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                    Four Keys to the Awakened Life

The first and foremost step toward the Awakened Life is to develop and cultivate a personal sense of the Divine consciousness. It is Divinity and God-realization that we are awakening into, a conscious awareness of the Higher Self. Everything else, every other study or pursuit is ancillary to the one goal and objective of self awareness and self realization. Know ThySelf is the first and greatest commandment.

Let us know the Knower. Our earthly, matter-bound life confuses us to keep us in a perpetual state of distraction and preoccupation with outer things. These distractions are the chains that keep us bound to our illusory egos. When the Christ admonished us to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” He was pointing us in the direction of meditation and prayer as the pathway to realization. That is why He began the sentence with “seek”. He was telling us what to do and how to do it. And He was prioritizing for us. Not only are we told to seek within, for remember He told us clearly that the Kingdom of God is within us, but Jesus told us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness within ourselves, and then all the other things would be added to us. This is also the teaching of the Masters of the East and of all awakened individuals. Once we have communion with the Spirit within, we are fully satisfied and full of bliss. All the virtues will flower within us and we will be complete. Whatever else is given to us in the outer world will serve the purpose of allowing us to properly express ourselves in a joyful and free manner. Most importantly, however, is the realization that the inner union is permanent and nothing can take it away.

The First Key is to look within ourselves and connect with, recognize, realize, the Divine Radiant Presence of the Higher Self or Light in our spiritual heart and also reflected at the point between our eyebrows, the Third Eye or Christ Consciousness center within each human being. Let us know that we are consciousness and nothing else. This consciousness is experienced within ourselves as I AM or simply I. The universe is an appearance of Consciousness and has no substantial reality apart from the Knower knowing it. The Absolute and the relative, the inner and outer, are one Thing appearing as two! Thus the nineteenth century master and Teacher, Sri Ramakrishna, declared the Nitya (Eternal) and the Lila (Relative) to be one; Shiva and Shakti in eternal union. Our freedom is ever present and is not to be attained - we ARE free. We realize this when we meditate upon our identity as I AM which is the presence of God within us. In order to do this properly, we first must recognize the spiritual basis of existence and the possibility of a greater awareness of ourselves into a direct Knowing and apprehension of the Divine Being appearing as ourSelf. The point is to recognize and accept that there is a God who is omnipresent, beyond all definitions and in all definitions, and to seek for that God within, as I. As we do this, we will enter into a joyful, loving and fulfilling relationship with the Divine; and our feeling nature will be transformed as love blossoms forth from inside of us and this leads us to the Second Key.

The Second Key to the Kingdom is the realization that there is a divine or spiritual Kingdom, which is none other than the Truth of existence. The Truth world, or Kingdom of God, permeates the world of illusion and can be recognized in beauty, harmony, unity, light, etc.. In our ignorance, we misapprehend the world of Truth and imagine a world of pain, suffering, separation, and all the traits of the world of appearances. We see the Many but lose sight of the One! The Hindus and Buddhists call this maya and samsara, the endless cycles of birth, death and illusion. When we learn to connect inwardly to our spiritual Self, within, however, we awaken to the True world, which is experienced as I AM. We reawaken to the One, appearing as the Many. This one Universal Consciousness, is decribed as the King of the Kingdom. It is an allegorical term that aptly describes in a symbol, what can not ever be described at all, but only experienced as the reality within oneself. Since there is a King, then the subjects are all the citizens of the Kingdom, otherwise known as children of God. (Let us also be aware that the Ruler of the Divine Kingdom, or the Divine Realm, is not to be defined by gender. Though the Divine is considered as a Father and male in the West, the older Tradition recognizes the Divine Mother as the source and Power of all manifestation and as easily recognizes the Divine as Mother, in which case the Kingdom is actually ruled by the Queen!) When Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God is at hand, He spoke of a profound spiritual Truth that we, too, must come to understand. When Jesus stated that “I and my Father are one”, He also pointed us to know the Divine Self for ourselves - to know the King. We too are one with the Father, there is no separation and never has been. Yet as long as we  the illusion of ego and separateness persists, we should look upon the Divine Self as our Mother, Father or King.... the Ruler of the True world, or Divine Realm of Light, and upon ourselves as citizens of the Divine Realm who relate to the Divine in a relationship of love and felicity, either as children, servants, divine lovers, or friends. We can even regard the Divine as our child, as the baby Jesus or Krishna as Gopala. The point is to enter into an intimate, loving relationship with our Divine Self, actively seek It within ourselves, and transform ourselves thereby. Truly, as citizens of the Kingdom, we are also  each and every one of us, the children of God. As soon as we awaken to this truth, then we can claim our divine inheritance of bliss, love, and infinite prosperity! This is our true home that we are endlessly seeking, only usually in the wrong place.

