What does it mean to spiritually awaken?
A primary spiritual experience is to be awake in the moment, to experience life as it is. In this moment we experience life not through the patterns of the mind, or the illusions of the ego, but a simple, direct experience of life around us. This direct perception belongs to our true nature, and it is given to us as a gift, as a moment of grace, often accompanied by a feeling of joy or laughter—as the poet Hafiz says, “What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts? It is the glorious sound of a soul waking up!” The veils of distortion fall away and we are present in life in its essential divine nature. We are back in the garden.
But is there also a moment in the journey of the Earth when It has the possibility to wake up, in this instance to throw off the dream, or nightmare of materialism that is destroying It’s ecosphere, the interdependent web of life that supports us all? Can we be present in this moment in cosmic time, awake to the end of an era and the birth of a new way of being? Can we step out of the illusions of our present soul-destroying civilization into the profound Earth changes taking place?
In this talk given in 2007 I explore the significance of being awake to the moment, to Be Here Now as Ram Das iconically said. How we can be awake both for our individual self and for the world. Already at that time I was noticing how the distortions of our culture had grown in recent years, although I could not imagine how in the coming years fake news and toxic social media would cover our world, separating us more and more from any direct experience of life or the Divine. But in this talk I explore how these distortions were signs of a world that was ending and one that was waiting to be born. More than fifteen years later it is easy to forget, to overlook, the deeper meaning of our increasingly toxic culture, not to be drawn into the death spiral of a civilization, but rather hold an awareness of the seeds of a new story. But in the living moment we can sense a way of being that goes back to the beginning, when the waters are pure and the plants and the animals sing their true purpose. A moment that returns us to when the source ran free and the names of creation sang in the wind, and we are present in praise and thanksgiving.
Today I wanted to talk about awakening, and what awakening really means and what actually awakens. And what does it awaken to?
There is a whole tradition of spiritual teaching that says everything is perfect, everything always was perfect, and everything always will be perfect, and in the moment you can realize that perfection. If you like, the only imperfection is our perception. We are the veil that separates us from the direct experience of an awakened reality and all you need to do is just to awaken to what is already here. You don’t have to change anything, you don’t have to improve anything, you don’t have to improve yourself. You just have to be present with the divine perfection that is present. And that’s a very, very ancient, and very beautiful teaching. And many people have had such a direct experience: they awaken to what is, and they realize its perfection. And really, there is nothing else to do. And that is, in a way, an act of grace that is given to the human being. To wake up to what is. Not what appears—there is a great difference between what appears and what is. What appears is our perception. What is, is what is actually present. And it’s one of the astounding realizations, if you like, that, that you’ve been living in a self-created or a culturally-created illusion. And then suddenly you wake up, and it’s not there anymore. And you realize it never was. It is like mist at dawn being burnt away by the sun. And just as when you go out in the mist in the early morning and you can’t see anything, you can just hear a few sounds of birds through the mist—maybe you hear some water somewhere, or some cows in the distance—but you are surrounded by yourself. That mist is yourself, you are surrounded by your own self. And that is in a way the veil in which most people live, most of the time. I think Jung said somewhere ninety-nine percent of humanity live in that ninety-nine percent of the time, in this mist, or like a traditional London fog, you can’t see your hand in front of your face. And then there is this extraordinary moment when the mist lifts, when the veils part, and suddenly you find yourself in the Garden of Creation, in the world as it actually is. And it is incredibly beautiful, incredibly radiant; it is I like to think to describe it as Creation singing the song of the Creator. It is incredibly beautiful. It is life really alive. It is, in a way, what we have actually come here to experience.
We didn’t actually come here to experience the veils, to experience the mist, to experience the conditioning. We didn’t even come here to experience our mind. There was a hope when the soul came into this world, that we could actually experience this world. To use that classic expression, we could actually Be Here Now. And if you have really had just one instance of that experience in your life, something in you is deeply fulfilled. You have actually arrived. You have actually been present in this world for the first time. So it is really important to realize that—this primal experience of life, of creation. It is not an experience of yourself. Yes, there are experiences you can have of yourself, of your real self. There are moments which you can directly perceive your true nature, what you really are. They are also incredibly beautiful and can be quite overwhelming, when you realize the center of light, the center of love, the center of pure being that is your nature. But in that direct experience of life, there is no you, there is just life. In the garden of creation, there is just creation. It is unbelievably beautiful.
