What Is Sapiritual Reality*
By Michael Isaacs
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 MY PRACTICE 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
In SCIENCE AND HEALTH, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science rose high into the transcendental realm of spiritual reality. Here are some quotes from Eddy that have influenced me because of the potential the practical applications of her principles to real life situations:
To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, the day is filled with blessings
Reality is spiritual, harmonious, immutable, divine, and eternal. Nothing unspiritual can be real, harmonious, or eternal. Sin, sickness, and mortality are the suppositional antipodes of Spirit, and must be a contradiction of reality.
God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite mind, spirit, soul, principle, life, truth, and love. Furthermore, it is one absolute God that expresses the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity. Among the attributes of God are justice, mercy, wisdom, and goodness.
In her interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer, God is Mother-Father.
Divine Love has and will meet every human need.
Studying the works of the Western mystic and spiritual healer Joel S. Goldsmith has deepened my awareness of spiritual reality. In the Chapter, “The New Horizon”, in his book The Infinite Way he writes:
Understand fully that suggestion, belief, or hypnotism is the substance, or fabric of the whole mortal universe, and that human conditions of both good and evil are dream pictures having no reality or permanence. Be willing for the harmonious as well as the inharmonious conditions of mortal existence to disappear from your experience in order that reality may be known and enjoyed and lived
Goldsmith concluded that sin, disease, lack, and limitation are unreal in that they are no part of reality, and that the real or reality is of Spirit, Soul, and God.
Thomas Hora, MD was an existential psychiatrist, the founder of Meta-Psychiatry. He was rooted in the traditions of the Bible, European MY PRACTICE, and Zen Buddhism. He was well read in the works of Goldsmith. In his understanding of his patients, he asked two valid questions: “What is the meaning of what seems to be?” and “What is what really is?”
For him, unreality involved invalid modes of living such as misdirected materialism, sensuality, intellectualism, and self-involvement. “What really is” is our true nature as manifestations of God’s infinite love-intelligence. Every moment of the day God is pouring out his love and intelligence to anyone who is perceptive enough to hear it. Our purpose is to glorify God and be a beneficial presence in the world. This leads to peace, assurance, gratitude and love. Hence, the name of the organization he founded is the PAGL Foundation.
In one of Hora’s essays, “What Is Good” in the book Dialogues In Metapsychiatry, he says:
What does Buddha see? By looking at a statue of the Buddha, it is easy to see what he beholds and knows. He sees beauty, he sees harmony, he sees joy, he knows freedom, he knows peace, he knows perfection, he knows wisdom, he knows compassion. He sees everything that is real, everything that really is. He beholds reality and he is a manifestation of the reality he beholds. We become what we really can behold; therefore, every time we can fully behold something of reality, be it ever so little, something good must happen, because reality is all good.
* Michael S. Isaacs, LCSW, NCPsyA, JD, San Francisco, CA
Winter, 2010 issue of Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy, PsychoSpiritual Dialogues