Spiritual traditions, practices and philosophies have endured through the span of human history. Meditation and Yoga in India goes back as far as five millennia. Egyptian mystical practices go back at least as far. Evidence of contemplative and esoteric traditions has been found in Sumeria/Mesopotamia, and also the Americas. These are esoteric practices that predate the religions that we know of today. Majorly, these mystical practices were utilized individually, although, the shared experience was also common.
What is it about mystical/spiritual exploration that has sustained through human existence regardless of culture or religion?
Mysticism has survived dogmatic religious suppression, despite the fact that all religions share a common mystical origin. Mysticism has endured governmental restraint throughout history all over the globe. A mystical tradition, a wonderment at the heavens and self exploration, the personal, intimate self knowing may be humanity's oldest endeavor. The wistful yearning to know ones self.
The mystic poet Rumi lyrically wrote...
"Not Christian or Jew or
Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.
Not any religion
or cultural system.
I am from the east or the west, I am not out of the ocean or up.
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all. I do not exist.
Am not an entity in this world or the next, did not descend from Adam and Eve or any origin story.
My place is the placeless, a trace of the traceless. Neither body or soul. I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one and that one call to and know.
First, last, outer, inner, only that breath breathing.
Rumi says to us, there is a conscious space in us that has no origin, no definition...knows no bounds. A space that is past mind and personal identity. This is our true Self, what 'I AM' really means. Mooji highlights this reality here. When a spiritual practice achieves it deepest realization one will understand -
I'm not an atheist, but I understand their argument.
I'm not a Christian, but I understand what 'Christ consciousness' is.
I'm not a Muslim, but I understand what they mean by 'Allah'.
I'm not Jewish, but I understand what the star of David symbolizes.
I'm not a Buddhist, but I understand what 'nothingness' really means.
I'm not Hindu, but I understand what Ganesh symbolizes.
I'm not a Native American, but I know what they mean when speaking of 'the great Spirit'.
I'm not a Pagan, but I understand nature worship.
I'm not Wiccan, but I understand what the elemental spirits are.
There is the common thread that weaves through all religions. Living is about understanding...understanding brings peace.
"You know you exist.
This is so natural not even your parents had to teach you that.
You instinctively know you are alive and that you are perceiving somehow.
Not even deliberately, it is just happening.
It is an effortless functioning.
And there is Awareness of that functioning.
What more can you say?
The rest is entirely made up."
The mind and the ego that lives through it is limited perceptually. The ego/mind is primarily linear in it's continence. Left to it's own understanding that entity, the ego/mind, believes it is all that exists. It neglects the ground of being, the heart-space. This hinders joy, and the appreciation of what genuine Love is. The best that the ego/mind can achieve is affection, a conditional affection. My friend, Dr. Alexander Riegal reminded me of the quote by the mystic poet Hafiz -
"The mind and the body are famous for holding the heart ransom. . ."
This holding ransom of our hearts is accomplished by constant attention seeking noise. Our ego/minds are aware of our heart-space and pure Love, but it doesn't think it matters. The ego clamors...'Listen to me! Listen to me!' The heart is a silent whisper...an inaudible knowing by feeling.
However, the ego/mind can be disciplined, it can be made transparent and 'ignored', for a while. We can bask in our ground of being, which is audibly just below the mental pandemonium of the ego.
That is the value of a consistent spiritual practice. It will let you discover, to be reminded of, your true identity. The I AM presence. Past name, gender, nationality or religion. Simply that space that exists outside of time, place or materiality.
Rumi eloquently writes -
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”