A central maxim of the teachings of the Baal Shem is that we are where our thoughts are. He believed that it is our mind that controls the nature of reality. The mind does play an important role in determining our state of consciousness but the overall dynamic is actually a lot more complex.
We believe that we are living in a single, uniform reality but in truth, we are living in three different worlds or realities at once – the physical world of our senses, the astral world of our emotions and the mental world of our thoughtforms. It is out of this multi-leveled input that we construct the ever changing and shifting reality that we live in.
Even though we live in many worlds at once, each of us will have one world that becomes the main filter through which we perceive reality. Some of us will choose to live in the world of the physical senses, some in the world of emotions and some in the world of the mind. Whatever main focus we choose, this aspect of consciousness will color everything else that we sense, feel or think.
For example, some people put all their energies into the world of emotions. They search out those elements of existence that will arouse their emotions and create strong feelings: the movies they watch, the books they read, the music they listen to – all of these will be chosen for their power to stimulate emotions. “Good feelings” and “emotional highs” will have the greatest value for these individuals.
Others people will see reality through the world of the mind or intellect. All their energies will go into looking for objects and experiences that will stimulate the intellect – an interesting book, a deep conversation, “sophisticated” music – these will be the keynotes of their life.
And still others will seek out the world of physical senses: The ultimate meal, the greatest sensual stimulation, or the most extravagant and luxurious objects – such experiences will be the focus of their lives.
Of course, no one is exclusively one dimension only and many people will be a mix of all these aspects and qualities. But for each person there will be a key focus of their consciousness, and this dominating energy will impress its quality on the rest of their life.
Whichever world is the central focus of a person’s life, the manner in which he approaches it will have important ramifications. For each of these worlds can be approached in a variety of ways and on a number of different levels.
The mind used to search for new discoveries in medicine is not the same as the mind that is used to find clever ways to cheat or con people out of their money. The heart aroused to feelings of love and compassion is not the same as the heart aroused to anger and hate. The sensations stimulated by great works of beauty and art are quite different from the sensations stimulated by scenes of lewdness and violence.
Nor are these three areas of awareness all that there is to life. For those who have progressed on the spiritual path, there also is input from the world of the soul. This input affects us in two ways: On one level, it opens us up to the inner world of spiritual contact with the heavenly realm. On another level, it awakens us to the subtle spiritual vibrations that underlie the material world. This changes the manner in which we perceive the input from our mind, body and emotions. It transforms our whole conception of reality.
The establishment of this soul consciousness does not happen overnight; it is a process that takes place over several lives. When we first begin to take incarnation, we dwell in a body with an undeveloped personality that just goes from impression to impression as the input pulls and pushes us. Gradually, we develop a more integrated sense of our self until we are able to process and control the different input coming from our senses, thoughts and emotions.
It is when we have achieved this integrated personality that we are ready to make the first contact with our soul. After the first contact, the presence and influence of the soul steadily increases from life to life. As this happens, the inner world of spiritual experience and understanding becomes alive for us. This spiritual dimension continues to grow and strengthen until it culminates in the moment of God union, when we break out of the limitations of this material reality and achieve conscious awareness on higher planes.
So where do we stand in this spiritual life process? A worthwhile exercise for each of us is to examine the character of our state of consciousness and the different components that make it up: What is the input that we taking in on the physical, emotional and mental levels? Which aspect of our self is the dominant filter through which we experience the world? What is the place of our soul in this process? How do we strengthen this soul influence and how do we hold on to the state of consciousness that it brings?
Asking these questions can be very helpful to our self-understanding. And the answers that we discover will give us a good indication of the nature of the spiritual development that we have achieved.
Copyright © 2012, by Yoel Glick