as Darwin said it does, but the spiritual bodies that we also inhabit do as well. We journey through lifetime after lifetime, learning , discriminating, improving our ability to discern the Real from the unreal, until finally we realize the One fully. We have then progressed from unconscious awareness to conscious awareness of our nature as God.
2. The purpose of life is enlightenment. The purpose of life is that God should meet God and, in that meeting, taste His own bliss. For that purpose was all of life made.
God is One without a second. In His highest expression, God is formless and thus encounters no forms and can draw on no tools or technologies. God is alone in the universe of form and beyond. There being no other, there is no one to know God and no means for God to know God. In light of this, to satisfy a desire to know Himself and taste His own bliss, God created life forms and assigned them the task of knowing their true nature, their original identity.
He implanted in them a longing that can only be satisfied by the realization of their identity as God. He created universal laws that aid the individual being in the journey from God into the world and from the world back to God again. Each time a life form realizes its true identity as God, God meets God, and for this meeting was all of life created.
3. All of us have journeyed out from God, by His command, and will be liberated from the cycle of physical birth and death the moment we know that everything in this world, including us, is God. Hindu sages call this level of enlightenment vijnana (perfect wisdom) and sahaja (or natural, permanent) nirvikalpa samadhi.
When all movement in the mind stops, when the spiritual heart (or hridayam) opens and never shuts again, the individual being realizes God in sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi, the stage of liberation from the need to be physically reborn (or mukti). This level has been called vijnana (or perfect wisdom) by some and nirvana (or cessation of movement). But spiritual evolution does not cease here. Only the need to be reborn in this Third Dimension stops. Orders of existence stretch on in an endless vista, through dimension after dimension, universe after universe.
4. The Father created the domain of the Mother (mater, matter) as the setting for our spiritual journey and education. We wander in this material realm lifetime after lifetime, constantly learning.
The first creations in life were what Christians call the Holy Spirit and the Christ or Son and what Hindus call the Divine Mother or Shakti and the Atman. The first is a primal universal creative vibration known as Aum/Amen, the Logos or Word. Known to Solomon as “Wisdom” or Sophia, to Lao-Tzu as the Mother, this level of reality is the Phenomenal world whereas the Father or Brahman is the Formless Transcendental, beyond the Phenomenal world.
The Christ or Atman is “the Father in me” or “Brahman-within-the-individual,” a “fragment” or “spark,” metaphorically speaking, lodged within the body (or bodies), which are created by the Mother. One cannot know the Father without first knowing the Son in a moment of enlightenment. This first sight of the Light grows, with meditation, till one day it becomes the sight of the Father’s Light. The Son is the Father but the Father is greater than the Son. The Father is in me (in the heart of the individual) and I am in the Father (as are all things).
Neither is the Father male nor the Mother female. These designations were conventional teaching devices used by sages of old. There is no cosmic male, strictly speaking, and no cosmic female. The difference being pointed at is the same as the difference between movement (Mother) and rest (Father), sound and silence. Only the Father is not physical or material; everything else, no matter at how sublime or refined a level it exists, can be said to be physical or material when compared to the Father.
5. The Father made the material domain lawful. The most important law for us to know is the Law of Karma, which requires that what we do unto others shall be done unto us.
The material domain is the only domain in which law applies. Law does not apply to the Maker of the law, although He may submit to be governed by the law as in the case of an Avatar. The Mother is the “Voice crying in the Wilderness,” the sound of Aum/Amen echoing throughout the Phenomenal domain as the music of the spheres, which creates, preserves, and transforms all things. The Father is the Wilderness in that no law can bind Him.
The most important law for us to attend to as Third-Dimensional beings is the Law of Karma. The Law of Karma is like guardrails which prevent a vehicle from leaving the road. It keeps the individual soul from going too far to the left or right and ensures that the individual keeps moving forward towards the destined return of the Prodigal Child to God, once it tires of all experiences in the material world.
6. The form of our total journey is a sacred arc, like Jacob’s Ladder, away from and back to God. But, day by day, we also follow a spiritual spiral, returning to the same karmic lessons repeatedly until we learn them.
As Jesus said, we come out from the Father into the world, remain for a while, and then return to the Father in what can be conceived of as an arc. When I had my vision of the purpose of life, in 1987, the form of the individual’s journey out from God and back to God again formed a wide arc or circle.
Nonetheless, the Law of Karma ensures that we return to the same lessons again and again until at last we learn them and this return through successive lifetimes can be seen as a spiral. Thus the shape of life, if you will, can be visualized as a spiraling arc or circular coil. This virtually endless journey is depicted in many religions as a ladder of consciousness or a stairway of existence which we travel down and then up.
7. From one day to the next, we may expand or contract, but all the while we are cosmically drawn back to Him by a sub-sensible, eternal longing, planted there by Him, for Him: a longing for liberation (for more on this, see “The Longing for Liberation”).