As many of you know, I (had) was given that when I was sixteen. And I just woke up and I didn’t believe anything could be so beautiful. And what was quite interesting, it was the same place I had been before, but it was completely different. And there was this light, there was this beauty, there was this incredible joy, an incredible simplicity. It just was. It just is. And I always know that’s there. Once you’ve had that moment, that direct experience, you cannot forget it. And you know it is there. You may lose it; you don’t live in it all the time—I think it would be unfair on people around you if you did, but you never lose it. You always know it is just there, waiting behind the mist, waiting for the sunlight to come through and to lift it, and then you find you are in the Garden of Eden. This is the archetypal Garden of Eden, where of course human beings walked together with God. It is not a god that we have been conditioned to think of something separate, it is a God that just is. It is the Divine that is always present because when you experience life like that, you know it is divine. It is a direct experience of the Divine in Creation.
And it is not your experience, it can never be your experience. Just like it’s not your creation. It just is. In a way, it’s a tremendous privilege to be shown that. It is like, archetypally I suppose, a beautiful woman taking off her clothes and revealing the radiant beauty that is underneath, when the Creator does that with His Creation. And it is always there, and there’s nothing to be improved, nothing to be added to. It is what T.S. Eliot calls this moment in and out of time; he writes about it very beautifully. There is often in this a quality of laughter, a quality of joy, a quality of laughter. It is something we have forgotten—there is in creation this deep, deep laughter, this deep joy. He writes about it when he says,
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There arises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.
It is that primal innocence, “quick now, here, now, always”, and the laughter of children. So that is what it means to be awake, to be present for a moment, in life as it actually is.
And then there is this whole, extraordinary thing that we actually live in, which isn’t that. Which is sometimes about as far from that as one could imagine, which is this mist, this veil. The Sufis talk about the veils that cover us, and cover us and cover us and cover us, until we forget why we are here. Until we forget even the memory of creation. So we read about it in Genesis, it was like that at the beginning, not realizing the beginning is now. The beginning is what is, and everything afterwards is what got lost. And that presents human beings with an enormous paradox: that everything we create, everything we do, is what separates us from what is. I repeat that because it is so astounding: everything we do, everything we think about ourselves, everything we create, separates us from what is. In a way, everything in our life is about putting ourselves to sleep, or is about gentle snoring rhythms. And I suppose some people are so fast asleep they just have their nightmares, and they live in them. I suppose some people have really pleasant dreams, and they live in those. And some people are in this half-waking, half-sleeping, strange state where nothing is real. It’s what’s called spiritual life. No, seriously, it is what’s called spiritual life because it is not completely asleep. If you are completely asleep and having your dreams of—I don’t know what people dream of—of fulfilled relationships, BMW cars, whatever it is. Or nightmares: losing everything, the next earthquake, whatever the nightmare is. Some people have nightmares—some people live in anxiety-ridden nightmares day after day, night after night; and some people are lucky and they live a good dream and they drive the BMW car, and they’re kissed by the beautiful girl or they go out to dinner with the handsome man—whatever their dream.
And then there is this strange state, half-awake, half-asleep, when you are no longer satisfied either with the nightmare or the beautiful dream. And you know you’re not awake and it torments you you’re not awake but you can’t sleep soundly. And you start to do spiritual practices. And the purpose of spiritual practices is to help you make the transition from snoring to awaking. Once you’re awake, there is no need for spiritual practice I can assure you. Who is there to do a spiritual practice? My sheikh Bhai Sahib, he said there were times he didn’t pray, because there was nobody even there to pray. If you are awake, you are awake. You are present, and there’s not even a you to be present. It’s a very, very beautiful state. There is nothing to add, there is nothing to take away. It just is. So this is the ancient, ancient story of humanity. As I say interestingly in the whole Christian Western iconography, it was there at the beginning in the Garden of Eden. And everything that has happened since then has been what got lost; has been what happened when humanity tasted duality—tasted the fruit of the tree of good and evil, tasted duality—and then was thrown out of the Garden of Eden. And that wonderful image that has stayed with me since my childhood, of angels with flaming swords not allowing you back. And so, really since then, as I say it has all been about what has got lost. Thousands and thousands of years of what has gotten lost.
