Experiential Participation In Higher Consciousness
As we examine the Hermetic writings, the dialogues of Plato, the New Testament, and other Perennialist 1 writings, it becomes clear that all these teachings declare that humans are in essence one with God and can realize this divine unity through a complete change in their way of thinking and acting.
"Despite the soul's fall there lingers in it, although in a condition of atrophy and enchantment, a residual germ of that divine principle which once wholly actuated it; a germ capable of being so stimulated into activity as to raise the personal consciousness even to the point of unity and identity with the Universal Mind and through the healing efficacy of that principle's transmuting potencies, to effect such an organic change in the psychical, and even the physical parts of our present frail and imperfect nature as will bring them into a divinised condition."
Mary Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy, 1850
As we attain this radical change in how we experience ourselves and our world, it becomes an abiding, palpable sensation that is unmistakable. This is the first experiential element we strive for. In the New Testament, the word used to describe this revolutionary transformation is metanoia, which the Roman Catholic translators mangled into the Latin-based word "repent." 2
To comprehend what this extraordinary concept of metanoia includes in its meaning, we must examine its original Greek connotations. It involves a person ceasing to cling to her ordinary life; old ideas and feelings lose all value for her. The whole course of her experience takes on a new meaning and leads in a totally different direction. She DIES completely to her old way of being and becomes--literally--a new person as she experiences a spiritual re-birth.
The esoteric re-birth experience could produce the right effect upon the neophyte's soul only if she had previously changed her lower world of experience and consciousness. If she were to be inducted into the Life of the Spirit where she would behold a Higher World, this required a prior total, radical transformation in her way of thinking, feeling, acting--being in general.
For most people, the empirical world of shoes and ships and sealing wax is the only one; any idea of a higher world is simply a fantasy. Such musings are "mere" thoughts and ideas. They have no reality. We can't touch them or hear or see them. They're not "real."
Somehow another idea has to come to us, a message by a person who knows experientially of a Higher World. She explains that a totally different relationship to reality is possible--if one changes his entire way of thinking, feeling, and acting. A person who clings at all costs to the ordinary conception of reality can't grasp such ideas; he won't even be interested in hearing about them. In regard to such people, Perennialist teachers such as Jesus explain that they have ears to hear but will not hear and eyes to see but will not see. So initiation into the re-birth experience is not provided to them because it would be wasted, ignored, or misused.
But some people do want to hear about such ideas; there is a kind of divine discontent in them. They want to understand their lives in a more comprehensive way. And they're capable of making the radical transformation in their being which is required for this strange new experience of death to the old life and re-birth to a new one. Their whole awareness of reality makes a complete shift--upward.
"The Truth is yourself, but not your mere bodily self,
Your real self is higher than 'you' and 'me.'
This visible 'you' which you fancy to be yourself
Is limited in place, the real 'you' is not limited.
Why, O pearl, linger you trembling in your shell?
Esteem not yourself mere sugar-cane, but real sugar.
This outward 'you' is foreign to your real 'you;'
Cling to your real self, quit this dual self."
Rumi, The Mathnavi
A person who experiences metanoia begins to look at the world in a new light, in a way that is the exact opposite of how other people look at it. She realizes that she is a multi-dimensional being who has the power and the ability to act from her Higher Self, that she chooses in which dimension she wants to live her daily life. She makes a shift in consciousness, in perception, in worldview, which transforms her entire conception of herself. She is no longer merely the physical body; she IS a Higher Being.
Metanoia is a concrete experience which you can FEEL, a complete change in the way you think and act, the viewing of yourself and your world from the perspective of your Higher Self. You look at the world differently, you view other people in a new light, and the old ways of seeing life as cruel, meaningless and haphazard are discarded. You know by your new sense of yourself whether you've experienced this transformation or not.
"The 'invisible world' is at all times, at various places, interpenetrating ordinary reality. Things which we take to be inexplicable are in fact due to this intervention. People do not recognize the participation of this "world" in our own, because they believe that they know the real cause of events. They do not.
"It is only when you can hold in your mind the possibility of another dimension sometimes impinging upon the ordinary experiences that this dimension can become available to you."
Idries Shah, The Sufis
1 See the author's recently published book: The Perennial Tradition
2 The Latin-based word "repent" means: to feel remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do. It's clear why such a word would be used in an autocratic system such as the Roman Catholic Church where penitents (as members are called) are forced to repent by confessing their sins to a priest. The priest thus becomes a necessary mediator between God and the Christian penitent.