For over 20 years I have focused on what I have been calling the “deep inner world”. To me it has been the ultimate—the experience that can open our consciousness and lead into awakening. Over this time, I have written about what I considered to be my own deep inner experiences and the insights I have derived from them.
But as I have been working on this website, I have become confused: I have used both the terms “inner” and “invisible” to describe what I am writing about. But inner is not the same as invisible. I have talked about the “invisible” world and here I am writing about the “inner world”. Are these the same? Why am I confused about this?
Maybe some background would be helpful here. In 2003 my wife and I retired and moved to Bend, Oregon. Within weeks of arriving we both felt a strong pull to begin a meditation practice. We began with weekly 90-minute sits with a local Zen meditation group. Six months later we started attending week-long meditation retreats at a nearby Zen Monastery. We would alternate: one month I would attend the retreat and my wife stayed home to attend to the ranch. The next month she would attend and I stayed home to attend to the ranch. For a year and a half this was our monthly pattern. Then we realized it was time for us to move on.
At these monthly retreats we would sit in meditation from 4 am in the morning until 9 pm in the evening. Some nights I would sit much later. Every meditation would begin the same way: I would take my seat, take several deep breaths, then slowly close my eyes and allow the outer world to slip away. Then I would turn my attention inward and notice what I felt.
For the first two days something within me resisted going deeper. My thoughts would continually revert back to my life on the ranch. Around the second afternoon, I could feel a subtle change come over me. I no longer resisted staying focused on the present moment. Little by little I seemed to slowly drift deeper into my inner world.
In time I would feel a gentle sweetness take over my inner world. This would expand outward and I felt that I was experiencing the whole universe. In these instances, there was no inner or outer. There was simply this sense that everything is an expression of one universal reality. This was a great field of emptiness that could suddenly shape itself into different kinds of “reality”. Everything is both the one thing and also uniquely itself. I came to think of this experience as the “deep inner world”.
The “now” suddenly opened up to make itself available to me. Insights would come to me to explain things in my life that were puzzling me. Mostly, whatever concerns I had simple dissolved and melted away. Little by little my experience of being alive was this inner expansiveness. But it was not just inner. It was inner, outer and everywhere. There were no divisions or separations in my experience of being alive. There was no inner. There was no outer. Everything was an expression of the One Thing.
My personal “inner world” descended into a deeper, universal inner world that took me down into the depths of consciousness and brought me towards the threshold of the Transcendent. Here it is possible to personally experience for ourselves the mysteries talked about in the ancient spiritual traditions. Here we might find what Buddha himself discovered.
I have been looking forward to writing about this deep inner world experience. I was hoping to make this the climax for all the articles in this section. When the time came to write this article, I did what I usually do—which is to open myself to receive inspiration—and I waited. And waited. Nothing happened.
It was not working. There was no inspiration. When I tried to see how all this works in the inner world, I could not. Finally, it hit me: I am wrong! There is a reason I am having writer’s block; there is no deep inner world! There is no such place. We may experience something that feels like this but it does not objectively exist. And then I felt a catch-22: If it does not exist, what did I experience?
The “invisible world” is not our private realm
What we often think of as the “inner world” is actually our private realm. The private realm is the “stream of consciousness” or internal dialogue we have with ourself. Here we process our thoughts, emotions and beliefs about what we have encountered in the world around us. Introverts process this internally within themselves, extroverts process this out loud with others. Here we work through our disappointments and celebrate our happiness. It is all about us. These experiences can give us insight into who —or what—we are.
This is not what we refer to when we speak of the “deep inner world”.
The “deep” invisible world
The deep invisible world is different. The deep invisible world is a universal experience. It is not personal to us. I used to think of the deep invisible world as a region that lies beneath my private inner world. That is the way I had come to visualize this.
To me, the deep inner world was a portal into the Transcendent. I saw it as a transitional experience of going from one kind of reality into another. Unlike our personal realm, which is idiosyncratic to us, we all experience the deep inner world in much the same way. The nature of our experience and how we understand it is similar.
In the deep inner world, our sense of who we are is altered. We realize that the human race is not alone in the universe. Life has many forms. Life has many different kinds of experiences. We cannot separate ourselves from the rest of all life. Our bodies might be separate but our consciousness is One.
Life is the one universal consciousness experiencing itself through many different bodies.
The Deep Invisible World, Universal Consciousness and the Transcendent
There is a relationship between universal consciousness, the deep invisible world and the Transcendent. But how do these three things work together? My confusion here was to equate the experience of the Transcendent with the place where such experiences often occur.
I was equating the deep inner world with the Transcendent itself:
- Universal consciousness enables us to experience the Transcendent;
- The Transcendent is a special type of experience that transcends our normal human experience;
- The deep invisble world is where we most often (but not always) connect with universal conscious.
This is how I thought about it, but only the first two are accurate. There is no deep invisible world. There is the experience of closing our eyes and going inward. There may be a sense off drifting downwards and going deeper, but one can also feel as if one is expanding outwards or rising upwards into the “heavens”. The exact nature of the experience is simply how we “spin” it; there is no one way that we experience this.
Universal consciousness is not personal to us. It is the only form of consciousness that is outside the body and that transcends our unique human experience. Each of us experiences universal consciousness in our own way. We do not all have the same experience, but the nature of our experience is the same.
The Transcendent is not a form of consciousness; it is the kind of experience that is revealed through universal consciousness.
Sentiency cannot give us this experience. Self-awareness cannot give us this experience. Feeling cannot give us this this experience. Only universal consciousness connects us to the Transcendent.
The Transcendent lifts us out of our own unique perspective on human life. It enables us to experience a reality that is far greater than what we think we are. It reveals a domain of experience that strips away our uniqueness and reveals the oneness of all humanity. The Transcendent has a common core and each human is part of this core. Our human experience is that of being separate in our bodies but united through our consciousness. At the core we are all one undivided existence.
The deep invisible world is not a place, like the outer world is, rather it is a type of experience. Some experiences are rooted in our physical body and organs, others in our emotional body, still others stem from our energy body and our chakras. Some experiences are emotional, others are based in energy. We have not had a lot of training in how to sort out the varying experiences we encounter of the inner world. The deep inner world is a special aspect of our inner experience.