Now what I find very interesting is this is both an individual story—we were all in the Garden of Eden, we all got thrown out of the Garden of Eden, we all tasted duality, good and evil, light and dark—and also it is the story of the whole of humanity and of the world. The whole world was once Adam and Eve. The Sufis actually say that Adam is the archetypal man; they even talk about the greater Adam and the lesser Adam. Adam is the archetypal man, Eve is the archetypal woman. It is in a way all of humanity. Not just the first man and the first woman, but that essential man and essential woman. The one real man, the one real woman that lives in the Garden of Eden; that it’s present there, in the world in its intrinsic beauty—naked with God. So that is both each of our stories and also the story of the world. Of everything that got lost. All the wars that were fought afterwards, and you just have to read the Bible—all of the wars, and all of the judgments, and all of the punishments, and all of the tribulations, and all of the prophets, and all of the revelations—they’re just about what happened afterwards. And that goes on for thousands of years. And occasionally individual people want to return there, want to wake up, want to no longer live in a nightmare or a dream. And also, because of this extraordinary relationship between humanity and the world there also comes the time when the world itself wants to wake up; when the world wants to throw off this debris of thousands of years. It wants to waken out of the mist. And what is very interesting is there is a whole ancient esoteric tradition—I should say that there are always two, if you like, levels of esoteric tradition, sacred wisdom. And one has to do with the spiritual evolution of the individual, and that’s what you can find in some of the books now available in the West and some of the teachings that have been made public in the last twenty, thirty years. And then there is a whole other level of esoteric teaching which has to do with the world, which has to do with the spiritual body of the world. And most of that was lost a long time ago. There are vestiges of it in some shamanic traditions that have been passed down from father to son; there are hints of it in some of the remnants of the real Tibetan teachings that have come to the West, but what has come to the West is a very watered-down version; most of those sacred Tibetan texts got burnt by the Communists. And of course in the West some of those teachings were held by the Gnostics but those were lost long, long ago. So there is this whole other esoteric tradition of how the world functions as a living spiritual being. And part of that teaching is that there are signs that something is going to happen, there are signs when the world begins to want to wake up. They are very odd signs. They aren’t signs that you would think; they’re usually signs of things going really off-base, of things getting really skewed out of proportion. They’re almost signs of things being mis-used rather than used. They’re signs of disaster, which is what happens when the world begins to kind of shake itself a bit.
Now what really interests me is the possibility of being present at that moment. Now this is a paradox because the world is always perfect. The world can never be other than perfect, and yet the world can also wake up. And this is kind of beautifully imaged in one of the Western myths of the human awakening which is the Grail legend. And as many of you know, the young knight Parsifal found his way to the Grail Castle one morning. He was there in this sacred magical place that wasn’t far away. The mists lifted and he found himself present in the Grail Castle, and everything he had ever wanted was fulfilled in that moment. He was present at the most sacred place in the world—in the Grail Castle. And that is like everybody’s initial awakening. It is always there, it just happens. I think almost all human beings are given such a moment at some time in their life. I don’t think the soul could come into this world and remain in this world if it didn’t have that experience at least once in an incarnation. It might be something very simple like finding a really beautiful tomato, and eating it, and in that moment there is actually a direct experience. It might just be just watching a sunset. That’s why I like what T.S. Eliot said, when he says,
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
It is there, for everybody there is that kind of moment that is there. Something is awakened. There is a light in the air, there is sunlight in the air, there is this laughter, “oh yes!” And for a moment, you remember what you have forgotten. And then, like Parsifal it gets lost. I had that experience when I was sixteen—I had it for two weeks which was amazing but then, the veils fall again; then you have to go through all of the process, all of the tribulations, all of the…. Parsifal had to rescue the maiden, there are knights to be fought, there is the battle of life. And then slowly something begins to disintegrate.
