I find it helpful to imagine life as a great ocean. When I’m only conscious of the surface of life, I seem to know what life is, which allows me to get on with my everyday experience. But when I reach below the surface of things, right down to the depths of life, I find myself immersed in the ‘deep mystery’.
The deep mystery isn’t a question we could one day solve. The deep mystery is the primal mystery that the universe exists and we are here to think about it.
It’s the great mystery in which we live and breathe and have our being.
And when we become conscious of the deep mystery … the mystery experience spontaneously arises.
When I bob along on the surface of things my experience of life is shallow.
But when I plumb the depths, my appreciation of what it is to be alive deepens. I become deep awake.
Normally we’re only superficially awake, but when we become conscious of the deep mystery, we become deep awake.
In the spiritual literature this awakened state is sometimes described as ‘enlightenment’ because it’s like being lit up from within.
I avoid the term ‘enlightenment’ because it’s become associated with the idea of an ultimate spiritual goal, only achievable by special people who give up everything and live in caves.
And this is very misleading because the deep awake state can be experienced by anyone … even you and me.
Paradoxically, when I’m deep awake and immersed in the deep mystery, I find myself knowing something. But this isn’t ‘knowing’ in the normal sense of the word in which I know certain information about the world. It’s a much deeper knowing than that. So I call it ‘deep knowing’.
In the Western spiritual tradition this deep knowing is called ‘gnosis’. Gnosis is directly knowing the essence of things.
It’s the big answer to the big question of life. This answer is not in the form of a collection of words. It’s an immediate realisation, unmediated by concepts.
It’s like having the most profound thought … only without a thought.
Deep knowing transforms my experience of living because it gives rise to a quiet confidence that, despite appearances, life is good.
When I become deep awake, I have an unshakeable faith that fundamentally all is well. Even when things are rough on the surface, at the depths of life I experience a primal joy of being.
When I know I’m essentially one with all, there is a profound sense of connectedness to life that I experience as an all-encompassing love. It’s the feeling that arises when I’m conscious of both the surface separateness and the deep oneness.
When I become deep awake I see that I am much more than the person I appear to be on the surface of life. There’s a deeper level of my identity, which I call the deep self.
When I bob along on the surface of life I don’t notice the deep self, but it’s always there. It’s a permanent presence, which is always present, witnessing the ever-changing dramas of my superficial self.
The superficial self is what I appear to be. But the deep self is what I am … my mysterious essence … my ineffable spirit … my naked being.
And when I become conscious of my deepest being I discover I am one with all beings.
I see that as separate individuals you and I are like different waves on one great ocean of being.
When I’m conscious of the depths as well as the surface of life, I experience universe vision.
The word universe comes from universus meaning ‘all together’ or ‘turned into one’. The universe vision is the profound recognition that essentially all is one.
This is not a bland experience of monolithic oneness. It’s a profound experience of the variety of the universe.
When I experience the universe vision I find myself appreciating the multifarious variety of life as an expression of one mysterious essence.
On the surface I appear to be a separate individual but at the depths of my identity I am one with all that is.
It’s seeing that on the surface of life everything is separate, like waves on an ocean, but at the depths, all is one.
From The Mystery Experience © 2012 by Timothy Freke, published by Watkins.