If you live long enough everyone eventually experiences enough disasters in their personal lives to qualify for what Zorba the Greek calls "the full catastrophe" that leads to a terrible depression. But there is a huge difference between a clinical depression and the dark night of the soul. It is the function of the latter to soften one up for the total change of perspective that is to follow all the fruitless years of weary searching for one's absolute truth.
There is only one way that I know of for Life to teach us its one absolute truth. First it has to totally destroy every other so-called truth that we think we already know. Add to that the realization that I call all of the truths we have ever learned before the Shift as mere concepts in the face of this one absolute truth.
How does Life erase these countless concepts? It starts by destroying the foundation upon which all these concepts are based, namely the ego personality that thinks it is a special somebody somehow separate from the Source of all Consciousness and from all others. This separated persona is a direct result of an identity with the mind. Anything that the mind can perceive in this physical manifestation I have named the "3rd dimension."
So what occurs with a shift from the third dimensional perspective to the 4th dimension? This is where the Stranger who has always waited for us at the door of our perception welcomes us into the Presence of the Witness. There is a switch of identity here from how the mind perceives reality to how our Witness understands that very same reality in such a different way.
And so began my own transition via the despair, hopelessness and depression that characterizes a good dark night of the soul. For it is only here that the concepts of the mind that have guided us so brilliantly through life up to this point seem to completely break down now and fail as to a possible solution out of this hellish nightmare.
This process crushes our whole self-image of who we think we are. It calls into question all of our "shoulds" and "should-nots" that make up the minefield of our concepts. It is the mind which has created these concepts and because this mind is a Divine instrument created by Infinite Intelligence, it is not about to just commit voluntary suicide so its role can be assumed by a more powerful unified force field that the Witness brings to the table.
Enough time spent in the dark night of the soul and the seeker quits seeking. The whole quest seems so hopeless now that it is given up. Futile seems the seeking of anything that is outside of us. We finally disintegrate into a big pile of nothingness inhabited by a little nobody.
Sounds pretty bleak! But not all is as it seems here. The Source of all Consciousness loves contrast. For those who were born with the curse of endless seeking, finally the longing will bring us home. I definitely knew something pretty dramatic had happened to me in the depths of my dark night. The emotion most prevalent up to this point in prison suddenly disappeared. Abject terror for my life gave way to a gentle understanding that all was well. The normal doubts that a good mind would now raise at this point regarding the lunacy of this conclusion were conspicuous by their absence. I remember this process demarcated by understanding for the first time in my life that: Consciousness is all there is and I am That!
As this understanding triggered its multiple ramifications in my life, the relief, freedom and joy I felt swept me away in both giggles and silence. Naturally in writing the first book and then later in hundreds of satsangs around the globe I focused on this phenomenon of Oneness with the Consciousness that is all there is. I highlighted the emphasis on my new understanding that I am not the doer, and that I do not in any way control my life with free will and choice. This was in such stark contrast to my former way of thinking and trying to fix reality to suit my concepts that it seemed the most important part in my enthusiastic explanations. There was nothing more to do in my life but understand and live this Oneness with Consciousness.
If you read my first two books all of this is old hat to you so far. But I repeat it to set the stage for what really happened beneath the surface of this entire above-mentioned phenomenon. I am now attempting to distil the essence of this Shift from the common patterns of all the thousands of other seekers I have met in satsangs who were also rendered finders by It. This has not been fully explained so far in the light of how I now understand this ultimate reality. You remember the phrases "only one absolute truth" and going "home" earlier in my introduction? Now I am going to link them to fully explain the simplicity and fullness of this Shift as It affects anyone and everyone it touches.
Because we live in a world of polarity and duality, every word is a concept that once it is understood, the opposite is also equally as true. There is no possibility of "good" without "bad," or "hot" without "cold." In our world of truths it seems to be only a world of relative truth. What is true for you may not be true for me. We all have a different destiny and relative truths attract us according to how they point us in the direction of that destiny.
However this Shift has taught me one absolute truth that no mind can dispute or misinterpret. This one absolute truth contains in it everything I need to know about my unique, relative reality. Here it is:
Reality exists! It exists just as it is! It exists just as it should be! It exists because you, as the Consciousness that is all there is, created it! It exists in spite of your limited mind never understanding the mystery of it! It exists in spite of your attempts to fix or change it based on your concepts of it! Only this is absolute and knowable: Reality exists!