Now interestingly, in the last century there have been terrible, terrible battles that have been fought. Humanity has gone through strange contortions, and it all begins to be distorted. When (there is) the possibility of something awakening within yourself, something begins to distort inside of you. Very odd. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it in your own life, when you come to that kind of a point—it’s like the worlds don’t quite fit together. It’s a very disturbing experience; it is like one reality comes very, very close to the other reality. I can tell you very simply what it is. We have our own self-created reality. For example, the image we have of ourselves—whether it came from our childhood or our therapist, it doesn’t matter—we have our own self-created… we are this kind of a person, we have this lot of problems, or we have… And then there is Reality with a capital “R,” and most of the time they don’t interfere too much with each other. Just like, for example, traditionally if you have a good spiritual teacher, he won’t interfere with you too much of the time. Too dangerous. He’ll let you live your illusion, or she’ll let you live your illusion. Because your image of yourself is your particular little bit of mist that you carry around with you; and some have it nicely perfumed, it’s a kind of you know rose-tinted mist, and some have a more demonic mist that you know has devils peering through it. It’s just mist. And behind the mist there is Reality, there is life as it actually is. Most of time they’re quite separate. Human beings have been given this incredible freedom, to make up almost any illusion they want. Animals don’t have the same freedom, animals have to live their reality. They don’t have a choice. I always remember a friend of mine had a dream experience with a fox, and he was, in the dream he was trying to civilize the fox and the fox said “no”; the fox will always do what a fox is. That animal reality has to be true to itself, it’s in the DNA. It can’t lie. As human beings we have been given this incredible freedom to create almost any illusion that we want: any sense of ourself, any sense of our life, we can create. And we can create terrible scenarios and beautiful scenarios, and all (in) between. And then, there is something called Reality.
As I say most of the time, reality and your illusion do not interact very much. In exactly the same way as it’s said in the Upanishads, about the two birds who sat on the branch of the tree: one eats the fruit of the tree and the other looks on. Which is why in Sufism, the higher self is often referred to as the shaheed, the witness: it just watches. Reality just watches. Remember, it doesn’t judge. There is no good and bad from reality. That’s the fruit that banished us from reality: judgment—something being better than something else, or worse than something else. Reality just watches. For most spiritual people this is very difficult to understand. Reality just watches; it watches you. Again, in the same way, in a spiritual tradition, most of the time, the teacher just watches you. He says very little. We are conditioned to say very little, otherwise we would interfere with the free will of the human being. Always be careful of a spiritual teacher who tells you what to do. But when something has the potential to wake up, Reality with a capital “R” comes a little bit closer. It is no longer completely detached. The energy starts to shift. And when reality comes close to the illusion that you have, everything gets distorted. The worse gets worse, the good gets gooder—good and bad are just illusions, nothing is good. Hamlet said that, “nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.” In fact there is a mystical experience where you see that the ultimate good and the ultimate evil are just two sides of the same coin, you can flick them in the air. But when what is real comes a little bit closer to the illusion, everything gets distorted. It gets thrown out. And two things can happen then: you can either start to freak out—which is a basic human reaction—can’t cope anymore, it’s all too much; or you can begin to take notice. You can begin to sniff the air. You can begin to access an ancient, ancient wisdom inside of you that belongs to all of humanity that has been covered over and forgotten and covered over and forgotten, which is: something is about to happen. And then you have a choice: you can bury your head in the sand, and save for your 401K, I think it’s called in this country, or you can say, “I want to be there when it happens; I want to be there when life wakes up.”
