Yearning for More and the Quest for Enlightenment, Part Five
Unity Consciousness—Fulfillment of our Yearning for Happiness, Love, and Meaning
“I was out walking in the early morning. All of a sudden I felt very uplifted, more uplifted than I had ever been. I remember I knew timelessness and spacelessness and lightness. I did not seem to be walking on the earth….Every flower, every bush, every tree seemed to wear a halo. There was a light emanation around everything and flecks of gold fell like slanted rain through the air….The important part of it was the realization of the oneness of all creation…. The creatures that walk the earth and growing things of the earth. The air, the water, the earth itself. And, most wonderful of all, a oneness with that which permeates and binds all together and gives life to all….I entered a new and wonderful world. My life was blessed with meaningful purpose.” (Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, from Pearson)
When we read accounts of higher states of consciousness, as in Peace Pilgrim’s above, we see amazed wonder and unsurpassed joy. Clearly, these experiences are the most fulfilling of a person’s life. As we have been discussing in this blog series, when such experiences are an all-time reality, this is enlightenment.
Unity Consciousness is the apex of the development of enlightenment and is the fulfillment of the yearning and quest that we all experience. In this post, I will share some accounts of this most exalted state. But first, let’s stand back and ask again: what is it we yearn and quest for?
Each of us has our own unique aspirations, but we share a common search for three things: happiness, love and intimate connection, and a sense of meaningfulness. We also desire to express these qualities in purposeful and fulfilling activity, which is nourishing to ourselves and to others.
The yearning and quest ‘for more’ is built into our very nature. We are compelled, every moment of every day, to seek more happiness, more fulfillment. But in our materialistic world, we find ourselves on a trajectory looking outwardly for that object, person, activity, or achievement that will bring us total fulfillment.
The search for a permanent source of happiness, however, cannot be satisfied by anything impermanent. That job, that house, that person, that academic degree—each might bring pleasure or satisfaction for some time but are not in themselves the source of unshakeable joy and fulfillment.
What has been forgotten is the inner source of creative intelligence, the well-spring and foundation for all that we enjoy, express, and create. We need to turn around, go within, and experience the treasure house of joy, love, and creative intelligence. And from there, we are able to overflow in love and achieve what we desire with maximum enjoyment and total fulfillment.
In this blog series, we have looked at the discovery of this inner source and its development in stages of enlightenment. Unity Consciousness (UC), the 7th state of consciousness, is the summit of our universal quest for enlightenment. It is the fulfillment of our built-in desire for happiness, love, and meaning. UC is the stabilized state of consciousness in which the yearning for happiness is fulfilled in unshakeable bliss; the search for love is fulfilled in intimate yet universal union with all of creation; the quest for meaning is surpassed by direct experience of the home of all the laws of nature, located at the ‘source of thought.’ In this post we will look at accounts of unity experiences that include these characteristics for which we yearn and quest.
Maharishi explains the nature of the 7th state of consciousness. “The experiencer and the object of perception…have been brought on the same level of infinite value…. The perception is of ultimate value when the perception opens the infinite value of the object to the awareness” (1972). Maharishi uses the metaphor of how the entire flower—stem, leaves, petal—in reality is nothing but colorless sap. In the same way, everything in creation is ultimately Being, pure consciousness.
In UC, the unboundedness that we experience within, our Self, is now experienced in everything around us. We are now unified.
We still perceive the differences, but we experience the oneness of life. “We see individual waves, but what dominates our awareness is the ocean as a whole. Similarly, in UC, we see the boundaries of relative life as always, but they no longer dominate or overshadow the unity at their basis…. In this state, Maharishi explains, every object becomes as dear as one’s own Self—for you experience that every object is your Self.” (Pearson)
GLIMPSES OF UNITY CONSCIOUSNESS
With the understanding of Unity Consciousness, we have more insight into descriptions of unity experiences that have inspired but often baffled people for centuries. Such exalted accounts can be found in all cultures, throughout time and space. (I highly recommend Craig Pearson’s The Supreme Awakening for a rich collection of experiences of enlightenment.)
I love this exuberant account of a childhood experience by contemporary psychologist and writer Jean Houston. We see the three characteristics we all seek—joy, intimate unity, and meaningfulness.
I wandered over to the bay window and sat there, drawing up my legs and looking out at the fig tree blooming in the backyard. Sitting there, drowsy and unfocused, I must in my innocence have unwittingly tapped into the appropriate spiritual doorway, for suddenly the key turned and the door to the universe opened. Nothing changed in my outward perceptions. There were no visions…. The world remained as it had been. Yet everything around me, including myself, moved into meaning. Everything became part of a single Unity, a glorious symphonic resonance in which every part of the universe was a part of and illuminated every other part, and I knew that in some way it all worked together and was very good.