This one absolute truth is the foundation for the whole Shift. It totally explains everything we ever wanted to know about God or the spiritual life. It simplifies all concepts regarding how to act in this life. It demystifies the connection between the Creator and Its manifestation in a physical reality. It removes all responsibility for our so-called decisions and choices in life. Most of all, it points to our way home that all seekers have so desperately longed for and could never find until this understanding is complete.
Now for the link up between this one absolute truth and our intense longing to go home: Surrender to Life as it exists in reality is our only way home!
What could be more simple than this? Just surrender to every contraction that the mind presents. Just say a big "YES" to the painful "NO" of the mind, instead of trying to fix the unpleasant or uncomfortable situation as indicated by the mind. Actually, what could be more impossible if the Shift hasn't happened yet!
To understand this we have to understand what is the function of a good mind. The mind is not our enemy as portrayed by the conventional wisdom of most spiritual teachers. It receives whatever thought is floating through our awareness and immediately breaks it down into two categories:
a) This is the way life should be.
b) This is definitely not the way life should be.
It then sets about with a plan of action for fixing the present reality so that it can move it from category b to category a. Of course this is not possible 98% of the time and so we end up with conflict and misery with every major thought that comes our way.
If it all seems kind of silly for the Infinitely Intelligent Source to give us such a disturbing instrument to interpret reality, again not all is at it seems. How else would the Source have access to the full spectrum of human emotions, (not just the positive ones like love and joy), without a mind to create the perfect illusion of separation between the Source and its magnificent manifestation?
When it comes right down to what is the nitty-gritty of this whole Shift I can only say that in one word: surrender. But this surrender is not a passive surrender. It is an active embrace of all that is, because it is. It is the doorway and key to the only possible permanent happiness you will ever know while still trapped in a mind/body organism.
Surrender has its opposite that also needs to be fully understood: resistance. Resistance to the Reality that exists usually takes the role of attempting to change or fix that Reality into conformity with a concept of how that Reality should or should not look. If you resist in any way Reality as it exists I guarantee you will suffer, even if you end up occasionally fixing it momentarily.
This is my new understanding of the Shift. For years I described it as the experience of the Oneness, or the Presence within of the Witness, or the fullness of the non-doing of a non-self. Yes It is partially any of these insights. But it starts from the very first moment of the Shift with a gradual, almost imperceptible movement towards accepting, allowing, and surrendering to Life, just as it is, without the need to fix it!
That is what actually happened to me in that prison cell that day. The only reason I began to understand the exquisite Oneness of Consciousness was because something in my being had already begun to surrender to Life, and that is what opened the doors and windows of my soul to let the light in.
As I understand it now, all of my prior seeking had only reinforced the illusions of the mind about how the spiritual life should or should not be. This is what actually happened to the ten thousand plus souls in satsang who shared their experience of the Shift with me. They started first with a gentle surrender and afterwards some of these other insights happened, or did not. In either event the end result was still the same. A life without resistance. A life of sweet surrender to that Reality which is. A life that eventually led to a state of happiness that they would classify as an 8 or better on a perfect scale of 10. And that's pretty remarkable for a world population that lives life with an average happiness of minus 2.
All my love,
PS. Fear is the head of all "negative" emotions, just as love is the head of all "positive" emotions. So there are really only two emotions, love and fear, from which all other human emotions spring. Love is the embracing of all that is -- as is, as good, as an emanation from the Source. Fear, on the other hand, is a resistance to what is -- as is. So we could say:
Love = Surrender to What Is -- As Is.
Fear = Resistance to What Is -- As Is.
This understanding is the heart of the deliverance factor I keep mentioning. The awakening is the understanding of the reality that Consciousness is all there is, and that we are not the doers. But the deliverance is the flow of ramifications from this understanding that is then lived every moment of every day.
That's why we understand that love is the process of surrendering your life to all that you experience as Source in appearance, in a way that accepts, allows, and embraces each event, without judging it as negative, without an opinion about it, and without even an attitude of preference one way or the other. This is love in freedom!
Fear flips this whole state over to a process of resisting events in your life as negative, as unwanted, as something to change, to fix, or to make go away. Fear/resistance maintains a critical, complaining, fault-finding attitude about undesirable events in life, instead of seeing the hand, energy, and wisdom of Source at play. This is fear in limitation!
Fear is not natural to us as Source. We have to learn fear as we learn about and experience limitation through our conditioning. But because it is learned, it can be unlearned when the deliverance strips the layers of conditioning away.
More fear yielding to more love.
More limitation yielding to more freedom.
More resistance yielding to more surrender.