In the night, when you go off to sleep and start dreaming, it can also be said that you wake up from the waking dream to the dreaming wakefulness! My take on mysticism suffers from an ‘Indian/Hindu’ bias because being an Indian and having found the maximum intellectual and emotional satisfaction from Vedanta and Upanishadic thought, I use that idiom in talking about mysticism. However mysticism transcends all frames of reference which belong to the limited sphere of the human experience. Mysticism sees ‘infinite bliss of pure being’ as the eternal essence of all existence. The great infinite is ever-new bliss, purest existence and the highest truth. It is beyond the individuated Godhead. God emerges out of the great infinite. However the idea of an individuated God is by no means necessary as we can see from Buddhism and Jainism. All that is needed for the universe to come forth is for the blessed infinity to ‘appear’ in the progressively materialized causal ( or ideational), subtle ( or energy) and gross ( or material) spheres of being. These spheres are mere appearences. They just ‘appear’ to exist while it is always the blessed infinity which ‘really’ exists ( The whole universe is only an illusion but a very persistent one- Einstein).The ‘infinite bliss of pure being’ is not consumed or used up in any manner due to such appearances but stays intact in its true essence.While the infinite bliss causes all creation, it is by no means affected by it. There is no analogy for mystic truths. However to convey a rough idea, think about the myriad clouds that appear in the sky without affecting it. Clouds are formed, play in the sky and ultimately vanish. The sky holds them all but is never affected in essence due to their presence or absence. I again want to reiterate that all analogies do a rather poor job of explaining mysticism. They are used only to aid understanding but only true experience can take you one step closer to the blessed truth.
Now, this blessed infinity is absolutely free from all attributes or qualities. Its free beyond freedom, beautiful beyond beauty and blessed beyond bliss. It is greater that greatness itself and more powerful than the very essence of power. It is completely ineffable yet all words describe it alone. You cannot know it, you must BE it. And you are already IT but for your mistaken delusion of individuality.The immense hypnotism which makes you believe I am so and so, born at this or that date, of this species, gender and age, with this human body, keeps you in the dream of individuality. Reality is as imagined as imagination is real. To an average human being, the talk of infinite bliss beyond creation would seem like a fable or a dream. However, it is he who is the fable and the dream while infinite bliss the only reality.What the infinite bliss is can never be described or even known except by merging into it once and forever, never to return back. Whoever comes back would not be the one who merged. The one who enters samadhi is not the one who comes out of samadhi and in the samadhi no individuated being is present; for samadhi is the purity of being beyond any individuation. This ‘infinite bliss of pure being’, free from all attributes and individuation, which seems so far away and looks like a fable is in truth, your , mine and this laptop’s own intimate essence, while all that you and I feel we are, say a 24 years old psycholgy student with a passion for chess, is in truth a fable and a mere dream. You may accuse me of turning the commonsense idea of reality upside down, but as I said earlier, ‘Reality is as imagined as imagination is real.’ Common sense would have you believe that the sun revolves around the earth ( that’s how it ‘appears’ and that’s what many primitives believed and the Bible says), that there is nothing similar to atoms or electrons( they are not evident to senses)and that the flying of an airplane made of metal is impossible( that’s what many eminent scientists believed before the Wright brothers turned their wisdom upside down). Even specific sense , such as that possessed by experimental scientists suffers from the limitation that it operates within the six sense fields ( the five primary senses and the mind which is treated as a sense in Indian thought).
Meditation is experiential rather than experimental. Its an experience beyond the sense-fields rather than an experiment within them. All science is within the purview of the intellect while meditation begins after the intellect has been transcended. From the great infinite bliss of pure being, an emanation appears in the form of a cosmic music or great vibration of harmony. This is the great ‘AUM’ sphere. Causal, subtle and gross universes emerge from it, appear to be for a few billion apparent years and are finally dissolved in the primeval ‘AUM field of consciousness’ which itself merges into ‘ Infinite Bliss of Pure Being’ beyond all creation , vibration and emanation. This great AUM consciousness is the cause of light and sound spheres which grossify as the material universe in which individuated frequencies which are relatively less gross appear as sentient beings ( like human beings) while the frequencies which are relatively more gross appear as matter dubbed ‘non-living’ ( say rocks, soil etc.). It must be noted that in essence, matter is consciousness itself. The modern string theory and some features of sub-atomic quantum physics have some interesting things to say about the similarities between the most advanced science and mysticism ( read for instance, ‘ The Tao of Physics’ by Fritjof Capra, an eminent physicist , who also had a beautiful mystic experience; also the talks between J. Krishnamurti, a mystic and David Bohm, the physicist, which are available in book-form and also online and on youtube).
