Oscillating Consciousness and God
“To say that God is infinite is to say that He may be apprehended and described in an infinity of ways. That circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere, may be approached from every angle with a certainty of being found. Mystical history, particularly that which deals with the Illuminative Way is a demonstration of this fact. Here is the establishment of the ‘first mystic life,’ of conscious correspondences with Reality, the self which has oscillated between two forms of consciousness, has alternatively opposed and embraced its growing intuitions of the Absolute, comes for a time to rest.
“To a large extent, the discordant elements of character have been purged away. Temporarily at least the mind has ‘unified itself’ upon high levels, and attained , as it believes, a genuine consciousness of the divine and veritable worlds. The depth and richness of its own nature will determine how intense that consciousness shall be.
“Whatever its scope, however, this new apprehension of reality generally appears to the illuminated Self as final and complete. As the true lover is always convinced that he has found in his bride the one Rose of the World, so the mystic, in the first glow of his illumination, is sure that his quest is now fulfilled. … He has yet to pass through that ‘night of the senses’ in which he learns to distinguish the substance of reality from the accidents under which it is perceived; to discover that the heavenly food here given cannot satisfy his ‘hunger for the Absolute’.” ~Evelyn Underhill
I’m not sure I can agree with Underhill that saying God is Infinite means He can be be “described in an infinity of ways.” It is more like God is so complex that in order to make Him somewhat comprehensible, we describe a limited part of Him, a single aspect. In this way, we can comprehend, to some degree, that one aspect, but it is not a true and accurate description of God. Describing a brick is not an accurate description of a brick wall. Even describing each and every brick in the wall is not accurate, for the whole is more than the sum of the parts. That is even more true of God.
To tell you the truth, I am not fond of this Zen description of God as a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. Turning God into riddles does not, in my opinion, aid understanding. Besides, I think it would be more accurate, since the rules of space and time do not apply to God at all, to say that He is a circle with a center everywhere and a circumference everywhere. In other words, all of God is everywhere, yet He is not in one location only, not in the physical sense of location.
We do function on multiple levels of consciousness, even though we are often not aware of it. From the scientific view, we are told we have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind, but that is not what Underhill or the mystics are talking about. She means that we operate on a physical world, third dimension level of consciousness, as well as a fifth dimension, spiritual level. I’m not sure, however, that it is accurate to call this oscillating consciousness. We may, when we are doing it intentionally, switch back and forth from one level to another through the use of spiritual techniques taught in the mystery schools. But we can also operate on both levels at the same time, just as our conscious mind and subconscious mind can both be operating simultaneously. That is possible because it is the brain-mind that operates on the third dimension and the soul that does the same on the fifth dimension. So oscillating consciousness may happen, but so does the simultaneous operation of both levels.
Some theorize that when we sleep, our soul enters those higher dimensions and dreams come from the fifth dimension. While it may be true that the soul enters those higher dimensions while we sleep – it is, after all, a spirit and not restricted by space and time, or even dimensions – it can do it whether we are asleep or not. The real difference is that when we are asleep, the soul can more easily communicate with the brain-mind because it is offering little resistance. That communication may come through as dreams, but that doesn’t’ mean that all dreams are communications from the soul or from higher dimensions and higher beings. One thing the spiritual student must learn is how to tell those dreams from the more mundane and meaningless ones.
Final and Complete?
It probably is true that many spiritual students who have achieved that oscillating consciousness, or have had a real spiritual awakening (meaning the dormant soul has become conscious), think that they have achieved the final goal. They think they are at the mountain top and can relax and just coast from then on. Sorry, but that is not the case. There are still levels of consciousness to reach for that are higher than that one found in the oscillating consciousness mentioned by Underhill. No one reaches the highest level while still trapped in a physical body and limited by the physical brain-mind. But we need to try to reach the highest level possible before physical death claims us. It’s somewhat like doing a good job in high school before you go to college. The more you learn and achieve in high school, the easier it will be in college. Likewise, the more spiritual advancement you achieve in your physical lifetime, the easier the continued path will be once you cross over.