Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Journey of Descent
Integrating Our Lives into Our Realization
Many of us can experience various aspects of reality without understanding them fully or recognizing their perspective. What does the experience of different aspects add to our view about reality? In some sense, all of enlightenment, all the wisdom of true nature, is already implicit in any one of the aspects. But it is often difficult for us to fully understand an aspect, to unpack it totally. So true nature, in its endless compassion, offers us one aspect after another in our experience, providing many chances and opportunities to learn about reality. And the same is true of the various wisdom vehicles on this path of realization. They are an important part of what develops the view of totality. And, of course, the boundless dimensions, both in the journey of ascent and the journey of descent, have their own perspectives about reality. As we experience each one of these dimensions, understand them, and integrate them, our view about reality changes and develops. We sometimes view our path as including two major journeys—ascent and descent—a journey toward enlightenment and a journey toward becoming a complete human being. The journey of ascent is a matter of realizing one dimension after another, all the way to the absolute dimension. We recognize and experience that dimension as the nature of reality in its vastness and mystery and clarity, as the ground of everything. Then the journey of descent is a process of integrating all the dimensions and qualities and vehicles into that absolute reality. The path of descent is actually a matter of integrating our lives into our realization.
Runaway Realization, pg. 124
Integration of the Forms of Manifestation into the Unmanifest Absolute
The dimensions of the journey of descent represent different degrees of the integration of the forms of manifestation into the unmanifest absolute. The unfoldment starts with the absolute dimension, where the absolute is transcendent to all manifestation, and moves to greater and greater integration of the manifest world, until it arrives at their total coemergence and nonduality. At the same time, each of these dimensions reveals a particular relationship of the absolute to manifest reality. By experiencing and understanding each of these objective relationships, we recognize something fundamental about the absolute truth, and its significance to the soul and the totality of Reality. This understanding in turn facilitates a more complete and thorough realization of the absolute as the ultimate nature of Reality.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 416
Revelation of the Relation between the Absolute and the Various Dimensions of True Nature
The journey of descent reveals the relation between the absolute and the various dimensions of true nature. The quintessential dimension reveals it specifically as not actually a relation, but a complete integration, a perfect coemergence. All the dimensions of true nature—its absolute essence, nonconceptual awareness, pure presence, divine love, and creative logos—make up one truth, in a primordial synthesis. In the soul’s personal experience she may perceive the absolute coemergent with awareness, presence, or love, but in actuality all the dimensions make up an indivisible unity. To experience a limited coemergence indicates a transitory dominance of some dimensions due to the conditions of the particular situation. But true nature inherently and primordially possesses all the five dimensions. This means that any essential aspect inherently exists in all the five dimensions simultaneously. An aspect is always a dynamic presence continually generated by the creativity of the logos. It possesses its own inseparable awareness of its presence and phenomenological characteristics, its cognitive flavor or universal concept, its affective coloration, and it is always fundamentally coemergent with its own ontological absence. In other words, the journey of descent shows us that an essential aspect is inherently nondual with all the dimensions of true nature, a differentiation of a particular perfection of this true nature.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 441
Seeing that the World is Grounded in Emptiness
The insight that emptiness is the ground of all forms is specifically significant for the inner journey, especially for the journey of descent. Through the absolute descending into the world we see that the world is grounded in emptiness, and hence is always insubstantial and lacks any ultimate existence. The soul learns that to live in the world from the perspective of the absolute is to never forget that the world is ultimately insubstantial, that it is groundless; for the absolute ground is simply absence. More precisely, its groundlessness is its truth and freedom and the liberation of the soul is in remembering that she can rely ultimately only on the absolute: it is the groundless ground. She can trust emptiness, for it is the ultimate unchanging ground that is certain to be found at the depth of everything. In other words, the ground of all manifest forms is that when we try to find their ultimate essence they disappear. The unfindability of their ultimate existence is their ground.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 430
Soul Realizes that She Simply Cannot Remain at the Transcendent Summit of Reality
The self-realization of the Absolute is the end of the search, the satisfaction of the soul’s longing. But it is not the completion of the inner journey. As the process continues, we continue to realize the absolute as our ipseity and the true nature of all manifestation. The soul becomes established in the absolute mystery, where its crystalline emptiness becomes the unchanging field of all her experience. For some, this station lasts for many years, and for others only a few days. At some point, the soul realizes that she cannot simply remain at the transcendent summit of Reality; her unfoldment naturally takes her on another journey, the journey of descent.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 413
The Movement of Recognizing the Absolute as Immanent in all Forms
The journey of descent moves back through the same dimensions of manifestation, from the vantage point of the absolute. In the process of descent, she learns that there is no leaving the absolute, but that the descent is simply the integration into the absolute of all dimensions of manifestation. The garments that the absolute has shed to reveal its absolute simplicity return now, but distinctly as garments, garments that do not hide or obscure the truth of the absolute. The descent is a conscious descent of the absolute into the various dimensions that it has manifested. It is a movement of recognizing the absolute as immanent in all forms and phenomena of reality. The absolute moves from being absolute transcendence, beyond and above all dimensions and forms, to being the inner nature and ground of all. Yet, the absolute does not leave its condition of transcendence; its transcendent mystery simply appears as inseparable and nondual with all forms and dimensions.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 415
The Understanding of all the Dimensions and Forms of Reality from the Vantage Point of the Absolute
The journey of descent is actually a further understanding and realization of the absolute. It is a matter of understanding the absolute as not only the transcendent truth but also as the immanent ground and essence of all Reality. This includes the view and understanding of all of the dimensions and forms of Reality from the vantage point of the absolute. Hence, this and the next chapter can be viewed as a continuation of the previous chapter’s discussion of the absolute. Just as the journey of ascent possesses two complementary facets, those of self-realization and individuation, the journey of descent has two facets as well: on the one hand, new dimensions arise, with their associated relative and essential forms, and the self-realization of these dimensions; on the other hand, the soul achieves the personalization of these dimensions and the maturation into greater individuation that integrates these new dimensions and their wisdom. The dimensions that arise in the journey of descent are not exactly new dimensions, for they are all various degrees and forms of the integration into the absolute of the various dimensions of Being. They include the absolute as the central element of their truth, and hence can be called dimensions of integration into the absolute. They are new, however, in the sense that it is the first time the soul experiences and understands them. The present chapter will address this process.