“Not the Desirer of desires, but that man attains Peace, in whom all desires merge even as rivers flow into the ocean which is full and unmoving. “ – Bhagavad Gita 2:70

“When one feels that the Self is all pervading, it is like the waveless ocean.” – Sri Ramana Maharshi [1]


This ocean which is full and unmoving is the Self of all selves – the Pure Consciousness which underlies all life. The Self is an all-pervading state of Being which engulfs us in a boundless stillness or calm which is both “full and unmoving.” When we merge into this vast waveless ocean, we feel infinite peace and tranquility.

In this experience of the Self, a vibrant awareness spreads out from within and expands outward. In a moment, we and everything else become absorbed into this living awareness and all of existence is revealed as one Infinite Ocean of Satchitananda (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss).

This experience can be compared to the moment before sunset where, as the sunlight begins to fade, everything is bathed in a golden hue and all distinctions become blurred. In a similar fashion, during the vision of the Self, all distinctions fade into the background as everything is bathed in the light of pure consciousness.

Swami Vivekananda described his personal experience of this state when he was a young disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. One day, Vivekananda was mocking the Vedantic concept of non-dualism together with one of his friends.

“Can it be”, he said, “that the water-pot is God, that the drinking vessel is God, that everything we see and all of us are God?”

Vivekananda laughed scornfully at the idea, with his friend happily joining in.

While they were laughing, Sri Ramakrishna came up to them.

“What are you two talking about?” Ramakrishna asked him affectionately, and then, without waiting for an answer, he touched Vivekananda and went into Samadhi [a superconscious state].

Swami Vivekananda relates what happened next:

“At the marvelous touch of the Master, my mind underwent a complete revolution. I was aghast to realize that there really was nothing whatsoever in the entire universe but God. I remained silent, wondering how long this state of mind would continue. It didn’t pass off all day. I got back home, and I felt just the same there; everything I saw was God. I sat down to eat, and I saw that everything – the plate, the food, my mother who was serving it and I myself – everything was God and nothing else but God…

“From then on, I kept having the same experience, no matter what I was doing – eating, drinking, sitting, lying down, going to college, strolling along the street. It was a kind of intoxication; I can’t describe it. If I was crossing a street and saw a carriage coming towards me I didn’t have the urge, as I would ordinarily, to get out of its way for fear of being run over. For I said to myself, “I am that carriage. There’s no difference between it and me”…

“’When that first intoxication lost part of its power, I began to see the world as though it were in a dream. When I went for a walk around Cornwallis Square, I used to knock my head against the iron railings to find out if they were only dream-railings or real ones… When I did at last return to normal consciousness I felt convinced that the state I had been in was a revelation of non-dualistic experience. So then I knew that what is written in the Scriptures about this experience is all true.” [2]

The experience of the Self enhances both our sense of the sacredness of life, as well as our recognition of the impermanence of all things. It motivates us to try and relieve the suffering around us. It awakens a yearning inside us to transcend this material plane of existence.

The experience of the all-pervading Self is the basis for the love of humanity and the love of the Creation. It is the spiritual foundation of the religious vow not to injure or harm any living thing. Once we have experienced the living consciousness which permeates all creatures, we realize that everything is truly part of ourselves.

The prophet Isaiah 11:9 states that when the Messiah comes:

“The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

This verse is a vision of a time when the consciousness of God will flow into the world and infuse everything with Divine livingness. It is a description of the waveless ocean of the all-pervading Self.

In this place of prophetic consciousness, we join with the Mind of God. In this place of unity, we break the bonds of isolated consciousness that have kept us alone for eons. In this infinite space, all sense of separateness is annihilated, and all that remains is the endless expanse of Satchitananda.

The absorption of the individual into the Ocean of the Absolute is the spiritual reality that lies behind the promise of the prophets that God will cast the sins of Israel into “the bottom of the sea.”

“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His wrath forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion upon us; He will suppress our iniquities. And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” – Micah 7:18-19

When we merge with God, our sins disappear into the Ocean of the Ein Sof – into a place without end or beginning; a place where all differences, faults and imperfections dissolve away.

Immersion in the all-pervading Self is not a leisurely bath in warm soothing waters. It is a powerful and overwhelming spiritual experience. We get a glimpse of its fury in the following description by Sri Ramakrishna:

“It was as if houses, doors, temples and everything else vanished altogether; as if there was nothing anywhere! And what I saw was an infinite shoreless sea of light; a sea that was consciousness. However far and in whatever direction I looked, I saw shining waves, one after another, coming towards me. They were raging and storming upon me with great speed. Very soon they were upon me; they made me sink down into unknown depths. I panted and struggled and lost consciousness.”[3]

A taste of this awesome power can also be found in the Psalm for Friday, where the might of God is compared to the force of the waves of the sea:

The Lord is King; He has garbed Himself with grandeur;

The Lord had robed Himself, He has girded Himself with strength;

He had also established the world firmly that it shall not falter.

Your throne stands firm from of old;

You have existed forever.

The rivers have raised, O Lord,

The rivers have raised their voice;

The rivers raise their raging waves.

More than the sound of many waves,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

Is the Lord mighty on High.

Your testimonies are most trustworthy;

Your house will be resplendent in holiness, O Lord, forever.

When we immerse in the flow of these potent Divine waters, all of our imperfections are swept away. Our minds become absorbed in the Pure Consciousness that underlies all of existence. We merge into the boundless Ocean of the Absolute.

Copyright © 2012, by Yoel Glick

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Suri Nagamma, Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, p. 258
  2. Christopher Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples, p. 207
  3.  Christopher Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples, p. 65