On a regular basis, I practice guided meditations, in which I try to achieve a mild trance state and then ask questions of a "spirit guide." I'm very much aware of the possibility – in fact, the probability – that much of the information I receive originates in my unconscious mind. However, I'm of the opinion that the boundary between the unconscious mind and the spiritual realm is pretty fuzzy, and that we can't access spiritual sources of information without going through the unconscious.
This idea ties in with what has been called the imaginal realm, a sort of twilight zone midway between physical and spiritual reality. A certain tolerance for ambiguity is, I think, necessary in carrying out these highly subjective experiments.
(Incidentally, I think an inability to tolerate ambiguity lies at the root of much skeptical thinking. Skeptics, in my observation, tend to see things in terms of black and white, true or false, objectivity or subjective, with little or no gray area. But spiritual explorations of the type that we talk about on this blog require a willingness to explore the uncharted no-man's-land between hard physical facts and subjective imagination.)
Well, anyway, I do these meditative exercises. A few weeks ago, when I was sick with acute sinusitis and probably running a slight fever, I had some unusually vivid and convincing meditative experiences. These could be chalked up to mental aberrations brought on by an elevated temperature, but I prefer to think that, in a state of illness, the etheric body may be more loosely connected to the physical body than usual, leading to more direct access to the spiritual realm. I could be wrong.
One of these meditations was particularly meaningful to me. I've been reluctant to post about it, because it doesn't contain any new information, and its impact was largely emotional. I doubt I can convey the emotional qualities of this meditative exercise in words. But I decided I might as well try.
Before I go on, I should point out that none of the information contained in this exercise was new to me. It could easily have come from my unconscious mind. I had encountered this imagery before, in reading about life after death. The only thing that makes the experience seem like more than a regurgitation of stuff I'd read is the fact that it packed an emotional punch.
That particular day, I was not feeling well at all, and because it was a Sunday, I couldn't get hold of my doctor to obtain the antibiotics I needed. Since I knew I couldn't reach him until Monday morning, I basically made the decision to shut down – to lie on the couch, drifting between sleep and a half-awake state, and wait until the next day to do anything. I hardly moved, except to use the bathroom and take medicine, throughout the succeeding 24 hours, and I ate almost nothing.
During this time I practiced various meditations, and as I said, they were more vivid and clear than usual. In one case, I asked what my soul was like.
I was shown an image of a diamond, brilliant and multifaceted. But this was no ordinary diamond. It was alive. The facets, which were far more luminous than any real-life diamond's, were in constant motion. They were constantly shifting positions like the pieces of a mosaic, creating patterns that were intricate and harmonious. It did not appear that there was anything random about these patterns; rather, they seemed to involve the working-out of some larger scheme, much in the way that notes of music can be used to work out the themes and melodies of a musical composition.
I was told that this diamond was my true soul, and that the individual facets were merely contributing elements. The real me, the eternal me, was the diamond as a whole, even though I wasn't aware of it in everyday life.
These living and moving facets each represented some persona that my larger soul had adopted – presumably in some previous (or perhaps future) earthly incarnation. The sum total of all these facets made up the diamond itself.
Let me expand on this a little. The diamond could be seen as the so-called "group soul" often discussed by metaphysical writers. But I was given to understand that the "group soul" is something of a misnomer, because actually we are talking only about a group of personae; the diamond/soul itself is our own personal soul in its purest and highest form. To think of it as a group soul is to imagine that our individual self is just one of the facets of the diamond, when in fact our soul consists of all the facets and more, because it includes the core of the diamond as well. Thus we are much greater, much more all-encompassing, than we might think.
What was most strongly impressed on me was the sheer beauty of the soul. It seemed to me that this soul was the most beautiful and precious thing in the world. Of course, I'm not just talking about my own soul, but about any human soul. The impression I had – and this is where the emotional impact came in – was that if we could only grasp the magnificence and perfection of our own souls, we would have a whole new perspective on life, and negative things (such as the illness I was experiencing) would pale into insignificance.
Again, while I cannot really convey the feeling I got, I came away with an extraordinarily strong impression that our soul – mine, or yours, or anyone's – is an object of exquisite beauty, unfathomable complexity, and ultimate perfection. Even the flaws that we perceive in ourselves are not really flaws, but elements necessary to a larger harmonious whole.
There are many wonderful things in our physical reality, including stars and galaxies, but the impression I got was that each of us, inasmuch as we represent this diamond-like perfection of the soul, is a far more wondrous and valuable thing than any physical object.
Now, as I said at the start, there was no new information conveyed to me in this exercise. The image of the soul as a diamond is part of the channeled material attributed to Silver Birch, who suggested that our individual earthly lives are facets of this diamond. For instance:
What I have said is that the human individuality is not always a single entity but a facet of a larger diamond. These facets incarnate into your world for experience that will enable them to return to the diamond and add to its lustre and radiance. [source; scroll down to "On Reincarnation"]
This idea has been reiterated by other sources, and it was familiar to me from my reading. It always resonated with me as being probably true. So it's not surprising that it would come up in my meditation.
Do I think the meditation was a genuine insight into the nature of spiritual reality? Yes, I do, though I can't expect anyone else to share my conviction. I've had other meditative experiences now and then – only a few, unfortunately – that shared the same quality, which I've come to recognize as a sign of a particularly intense spiritual insight. As best I can describe it, it is the feeling of my whole body tingling with a kind of pleasurable electric current and suffused with indescribable joy, coupled with a sense of peace and acceptance, "the peace that passeth all understanding" - the sense that everything is all right and there is nothing to worry about, complain about, or fear. It is a sense of having seen through the trivialities of everyday existence to some much more fundamental and reassuring reality. I suspect that this is what the Gospels mean when they talk about "the Kingdom of Heaven," which is "the pearl of great price," and which "is within you."
By the way, it is largely because of experiences like this that I'm not too sympathetic to people who say the universe is ultimately malicious or irrational or arbitrary, and that we may end up in a bad place just as easily as a good place after we die. My strong impression – entirely subjective, and certainly not provable – is that there is a logic, order, justice, harmony, and larger purpose to existence, and that if we merely surrender ourselves to this higher purpose we will end up in a very good place indeed. Perhaps the idea of Hell has its roots in the possibility that some people will willfully cut themselves off from this higher purpose out of a refusal to practice self-surrender. Possibly this also suggests the value of learning to practice self-abnegation and non-egoic thinking here on earth.
In any case, while I'm sure I've failed to convey the impact of my meditation, it may at least be helpful to try seeing each of the people you meet and deal with - even the more obnoxious ones - as representing a shining facet of a perfect diamond, more pure and more beautiful than any precious stone we could ever know on earth.