To be a diviner, one must live like water.
The path of wisdom has a single fixed destination: The Ecstatic Life. All other attainments are merely way stations on the Great Sojourn, for wisdom is not complete wisdom until I arrive at the place where there is no longer a path and I wander the world of worlds with the holy fools of all times, finding myself at last embodying the one standing outside myself. Each station along the way marks a higher order of increasing subjectification by which the bounds of identity give way to ever expanding dimensions of communion. Likewise, the destination itself is marked by the un-self-conscious rapture of at-one-ment with Omnipresence. Love is answered with love: As personal identification voluntarily relinquishes its stranglehold on pure awareness, the open heart of awe and adoration is met, tear of bliss for tear of bliss, by the grandeur and loving-kindness of the Creative Forces.
The Sphere of Universal Communion stands at the omnipresent Center, home to the initiated and the uninitiated alike. It does not matter, in other words, whether we are presently aware of the unifying realm beyond the five senses nor whether we are presently aware of the ancient lineage working to bring this realm of the five senses into closer accord with that underlying harmony nor whether we are presently aware of our own place in that lineage—every being in this realm dwells simultaneously in the sacred space of the One Light, which is also called the One Mind, and, among initiates, We Are I Am. Love answers love: As every being awakens to its already-perfect state, its outpouring of joy, gratitude, awe and devotion is met, tear of bliss for tear of bliss, by the intimacy and harmony among all beings in all times.
The Ecstatic Life unfolds naturally from our immersion in oceanic benefit—from our conscious experience of simultaneously receiving and giving good fortune within the shared being of divine at-one-ment. Making this experience of universal benefit conscious is what is meant by initiated: Being presently aware of the magnanimous qi pouring through us into this realm of the five senses is the singular act awakening us to the Great Work of manifesting the unifying realm in this lifetime. Since time immemorial, the Great Work has advanced against the shadow of hate, fear, greed and force through the conscious implementation of the inspired action of the Universal Civilizing Spirit.
The Ethics of Inspired Action
Divination is knowing the mind of the spirit world. It is the oldest of all forms of magic. What the uninitiated call magic the initiated know to be the inflowing of the unifying realm into this realm of the five senses. The ability to marshal that inflowing is first and foremost a matter of right intent: Paradoxically an emptying and filling, it is a practice of emptying oneself of self-interest while filling the void of need in this realm wherein the land, water, air, plants, animals, people and spirits have been so depleted of their original good fortune.
Acting for the sake of the Whole, initiates entrust their wellbeing and good fortune to the underlying harmony of order and chance: All boats are lifted together on the rising tide. The practice of the Great Work culminates in standing watch at the Gate of Coming and Going, for this is the passageway through which the inflowing of the unifying realm arrives. This inflowing is the mind of the spirit world, which arrives as shen, or spiritual intent, which then becomes more concentrated as qi, or generative energy, before it crystalizes as jing, or animate substance—and it is from this animate substance that all new manifestations take form within the realm of the five senses. Opening the Gate of Coming and Going is granted to those who have brought their personal elemental forces into harmonious equilibrium with the universal elemental forces, for these are the people who have attained the complete wisdom of the Ecstatic Life and so embody the principle of universal benefit.
What is the daily practice of the Great Work? Making use of the constant flux of personal change provoked by the interaction between inner and outer experience, we abide by the ethics of inspired action to bring our personal elemental forces into harmonious equilibrium with the universal elemental forces.
What is Inspired Action? The inner and outer actions we consciously take as sacred beings toward every sacred being within our awareness.
What is the Universal Civilizing Spirit? The omnipresent perfecting intent of the World Soul, which reveals the sacredness of form and formless through their infinite interchanges spanning the single moment of eternity.
The sacredness of everything is not an empty or abstract phrase. It is an accurate description of reality and has profound ramifications in its mirroring of All This. By All This, we mean all the subatomic particles and the space between, we mean all the stars and the space between, and we mean all other beings and the space between: All This is Alive and Aware. To consciously act as a sacred being among this universe of sacred beings—such is the first principle upon which the ethics of the initiated is built.
