A funny thing happened on the way to survival ... some humans began to "wake up"...!
Now, the "normal" way that humans have dealt with pain (inner or outer, but predominantly inner), was to either escape it, or to console themselves for it. So, we distract ourselves, or focus on an idyllic afterlife (or a soon-coming utopia).
BUT -- starting around 1000 BC, a small number of folks came to see that there was another, more fulfilling possibility -- that they could heal the discord, rather than to escape from (or manage) the symptoms. They actually discovered that they could *transcend* their egoic sense of separation, and as a result, transcend the suffering!
We see this happening with the Upanishads of ancient India. They declared that our perceived sense of reality (based on our five senses), is not the true reality. That our sense of separation is nothing but an illusion. That everything in the universe is permeated with Brahman, or Spirit ... and that THIS is the ultimate reality.
"Shining, yet hidden, spirit lives in the cavern.
Everything that sways, breathes, opens, closes, lives in Spirit ...
Spirit is everywhere, upon the right, upon the left, above, below, behind, in front.
What is the world but Spirit?"
Of course, this wasn't really *new* - this was just a rediscovery of what the earlier ancestors knew. The sages and mystics have merely discovered a way to reverse the psychological consequences of the Ego Explosion ... they found-again the Spirit-Force, whether they called it Brahman, Maasauu, Wakan-Tanka, Tirawa, Kwoth ...
These sages and mystics realized that who we THINK we are, the ego, is just an impostor ... giving us a false sense of our identity ... we are suffering from a case of mistaken identity!
Around 600 BC, Buddhism and Janism emerged ... Buddhism showing the way to rise above suffering, by releasing craving (the ego is the craver, wanting, wanting, wanting). Janism tells us that we can find liberation through meditation, renunciation, and following a moral lifestyle -- including non-harming of any living being. Taylor writes,
"The adept reaches a state in which, according to one ancient Jain text, 'The Self is free from punishment, without opposites, without me-sense ... free from defects, free from delusion, and fearless'."
In China, around this same time, Taoism emerged ... Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were aware that there had been a previous harmonious time ... and that we had fallen from it. That we fell from the "Tao" (the Way), and instead came into the "way of man". We became aware of distinctions, aware of right/wrong, and became proud and selfish.
It's interesting ... if morality (adhering to a code of conduct) was *able* to correct the fallen psyche ... if conformance to a code of right and wrong could enable us to show a greater ability to empathize with others ... if it were able to change us, so that we could overcome our inner pathologies -- then we would've done so by now.
But this is not the case.
Morality has been preached, enforced, and mandated into laws, for millennia.
How's it working for us so far...?
It would seem that all of the mystic teachers taught that we had to be transformed from within ... that we had to "shift" ... that we had to change our inner perspective. External conformity is a band-aid on a cancer ... doesn't work, except to utterly exhaust us.
Jesus' teachings demonstrate the "trans-egoic" state of being. Look deeply at some of his statements: "The Kingdom of heaven is within you." "I am in my Father and my Father is in me." Some stronger statements are made in the gospels that didn't make the final cut ... in the "Oxyrhynchus" sayings of Jesus, Jesus is recorded as saying, "You shall know yourselves that you are in God and God in you. And you are the City of God."
Jesus teaches of an intensity of compassion, that can only come with empathy -- feeling with another ... that comes from transcending the sense of separation from another. Jesus so identified with others, that he said, "as you do to one of the least of these, my brethren, you do to me." And, "he who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me."
And so it was, throughout history ... in every culture, among every tribe and nation, a very small minority of folks discovered that it was possible to transcend the fallen psyche, and to know truth.
Ironically, these mystics arose out of the very religions that opposed, and often, killed them. Judaism gave rise to Hasidism and Kabbalahism; Islam birthed the Sufis; Christianity gave forth to the likes of Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard, Thomas a Kempis, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Jakob Boehme.
While the mystics spoke of God, their concept of God was quite distinct from the religious concept of God .... God was not an anthropomorphic being, distant, up there, somewhere, looking down and controlling the world. Their God was Brahman, Spirit-Force ... the whole universe was impermeated with the radiance of God.
Religion declares that we are separate from God -- God is "other". Even unapproachable.
Mysticism declares that God is knowable, intimate, even within our own being. Sufi mystic Dhu al-Nun wrote,
"Their words are the words of God which roll upon their tongues, and their sight is the sight of God which has entered their eyes."
Are we not all God-breathed ... and thus inspired...?
When will we know this, trust this, and live this?
(Next: The "Second Wave" of Awakening! Or: You are HERE!)