Seek Ye First the Tao

If you understand the Trinity, you understand everything there is to know about spiritual cognition. Take three famous trinities:

Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Parashiva, Shiva, Shakti

Tao, Yang, Yin

In ordinary, non-spiritual cognition, we are aware of the phenomenal world as it presents itself to us seemingly arbitrarily, almost passively. This is the “third person” of each of these trinities, the Holy Spirit, Shakti and Yin. However, because we apprehend the “shining forth” of phenomena from the outside, so to speak, as surface, there is very little shining and very little holiness. There is just “objective reality”.

When we become self-aware and self-reflective, we start to realise that the world doesn’t present itself to us randomly or passively, because our attention and attitude powerfully effect the way the world discloses itself to us. The world is not (as Empiricists like John Locke thought) just independently out there to be discovered, but neither is it a blank canvas on which we project ourselves (as Romantics like Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought).

Rather, we co-create our worlds out of the continuous activity of “relevance realisation”. Out of the infinite potential of experience, we consciously (and unconsciously) pick out what is relevant to us. We are not passive agents, but intentionally directed towards the world through active attention, which is the “second person”, Yang, Shiva, Son.

The more philosophically and psychologically literate you are, the more agency you have, and the less you are a passive victim of events, blown like a reed by the winds of fortune. You are the helmsman of your ship and a master of the sea. This is what empowering therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy aim for, and why “positive thinking” is such a constant in the Potential Movement. Our “subjective” psychological attitude has a real effect on how the “objective” world around us manifests.

This is as far as it goes for most people. However, the more spiritually minded among us seem to have a sense of a mysterious something beyond and behind both the phenomenal world and our consciousness of it. This is usually experienced as a vague spiritual background noise, something like the background radiation of the universe, sometimes expressed in terms of Energy, or Mind, or God. It is also referred to as “the Ground of Being”.

Parashiva refers to the light of consciousness beyond the horizon of our individual Shiva consciousness. Logically speaking, there could be no intentional consciousness, that is, consciousness of something, without it (see chapter 34 of my book, What’s Behind the Wall?).

But there is also the inexhaustible “moreness of things” as reality simultaneously discloses itself and withdraws itself. We never apprehend objects in their entirety. We can never grasp the ever-elusive, ever-receding “thing in itself”, because there is always the “thing beyond itself”. The “veiling of Shakti” is also part of the mystery beyond the horizon of our world. It is also part of Parashiva, although we might more accurately call it “Parashakti”.

The “first person” of the Trinity, the Father, Parashiva or the Tao, refers to the transcendent Consciousness-beyond-consciousness and World-beyond-world. This is what is commonly referred to as “God”. It constitutes a background sense of numinous divinity for religious people, but is largely abstract and mostly invisible to non-religious people. But what would it be like if it were actually foregrounded? What would it be like to live in “the presence of God”, as Brother Lawrence put it?

It would be to experience the world as the mystics experience it, as a Trinity:

Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Parashiva, Shiva, Shakti

Tao, Yang, Yin.

Seek ye first the Tao and its righteousness (Te), and all these things (Yin-Yang), shining forth (Qi), shall be added unto you.