The ethics of the initiated is not defined, in other words, as an inventory of given intentions and actions appropriate to given situations and circumstances.
It is defined, rather, as the conscious behavior of an angel toward all the other angels in the universe.
The Angelology of Form
By angel we do not refer to any modern concepts that anthropomorphize the elemental creative forces of this world of worlds—forces that are essentially inhuman, cold as crystal, clear as fire, immortal as death, the archetypal substance of every form. Inhuman, yes, in the sense of transcending the mortal awareness of mortality. Yet more human than human, in the sense of having lived so many mortal lifetimes that the poignancy of each moment of life is a perfect diamond of memory carved into space. By angel, therefore we revert to the ancient worldview of the emanations between the original Act of Creation and all its subsequent manifestations of form—the shen, or spiritual intent, of pre-manifestation substance that takes form.
Angels are, literally, the Messengers of the Divine. They carry the full import of the sacred in their own Being, heralding the immediate presence of the Divine. Each is an eternal Archetype, a perfected Idea, of the One Mind. Each is, in other words, an individual Aspect, a unique Face, of the Divine. To meet an Angel, therefore, is to gaze into the Face of the Divine. To recognize oneself as an Angel is to gaze into the image and reflection of the Divine. Because everything is the Divine, every thing is an Angel. It does not matter how big, small, dense, subtle, near, far, clear, or obscure: Each thing, every being, from the subatomic to the galactic, is one of the unique Faces of the Divine.
It is in this sense that it is said that Every Form is an Angel. And it is in this sense that it is said of the totality of all things that The universe itself is the eternal Convocation of Angels. It is not just the burning bush that is speaking—every thing, every Angel, is always speaking its message to all the other Messengers everywhere. In the same way that an infinite number of individual fires grow together into a single bonfire that emits a single vital light, all the speakings of all the Angels—the speakings of all the rocks and trees and mountains and rivers and clouds and wind and the sun and moon and stars and children and women and men and animals and flowers and soil and rain—grow together into a single great song of joyous communion.
Herein lies the culmination of complete wisdom, which has little to do with intellectual, theoretical, or scholarly rationale, for following the Inner Path along its natural course into the Inner Landscape of the World Soul leads in the opposite direction, retracing the mystics’ path of return to the Ecstatic Life. This step back into The Imaginal realm—the realm of pure Being, the realm of the angelic doubles manifesting all forms—is the singular act of self-recognition that evaporates the mirages of separateness on the soul’s return to the Sphere of Universal Communion. To recognize one’s own deathless angelic nature is to immerse oneself in the universal at-one-ment of the deathless angelic nature of All. To recognize one’s own perfected Idea at the root of all one’s lifetimes is to hear one’s own speaking amidst the universal choir of Messengers.
The Imaginal is also called the Crossroads of the Diviners, the place where all the Ancients of all the cultures and traditions have always met to hear the Messengers of the One. As such, it is the omnipresent site of divining, wherein reading the mind of the spirit realm is coincident with listening to other Angels.
Question: What is it that Messengers herald?
The Inner Path
The personality cannot think its way into The Imaginal. Entrance into the realm of subtle bodies is gained instead by stepping out of Thinking and back into Being. This is called Remembering your original face before your mother and father ever met.
Thinking is the function of the body’s conscious awareness, which is called the personality, as it signifies the person born to certain parents in a certain culture in a certain historical time. The body’s personality is also called the mortal soul, as distinct from the immortal soul of the spirit. The two souls are traditionally conceived as the lower soul, which is conditioned by the circumstances into which the body is born, and the higher soul, whose unconditioned nature coincides with the timeless spatiality of the unchanging unifying realm. This is the realm of Being, which is the substance of the higher soul that precedes the names, words, and internal narrative of Thinking. It is the realm, too, of the inner master, the personal guide, that is the personality’s Angel.
