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Triad: Self, Being, World

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Triad: Self, Being, World

Becoming Increasingly Aware of Continuity in all Phenomena

When we begin to experience and actually comprehend that knowledge is a characteristic of the field of consciousness that is the soul, this comprehension has many powerful effects on the soul’s experience of herself and the world. For example, it has the effect of changing the sense of separating boundaries around the various forms of which we are aware. The boundaries of what is experienced as the self become less opaque, and as the awareness of a field of conscious presence begins to come to the fore, the forms we perceive in the world become much less solid and separate. We become aware of knowledge as something that characterizes all our experience, and appreciate increasingly that the field of our awareness is a medium that contains all content of experience, from the thoughts in our minds to our perception of birds in the sky. The partitioning boundaries that had defined the different forms in our experience begin to melt and we become increasingly aware of continuity in all phenomena. Encountering our experience as knowledge is one way we come to be in touch with the soul. When we are not in touch with this level of consciousness, we have the experience that some things in our experience are information, some things are issues, some things are feelings, some things are objects, and so on; this is the ordinary egoic dimension of experience. We can see how this perspective is related to what we have discussed as the dissociation of the triad of self, world, and Being. The normal experience of these various elements as separate from each other begins to be corrected as we become aware of the ground that connects them. The connecting ground is presence, consciousness, and basic knowledge.

Duality Emerges Between Soul and Essence, a Duality that Naturally and Spontaneously Separates the Original Unity of Reality

Therefore, it will not be our task to discuss these lines of development in any detail. Our concern in this book is to study the soul and her relation to God/Being and cosmos/world, in such a way that reveals her nature and relation to these other two facets of the triad. Therefore we will use only the elements of this knowledge, drawn mostly from research in ego and cognitive development, that will help us open up the experience of the soul and its relation to the divine and the world. The most relevant question for us concerns how this normal development of the soul is reflected in the experience of her essential nature, and how, as a result, this affects her view, cognition and everyday experience. More specifically, what concerns us is how this development translates into our experience and understanding of reality. As the soul develops as an individual with character and identity, with the normal emotional and mental capacities, she slowly dissociates from her essential ground. A duality emerges between soul and essence that becomes bedrock reality, a duality that naturally and spontaneously separates the original unity of Reality. Soul, originally coemergent with her true nature, turns into a duality of self and spirit, and Reality becomes self, God/Being/spirit and world, three separate entities. The soul becomes a self, an ego-self, that may or may not believe it has spirit, soul or true nature. But
this spirit is now something separate, mysterious, otherworldly, and something to which some of us want to attain. This spirit is now somehow mysteriously related to a spiritual world, where God or Being rules. The cosmos, on the other hand, becomes a physical world, mostly dead and inert with pockets of life and consciousness here and there.

Formulating the Triad of Soul, God and Cosmos in Terms of Self, Being and World

We have used the notion of the triad of soul/self, God/Being, and cosmos/world as part of the context of discussion in this book. We have followed this context as a particular thread that we picked up whenever our exploration of the inner journey gave us the necessary understanding to deeply or completely reflect on it. We can now collect our insights into a focused consideration of this basic triad. We are not original in using the notion of the basic triad. Throughout the history of Western civilization many individuals who thought deeply, and desired to understand life and existence in its fundamentals, formulated their love of truth in questions regarding this triad of soul, God and cosmos. We can see this in ancient Western philosophy and metaphysics, continuing through the Middle Ages, and remaining an important element in philosophical investigation up to the present time, just as we can see it in the development of all the monotheistic religions, and their mystical currents. Formulating the triad in the terms of self, Being, and world brings it closer to the Eastern formulation of self, ultimate truth, and manifest world, promulgated by the teachings of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy and spirituality.

Secularism that has led to a Fundamental Impoverishment of Meaning

Although Western thought has led to a great advancement of the human condition and a phenomenal increase in knowledge, the secularism that has attended these developments has led to a fundamental impoverishment of meaning. Many believe that our secular and materialistic culture is an unavoidable result of scientific and technological development. We advance the thesis that the existential emptiness that seems to pervade Western thought and life is due to more fundamental reasons. Science and technology are not necessarily materialistic, and are not in and of themselves capable of alienating human beings from existential depths and meanings. We find that approaching this phenomenon from the perspective of the fundamental triad of self/soul, God/Being, cosmos/world gives us a more complete and precise understanding of it and a much deeper appreciation of its genesis and development. We believe that the dissociation of the triad, fundamental to modern Western thought, is a much more primary cause for this existential emptiness and impoverishment of inner life. The dissociation that manifests in Western thought is part of what conditions the individual soul in such a way that she is dissociated from her being and from her world. This dissociation fractures our experience of ourselves and our world in a way that leads to alienation and existential impoverishment.

The Isolating Separation of the Basic Triad has Obviously Been a Double-Edged Sword

The differentiation and separation of the ancient tradition of wisdom along the lines of the basic triad and into three disciplines has had many positive consequences. But there has been a less obvious, though equally momentous, consequence: the gradual dimming, and for most individuals the loss, of the awareness of the fabric that held the three sides of the basic triad together. The wise ones of ancient times, like the spiritually realized individuals of all ages,
sensed the ground of true nature that bound the three sides of the triad—soul/self, God/Being, cosmos/world—together. We are now generally not aware of it, neither are we aware of its absence; for we have grown up in societies that have for a long time implicitly taken the dissociation as real and final. We are not glorifying ancient times, nor condemning our postindustrial era. We are aware that in ancient times only a few individuals contemplated the
fundamental questions of existence, while the majority languished not only in material backwardness and depravity, but also in moral darkness and psychological ignorance. In contrast, our modern world has brought not only increased material comfort and great advances in medicine and health, but also greater opportunity for education and increased awareness of human values and rights. The isolating separation of the basic triad has obviously been a double-edged sword. It has led to increased discrimination and specialization, benefiting humanity in completely novel ways, while at the same time blinding us to the ground of true nature through a process of reification.

The Possibility of Redemption of Western Thought in the Appreciative Understanding of the Triad of Self/Soul, God/Being and World/Cosmos

Therefore, it would seem that a Western view that recognizes and appreciates the faceted unity of the triad is a necessity for our times. This view existed in Western thought in its classical period, in the origins of Western thought; and because this thought operated within a natural unity, a unity before separation, it might be useful for us to understand that thought, and see how such unity can arise again, but at a higher or new level that naturally embraces and utilizes the results of differentiation, discrimination, and separation. We see the possibility of such redemption in the appreciative understanding of the triad of self/soul, God/Being, world/cosmos as the tri-faceted Reality, where all dimensions of Being are in coemergent nonduality. We see it specifically in the understanding of the five boundless dimensions of Reality, and how they are related to awareness, knowledge, change, and so on; for by understanding how knowing is intimately related to awareness and presence, it is possible for us to understand how the two can be differentiated without having to be dissociated. The differentiation can then lead to a greater discrimination in knowledge, as has happened in Western thought, while remaining near to its roots in the presence of Being. The differentiation can also lead to a deepening of mystical experience but without dissociating it from analytical insight that can both develop it and guard it against superstition and imagination. We can then have a differentiation that leads to greater discrimination without alienation, to a greater scientific and technological advancement without losing contact with the spiritual depths of Reality. Both science and spirituality can benefit from this. This view appreciates and learns from our Western roots in the nous and logos of ancient Greece with their implicit triadic unity, and their developments and augmentation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, without having to simply regress to the past. This way we can live a primordial unity and still embrace the useful contributions of Western civilization.

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