If Consciousness and energy are present everywhere, how do we connect to them? Are they located somewhere we can feel them?
Consciousness, in its broadest sense, has no locality, because it is present everywhere, and yet we can experience it in a location. We can touch it in our heart, in our mind, and even in our toes and in the world around us.
Energy is the power of Consciousness. The two are never separate, but it is through energy (śakti) that divine Consciousness manifests everything in creation. Pure Consciousness, through Its own autonomous power of śakti, expresses all of life — including our own — on the field of Its own Oneness. And yet, except for the rare person, the capacity to recognize that omnipresent field of Consciousness is not apparent. Although I do give practices that guide students to directly becoming aware of awareness, the secret of Tantric practices is that śakti is the pathway back to its source, which is Consciousness.
How can you see the unseen? How can you see God? Generally, the first way you see Him is in form. Unfortunately, we tend to get caught in that manifest form instead of understanding that it is the expression of śakti. If we want to know God, then the first step is to become one with śakti. This is the power of Consciousness that is traditionally called Svātantrya Śakti — the autonomous power of Consciousness to express fullness, dependent on none other. By becoming one with śakti, we are becoming one with Consciousness.
Touching Energy and Awareness
When we place our awareness in our heart, we are directing the energy of our awareness to that place. It’s not that we take our awareness and put it somewhere, but that we direct it somewhere — and the capacity to direct our awareness is a use of energy, of śakti. There is a wonderful Shaivite saying: “When you close your eyes the world disappears. When you open your eyes, the world appears.” All manifestation, everything we can contact through our awareness, is an expression of śakti. And not only that: Consciousness expresses the very thing that It’s own energy can then make contact with. So when we use energy to touch something, from the highest perspective, this is a contact of Consciousness to the object of Itself.
When you have a sense of your awareness being somewhere, it’s because the energy of your awareness is “pinging off” that place, like sonar. It’s like ocean explorers who drop sound (energy) 10,000 feet down and then observe the bounce-back. One of the most powerful ways that we can get in contact with Consciousness is to bounce the energy of our own consciousness off of that field. We can find that field in our own heart, or in what feels to be God’s heart, because the two are never separate.
Whether you’re feeling profound stillness or Divine Presence within, understand that it is a dynamic, vibrating reality — which is śakti. Svātantrya is the eternal, primordial power from which all energies are expressed. As we get deeply still inside, through the power of our own capacity to be conscious, we are connecting with the grantor of that capacity to be conscious.
Going Through a Point to Reach Infinity
Consciousness is everywhere, and yet we can connect to it through a “bindu point,” a point of singularity that has no boundary. We can condense our awareness into that point, and then on the other side we discover expansive space! That’s why, during open-eyes class, I can be looking into a camera lens and when that energy comes out the other side, it expands and you can feel it wherever you are.
There is never a separation between energy and Consciousness, or between feeling our awareness in a particular point and also in an expansiveness that is non-localized. You may have had the experience of feeling your heart chakra, and just by letting go into that bindu point you feel a spaciousness that’s no longer just within your body. This is because you are letting go of limited consciousness, your awareness of individuated identity, and dropping into a deeper field of the ocean of Consciousness. At that moment, don’t get caught in the sense that you are letting go because you’re going to get or find something. Don’t think, “I’m going to let go so that I’ll have a bigger experience.” We’re talking about letting go of the you that’s having the experience.
When our consciousness expands into universal consciousness, this is not a negation or dissolution of individuated awareness. We’re expanding out into a recognition of who we really are. And seen from another perspective, God is the one dropping down the sonar into you — and your own awareness is bouncing back. Both things are happening. When you have a sense that you are reaching the boundaries of your own capacity, or your own awareness, just let go and let God do the work!
The Boundary is Ego
That boundary we meet is our own ego, the part of us that adamantly believes it is separate from God. When we try to let go, or when our life is attempting to change us and reveal a deeper awareness of our union with God, the ego resists and starts pulling us back in. That’s why spiritual growth is not only an inner experience of expansion, but one that must be sustained when we’re engaging the world. Our boundaries express themselves in our lives as our tensions and patterns. By holding on to these limitations, which are defended by our minds and in our emotions, the ego sustains itself.
Even though internal and external exist on the field of Oneness, if you’re quiet and aware of your state, you will recognize when you’re meeting that egoic boundary, both in your meditation and in your day. Bhagavan Nityananda said, “Surrender everything that keeps you from Śiva.” He was talking about the capacity to surrender all the attachments, trappings, and perceptions of who we think we are, both in terms of our perceived separate individuality and in how we interact with the world. Surrender is how we free ourselves from that apparent duality.
The extraordinary insight of nondual Tantric practices is that we must go through the world to be free of the world. We go through duality, through all manifest diversity, to understand Unity. By connecting to the energy within, we are led back to the source of all that energy, which is Consciousness. That is how we solidify our experience of the unity of Consciousness and energy.