Return to the Source

The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 18: 20-21

“Observation” is what we do when our senses are turned outwards to the world. The world itself is, as Berkeley and Kant pointed out a couple of centuries ago, a phenomenal, mind-dependent world. In Schopenhauer’s terminology, it is a “representation” or “idea”:

§ 1. “The world is my idea:”—this is a truth which holds good
for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring
it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does
this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes
clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an
earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth;
that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e.,
only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is

Therefore the world we experience is not the “real world” as it is in itself (the noumenon), but a subjective representation of it mediated by our mind and senses. We can discover many interesting and useful things by a dedicated and applied observation of the phenomenal world. This is what scientists do. But we will never see ultimate reality, or God, except in an indirect, oblique way, “through a glass darkly”. The essential nature of existence cannot be found through the use of our external senses or through the exercise of our rational minds, no matter how perceptive or clever we are. Neither will we say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, all I can ever know is the world as my idea.

This is why it is written in the Katha-Upanishad:

God made sense turn outward, man therefore looks outward, not into himself. Now and again a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.

The kingdom of God is within you. Return to the source of your outward senses and your outward mind and you will find your self, or rather, your Self. This is not the psychological ego, but the Atman, or in Western parlance, the soul, a centre of pure consciousness and will. In Kashmir Shaivism, this personal consciousness is called Shiva. Return to the source of mind and you will find Atman; return to the source of Atman and you will find Paramatman. Return to the source of the phenomenal world and you will find Shiva; return to the source of Shiva and you will find Parashiva. Paramatman and Parashiva refer to universal Self or universal Consciousness, in other words, to God.

But what is the point of returning to the source? The answer reveals itself in the return back again to the world of the senses and the mind. The mind and the senses are regenerated and refreshed, and the world appears renewed, as if it were the first day of creation, as if the whole universe were born again. Everything appears suffused with new life, with the immanent spirit of Shakti. It almost feels as if you were experiencing reality itself, instead of your projected idea of reality, as if it were presented to you directly, rather than re-presented.

“Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all understanding” wrote Lao Tzu in chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching. We might say, Parashiva within Shiva, the gateway to all Shakti; or in a Western idiom, God within Soul, the gateway to Eternal Life. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.