Because the immortal soul is already always awakened to its true angelic nature, it has traditionally been said that It is the mortal soul that awakens.
It is, then, the process of awakening the personality to its angelic nature that constitutes the Inner Path. And it is the purpose of the higher soul to guide the lower soul to that awakening.
The awakened angelic nature, however, is unconditioned by any circumstance or state. This means that no part or aspect of its nature is caused by any event or condition—and because it is not the effect of any cause, the awakened nature cannot be brought about by any effort, whether external or internal. The higher soul may guide forever but never toward a specific result—all it can do is lead the lower soul to create an opening in the Intentional Field where the spirit of transmutation can enter when it is convinced the time is ripe. The overarching goal of the Inner Path is the cultivation of the mortal soul: It depends utterly on the personality voluntarily taking up the practice of the intentional body in order to radiate the most beneficial intent in every possible dimension. It is this intent, stabilized over a period of time, that creates the opening in the Intentional Field known as the site of soul-making.
Question: What is intent?
Answer: Purposive imagination.
Intent, in other words, is comprised of the same substance as The Imaginal itself: Like can only be known by like. What the personality learns on the Inner Path is how to focus imagination in an ever more single-pointed questioning of the universe of Angels.
Passive imagination is unfocused, seeking outlets in idle daydreaming, fantasizing, and escapism. Its lack of purpose, other than keeping the imagination vigorous, can be seen in the absence of positive transformation it evokes in the personality. Yet its very efforts to exert itself into the realm of conscious life demonstrates both its life-affirming vitality and refusal to be denied expression. Our unconscious life is even more its purview, as dreams are nearly pure imagination, cut off as they are from the primary senses and conscious perception. But clearly, passive imagination is of the same substance from which focused purposive imagination is formed.
The intentional body, then, is purposive imagination—which is why it is also called the dream body, being a focused marshaling of the same pure substance of dreams. The dream body is activated, in this sense, by directing the full brunt of one’s waking attention onto an Idea. Just as dreams are the personal entryway into the collective unconscious via archetypal images laden with memories, associations, emotions, and multi-layered meanings, purposive imagination is the personal entryway into The Imaginal via single-minded concentration on an archetypal Idea and its self-revelatory relationships to other Ideas.
Ideas cannot be described. They can be named but that says little about the actual mechanism of searching for them, questioning them, and understanding their reply. This process has nothing to do with Thinking. It is neither linear nor word-based. It is spatial and feeling-based, requiring a kind of journeying into the depths of living imagination in pursuit of one of its figures that appear as emotion-laden, memory-laden, and meaning-laden images. It bears repeating that each of the archetypal Ideas is an Angel: Each is a living facet of the One Mind, no different than each of us.
Following are the names of a few Ideas upon which the dream body can easily concentrate. Mountain. Ocean. Atom. Sun. Moon. Child. Love. Peace. World. Human. Approach an Idea as another Idea, with genuine curiosity, wonder, and sincerity: This establishes the basis of communion and the free flow of understanding between responsive Angels and the questing mortal soul. It can help at the beginning of this method to address an Idea as if it were a symbol occurring in one of your dreams—say, a Mountain, for instance, which does not unpack all its contents to the thinking mind but does open to inquiry by purposive imagination. It goes without saying, perhaps, that there exist an infinitude of Ideas, many of which are much more complex than the examples above: These more subtle bodies cannot be named easily, as they comprise parts of highly complex webs of ascending orders of meaning. This interrelatedness of eternal Ideas is what inevitably stirs the still surface of unchanging Being, giving rise to the timebound linearity of Thinking: It is the necessity of thinking words rather than perceiving images that distinguishes our standing in the realm of Thinking from that of Being.
