Do not look for your Master,
be the Master for whom are are looking
All of my life I have been seeking the Holy Experience. All of my life I have known that the Holy Experience would reveal everything. Everything about God, everything about life, and everything about me. The only questions for me have been, what is the Holy Experience, and where can I find it?
Those questions have been asked by people all over the world since the beginning of time. Perhaps you have asked those questions, too. I should like now to offer my personal definition of the Holy Experience, so that we can know just what it is, exactly, that I am going to be talking about.
This definition kind of popped out of me unexpectedly a few years ago as I was responding to a question e-mailed to me by a man in Maine. Let me share with you that question and answer, and you’ll see what I mean.
Hi Neale…I have been struggling recently with what “mission” means in a pluralistic world. Mission has had so many different objectives throughout history—converting others to the “true” faith; extending God’s kingdom; doing justice for the poor and marginalized, etc.
Our world seems very near-sighted when people consider their faith the “true” faith and others as condemned to Hell. Since all of us have a somewhat different conception of what “faith” means, what is each person’s responsibility to other people—both people of other faiths and people of no faith?
Should we try to show others what we consider “true”, or should we only try to share with others, learn from them, and build reciprocal friendships? What does it mean to be a person of faith — ie: Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or otherwise—in a pluralistic world?
Thanks for any comments or insights you may have, Neale!
Matt, in Natick, MA
Dear Matt…The only True Mission is the mission of the individual soul. Every other mission is an extension of that.
The mission of the individual soul is to know itself as it truly is, in its own experience. I have learned that this is accomplished by creating itself as that. Life is not a process of discovery; it is a process of creation.
The hitch here is that in Ultimate Reality it is not possible to create anything, because everything that ever was, is now, and ever will be has already been created. So the Process of Creation turns out to be, after all, not actually Creation, but Perception. It is about seeing what has always been there, knowing what has always been true, and experiencing the Only Experience There Is. We call this, loosely: God.
The challenge here is that one cannot experience The Only Experience There Is if it is, in fact, the “only experience” there is. This is because in the absence of That Which Is Not, That Which IS, is not.
Put simply, in the absence of darkness, the light is not. In the absence of cold, hot is not. In the absence of up, there is no such thing as down. None of these things can be experienced in anything other than relative terms. The same is true about God. And, for that matter, about the human soul. For the human soul IS God, in part. It is a holy and individuated aspect of That Which IS.
If there is nothing in the environment, if there is nothing in the vicinity, that is NOT That Which IS, then That Which IS cannot be known experientially. If there is nothing in existence that is NOT That Which IS (and by definition this would have to be true), then That Which IS cannot be experienced. Nor can any Part of It. It can be fully known, but it cannot be experienced. That is, it cannot be known in relative terms (which is what “experience” is), but only in absolute terms. This is what is true in the Realm of the Absolute.
Remember this always:
EXPERIENCE IS THE KNOWING OF THE ABSOLUTE IN RELATIVE TERMS.
So in the Realm of the Absolute, That Which IS cannot experience Its own magnificence. It cannot know the glory of Itself, the wonder of Itself, the Truth of Itself.
This is the condition faced by God (That Which IS), and this is condition faced by your soul. You now understand the reason that physical life as we know it exists. The creation of Physicality produced a solution to God’s conundrum—a solution that is ingenious and spectacular: create an entire reality based on Illusion.
That phrase in itself, “reality based on illusion,” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, but it gets the idea across.
And so we find ourselves in this Alice in Wonderland world (an Alice in Wonderland universe, really) in which we swear that what is So is Not So, and that what is Not So is So.
It is a “wonderland” in the sense that it allows us to experience the True Wonder of Who We Really Are. We do this by calling forth the Opposite of Who We Are, and by experiencing ourselves in relation to that. Suddenly, we have a point of reference by which we may know ourselves. (Remember that I said that the mission of the individual soul is to know itself as it truly is, in its own experience.)
All of this lays down the theological basis for my (finally!) direct answer to your direct question. That which is opposite to us, that which is “not us,” exists for a very holy reason: so that we may announce and declare, express and experience, become and fulfill Who We Really Are.
Therefore judge not, and neither condemn. Raise not your fist to the darkness, but be a light unto the darkness, and curse it not.
Our “mission” vis-a-vis people of other faiths is to accept them exactly as they are. Not to seek to convert them, not to judge them, and certainly not to condemn them.
Now Matt, you have placed your question inside a riddle that offers two choices—yet these choices are not, in truth, mutually exclusive. It does not have to be one or the other, as you have posed it.
You have asked: “Should we try to show others what we consider ‘true’, or should we only try to share with others, learn from them, and build reciprocal friendships?”
I believe we can do both.
As we share with others, learn from them, and build reciprocal friendships, we DO “show others what we consider true.” In fact, that is the most effective way to show it. Thus, we set people free from their own limiting beliefs about us. This eventually will set them free from their own limiting beliefs about themselves. Soon they, too, will know Who They Really Are.
And so, Matt, walk through the world not as one who seeks to convert or convince others of anything, but simply as one who seeks to know others as Everything. When you know all of it as Everything, then you know your Self as Everything as well. You see your Self in every other person. Indeed, in every other thing that exists.
Suddenly, the magnificence and the glory of Who You Are becomes apparent to you. It becomes part of your experience. It is no longer something you know intellectually; it is something you know experientially.
Many people have had this experience (the experience of being Everything) momentarily. They have had it in meditation, perhaps, or in a time of pure silence, or in the midst of an impactful interaction with another (such as sexual union or laughing until tears come, or weeping together, or walking alone through the woods on a sunlit morning, or swimming in the ocean, or, simply…washing dishes.)
I call this The Holy Experience.
It is when you know Who You Really Are.
While many people have had this experience momentarily, the trick is to have it continually. Or at least a great deal more of the time. That was the yearning of the Buddha. It was the journey of the Christ. It is the opportunity placed before each of us.
Many Masters have shown us the way. The way is for us to BE the way. I am The Way and The Life. Follow me. This is what all Masters have declared. This is what all Students have understood.
Therefore, do not look for your Master, BE the Master for whom you have been looking. Do not seek the Truth, BE the Truth you have been seeking. And do not attempt to change another, BE the change you wish to see.
That is your mission, Matt, and there is no other.
Bless you, Matt, with the knowing of Who You Really Are. May God be experienced by you through you, and through the living of your life.
Love always, and all ways…Neale.