Now personally I think this time is such a time. Because when I look around me, something very, very odd is taking place. And it’s not just politicians and weapons of mass destruction and wars; it’s everything has got really, really distorted. I mean so distorted on all planes, that it’s really wacky. I actually gave a whole talk about this recently in London. In Sufism we talk about the veils that separate us from reality, the veils that cover us up. And I saw that those veils have become so distorted now that you can’t possibly find your way towards anything. Everything you see is distorted. Everything you see in the outer world and everything you see in the inner world is distorted. It’s all distorted. It’s all you know like another channel on the television. It’s very, very odd. And what is interesting is that most of us here are like, have been here at least forty years or so, and we can remember it wasn’t always like that. Even thirty years ago it wasn’t distorted like that. It’s interesting how we kind of take it for granted, this distortion. We say, well that’s progress, or computers, or globalization, and we don’t realize that something is really, really got off-key. I guess we kind of adapt and adapt and adapt until we don’t realize what is happening. So what interests me is that there is inside of me this ancient knowledge that when something gets distorted like that, gets off-key. I give you an example: in our culture now everybody needs healing, right? Have you ever met anybody who says “I don’t need any healing, I’m fine, I’m great.” Why is that? Are human beings basically born sick? Or is it because everything is distorted, and it affects our psychic body, it affects our physical body, it affects our inner alignment. We don’t think about it, we take it for granted. We kind of take it for granted that everything is wrong. But what it means is just everything is off-key. And so, there is inside of us a natural balance—physical, emotional, even mental actually—and that’s off-key. So we all kind of need a treatment to try and put it back. Not realizing that the problem is not ourselves, we don’t need to get healthy. You can eat all the organic food you like, and do your morning yoga, and yes, it will help, a bit. But if you’re in a culture, a world in which everything is distorted, it will distort you. It will distort you. It’s a very strange time, very strange time. Why I find it really interesting is that everybody’s aware that something’s off. We have global warming. We have all of the things that are off. But, it’s somehow we lost this ancient understanding, to really say “what does that mean?” And as I’m sharing with you that there is this ancient teaching—and I don’t know, it’s both, it applies both to the individual and to the whole—that when some things get seriously distorted it’s because something is about to happen. And I have a deep passion: I want to be there when it happens. I really want to be… you know I was at the first Glastonbury Festival, you know when something was supposed to happen then and it didn’t. And I want to be here when it happens because I know what it means. And there is this incredibly beautiful thing we call the world and it’s changing. It’s metamorphosizing. And what I find difficult to understand is nobody seems to be noticing. They’re so identified with either their individual or collective problems that they’re not aware of what is actually taking place.
Now it is said, “He is the greatest of tricksters”, He is the greatest of tricksters, He is the greatest of deceivers, and somehow He allows humanity to be caught—again and again and again and again. Just as you know individually you get caught again and again and again and again. Whatever your particular penchant is: failed relationships, psychological problems, spiritual crises —whatever it is you want to go through. You get caught in again and again and again and again. And there comes this time in yourself when you say, “Look, I’ve had enough of this. I don’t want to play those games any more. I would like actually to be present. I would like actually to live, not to dream—to live. I would like actually to live.” And it’s like then you make a commitment to something in yourself. “I am here for the sake of life.” The moment you say “my life”, forget it, because you’ve created the veil; you’ve put another layer of mist there. But the moment you say, “I am here for the sake of life”, or for the sake of God, it doesn’t matter; I really think life and God are somewhere fundamentally the same. Then a door opens; then something in life responds.
So what fascinates me is how to be present at this moment in time, so one doesn’t miss the opportunity. How to be awake when the world wakes up. I am personally completely convinced the world is going to wake up one way or another. Because there are signs, because you can smell it in the air, because something is gone so completely wrong that it has to. There is this kind of laughter in the air. And that’s when you can make this shift—a very simple shift in consciousness—which is to realizing you are not a separate individual. This is one of the great illusions that has been perpetuated: you are not a separate individual, you never were a separate individual. Everything else in life knows that it’s not separate. Every ant, every hummingbird, every spider, every cloud, even the angels, they know they’re not separate. They know they’re part of something; they know they all work together. They all know there is this extraordinary whole of which even to say they are a part, it isn’t quite like that. We are the only species that thinks we are separate, that thinks it is “my life” and let alone