What Is Spiritual Reality

Michael S. Isaacs, LCSW, NCPsyA, JD, San Francisco, CA
Winter, 2010 issue of Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy,
PsychoSpiritual Dialogues


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To me, I can best conceive the concept of spiritual reality as the opposite of unreality.

Unreality involves the material world. It is about our immediate senses-what we see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. Reality is a state of being beyond words, thoughts, time, and space. Its essence is eternal, infinite, whole, perfect, and harmonious. It is a feeling of oneness with all living beings. Among its attributes are love, peace, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, and inspired wisdom and creativity. A reduction or absence of fear is pivotal.

Since spiritual reality experiences are ineffable, it is impossible to describe them. Some words and concepts that have been attempted are the following: infinite invisible, creative principle, spirit, soul, light, vital force, God, enlightenment, buddhahood, existence, samadi, father, mother, love, cosmic consciousness, illumination, the tao, nirvana, the Christ, the fourth state of consciousness, and the absolute.

Having experiences of spiritual reality is not confined to spiritual seekers or those who meditate. When we do unselfish acts in serving others, we have connected to the love and compassion aspect of spiritual reality.

Inventors, writers, musicians, scientists, and artists have connected to the infinite intelligence and creativity of spiritual reality. Walt Whitman, William Blake, Alfred Tennyson, William Wordsworth, and Albert Einstein fall under this category.

Five philosophical and spiritual figures have influenced my thinking about this subject: Plato, the Indian Vedanta sages, Mary Baker Eddy, Joel Goldsmith, and Thomas Hora.

In a college philosophy class we were given an assignment to read certain works of Plato. In one of his books, he wrote about the qualities of a table. His point was that a table is not real. Why? A table was unreal because it was not a permanent entity. It would wear out and disappear eventually. Only something that did not decay or die was real.

During the 1970’s, being exposed to Vedanta Indian spirituality, these auspicious prayers beyond the senses made an impact upon me:

Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness to light and
From death to immortality

I am not my body and not my mind- I am the atman (the individual soul)-
the one, eternal, pure, immovable, the witness beyond all manifestations, free from all attributes



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