How to achieve liberation? What different stages of liberation do we have to go through on the Initiation Path? How to approach Universality and achieve our union with the Divine?
In this article, Theophile the Elder traces the soul’s progression towards perfection and its merging into the Divine.
Setting the Divine free within us
Most people see liberation as a goal in itself, a way to relieve the soul from the rebirth cycle and put an end to that “Training School of the Earth”. Such a vision of the road ahead is rather restrictive. The most important thing is not to know whether we shall be reborn or not, but rather how to fully realize what we really are.
We have been created in the image of God, a sort of mirror image of Him. But, on the contrary, men imagined God was at their own image, that He was tailored to them, and they gave him all their human attributes. So the numerous Greek gods, with all their human pros and cons, keep fighting and behaving just as we have been doing for ages. Animist religions may have up to five hundred gods, each one of them representing a force of nature, an element they either fear or appreciate. However, all these traditions refer to one god, to a force or energy that lies beyond any possible conception, beyond an indefinable mystery that caused all that may exist. It is therefore very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine or even talk of a God-Creator or of an uncreated God.
This escapes our criteria… but not our experience. Actually, we can each experiment the Centre within our-selves and have a direct access to it via meditation. We cannot see God, but we can perceive Him. We can experience, we can feel His presence within us. In Islam we are asked not to represent God, which could be understood as an invitation to find God beyond any form or appearances, beyond all our projections. The prophet’s finest message is that he claims that anyone can have a direct connection to God.
When are we directly connected to God? It happens at the level of the light point, the centre of the Centre, which is located at the heart of the second star of the esoteric symbol. In order to understand properly what liberation, true liberation is, we must contemplate three progressive and successive levels.
First level: the soul gets free from samskaras
At the fist level, all beings are faced with their own tendencies, which are directly connected to the five elements in the sphere of manifestation. Human beings are therefore directly impacted by their samskaras, as they are still submitted to the law of cause and effect. Their consciousness is not mature enough to allow them to understand the meaning of their lives and of the occurring events. That is only the beginning of the work they have to do.
Liberation is attained when they cross the sphere of manifestation. They thus enter the cosmic dimension corresponding to the ajna-chakra or points 6 and 7. Thanks to their spiritual Master, they go from one dimension to another, which evokes a quantum jump. It is their opportunity to approach the cosmic region, God’s kingdom, but they are still subject to gravity and to its constituent elements. Then it is for them to appreciate and integrate what they have been granted.
Within them, the soul, atman, begins to govern their lives so as to help them achieve their destinies and understand the reason why they have been reborn. So far, they were enduring their lives, but now they have to let their souls conduct them. Letting one’s soul govern one’s life requires a long training, because tendencies, like old demons, will be there again to try and take control. Falling down spiritually is still a possibility…
At the moment of death, if the soul has completely surrendered to the Divine and got carried away, then liberation has become effective. Otherwise, after a longer or shorter pause for rest, regeneration and apprenticeship, the soul will forge for itself a new personality in order to achieve the destiny it had chosen together with its guide. Those who had already reached the cosmic region won’t have to come back down to earth, since they are fully liberated and will now continue to evolve on other planes of existence, unless they choose to return to Earth and help humankind.
They have travelled the long way the five chakras of the Heart region symbolize. Each centre has been cleaned. The sirens of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether have no more leverage on their Beings, which are free from the karmic effects due to their samskaras and to their incarnations. Those are called ‘liberated while still alive’ (jivan-mukti). Yet, it is only the beginning of their journey…
Consciousness is awakening
Now the aspirant can head towards the second stage. At this point, he keeps thinking of God being liberated within him. That is the level where Babuji mentioned the eleven circles of the ego. Mentioning the ego may sound paradoxical: why should the ego be still active at that stage? How could it be that many spiritual falls may still happen for persons regarded as masters or even as saints?
This aspirant has access to an important source of power: he can make miracles, read minds and hear and perceive, thanks to his extra-ordinary senses. He has access to an infinitely powerful higher knowledge. It’s a huge risk for him, the greatest danger being that he might be tempted to play God Himself. As a matter of fact, Babuji would rather have his disciples enter the cosmic region via Chit-lake or Point 7, since Point 6, the ajna-chakra, is the point where the cosmic force is pouring. That way, a man will always keep the option to detach himself or even to cut himself off from the Divine.