thinks it’s “my realization” or it’s “my spiritual life,” which of course now is mass-marketed in the West, and you can have it in any taste and color and perfume and variation you can imagine. You know some people like the kind of Nieman-Marcus spiritual life and other people prefer the Whole Foods spiritual life. You can get whatever you like. But there is no such thing as my spiritual life; it is a complete contradiction in terms, ‘cos if there is any truth about spiritual life, is that it is about the Divine, it is about God. It is about what is Real. If there is any single truth about spiritual life, it is, it is about the Divine. But that brings us back to this basic point: how can we be here when the world wakes up? Now there is in the Grail legend, there is a very, very simple clue. The beauty of the Grail legend is it’s part of our Western heritage. And one thing Jung stressed, he said, you cannot just take on an Eastern religion, because the Eastern psyche is different. And in the Grail legend, the second time that Parsifal is shown the Grail Castle, if you like, the second time he is present in Paradise, he is asked the question, “For whom serves the Grail?” And he answers, “The Grail serves the Grail King.” I always find it fascinating, in all of the spirituality in the West we almost seem to have forgotten the most basic question. The Grail serves the Grail King. It is all about God. Everything is in service to God. And the moment you say that, and the moment you live that, you are present. “Hama Ust” the Sufis say, All is He; Everything is He, and we are in service to That with a capital “T”. And one thing I don’t understand, when so much has been given to the West in the past thirty years, so much—so much spiritual wisdom, so many teachings. But this kind of greed that we seem to have been born with, that we want to take it back to ourselves, to fill this bottomless void which we have created, forgets that basic truth. That simple, essential question and answer, which is in the Sufis—it was also in the primordial covenant, when God called the not-yet-created humanity, and said, “Am I not Your Lord?”, and they said “Yes we witness it.” It’s called the Primordial Covenant: the covenant between the creation and the Creator, between humanity and God. And we made that covenant before we came into creation. It was the not-yet-created humanity, when the very essence of the soul, that central spark of what is actually the real you—it’s very, very beautiful; incredibly beautiful, if you knew what it was, you would just die—when that bowed down before God. And then of course you have to live it, here in this world, you have to answer that question. And sometimes, it is just an individual question. It is at that turning point in your own life when in a way you step into what can only be called spiritual maturity; when you are given a glimpse of something true, and you have the right attitude to live it, and you said “This is for His sake. This moment is for His sake. This music is for His sake. This zikr is for His sake. This dance is for His sake. This lovemaking is for His sake.” And you honor that deepest part of you. Then a light comes on within the human being. The Sufis call it the light of remembrance, the light of something waking up in this world of forgetfulness.
So that is your, in your individual journey, that is this moment that happens to you. And at the beginning you struggle to do it, and you struggle to do it and you struggle to remember and to know that it is about Him. And then there comes this extraordinary moment when it wakes up in such a way that it can never go back to sleep. When you are always in remembrance, when you are always bowed down before God, when something in you is always praying: the heart prays, and the heart prays, and the heart prays. And then from that moment, everything you do in life is in service to God. Whether you are baking bread, whether you are vacuuming, whether you are working as a banker—everything you do is automatically in service to God. Because your heart is in service to God, because your breath is in service to God. That is a kind of inner awakening. You aren’t always aware of it consciously because it has to do with the soul’s relationship to God. But that is in the individual. But there is, at this moment of time, one can, if you like, step into the global arena asking this question, or answering this question: “For whom serves the Grail?” “The Grail serves the Grail King.” I am here in service to You. Then you can be present in what is really happening, in what is really taking place. And then you can be used by creation to help this mystery unfold, to help the world to wake up. You, or each of us, we are part of creation. We are part of the light of God in this world. If you really knew how it looked from somewhere, you would just, you would just bow down before God; it is so beautiful. If you saw how your spiritual consciousness is part of the Light of the World, and what is happening at this moment in time, as something is turning, or something is being turned actually—it is both an organic natural process and it is also in the hands of something else. Like the Sufis say, “the Beloved holds the heart of the faithful between His two fingers and turns it as He wills.” What is true for the human being is also true for the world. He holds the heart of the world between His two fingers, and turns it. Sometimes He turns it away from Him and we have been through at least a thousand years of Him turning the world away from Him. So much so, we don’t even realize that is what has happened. We don’t even realize the world has been turned away from God. And it is about