by Michael Maciel
There is a spiritual experience called “Self-realization,” a term popularized in the spiritual movement by Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship that brings a person face-to-face, so to speak, with their own being. Call it a “point of emergence” or the “source of one’s light of life.” Whatever term you give it, it is the most real part of you. And when you see it, you can neither deny it nor forget it.
Self-realization is one of the most significant experiences that one can have in a single lifetime. It changes your perspective forever. You can no longer see yourself as a separate, finite individual in a meaningless cosmos. Rather, you are one with it, and that One is intensely and universally personal.
Imagine that you are a river. You know many phases of your existence—the canyons, the valleys, the woodlands—all the places that comprise the sense of who you are. You even know your delta, the place where you intuit that you will meet your “end,” merging back into your source, the great ocean. But then you are shown your headwaters—your source. At first, this is an amazing discovery. It’s like seeing the source of your life’s energy, the place where you begin.
But this isn’t who you are, it’s just another aspect. Who you are is the entire hydrologic cycle—the ocean, the sun, the clouds, the rain—not just the surface water flowing along its banks. You see yourself as part of a larger, more complex system, one that in the final analysis is YOU. The single river, the life-expression you are perceptually attuned to, is just an individualized part of the system as a whole.
So it is with the Solar System. Taken in its entirety, our Solar System is an organic being, like a cell, complete with a nucleus, a membrane, and organelles—the planets. And just as identifying ourselves with the organic substance of our flesh is insufficient to tell us who we are, so is looking at the Solar System as a huge rock collection orbiting a nuclear furnace insufficient to describe the totality of Life. We see only a small slice of the electromagnetic structure of which the planetary bodies are but a part. Nor do we see the underlying intelligence that holds it all together.
The experience of Self-realization is like opening a door to this greater reality. It’s the beginning of the initiatory journey of knowing who we are in terms of the Cosmos—the invisible as well as the visible.
The key to actually experiencing this Great Awakening is faith—the trust that you are capable of having this kind of experience, that it isn’t something separate from your being and therefore unattainable. No. If it’s who you are in reality, then what else is there? What could possibly prevent you from seeing it, from knowing it? All you have to do is look in its direction, which is inward towards the source of the Light of Life as you perceive it.
It takes desire, willpower, and sacrifice, along with a sense of awe and a heartfelt devotion, to reach this breakthrough of awareness. But once you experience it, you will never be the same again.