The Spiritual Path
Chris: Enlightenment is usually seen as a fruit of the spiritual path or a spiritual life, so what do you see as the spiritual path?
Tony: Lately I have found another way of thinking about this or of explaining it. This is because recently I have written about, and therefore given much thought too, the process of lucidity and waking up in sleep.
This is such a huge subject because when we begin to think about sleep it poses such big questions. In fact it has been called the little death. So in the explorations of many past cultures into the meaning of life, they have seen the experience of sleep as providing some information about the experience of death. This is perhaps because, as we begin to penetrate the darkness of sleep, we begin to penetrate the deeper levels of our own awareness and have a sense that we are thereby touching the foundations of our own existence. See http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/levels-of-awareness-in-waking-and-dreaming/
When we see the moon and it is not full, we can see the edge where there is very marked light on one side and darkness on the other. Human life is very much like that. There is a sharp and dividing line between waking and sleeping, between having self-awareness and being as we call it unconscious. Mostly, what we call the spiritual path is about crossing that line, going over that border, moving beyond that frontier in one way or another. When we do that we become a whole human being. There is consciousness all the way through.
I know some aspects of are said to be about living a good life; about being kind, charitable and loving to others. Well, there may be truth in that, but I do believe that unless one achieves some level of awareness of one’s own internal nature through whatever path one takes, there has not been any real awareness of the spirit. In fact I define the spirit as pertaining to what doesn’t change, what does not shift in human nature, what remains as the foundations of existence. It has everything to do with something that stands beyond life-and-death. And that is why I link it to crossing of that border, that frontier between waking and sleeping. It is about exploring the dark side of the moon.
But often the spiritual is described as if it is something far off, ephemeral, very divine or difficult to attain. What I have come to over the years is these ideas give a wrong impression of it. My simple explanation is that your spirit is you when you remember yourself fully.
What I mean by this is mostly we do not know who we are because we suffer a form of amnesia. It is a memory loss that in our culture is assumed to be normal. We fail to remember our childhood, our infancy, our birth and conception, yet these are all available to us.
When we do take our memory back to include all these and go beyond that to our life in eternity, we remember who we are. Then we know what spirit is – ourself.
In fact, one of the stated facts of what we have called the enlightened human being, is that they never sleep. By this is not meant that the body does not go into a state of what we call sleep. What it means is that while they sleep they have focused awareness still and do not lose themselves in unconsciousness. That is why lucidity is such an interesting subject. When we penetrate these levels in sleep or in waking we begin the process of remembering who we are. This is what happens in learning what I have described as LifeStream.
Carl Jung describes the consciousness of a human being, with its experience of being awake and asleep, as being like a sphere. He said that on this sphere, or ball, there is a small spot of light about the size of a pea in relationship to a tennis ball. This small spot of light, he says, depicts our experience of waking. It is a tiny part of our whole self, the rest and greater part lies in the shadows of unconsciousness, of sleep.
Of course, most of us have glimpses into that dark world when we remember a dream. Therefore, as Freud suggested, dreams are a royal road to the unconscious. But there are many other paths that have been developed through the ages. Most of them in one way or another are ways of throwing the spotlight of awareness into the darkness of that large sphere that is our total being.