to change. He is about to turn, or He is already turning the world back towards Him. As I said, when the Reality with a capital “R” gets closer, begins to interfere, with the illusions of humanity, and distort them, and distort them, and distort them. And then you have this choice: to be present when the world wakes up, to be awake when the world wakes up, to welcome the dawn. Or to be caught in this strange, distorted illusion. (The) Illusions are already distorted but they’re going to get more and more distorted, I can assure you. I mean, nobody knows what’s true anymore; nobody knows what to believe anymore. You know there was a time when you had an apple tree and it produced apples and you picked them and you shared them with your neighbors, or you made apple pie—and it was real. We don’t live in that kind of world anymore. We have to have a label telling us if it is a genetically engineered apple, and we don’t even really know what that means. I really don’t know if you’re aware that you don’t really know what to believe anymore. You’ve got so used to, just to lies and deception, and lies and deception on a global scale. It’s extraordinary how we have gotten used to it. Everything we live in is poisoned now, that is the truth; every bit of water is radioactive. Everything is poisoned. Almost every thought is poisoned, it’s distorted, it’s manipulated. Whose thought is it? Is it your thought? Did it come from somebody else? Was it … somebody manufactured that thought. Is there ever anything that you actually want yourself, or is it just coming from somewhere else into your mind? Do you have any idea anymore? Do you want something because it tastes good, ‘cos you actually like it, or somebody’s told you it’s good for you? And we don’t even realize that has happened. Forty years ago it was not like that. When I grew up, yes, there was materialism. But it was honest, straightforward materialism. You wanted a washing machine, and maybe your neighbor’s neighbor had a color TV. If you were in England, you wanted a Sunday roast on the table with potatoes and brussels sprouts. And it was real. And in the midst of this incredible illusion, incredible distortion—unbelievable; and what I’d realized recently, as I have shared with some of you, it’s not only is the outer world distorted, the inner world is distorted. You don’t know what’s true in the inner world; you don’t know if the symbols in the inner world have just been put there by some advertising company, or whether they come from the collective unconscious—you don’t know any more. But it’s all been manipulated now, you’ve no idea what is true. And that is a sign that an era is coming to an end. A classic sign, what happens when an era is coming to an end. It’s actually what happens when Reality with a capital “R” begins to distort the illusions, almost out of control. And so you can either try and change the illusions—work hard to realign yourself with a better illusion—or you can say: that is not really what I am here for, that is not what it’s about. There is something deep within the human being. We do actually, underneath it all, we do have, each of us, a basic integrity as human beings. Somehow, in the midst of it all, we know we are being lied to. We know nothing is true. And all I say is, just return to that basic human part of you, which is your relationship to God. That is all.
My teacher she said you bring two things with you into the world: the desire to live, to survive—the survival instinct; and the desire to worship. Everything else is added afterwards, everything else is added afterwards. So just return to that basic imprint which is in a way the memory of when you were together with God in the Garden of Eden; when you are together with God. Return to that within yourself, and then you can’t go wrong. Because that is true; if you didn’t have that, the soul would no longer survive. And there are souls that have lost that, in this world. They’ve lost that memory. They’re called lost souls, they cannot find their way. You can see them on the inner planes, wandering, wandering; they can’t find their way, they’ve lost that connection. And all the soul-retrieval work in the world won’t help them; they wander between the worlds. It’s a strange existence.
All the illusions cannot fool you in your own human integrity, in what is real within you. It’s as simple as that. Somewhere you know what it means to be really alive. You know what you are here for, and it is not self-development. I’m not saying self-development is a bad thing; it can help you, sure. But you are here for His sake. Just like the whole of creation is here for His sake. His, Her—it doesn’t matter. It’s just a word. There’s this beautiful poem: “Prabhu, Sovereign Spirit, Beneficent and Merciful Allah, my infinite One; at Thy command only will I carry out the pilgrimage of life, for the love of all created by Thee, and for Thy glory.” That is a way to live! At Thy command only will I carry out the pilgrimage of life, for the love of all created by Thee and for Thy glory. If you live That, that imprint within you, then you can turn from a world that is dying to a world that is waking up, because it is His world. It is not His world that is dying, I can assure you. It is a bad dream, a distorted dream. But it is His world that is waking up. Just like in your own awakening, you are suddenly present in His creation—not in your own creation. It’s a fundamental difference: you are suddenly present in His creation; that is why it is called awakening. You awake to what is, not (to) what is not. And I think—maybe I am a spiritual romantic—I think He would like a few people to be present when He wakes up His world.