The longing for liberation is just one of the design elements built or hardwired into life forms. Most people, experiencing this subsensible tidal yearning, try to fill it with possessions, experiences, relationships, and so on. But God so designed life that nothing will satisfy it except the return to God. We go through life endlessly acquiring, enjoying and casting aside, ever unsatisfied, in an endless cycle of desire. This develops discrimination in us. Gradually we are made aware that nothing but God will satisfy our ineffable thirst and hunger. Then we develop detachment. At that point we cease to be prodigal children and begin our return to the Father, who welcomes us with open arms.
This longing then acts as a homing beacon or magnet on all life forms, no matter how exalted, drawing them ever onwards until they merge again with God. Hence the love in the eyes of saints towards God and the deep devotion of exalted beings, in whom the longing for liberation acts more strongly than in us.
8. In the cosmic Drama, there are three Actors we must realize: God the Father, God the Mother, and God the Child. These are the Transcendental, the Phenomenal, and the Transcendental in the Phenomenal. Christians call them (note the change in order) the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Hindus call them Brahman, Atman, and Shakti. The Formless became two Forms. The One made trillions of forms through the agency of the Two and then mysteriously entered into them. We are required to know that Trinity.
The “Holy Persons” are not persons, but levels of reality. They can be described as the Transcendental, the Phenomenal, and the Transcendental in the Phenomenal. We are the Transcendental in the Phenomenal, sparks of divinity who reside in the womb of the Mother until our divine birth. The Mother educates her children in the school of life until they are ready to be brought to meet the Father.
All religions have a conception of this Holy Trinity, though it may take some digging to correlate terms. We “know” the three levels in successively-higher experiences of enlightenment. We know the Son, Christ, or Atman in the experience of “stream entering” or “spiritual awakening” when the kundalini reaches the fourth or heart chakra.
We know the Mother in an experience of savikalpa samadhi or cosmic consciousness when the kundalini reaches the sixth or brow chakra (and the Third eye opens).
We know the Father first in an experience of kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi when the kundalini reaches the seventh or crown chakra and permanently in an experience of sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi when the energy reaches the spiritual heart or hridayam.
The Christ or Atman is often called the “Self,” which leads us to say that we cannot know God until we become knowers of the Self. Translated that means we cannot have the experience of seventh-chakra enlightenment until we have the experience of fourth-chakra enlightenment. Therefore know Thyself. Meditate on the Self that is known and it will become the knowledge of God. All of Jesus’s parables about the treasure buried in a field, the pearl of great price, the mustard seed, and the measure of meal concern this journey of enlightenment.
Knowledge of these three levels of Reality is required of all beings before they graduate from humannness.. Their knowledge represents a progressive accomplishment. There is not simply one enlightenment or one level of enlightenment, but many. And beyond humannness there are also many further gradations of life.
9. Everyone will reach Him – some in the morning; some in the afternoon; and some in the evening. Experiences will vary, but all will eventually know God.
No one will fail to return to God. Even the very small number who choose such evil that they are liquidated can be said to return to God. For all the rest, they journey at varying speeds to enlightenment. I’m led to believe that God does not worry about the time it takes us to return. There is no dishonor at taking more time than our neighbor. Moreover, different beings are created at different times. Those who are reaching enlightenment when we do not may have been created earlier than we. Those people who reach enlightenment without rigorous discipline probably practiced rigorous discipline in other lives. Others are already enlightened and return in an unenlightened condition to serve by demonstrating what spiritual practice looks like.
10. Every genuine path will work. God plays all roles and observes all actions. He has become many; next to Him, there is none.
There is no religion or spiritual practice that is invalid, if genuine and sincerely followed. Some cults and orders may have dark purposes but the spiritual experiences of all genuine masters, translated into religious teachings (if rendered and maintained purely) are all acceptable in God’s eyes. There is only one God. The God of the Christians is the God of the Muslims and God of the Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Taoists, Sufis, etc. God is One but His names are many. Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God. The Lord is One, without a second. There is none else besides God.
Some will see Light; others will see a “form” of God; still others may have an intuitive sense of knowing. All genuine paths sincerely followed lead to God. God, through the Mother, designed the many paths to suit the various tastes of seekers, but all are efficacious. There is no ground to say that one religion or path is superior to another. There is nothing that supports the belief that the earnest followers of one religion will reach God and the earnest followers of another will not. God is on no side and on all sides.
11. In His love, He is universal, impartial, and supreme. What He wills must happen. He decreed this Drama for His own Pleasure. Each time someone knows its Self — “Oh Thou I!” — God meets God!
God loves all life forms – human, non-human, subhuman, superhuman. He makes no distinction among life forms. His Will must prevail. All is happening within His Being. He created the drama or lila for His own pleasure, a game of blind man’s bluff (or buff), in which God plays all roles and is the object of the search as well as the searcher and the search. Only God can realize God. Whenever anyone realizes God, that one simply realizes itself and the Self that it realizes is God.