Spiritual life provides a view of reality which is so different from what we have been taught to believe all our lives, we find that as soon as we embark on the spiritual journey in earnest, we are confounded by a number of very pressing questions. At the beginning we still strongly believe ourselves to be individuals in this world, but, at the same time, we feel more and more estranged from the world. It no longer fits into our understanding, it no longer satisfies our hunger for peace and contentment, we can no longer subscribe to it or support its values. We feel like strangers in a strange land. Then the why questions come:
“Why am I here in the world?” If we were to receive a true answer to our question, it would be, “You are not here in the world! The world as world does not exist. You ever exist, you are eternal.” Unsatisfied, we try another question, “Why was this world created?” Again the answer comes, “It wasn’t created! Nothing happened. The world of multiplicity you believe you see has no reality at all.” “Then why am I being buffeted around by circumstances and find myself suffering in the world?” “There is nothing that can happen to you. You are always free. You cannot suffer!” “But, if I’m already free then why don’t I feel free?” “Whatever you feel, the truth is you are free and always have been!” “Why do I have to die?” “You were never born and you cannot die.”
As we continue this line of questioning we realize that in the spiritual domain, why questions, and, for that matter, when and how questions, even when answered truly, do not seem to help us. They ultimately lead to unsatisfactory answers because our minds cannot bridge the chasm from the mind's world-bound frame of reference to the non-dual truth. So, these questions turn out to be dead ends that keep us ungratified and stuck in the mental plane, rather than leading us to true knowledge. The questions that open the door to insight and revelation are who and what questions. ‘Who am I?’ ‘Who is God?’ ‘What is life?’ ‘What is this world?’ ‘What is another?’ These questions lead not to intellectual answers but to direct experience of the reality. They point us to the silence of being.
Yet, at the beginning, all spiritual teachings attempt to assuage the need of the seekers at their level of understanding, to have some reasonable answers to their troubled why questions. The usual answer given is a creation story. But, as has been pointed out in this article, perhaps the most remarkable revelation for us on this path of inner inquiry, is that the true creation story is a non-creation story. There is no cause for all this, because none of it is real. What is nothing cannot be the effect of some cause. The truth is that nothing ever happened to disturb the unruffled field of pure consciousness. Only the Self is. That is all. Nevertheless, the spiritual literature and teachings abound with creation stories. Here are two of them, which give a penetrating insight into the ultimate truth.
Jesus, the author of the Course in Miracles, presents the creation from the viewpoint of the ego thought system, ie. from the relative point of view. In the metaphysics of the Course, we are always the Christ, the Son of God, one with and undistinguishable from God. But, inexplicably, we fell asleep in heaven and dreamed that we became separated from God. And in our dream we liked our autonomy and tried to forget all about God. But the God of our dream will not let himself be pushed away. This made-up God becomes angry and will catch us and punish us. Being afraid of his wrath we make a world and a body that shuts God out. But this hiding place from God cannot hide the enormity of the sin we have committed by effectively killing God in our lives. We feel a deep sense of guilt which becomes too painful to bear. So, we try to dispose of our guilt by projecting it onto others that we made up in our dream. Now we can claim to be innocent victims while others all around us are the guilty ones. Eventually God catches up with us anyway, and kills us. And so, our ultimate fate is death.
This is the dream we dreamed in heaven. Inexplicably, we have taken the dream seriously. But it was all just made up in the mind. In truth, nothing at all happened. We remain the Christ, one with God. The instant we dreamed a world, the correction for that error came and we woke up in heaven, which we had never left. All this happened long, long ago, for such a short instant that heaven paid no attention to it at all. It remained only as a very, very brief memory of a momentary event that happened long ago. Yet, we keep that ancient memory alive in every judgment and belief in separation and sin. Through our recollection of this dream we live and relive a memory from the past that is long since over. To help us realize this, God sends His representative, the Holy Spirit, into our minds to teach us the lessons of oneness with all our brothers, and the truth that we are pure love, that there is no sin, and that we have never left our father’s house. So, although we have been using the world as a hiding place from God and as a means for projecting out our insufferable guilt, the Holy Spirit uses this world as a classroom to teach us the truth of our divine heritage as the Son of God.
Here are some passages from the Course strung together, (with my additions in parentheses, to clarify understanding):
.....Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad, idea (that of an objective world of multiplicity and a subjective individual separate from it) at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects..... you (remain) at home in God, dreaming of exile.... Only in the past, an ancient past, did this world appear to rise. So very long ago, for such a tiny interval of time, that not one note in Heaven’s song was missed. Yet in each unforgiving act or thought, in every judgment and in all belief in sin, is that one instant still called back, as if it could be made again in time. You keep an ancient memory before your eyes, (and) imagine (you are) elsewhere, in another time. (You) delude (yourself) that this is true, and pass from mere imagining into belief and into madness, quite convinced that where you would prefer to be (in this world you made), you (really) are.
Sai Baba gives another creation story. This one is from the viewpoint of the Divinity.
There was no one to know who I was until I separated myself from myself so I could love myself. Immediately the world sprang up, mountains, rivers, oceans, sun, moon, all forms of beasts, birds, human beings. All powers were bestowed upon them. The first place was granted to mankind and my knowledge was placed in his mind. So, do not be ungrateful. Faithfully serve the Lord. And love Him, love Him, love Him.
This is the grand reminder that what God is is pure, unconditional love, and what we truly are is that very same divine love. This story points us on the path of devotion. In utmost gratitude we direct all our love towards God, who is the indweller in our hearts. Then we can surf over the tumultuous waves of the world, unaffected by them. Baba once said that the secret to a happy life is to say to the Lord, “Whatever has been....Thanks! Whatever will be....Yes!” In that spirit of surrender we totally rely on the Lord to lead us. He says, “I will give you what you want so that you will want what I have to give you.” He takes care of all our worldly needs and gives us stories to pacify our doubts. But what He really wants is for us to wake up to our truth, to go beyond all stories and realize that we ourselves are the Divinity in all its fullness.
Om Tat Sat