Only when we find our proper relationship to the Divine, and have the inner experience of the I AM, will we discover the way to happiness and peace. He is source of all joy and felicity and goodness in life. He is the very Life of our life and in That do we live and move and have our being. This understanding is the secret of prayer and worship. Our proper relationship to the Divine will create in each of us a well-spring of inspiration and guidance to satisfy us for all eternity. And as many souls as there are, are as many ways to worship the Divine. The Lord accepts all sincere worship and love and rewards accordingly, for He is our very Self! This is clearly described in the Bhagavad Gita, the great Indian Scripture.

Further to this understanding is the knowledge that “As above, So below”. The king of the Kingdom, God, resides in us as the Higher Self, or in Yoga philosophy, the Paramatman. You and I are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Just as God, as Universal Consciousness transcends, yet pervades the Cosmos as guiding Cosmic Intelligence, so does our Higher Self consciously pervade all of us - our entire being - guiding us to an awakening awareness of Itself. God, the King, dwells in you as I AM. We are a wave on the ocean of Divine Consciousness ever united with our oceanic Self. The Second Key is the key to the Kingdom by finding the ever-adorable God within ourselvesas I AM. Prayer, worship and meditation upon our own divine nature opens the door to this awareness. We then become conscious citizens of the Divine Reality (spiritual Kingdom) and enter into a loving relationship with the Supreme Person, otherwise known as God.

The Third Key to the Kingdom of Divine Awareness is the revelation of the abiding Presence of the Divine within us and around us. Our true nature is discovered to be both within us - as I AM, and also around us as omnipresent being. The omnipresence of God is most powerfully experienced within ourselves as an abiding Presence and Comforter of the Divine Being - as I AM. All meditation and contemplation has this awakening and awareness as its goal. There are countless scriptural promises among all Traditions telling us of this fact of the abiding Presence, the blessings conferred upon those who who sense the abiding Presence, and the commitment of the Divine to those calling upon Him as the abiding Presence: “Fear not! for I am with thee always. I shall never leave you or forsake you” “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, for Thou art ever with me”, “When you call upon me I will answer you. I will be with you whenever you are in trouble. I will deliver you...””Proclaim it boldly, O son of Kunti, my devotee never perishes.” These are just a few examples from various world scriptures in the West and East.

All trials and tribulations that confront the disciple along the Way are opportunities to dive deeply within him or herself and discover the reality of the divine Presence right within and around him or her. Remember, He is nearer than our hands and feet. When the world says no, and all doors seem to be closed, or our efforts are thwarted and we can’t seem to move forward in any direction, even backwards, then know that you are being called inward to seek and unite with the abiding Presence of your Higher Self.

There is a Way for you, a path and a destiny, but very often it is not what you may consciously think it is. Become aware of the abiding Presence and listen to Its message of wisdom, love, comfort and surrender. Also never forget that the abiding Presence is You, in your higher nature. St. Paul said that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Saved from what? From ignorance, from delusion of a separate existence apart from the Divine. It is the chill of separation from who and what we are that is the cause of all suffering. And when we suffer we are ultimately thrust back upon ourselves, left to look within, to discover the infinite peace, strength and grace that is always with us and has never left us and is the abiding Presence of God within us - the Power within - our very own self.

“My earthly experiences serve as a process of destruction of my limiting mortal delusions. In God, even the most “impossible” dreams are realized. (I will give him the morning star. - Rev 2:28)” - Paramahansa Yogananda (Metaphysical Meditations)

To discover and become aware of this omnipresence of God, known to you as I AM, spend time each day meditating upon yourself - the peculiar sense of awareness that enables you to know that you exist. As you follow the thread of this awareness deep within yourself you will start becoming aware a higher and deeper part of yourself that is both Conscious, as in knowing and knowable, and is also the very source of your own consciousness. The Divine Being yearns to be known by you. The whole point of our earthly existence is for the Universal Divine Being to awaken as Itself in the microcosm of the individual person. So if you seek sincerely, you will find! And you will find Him as the abiding Presence within yourself expressing Itself “as” you. Once you begin to grasp this reality, peace will become a very real part of your being. The work is your sincere seeking and meditation, and the Grace is your realization of this Truth, the Third Key to the Kingdom.