Lets expound this theory in detail.
1.) ‘ Infinite bliss of pure being’ is the great supreme purity of blessed consciousness which is the highest happiness and is beyond all appearances, attributes and individuation of any kind. It’s the true essense of everything that appears to have an individuated existence, from the entire universe to the sun to me and you and the chair on which you are sitting. ‘ The Infinite Bliss of Pure Being’ corresponds with ‘PARAMATMAN’ or the infinite bliss beyond the apparent individuated essence.
2.) The first and primary emanation which appears from the ‘INFINITE BLISS OF PURE BEING’ is the great AUM consciousness from which the great effulgence of pure consciousness appears. This is the effulgence which is experienced by yogis as the brightness of a million suns shining as one. Bliss and the greatest happiness which fills the innermost recesses of being is the primary attribute of this effulgence. The great cosmic symphony described as AUM or the word ( gospel of john/bible), logos( Greek mystics), Udgitha etc. is the ‘AUDIBLE LIFE STREAM’ which emanates from AUM along with the effulgence. This audible life stream too has bliss or the greatest happiness as its primary attribute.The AUM consciousness corresponds with the ATMAN or the apparent individuated essence.
3.) As the AUM consciousness with its sphere of effulgence and audible vibration involutes or descends a bit, the CAUSAL SPHERE ( Karana ) comes into manifestation which too has bliss , though now somewhat individuated as its primary attribute.This corresponds with the sheath or covering of ‘BLISS’( Anandamayi kosha).
4.) With further involution of the AUM consciousness, the SUBTLE SPHERE OF ENERGY( appears from the causal realm.Consciousness takes the gross form of energy. This corresponds with the sheaths of pure INTELLIGENCE( Buddhimayi kosha) and pure EMOTION( manomayi kosha).
5.) The involution of the sphere of energy into the GROSS SPHERE OF MATTER( jara) occurrs when energy is transformed into matter. Consciousness appears as apparently lifeless in the form of rocks, earth, fire, physical light, electricity etc..( Its extremely important to remember that the effulgence of AUM experienced in meditation is the light of consciousness with extreme bliss and pure consciousness as its attribute and hence is very different from the physical light, say of sun. Besides the effulgence of AUM doesn’t cast any shadow which physical light does.)
6.) As involution occurrs, the three spheres intercat with one-another and exist in tandem with one of them having prominence in its sphere of power rather than as isolated realms. Thus within the earth experience, the gross frequencies appear as the earth, soil, rocks etc. while the subtle frequencies appear as sentient beings ( birds, fishes, human etc.) and the more subtle frequencies appear as human beings.
Within human beings, there are marked differences as to whether the causal, subtle or gross sphere of consciousness is the most active. Besides there are differences between the spheres which are dominant in different states of consciousness. Thus, the gross sphere is prominent in ordinary wakeful existence of humans when information is received through sense-channels . The subtle sphere is active during dreams when consciousness becomes a bit free from sense fields( but not from impressions from sense-fields; dreams draw heavily from the experiences of wakeful existence; usually even in dream, the dreamer retains his ‘age’, ‘gender’ and ‘looks’; ability to dream as beings of a different and higher species is a sign of spirituality maturity) and creates its own ‘reality’ through dreams. The deepest dreamless sleep corresponds to the vacuum between subtle and causal realms. To wake up in the deepest dreamless sleep when the consciousness is free from gross and subtle spheres is the beginning of mysticism proper. Even an ordinary human being retains the impression of well-being and freshness after a night’s good sleep.