Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Substance
Essence as Substance
Essence, when experienced directly, is seen to be some kind of substance, like water or gold, but it is not a physical substance like physical water or gold. This is a very difficult point to make. Essence is experienced as a substance, a material. It has characteristics such as density, viscosity, texture, taste and so on, but at the same time it is not a physical substance. It belongs to a different realm of existence.
Essence is the Actual Substance of the Soul
The presence of Essence with its truth, its intrinsic blissfulness, and its intelligence, is there all the time—it cannot go. If Essence is gone, you are dead. You can’t be conscious or aware without Essence. So when we perceive that Essence comes and goes, we are saying that it is limited, indicating that we are projecting a past relationship onto it, relating to it as though it were our mother. It also means that we have not yet fully understood that Essence is our essence, as fundamental to us as atoms are to the physical body. It is not something detachable from the soul that can come and go. It is the actual substance of the soul. When we don’t know this for certain, it means that our experience is incomplete and that we need to keep inquiring into what is limiting our experience. We need to ask ourselves, “Why do I believe that Essence is something that comes and goes? Where does that idea come from? What’s that experience like?” If the view that we are discussing is accurate, if Holy Truth is the nature of all of reality, what gives rise to the experience that it comes and goes? Where could it come from and where could it go to?
Facets of Unity, pg. 247
Essential Substance is Experienced in Its Deepest Nature as Existence
We have asserted the truth of substantiality to impress on the reader that essence or being is not a state of mind but is an actual and palpable ontological presence. The substantiality of essence is a fact that must be taken into consideration for the process of development, but simply realizing this truth is not sufficient. This is because, for instance, the physical body is also a substantial presence. We have stated and asserted the truth of substantiality to impress on the reader that essence or being is not an insight, not a state of mind, but an actual and palpable ontological presence. So what differentiates essential substance from the other categories of experience? In Chapter One we discussed essence from the perspective of presence and from the deeper perspective of existence. Essence and existence are the same thing. The essential substance is experienced in its deepest nature as existence. This level of experience is so deep and profound, so full and packed with a live significance, so moving and so powerful that it is not possible to communicate it through words. Words can describe some aspects of experience, but they fail actually to deliver the whole impact. Words can communicate the experience to somebody who already has had it or is right on the verge of it, but not to somebody who does not know.
Knowing that Essence is a Substance Does Not Make it Easier to Perceive
We believe that there is also the reason of caution taken by some authors. If a seeker hears that essence is a substance, and if the tendency of the individual's personality toward identification for the purposes of defense is still dominant, there might arise the error of taking an unidentified sensation or a physical substance of the body as the essence. This sort of error can lead to negative consequences. So we need to state here that knowing that essence is a substance does not make it easier to perceive. The process of self-realization will still require all the work of
understanding and refinement of perception. On the other hand, the knowledge of substantiality can work as an orienting force, a confirming insight, a safeguard against not recognizing or ignoring essence when it might be present, and a protection against taking something else to be our true nature and essence. We believe it is time to make this truth as clear, as precise, and as available as possible. It can save many people much hardship and waste of time and effort. There is no need for this knowledge to continue to be secret and esoteric, especially now that there is a tremendous need and thirst for it. We can use understanding and clarity to safeguard against misusing it.
Manifestation of Essential Aspects as Subtle Matter
The presence of an essential aspect manifests as a substance, as subtle matter, only through the direct and immediate experience of that aspect. This direct experience of each aspect has characteristics of color, texture, taste, and so on. In terms of color, Brilliancy is brilliant, which is not one of the known colors. One can say it is brilliant white, or brilliant silver white, but that is not completely accurate. The color is pure brilliance, like the shimmering reflection of the sun on the surface of an ocean or lake. What you see are pools of liquid brilliance. This is the closest thing in nature to the way Brilliancy is seen in inner vision. In our consciousness, the texture of this light is total smoothness—absolutely delicate, exquisitely fine and refined. Its flow is so smooth and easy that it moves with amazing speed. Even mercury is dull and slow compared to the flow of Brilliancy.
Brilliancy, pg. 18
Qualities of Essential Substance
Essential substance is so beautiful and magnificent that no imagination can conceive of its beauty, and no poetry can convey its magnificence. The way it moves us and teaches us is beyond the wildest dreams and imaginations of humanity. Its potentialities are staggering, its creativity is boundless, its depth is endless, and its intelligence is limitless. It is a wonder - beyond all miracles. It is our true nature, our most intimate identity.
The Human Being Seen as a Kind of Substance That Gives Depth and Significance
Most likely, the origin of the expression “He has substance” is the actual knowledge of the nature of a human being as a kind of substance that gives depth and significance. When an individual is in touch with his essence, he literally has substance. The expression here is not figurative, although it is usually used figuratively now that most people have forgotten the original meaning, the literal one. We can see here how the expression originated and how the figurative meaning is related to the original meaning. Originally, having substance meant having one's nature, which is a kind of matter. The literal and figurative meanings were the same. This happens frequently in the development of language; we end up with the figurative meaning, devoid of the wisdom of the original expression.
The Word "Substance" is Used Here Literally
This perception and understanding of Essence as substance is so significant and so fundamental that in most instances it makes the whole difference between self-realization and its absence. It is of utmost importance to remember that the word substance is used here literally and not figuratively or metaphorically.
There is No Ultimate Substance
The absolute demonstrates that there is no ultimate substance, for whatever substance we find will have to possess nonbeing as its final nature and constituency. The other concept we lose in our experience of manifest forms, besides that of substance, is that of realness. We normally have the subjective sense of reality in our perception of objects and people. We tend to believe that this feeling of reality is objective, and not simply our inner and subjective feeling. However when we finally realize the insubstantial nature of things, we wake up to the fact that we do not possess this old feeling of realness in relation to these things. It is not that we realize these things are not real in the sense that they are not actually there or that we are mentally hallucinating them. No, is clear to us that they actually and truly appear in perception, that they are not just the content of our personal minds. What we realize is that the customary sense of realness to which we are habituated is concomitant to the sense of substantiality and solidity we tend to perceive in these objects. When we realize their ultimate insubstantiality they lose their sense of realness, for this sense is caused by the belief and perception of substance. Without ultimate substance they lose their sense of realness.