The attentive diviner will have noticed how similar this mechanism is to that of addressing the Oracle, whose reply is activated by asking a question. In the process of divination, too, the question is not posed by the thinking mind in the form of words or sentences but, rather, in a kind of cloud of associations, memories, emotions, and multiple points of view: In this manner, one’s purposive imagination is trained on a web of relationships constellated around the primary Idea of the divinatory inquiry. It is worth noting in this regard that the Oracle often appears to the diviner as the Archangel of Change.
The Life of Water
From a particular standpoint in The Imaginal, everything in the universe is water and the universe is its flowing. Trees are slow moving water. Mountains are water standing nearly still. Fire is inside-out water. People are conscious water.
From the perspective of the realm of the five senses, on the other hand, the life of water forms a cycle that begins in the ocean, where each of its drops tastes of salt. Water evaporates from the sea, leaving its saltiness behind and forming clouds that float over land to collect along mountains, where they rain down as freshwater. Collecting in rivulets, streams, tributaries, and eventually rivers, freshwater follows the line of least resistance to return back to the ocean, no sooner reentering the sea than its saltiness is immediately restored.
Within The Imaginal, this life cycle of water is a literal and physical symbology of the soul’s journey through the realm of the five senses. The ocean is the eternal reservoir of souls, the Sphere of Universal Communion. The saltiness of each drop of the sea is the immediate sense of communion with all other souls—the knowing of being a vital part of the at-one-ment of all beings. The evaporation of the drops of water into clouds is the voluntary decision to visit the realm of the five senses again. The loss of saltiness via evaporation is the voluntary relinquishment of the memory of the oceanic reservoir of souls. Falling as freshwater in the mountains is birth into a physical body. Flowing over the land as freshwater, nurturing everything touched is the necessity of making one’s way through this world on faith, as actions taken without a real sense of mortality lack genuine magnanimous benevolence. Each drop recovering its saltiness upon returning to the sea is the full complete spontaneous recovery of the immediate sense of communion with all other souls—as well as the full complete spontaneous recovery of the memory of all the individual’s lifetimes.
Through the eyes of the dream body, moreover, water is the shape-shifter. As water, it takes on the form of its vessel, whether an ocean, a river, a lake, a puddle, a channel, a bowl, or a cup. Cooled, water takes the form of ice, a solid which, if heated, melts back into its liquid state of water. Heated, water takes the form of vapor, a gas which, if collected and distilled, returns to its liquid state of water.
From within The Imaginal, this shape-shifting character of water is viewed as demonstrating both the threefold nature of reality and the inherent ability of all form to change states. From this perspective, the gaseous state of vapor symbolizes the spiritual intent of shen, the liquid state of water symbolizes the generative energy of qi, and the solid state of ice symbolizes the animate substance of jing.
|Middle||Mankind||Human Nature||Psyche||Generative Energy||Qi||Water|
Figure 1: Correlations within the Threefold Nature of Reality
In this sense, the life of water symbolizes imagination, the shape-shifting essence that maintains its integral identity by eternally conforming to its current vessel. As such, imagination is neither the conscious nor the unconscious—it is pure psyche itself, the qi, or generative energy, from which the conscious (shen) and the unconscious (jing) derive. Question: Why is life subjected to suffering and death? Answer: This is how we make souls.
The Site of Transformation
The soul is not in the body,
The body is in the soul.
The mortal soul awakens when the bubble of its memory is pierced by the arrow of the immortal soul’s understanding. Until that moment, the personality is driven to act and react by past experience—by the mortal soul’s conditioned sense of self, which is the sum of all the body’s experiences. This conditioned self is artificial in the sense that it is the product of fate: Born to certain parents in a certain culture within a certain historical era, the body’s experiences are reinforced through familiar repetition until they fossilize into habitual thoughts, feelings, and associations. This habit-mind is bounded on all sides by the horizon of birth-and-death: There is no direct knowledge of anything prior to the birth of the body nor subsequent to its death. The mortal soul has no first-hand knowledge of anything but its own five senses, so its beliefs, values, and ethics are guided by self-interest—to the extent it acts otherwise is a matter of the faith it places in second-hand knowledge obtained from others. Moving through life thus, the mortal soul proceeds toward death and the dissolution of its bond with the body.
