There is an ancient story about some blind men and an elephant. Each one felt a part of the elephant and came to the conclusion that it was just as they felt it. The one who grabbed a leg thought the elephant was like a pillar, the one who grabbed the tail thought it was like a stick, etc. The moral of the story is that different people take only part of the scriptures, believing it to be the whole. The contradictions lead to disagreements and religious conflict, but are simply the result of partial understanding.
What if we could feel the leg, the tail, the ear, the belly and the trunk to get a better picture of the elephant? We would have to accept that true as each part is, it is not the whole truth. As a self-professed “blind man”, I have made it my life’s mission to feel the whole elephant.
I have felt seven parts:
I have felt the empty Void within and beyond manifestation, called sunyata in the Buddhist scriptures. I call it Amun, “the Hidden One”.
I have felt the light and energy within manifestation, called kundalini in the Vedas. I call it Ra, “the Sun God”.
I have felt the material substance of manifestation, called prima materia by the alchemists. I call it Atum, “the All”.
I have felt the aliveness of my body, the breath of life, called prana in India and qi or ki in China and Japan. I call it Ka, “the Life Force”.
I have felt the pure consciousness of the Self, called atman in the Vedas. It is the Witness of our life. I call it Ba, “the Soul.”
I have felt my connection and identity with the planet, called the anima mundi by the Neoplatonists. I call it Gaia, “the Earth Goddess”.
I have felt the Universal Consciousness of the universe, called Jah by the Rastafarians. I call it Jah, “God”.
[Amun, Ra, Atum, Ka and Ba are Ancient Egyptian; Gaia and Jah (Jahweh) are Ancient Greek and Jewish.]
These seven “gods” together constitute “the Ray of Creation”, which traces the evolution of the universe from the Void to the Absolute. Each “god” contains all the others below it in a nested hierarchy. They are like the layers of an onion, like the koshas (sheaths) of Vedanta. Each “god” denotes the unified consciousness of the realm or level it presides over: Jah is the god of the universe, which contains Gaia, goddess of the Earth, which contains Ba, god (or soul) of the organism, which contains Ka, god of cells, which contains Atum, god of atoms, which contains Ra, god of energy, which contains Amun, god of Emptiness.
Each time I have an experience of one of these parts of the elephant, I think to myself, “THIS is it!” The experience eventually and inevitably fades and then, at some other point I have a different experience and an equally compelling conviction that “THIS is it! I must put all my faith and devotion into THIS!”
When I experience one part of these realities, I give myself to it heart and soul, and exclaim with the credo, “I believe in ONE God”. In that moment of communion, nothing else exists. This is God for me now. But once the experience has passed, I realize that it was only one dimension of something much larger, only one part of the elephant.
There is another old story about a mountain and a mountain climber. It was a very difficult mountain to climb, but the mountain climber was determined to find a way to the summit. After much effort and exertion, he managed to find a way to the top. He had imagined that once he reached the summit, he could plant his flag and be done with it. However, back home again, he felt a strong urge to climb the mountain again, but by a different route. So he climbed up the mountain again. He did this over and over again for years, always climbing via a different route, until he had covered the whole mountain. Only then did he realize that the goal was not after all the summit of the mountain, but the mountain itself.