by Debbie Peluso: Impermanence, …emptiness, …illusions, …samsara, …maya; words we often encounter on our journey to awakening our consciousness.
We study and meditate on just what it means when our masters tell us there is no form and that all things are empty of their own side. Buddhism tells us it’s all illusion and that is the cause of our human suffering. But where do we find our illusions? Why do people’s sufferings differ? Are they predetermined? Might our illusions be karmic? Are our illusions real?
Dream States and Illusion Rule the Day
Paramahansa Yogananda once said, “A man closes his eyes and erects a dream creation which, on awakening, he effortlessly dematerializes. Similarly, when he awakens in cosmic consciousness, he will effortlessly dematerialize the illusions of the cosmic dream.”
Based on these words, it would seem that no matter where we awaken in our consciousness, we are always living in some state of maya, or illusion. Does this mean we exist as confused little gobs of consciousness that just keep flitting from one state to another? One would think not. We must be more!
Awakening from ‘Altered States’ of Illusion
The popular movie from the ’80’s, “Altered States,” spoke of changing the various levels of our consciousness. Through meditation, we awaken to a different experience of physical illusion, even down to our primitive state as humans. But ultimately, the main character awakens to the reality that we are primordial energy, divine energy that has incredible power, knowledge and innate cellular memory containing all of our collective past physical existences, as well as the memory of all that has ever been. Although he used a “think tank” and experimented with mind-altering drugs to tap into this knowledge, the same understanding can be achieved through a disciplined practice of meditation.
So what is this primordial energy and why is it so important for it to accumulate experiences through the illusions of physical existence? This is the million-dollar question that many masters and many of us have pondered at one time or another, and will probably never be able to answer. We can only speculate based on our own individual experiences and perceptions.
Efforts to Understand Our Greater Mystery
In our childhood we are taught by our parents and then later by some religious institutions that we must be “good” or God will be unhappy with us. We become fearful of being our authentic selves and experiencing our humanness. But most unfortunate, we developed this sort of subconscious fear of God. Questions would arise that couldn’t seem to be answered, and we struggled with gaining some sort of comprehension of this great mystery of God and how we fit into the picture. We were told if we followed all of the rules our souls would be allowed to enter heaven, but if we did not, we would be condemned to eternity in hell. Erroneously, we are lead to believe that these are places that our soul goes to once we leave this planet.
Does Being in the Physical World Cause Pain?
But what is heaven, and where can we find it? And what is hell? Nichiren Buddhism, is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, founded by a 13th Century monk named Nichiren. Its focus is in reciting the Lotus Sutra and the chanting of “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” Buddhism tells us there is no soul, that it is all about mind, our acts, our thoughts. Nichiren once said that hell is found within our five-foot body, and through the chanting and recitation of the Lotus Sutra, we can attain enlightenment. Is that what heaven is? Is the implication here that the illusions of our physical bodies navigating through life is the hell and the awakening of our innate primal nature heaven?
Unfolding Wisdom, One Lotus Petal at a Time
Meditators would say, yes. They believe heaven and hell are states of mind, and that we have the ultimate choice in how we live. When we meditate, we begin to awaken our cellular knowledge. There is this natural unfolding of wisdom, a “knowing without knowing” that surfaces. We begin to understand how our illusions of self (ego) is what keeps us in a state of suffering (hell) and how each incarnation engraves itself on our souls. Patterns, fears, karma arise, and we have the opportunity to change them into acceptance, love, forgiveness leading to happier states of mind (heaven). Each person’s experience is different but yet we all originate from the same collective consciousness. We are the same but yet different.
Awakening to Positive Karma – the Benefits
This awakening allows us to transform. It offers the possibility to clear away the negative and create positive karma, which can lead to better future incarnations. Yes, our illusions are real. Though our past may predetermine them, we have the ability through the use of our own free will to change them. We can use them to our benefit to create a happier state of being.
But the million-dollar question that still seems to puzzle many of us is why. Why do we accumulate knowledge within the depths of our consciousness in the various states through which we pass? Whose cosmic dream is this and why do our lives and states of being play such an important role? The answer lies deep within us, and needs awakening.