Mirroring Oneness in Baha’i Teachings
Who would you like to be with for eternity in the next world? A spouse, partner or friends – or Rumi perhaps?
“This is how I would die / into the love I have for you: /
As pieces of cloud / dissolve in sunlight.” – Rumi
Or perhaps Socrates, Shakespeare or another person – a grand-mother perhaps, who taught you about being truth, goodness, beauty-creating and justice?
At the heart-centre of all of our longings is the longing for ‘at-one-ment’, i.e. atonement.
Happiness and fulfilment rest in ‘being at-one’. It is the summit.
The deep mystical reality, is to be at-one with the unknowable Mystery of the Whole. For some God is Ultimate Being and the ‘ground of all being’. For others God is a personal God.
The summit of at-one-ment strengthens our ability to be at-one with closer levels of relationship such as with our partner or friends.
Each of the first six papers in the first stage of this series suggested that mirroring exists within and between the great Traditions Sufism, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity. I chose three ‘religions’ from each of the two lines of prophets – the Semitic and the Aryan. Others are equally valid but the 6 more suffices in my teaching work – enveloped by my own community’s Baha’i teachings.
Inter-spiritually mirroring exists as a self-appraisal as well as between the Founders as Perfect Mirrors of the great Traditions.
Oneness is the summit. There are many paths to realizing Oneness.
All of the paths below are experiential ways that can take us there. The steps are sequenced differently depending on the make-up and personal history of each individual.
Spirit flows unless temporarily blocked. We witness spirit forming and transforming – in ‘the world’, in others and most importantly in ourselves. The human spirit I take to be the reality behind human consciousness.
1 Good parents and teachers strive to enable us to raise up our consciousness. Such consciousness is not just the absence of concussion or a coma!
2 In the great religions the true, real, mystical heart-centre teachings overwhelmingly One. Baha’u’llah of His own religion said, ‘This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.’. – (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
When we have self-knowledge we recognise those teachings as our own heart-centre.
3 To counterbalance the experiential, and avoid the diseases of exclusivity and fundamentalism, we need at least a ‘Nutshell theology’. Mine’s very simple. ‘There is One God, One Holy Spirit, there’s just one human family and an unending series of Prophet-founders, aka Messengers or Manifestations.’
The Manifestations of God are perfect Mirrors – mirroring the Love and Light of God.
4 Through our life-experiences we suddenly, or gradually, realize the ‘dual-Nondual worldview’ – two realms. The first is the contingent realm, including the material world. The second is the realm of spirit – a step out of self and into the Presence of God in God’s creational form. Ultimately the two are one.
5 We realize, that we have a passport as Citizens of the two realms – that ultimately are One – the dual and Nondual.
As we learn appropriate practices, meditation, prayer, study and service to others we learn to step out of the time-bound world into the eternal ‘now’. The simplest, successful meditation is HERE – Apps iPhone – Android keep smiling!
The eternal realm of ‘now’ is spaceless and mass-less as well as timeless.
6 We realize that broadly there are two Kinds of knowing. First there is the theoretical – book-learning.
Secondly there is what is called gnostic knowing – the gifts (not to be demanded) of God.
In Baha’i teachings ‘Irfan’ is a Persian-Arabic word referring to mystical, theological, and spiritual knowledge
Metaphorically we each have our island of knowledge – a speck in an infinite ocean. On the island we cultivate such knowledge that enables us to survive and function in the dual world. On the shoreline facing out to the sea, the Infinite Ocean, we, as Heschel says, are where “only the sense of the ineffable can glide”
We realize capabilities of truth-testing. ‘Triangulation’ is one tool for truth-testing – comparing a teaching on insights with two other sources. Another is consultation.
7 The continuous and pre-eminent search for Self-knowledge ends in sudden or gradual realization – or failure. Wisdom comes with age for some.
8 Maturation feels like healing – its the sound of a door closing, as we let go of attachments and addictions, and learn to mirror the mirroring, the Love and Light of God from the Divine Mirrors – the Manifestations of God.
9 Along the way, suddenly or gradually we realize All is God. God is Ultimate being and reality, but some prefer a personal God.
There are 7,800,000,000 people on earth (as of March 2020,) In one sense that’s also the number of ‘gods’. The sense of each having a different experience is clear from the story of the blind people who came across an elephant. Transcending our limited vision is a vital challenge for all individuals!
We learn to read, suddenly or gradually, the mystical metaphors used by great teachers over the last few thousand years or example the Hindu ‘Two birds on the self-same tree’ – one ego-centred and ego transcended. They are, of course, two sides of our own inner heart-mind consciousness – and as they ‘heal’ they become one mature, integrated Self. That is God, seen more clearly.
We can learn to read the ‘way’ as in the Tao Te Ching, the prototype of the mystical heart-core – ‘The tao that can be told / is not the eternal Tao….
As a combination of the above paths carries us forward we return to our spiritual practices with increasing certitude and joy;
Prayer, our talking to God, and expressing the joy of gratitude.
Meditation, in stillness and silence is listening – to hear God talking to us.
Our study aided by a clear sense of our identity and purpose.
and service which is the way to keep us grounded, as well as being empathic responses to our fellow humans.
We realize that all great religions of the past have outstanding, saintly individuals striving to rescue dis-orded religions. In Christianity this is often called rescuing Christianity from Churchianity.
These then are ways to the summit of Oneness.
But has anyone ventured into even higher realms or stages?
Perhaps Cynthia Bourgeault in her book ‘Eye of the Heart; a spiritual journey into the Imaginal Realm’ which she defines as ‘a meeting ground, a place of active exchange between two bandwidths of reality’ – for example between this world and the world hereafter. Other definitions are HERE
Another essay by Golgonooza (pen name of Brian Keeble?) reveals HERE more about the imaginal realm; ‘The rational path of philosophers and theologians needs to be complemented by the mystical intuition of the Sufis, the “unveiling” (kashf) that allows for imaginal—not “imaginary”—vision. The heart, which in itself is unitary consciousness, must become attuned to its own fluctuation, at one beat seeing God’s incomparability with the eye of reason, at the next seeing his similarity with the eye of imagination. Its two visions are prefigured in the two primary names of the Scripture, al-qur’ân, “that which brings together”, and al-furqân, “that which differentiates”.’
Does it mean that I accept everything that Cynthia says? No.
You can catch a glimpse of Cythia’s soaring in the spiritual realm from the talk HERE to the Ibn Arabi Society at Oxford by the Baha’i Professor Todd Lawson. With the YouTube video I suggest you start at 50mins.
Intuitively I feel that all that Cynthia Bourgeault is discovering is in the Baha’i Revelation, and probably in other Revelations as well – but we are still seeing through a glass darkly.
As with ‘reading’ autostereograms. Success, by God’s grace, enables us to see into our own heart-mind.
In the old days electricity was metered. You put a coin into the meter and the lights came on. Metaphorically when the ‘penny drops, we see for the first time the image in the auto-stereogram.
Don’t worry if you can’t see the creature in the above Wikipedia auto-stereogram picture.
If it works for you we can say there are two stages. Firstly just a fog of dots. Secondly we see the creature in 3-D. If it doesn’t work for you there are other pictures or metaphors.
Gradually all will come more into focus. And then instead of saying we are seeing ‘through a glass darkly’ we will instead say;
“We can see more clearly now,
as we oscillate between the two worlds.