The Fourth Key to the Kingdom results in a complete transformation of the individual life through the Death/Rebirth cycle into a total renewal of the being. The Fourth Key is the natural result of becoming aware of the abiding Presence. The Fourth Key is to Surrender to the Conscious, knowable, adorable Presence of the Divine within you. This surrender is only possible to the degree that you become conscious of and have faith in the reality of the One Divine Being living Its Life in you and as you. And as you become conscious of Him, you can only grow to trust in Him and surrender to Him. Your entire world view will shift and what was once perceived as dead, will become to you alive! This is why so much emphasis is placed on faith and belief in the Christian religion. The story of Christ, of the resurrected savior, is a recapitulation of our own story as we die to the old, false, beliefs about our separate self, the ego, and live to our True Self in the universal Christ Consciousness. The spiritual meaning and symbolism of Christianity is the story of our own initiation into the Christed being, if properly understood. Even in the clear description of baptism in Romans, Chapter 6, St. Paul explicitly tells us that immersion into the baptismal waters represents the death of the “old” man and the rebirth of the “new” man into the life of Christ. This is a symbol, a representation in the world, of what is happening to us on an inner, spiritual level. The physical act is only a symbol of a spiritual reality, if properly experienced. This is why the journey on the path of our own spiritual surrender into Divine Awakening is so arduous, often painful, and fraught with danger. And that is why the death of the ego is our final initiation test before we are reborn into the true Life. It is not possible to surrender to our Higher Nature until we become aware of Its existence and once we do, even if this awareness happens only after many years, our sense of separation slowly dissolves and we are reunited with our own true Self. We are home and the journey to awakening is over!

The Fourth Key requires particular attention because we must be on guard not to surrender to anything or anyone outside of ourselves. Surrender is not about personality worship or slavery to someone else’s personality. That is a result of weakness and false humility. Surrender is about awakening to the reality of the Higher Power, the abiding Presence, which is alive and knowable; and allowing that Presence to express Itself as you! and through you. This is known as yoga, or union with your Higher Self, of which most sleeping humans are unconscious.

Until this union is achieved our life is being lived and driven by unconscious forces emanating from deep inside ourselves, from the unconscious. As we develop and grow spiritually more and more of our unconscious mind becomes conscious. This culminates in the eternal process of surrender into the Reality of the Divine Presence within us and around us. It is an eternal process because the Divine Being, God, is infinite and eternal, as is our relationship to It. But this surrendering process is an inner work that results in an inner union and, again, is not to be confused with bowing down to an outer guide and relinquishing control to another person. We are ultimately responsible for all decisions that are made by the body/mind complex until the day we finally remember that “I am not the doer”!

                   The Four Keys In Summary

Recognize the fact of a Cosmic Intelligence or a Divine Being, God, and cultivate a relationship with Him; meaning enter into a loving, conscious, joyful, life-affirming relationship with Him.

Accept and contemplate the fact of a Divine Realm, a Kingdom of Consciousness, a Living Universe that we can and must become aware of, a part of or citizen of; symbolized by the term Kingdom, which points to a Spiritual Reality and Supreme King, otherwise known as your Higher Self.

Recognize the omnipresence of the Divine Being, Cosmic Intelligence (Higher Self), which is epitomized in the individual person. This Divine Presence is right here with us and within us only awaiting our recognition. It is always available to us and makes the crooked places straight as soon as we accept and become aware of It.
Surrender to the Abiding Presence of our Higher Self, as we contemplate It and become aware of Its presence within us. As we come to know It we learn to have faith to surrender to It and allow the Divine, as Cosmic Intelligence (Universal Consciousness) to guide and direct our lives. This will result in the complete transformation of the individual from a person-centered, limited entity (ego) to a cosmic conscious universal being (Divine Person).

These Four Keys represent a simple classification of proper attitudes that sincere seekers can adopt in order to bring about the complete reorientation of life and place it in a spiritual direction. Spiritual realization is ultimately a radical shift of perception and awareness that transforms the individual and ultimately society, bringing one into a permanent condition of Peace, Love, Joy and Eternal Awareness. The more we can cultivate and feel a sense of connectedness to that Immortal Life we call God, and recognize that that which we have habitually worshipped and prayed to as something outside of ourselves is actually our own Self within us, then we will know true happiness, contentment and fulfillment, and be crowned with spiritual realization and spiritual consciousness.

You can make it a practice to work with these Four Keys every day and you will quickly see the changes that take place in your own personal experience of life. Also, by no means are these the only Four Keys, or a packaged path to the Divine. These keys are simply tools for you to work with. There really are no steps, acts, tricks, or over simplified methods that can ever encompass the infinite and variegated nature of the Spiritual Path. Rather, these keys are guideposts, remembrances, tools that you can use to help reorient yourself and find God within you. They are as valuable as you allow them to be. You will find these tools available in many other teachings and traditions, which should only give you confidence that Truth is One and Eternal and presents Itself wherever It can to aid in the eternal Awakening process of the One into the One!