We could call it the Adam complex. When God created the universal human being, we say He made him in His own image and thus He endowed him with all His powers. Then Adam thought, “I am God. I don’t need Him anymore. I can create my own kingdom in my image according to my will. I know all the laws of creation, all their principles, and I also possess all the knowledge of the Universe. I am the universal man to whom God gave everything. I can exist without Him.” That is the way he freed himself from God. It is what the Bible calls “The Fall of man”.
The ordinary people won’t believe in God. They live as if God never existed, or they will just ignore Him, remembering there is a God at least in extreme situations, or in order to blame Him for the state of the world they have to live in, a world they have created themselves.
We are all ‘Adams’ wanting for universality. Then are we really cut off from God? That’s not possible because God is at the Centre of everything: He governs the whole creation, He is omnipresent. We have only lost touch with such a Presence. We just have to open our consciousness to that energy, that vibration we host and let it develop within ourselves.
Meditation is a most efficient means.
It allows us to reach the first level of liberation. At this stage, the disciple has become aware of his universality and of the powers he has access to. There, he has two options: either he will continue to refer to God as the Source of All, or he will continue his journey (yatra) until he is liberated.
Second stage: being united with God
The disciple has achieved what the Christian world calls the ‘Union with God’, what Raja-Yoga calls ‘the complete realization of the Self’; but the risk for him is in the very progress he has just made. He may either get lost, or use the inherent power of his condition, while saying to himself: “I’m going to do good, make the world a better place, and correct whatever is wrong; I’m going to show you what I am able to do; through my work, things are going to improve.”
Here is another form of power of the ego, when it thinks it is all-powerful and better than God. In a more subtle way, the ego takes control again, as it too wants to increase its force and power. Our Adam is going to be committed to solving major issues by joining more or less charismatic leaders. The risk is high for him to switch from charisma to fanaticism. He has not yet integrated the fact that God is already operating in all and everywhere, and that he’d better accept that he is merely His instrument, fit enough for His service. So he must learn how to step aside. That is the reason why Saint John of the Cross used to advise his disciples to avoid any sort of power until they had attained that Union with God. He said: “Even if God speaks to you, ignore it, because you never know whether it is God or the devil. And what if it is God? He’ll understand.”
On the path of the Sahasra-dal-kamal (the Thousand Petalled Lotus), the disciple will have to go through the eleven circles of the ego Babuji mentioned. Being accompanied by a spiritual Master is the best way to avoid the traps of the ego. As a guardian of the soul as well as of the ego, the spiritual guide will protect the disciple from falling into pitfalls and help him go safely through the trials he will meet along the way. He will go on initiating him, of course, but above all, he’ll have to protect him against his self, that is to say against his ego and his tendencies. Whenever a disciple faithfully and lovingly surrenders, the Master watches over him. The bond of love uniting them cannot be broken, unless the disciple decides to break it. The Master will never take the initiative in breaking it. Like a mother watches over her child, he watches over him, whoever he is and whatever he does. He accompanies him in his tormented spiritual adolescence, thus leading him to spiritual maturity. At the image of God, the Master’s patience and his love are so infinite that the disciple is bound to become Love himself. Love is always the guide; the disciple must be aware of it and cooperate as much as possible. The Master’s vision is extra-temporal; he knows him as a realised being. He only has to help him become what he is and has been from eternity: a perfect divine being.
“Becoming what we should become”, as Babuji used to say.
We all bear that perfection within us, because we are all bearers of God, of God’s entirety within ourselves, at the centre or our beings. The Master helps that Centre unfold and expand in all our inner dimensions, in order to allow it to reign there.
Then, merging with God is achieved. Far from being a disappearance, as the ego would sometimes fear, it is only the disappearance of duality. ‘ONE’ has no longer a two. It absorbs all numbers up to the infinite. Here we have the Infinite expression of God in all His creation. The realised man has become the ‘Universal Man’. He is now a co-creator together with God, and fully contributes to the creative process quite in full… divine freedom. Everything has become possible provided he will let the divine breath go through him, without interfering. He moves aside totally, in order to incarnate the Divine Will, a will that is without will, able to produce in the divine instant. Then, divine consciousness has been totally awakened.
There are some cases where it can also develop all by itself if it is tuned differently. But that is another story….
Theophile the Elder
An excerpt from Dialogs with Theophile the Elder
Theophile the Younger’s Initiation