Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Unmanifest
Experiencing a Condition Prior to Manifestation
We experience a stillness beyond all stillness, an absolute and total stillness, a condition prior to all manifestation, movement, and change. We experience a stupendous silence empty of all noise, whether outer chatter or inner rumination, whether outer manifestation or inner movement; for it is the condition before all expression, prior to thinking and speaking, prior to the Word. We become aware of being a field that cannot be called a space; for it includes all space and time as an unfoldment within it, but does not touch its pristine stillness and silence. We are the prior, prior to all. We are the immovable, the unchanging, the mysterious ground of all movement and change. Movement and change are the manifestation that arises within it without ever disturbing its stillness and peace, without ever touching its silence and emptiness. We are prior to all manifestation, the source from which creation emerges, and the mystery to which it returns. We are the beginning and the end of everything, the truth without which there will be no awareness, and no experience.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 377
It May Not Even be Possible to Know Why We Are Here
Each spiritual tradition has a different story to explain why we are here. Some say that the unmanifest manifests the universe out of compassion, or out of love, or even out of playfulness. We don’t claim to know the purpose of human life. In fact, we admit the possibility that it may not even be possible to know why we are here. All we really know is that the unmanifest manifests the universe—and we know this from our own experience, which provides the perception of the human being as both an individual and an organ of experience for the whole universe. Experientially, the sense is that the whole universe is behind you, and you are like a window through which it sees. This perception clarifies our understanding of what motivates us to do the work of spiritual transformation. From this vantage point, we see that it is not to free ourselves from our suffering, but to become a clear window for the universe. Now, becoming such a window does result in freeing oneself, but if you conceive of it that way, you remain a self-centered and isolated individual who is working at becoming free. Then the whole conceptual framework
within which you hold the Work remains shaped by the egoic perspective and entrenched in that subjective position. Thus, your consciousness remains rooted in the ego and you cannot become free of it. Spiritual unfoldment means perceiving and experiencing objectively, and the objective principle that is lacking here is that of Holy Transparency.
Facets of Unity, pg. 101
The Absolute is Sometimes Called the "Unmanifest"
The ultimate nature of things is sometimes called the Absolute, sometimes called the Void. Some theistic traditions call it the Godhead; in Sufism it is called the Divine Essence. The ultimate essence of everything, including the human being, is a complete absence of all that can be experienced and the absence of knowing that there is nothing to experience. It is a complete lack of self-consciousness, and an absence of consciousness of anything. That is the ultimate source—the Origin. This does not mean that there is nothing there. You are, you exist, but you are aware of it only when you come out of it, when there is some consciousness. The quality of the Absolute is that it is not conscious of Itself. In the Absolute, consciousness does not exist yet; it is not yet manifest. The Absolute is sometimes called the “unmanifest.” Consciousness, awareness, is a development or manifestation out of the Absolute. The first level that arises from the Absolute is the capacity to be conscious or aware. Ontologically prior to this arising, this capacity does not exist. There is existence without awareness of that existence. The Absolute is what most fundamentally exists. But it does not exist in the usual sense, in the sense that we can experience it, or touch or feel or see it. It exists without any quality; it is “qualityless.” Awareness or consciousness is the first quality that arises. The Absolute transforms and becomes, or within its dark vastness arises, pure consciousness or awareness. This awareness has the capacity to perceive, but it does not perceive concepts or entities. It is ontologically prior to concept, just as the Absolute is ontologically prior to consciousness. The realm of experience and perception at this level is what I call the “nonconceptual realm.”
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 321
The Difference Between the Unmanifest and the Manifest
We can say that the Absolute is the unmanifest completeness and Brilliancy is the manifest completeness. Hence the Absolute is the unmanifest synthesis and Brilliancy is the manifest synthesis. Thus, Brilliancy is like the manifest Absolute. And it is in fact the radiance, or the brilliance, of the Absolute. If we go to the Absolute dimension, we see that radiance is the way the Absolute manifests its perfections. Its first manifestation is its pure radiance, its completeness, its intelligence. This, then, is the manifest presence of Brilliancy. So the Absolute is the synthesis of all essential aspects before manifestation. Brilliancy is the synthesis of all essential aspects after manifestation. Both of them are complete: One of them is absolutely dark, one of them is absolutely bright. The Absolute is complete fecundity, complete darkness, complete blackness, while Brilliancy is complete brilliance, complete light, complete whiteness. This is really the difference between the unmanifest and the manifest. I am just connecting Brilliancy with the Absolute so you can more fully understand completeness and synthesis. Remember, synthesis means that you don’t have different parts. Brilliancy is one complete unity. You can’t take it apart; you can’t analyze it. Thus, it gives the psyche the capacity for synthesis in all of our spheres of functioning.
Brilliancy, pg. 33
The State of Total Completeness
The state of total completeness is all-inclusive, with the manifest and the unmanifest existing in nonduality. Everything is present, including the Absolute, which is seen as its inner nature.
Facets of Unity, pg. 377
The Timeless Ground of Manifestation
We can also experience universal transformation as a process of manifestation. In this perception we are aware of the purity of true nature, a homogeneous unity beyond any form or color. We perceive the forms of the universe manifesting out of this timeless ground, as if they are first hidden and unmanifest but then come out into manifestation. We then view the appearance of Being as the manifest reality, with the pure ground of Being as the unmanifest.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 377
What the Truth Wants is to Move from an Unmanifest Form to a Manifest Form
So the function of the soul in life is not simply to maximize our pleasure, but to realize our more objective function as an organ of truth, as an organ of realization, as an organ of a much larger being, of a much bigger, universal reality. We come to realize that our happiness, our joy, our fulfillment arise from actually serving the truth. We serve the truth by being as pure an expression of it as possible. God or the truth doesn’t need you to do things for it, to walk around talking about it or buying it things, but actually to express it, to bring the truth to life. We serve the truth by manifesting it, because what the truth wants is to move from an unmanifest form to a manifest form. That’s why the Sufis say that God needs man in order to express Himself in the world. God manifests in the world through the purified ones. So our job is to be a servant. And to serve is to express. And to express is to be a clear and unimpeded medium for the truth. For that to happen, we need to be purified of our coarser elements. If we approach experience as if it were a lollipop, the objective function of the soul is not fulfilled. The more our soul is aware of the deeper realms and the more correct its attitude toward those realms, the more we express the truth. The deeper realm, the realm of objective reality, is ultimately the home of the soul—its origin, source, and nature. The absolute reality is the nature and origin not only of the soul but of everything. What better master to serve than the innermost nature of you and of everything! So being a servant is an exalted position.