For most persons who have had such glimpses, these moments are extremely rare and brief. They yearn for the experience again, but in most cases have no means to cultivate it.
We want to have such joy, connection, and meaning become a part of our everyday life. People who have brief experiences often say that this fuller state of consciousness feels more familiar and ‘right’ than our so-called normal awareness.
So, how do we cultivate these states of enlightenment that are dormant within us all?
All that is needed is a way to remove the obstacles to our inherent potential. How? Through a simple procedure that allows the mind and body to settle down, experience inner silence, gain deep rest, and release stress—the obstacle to enlightenment. This naturally allows our true nature to be uncovered.
Maharishi uses a metaphor of a snowplow. As we practice TM the body gains deep rest. This deep rest clears away the obstacles, and we progress to enlightenment. Our consciousness shines forth, maturing into higher stages of human development.
UNFOLDING EXPERIENCES OF UNITY CONSCIOUSNESS
TM is a practical and systematic procedure to naturally raise our awareness to this exalted state. Through the regular alternation of meditation with activity, higher states of consciousness naturally, gracefully unfold. In one account a TM meditator states:
I feel an underlying continuum of quiet bliss and fullness, of infinite and universal love. Often the deep silence of my Self seems all-pervading, everywhere the same. Objects seem transparent, and I perceive unboundedness, the unmanifest, in everything I see. At such times I feel infinitely full and enveloped in softness. Perception is often glorified and rich. I feel very self-sufficient and self-contained; activity makes no impression on the growing wholeness which I feel. At the same time, however, I feel a growing intimacy with everything. Nothing seems foreign to me; I feel at home with everything, everyone, and with any situation. I feel truly invincible, for I feel established in my own unbounded Self. (Pearson)
In the following account we hear of experiences of joy, utter delight, and love:
Increasingly I experience everything and everyone as nothing other than my own Self. This is especially clear when walking in the woods but it is also apparent in town or anywhere. It seems that Being is shining and glistening and even smiling at me from the surface of everything.
This is difficult to describe. How does one perceive Being in activity? It’s as if the inner Being, the Self of everything, somehow rises to the surface and makes itself apparent. It is a truly simple experience, and truly beautiful and magnificent.
With this experience of becoming aware of my own Self in all things, love begins to flow—love without boundaries, without exceptions, without considerations of any sort. Love flows out towards all that I perceive and seems to flow back to me as well….This experience is utterly full of delight, full of joy, full of bliss, and, as I have said, full of love. (Pearson)
This next experience expresses unshakeable peace and bliss—total freedom from worry and concern:
The deep, and pervasive, and almost solidified quality of the inner silence continued [after meditation]…. I was completely fulfilled….There were no concerns about the outer, phenomenal world whatsoever: no issues, no nagging worries, no list of things to accomplish or address. There was simply nothing from that realm that could in any way disturb this profound level of remarkable inner peace and silence….This grand, blissful, soothing, infinite silence was also saturated with love…love for everything and everyone. It was not a flashy or overwhelming thing. It was very quiet and very profound and supremely unshakable. Really, it feels as if I am in the presence of God, or even inside of God, one with God. (Pearson)
As we can see from these experiences, our quest to satisfy our yearning for joy, love, and meaning is fulfilled to an almost unimaginable extent in Unity Consciousness. And when we ourselves are fully nourished with joy and love, this naturally overflows with nourishing joy and love towards others.
This fulfillment is not something that begins to grow in a far off future. We can see tender signs of developing consciousness even at the beginning of our TM practice.
In my own yearning for more and quest for enlightenment, I feel grateful for this practice and knowledge concerning higher stages of human development, blossoming daily into ever greater fulfillment. And I cannot help but want to share it with you!
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1972. The Science of Creative Intelligence: Knowledge and Experience, Lesson 23. Cited on p. 261 in The Flow of Consciousness: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Literature and Language, eds. Rhoda F. Orme-Johnson, Ph.D. and Susan K. Anderson, Ph.D. http://www.mumpress.com/books/other-authors/g04.html
Quotes by Peace Pilgrim and TM meditators are from:
Pearson, Craig. The Supreme Awakening: Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time—And How You Can Cultivate Them. Chapter 7. The Seventh State, Unity Consciousness: All Experience in Terms of the Unbounded Self. http://www.mumpress.com/books/other-authors/1tsa.html
Houston, Jean. A Mythic Life, pp. 64-65
About the Author
Cynthia Johnson is a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and is a mother, wife and writer. She is a contributor to the book A Symphony of Silence: An Enlightened Vision (1st and 2nd editions) by George Ellis.