The spirit, or immortal soul, dwells in the eternal present of the unifying realm and so has nothing that can strictly be called memory. Its awareness is unbounded, being coincident with the unifying realm itself—and, thereby, coincident with the awarenesses of all other immortal souls, as well. This is the state of at-one-ment that forms the gravitational coherence of the Sphere of Universal Communion, an horizonless state of shared understanding forged in the fires of uncountable mortal lifetimes. For it is immortal spirit that gives form and lives through every manifestation in Creation, from the infinitesimal to the infinite. As the unconditioned self, the higher soul is the true self guiding the personality through the labyrinth of self-interest back to the omnipresent Center, the secret garden, of the World Soul. Just as the higher soul does not possess memory, it likewise does not possess knowledge in the way the mortal soul does. This is because such knowledge is the product of the body’s experiences, which is relative to time and place and form. After all, the higher soul has been part of uncountable forms across the eons and the particulars of such knowledge, as well as all such memories, have been distilled into pure understanding.
By understanding we mean the essential relationships between things. The moment the mortal soul first follows the higher self back into the omnipresent Center has long been described as a single lightningbolt illuminating the entire landscape on a dark moonless night: Suddenly the entire web of eternal relationships making up the essential nature of the underlying harmony of the world appears with crystal clarity. It is The Vision of the Secret Allies, which is also called the first-hand experience of the interdependence of all things.
Most people go through life sensing they have some untapped potential, a part of themselves that they cannot reach, a purpose they cannot define, a destiny they worry is slipping away from them. Despite their best efforts, they grow increasingly frustrated by their inability to change in any long-standing and meaningful way. As civilization becomes increasingly complex, there seems less time and energy to dedicate to internal metamorphosis. It is with an eye to future generations that the ancients codified and safeguarded the sacred technologies of transformation.
The mortal soul is born into a culture of competition. From its earliest years, it learns to fear that there will not be enough. Enough food, enough money, enough security, enough clothes, enough love, enough attention: From its earliest years, it learns that the only way to ensure there will be enough is to win it. Even at the expense of others, if need be. Because others are competing to ensure they have enough even if it means taking it from others. This is the path of self-interest, the way of the uninitiated.
For the uninitiated, winning means having enough, which they call good fortune—losing, on the other hand, means not having enough and is called misfortune. The initiated, however, do not allow the self-interest of conventional thinking to misguide them into seeking good fortune or avoiding misfortune. Rather, they maintain their focus on ennobling the mortal soul. This, indeed, is seen as the overarching purpose of the higher soul—to inspire the personality to accept its own sacred angelic nature.
Such acceptance is reached by stabilizing one’s focused concentration on spirit, not manifestation. This means holding in mind pre-manifestation, most particularly one’s spiritual intent, instead of one’s past, present, or possible circumstances. Seeing with the intentional body’s eyes, working with the dream body’s hands—such is the path of true good fortune. Rather than following the lead of the uninitiated, who attempt to manipulate their circumstances to gratify their self-interest, the initiated increasingly sensitize themselves to both their own spiritual intent as well as others’ within the Intentional Field. This is the natural fruit of the seed of divination: To read the mind of the spirit realm.
Explore The Imaginal by feel, sense the intents of others. Recognize that not all of them are currently incarnated within a human body or, if they are, their physical presence may be very distant from your own. Do not avoid contact but, rather, seek out allies with everyone, exuding your own well-disciplined and constant intent: Let Us Share Plenitude! There is no limit of magnanimous qi in the realm of pre-manifestation: Here! Come to My Table! There is Plenty For All! By becoming a wellspring of benevolence in the pre-manifestation realm, you pave the way for the corresponding animate substance to take form in the realm of manifestation. This is called The wisdom of the heart.
Question: How do we embody ecstasy?
Answer: We become the site of transformation.