In the spiritual view of reality, the inner dimensions of the world are primary. The foundation of the world is consciousness. Instead of the naturalist view that consciousness is a state of matter, the idealist view is that matter is a state of consciousness.
Matter is an idea. When we limit our view of the world to its outer dimensions, we call that matter. Matter is the external public aspects of reality, but the world also has inner private dimensions.
We’re all aware of the inner conscious dimensions of our own physical body. Just as our consciousness pervades the body, consciousness pervades the entire fabric of spacetime. These inner dimensions of nature are the essence and foundation of reality.
Wrinkles in the fabric of consciousness
Density variations cause wrinkles in the substance of spacetime. The same principle applies to the conscious dimensions of nature.
Density within the substance of consciousness creates a stupor or sleep. This stupor is a decrease in the extent of awareness, a refraction of consciousness.
This limiting of consciousness is a type of ignorance. Ignorance is a dense state of consciousness, just as matter is a dense state of spacetime.
The physical body of each living being is a density variation in the conscious field underlying reality. The body limits consciousness within spatial boundaries. The senses and mind are a filter on the world, shrouding our awareness of reality within physical limits.
We’re ignorant of the aspects of reality outside the filter. We’re only aware of those aspects of the outer world which filter through our senses and mind. From the idealist perspective, matter is the covering of consciousness. It’s the outer form of reality, the external garment concealing the inner reality.
The evolution of consciousness and the tree of life
The physical body of each living being restricts consciousness within certain physical limits. Different physical forms have different senses and cognitive abilities which allow different levels of awareness. We can grade the various species on a scale of their awareness of the world.
Simple life forms like bacteria and plants are at the bottom of the scale. They’re in a dense state of consciousness. Their awareness of the world is limited to hazy, indistinct perceptions. They react to stimulus like light, heat and chemical signals.
Moving up the scale we have simple life forms like insects and fish. They have an increase of awareness corresponding to the type of senses and cognitive apparatus. These animals can perceive the world in more detail, so their reactions to the world have greater flexibility of movement.
At the higher end of the animal kingdom, we have animals with various levels of self-awareness. They show sympathy, empathy and problem-solving skills. This evolution of species isn’t a scale of physical characteristics, it’s a scale of awareness.
The details of the scale are necessarily speculative and anthropomorphic. We can’t directly access the inner world of other creatures, only the external dimensions are public. We can only infer the characteristics of their inner world from knowledge of our own consciousness and observations of their behavior and biological structure.
But this idealist scale of life forms is in harmony with our intuitions. The greater the extent of the awareness of reality and ability to interact with it, the more advanced the life form.
In the naturalist view there is no purpose in nature. The outcome of evolution by natural selection is survival of the species. Awareness is only valuable if it enhances survival. This places creatures like bacteria and cockroaches at the top of the scale. For evolution by natural selection, how you live is of secondary importance, that you live is primary.
For the idealist, awareness directed toward the perpetuation of existence, mere survival, is a lower form of consciousness. The possible modes of existence have value, some greater than others. Living with compassion, honesty and love are advanced forms of consciousness because they’re aware of dimensions of reality beyond mere physicality.
Humans are the most aware species. This awareness goes beyond sense perceptions of the world. We have added senses like a moral sense, a sense of humor and the ability for rational thought. People also report extra-sensory perception of many types, and religious experiences are common.
Humans are aware of abstract properties like beauty, justice, truth and goodness. Our awareness extends beyond the physical dimensions of the world. The human species has expanded consciousness. This means humans can become aware of the spiritual dimensions of reality.
The spiritual dimensions
The general theme of the spiritual world view is the existence of a divine reality beyond the physical world. The divine is the origin and sustenance of all existence. It’s a personal and conscious reality which pervades all things and is characterized by a unity of being.
Sometimes these higher or transcendental dimensions of reality are interpreted spatially, as if these divine realms are elevated in the sky, or outside the spatial boundary of the physical universe.
But in the idealist understanding, higher and beyond are referring to states of consciousness, not states of matter or locations in space. The divine is higher because it’s a more expansive state of consciousness, a more complete awareness of reality.
These higher dimensions are the inner dimensions, the consciousness permeating the fabric of spacetime. We know our own consciousness directly, no intermediary instrument is needed. But we aren’t directly aware of anything beyond our own consciousness.
We don’t have access to the world itself, we only have access to our experience of it. We know our own self directly and without doubt, but this is the limit of our direct knowledge.
All our other knowledge is indirect and uncertain, it’s all provisional. It consists of impressions of the world filtered through our senses, or inference about the world from our mind and intelligence.
In the spiritual viewpoint, there are dimensions of reality the senses can’t detect, the mind can only know theoretically, but they can be experienced directly.
This spiritual realm of existence transcends the death and suffering associated with the physical body. Attaining knowledge and connection with these spiritual realms is our salvation and the fulfillment of consciousness.
Reconnecting with the divine
If these spiritual realms exist, why are we unaware of them? Religions explain this disconnection with the ground of reality in many ways. Our present existence is compared to a dream state, a state which is less real in comparison to being awake. Some religions describe it as a fallen state.
These aren’t spatial descriptions. The fall isn’t a movement through spacetime, and the reality of a dream doesn’t change if we sleep in a different location. We can’t resolve our disconnection from the divine by changing our position in space or time.
The fall is a movement within consciousness. We can think of it as a decrease in awareness, a degradation of consciousness. That state is less elevated because it’s less complete, it’s ignorant of some parts of reality.
The dream analogy compares two states of consciousness, one more real than the other. But the comparison is only possible when we’re awake.
A dream is a hazy state of consciousness. While we’re dreaming it seems real, there’s no awareness of any reality beyond the dream. But because we also have experience of being awake, we can compare the two and understand dreams are ultimately illusory.
Dreams are a reflection of the real world. When we’re dreaming, we aren’t aware of the actual world and think the dream world is the entirety of reality. When we’re awake we’re aware of the dream world and the actual world, but we aren’t aware of the divine world. We think the actual world is the entirety of reality.
If this divine conscious realm is the origin of our existence, the foundation of reality, then we’re ignorant of the source of our being. We know we exist; we know this without doubt. But we don’t know what is beyond our own self.
We don’t know our origin, the ground of our being. We’re disconnected from our source and distant from our home, the place we belong.
The negative reality
Most humans feel this inner lack, a primal dis-ease of consciousness the mundane world can’t satisfy. The material pleasures are a superficial type of enjoyment, giving a temporary lift in emotions and masking the dis-ease for some time. They provide a superficial and temporary diversion, but they can’t provide the deep and abiding inner satisfaction we seek.
Our existence is this world is sustained with a perpetual hunger, a state of dissatisfaction. Removing a dissatisfaction takes away a negative, but that can only take us to zero, it doesn’t contain the substance of the positive, it isn’t satisfaction.
The pleasing sensation of a cool breeze on a sweltering day is only relief from the discomfort of excess heat. The removal of discomfort has the superficial appearance of satisfaction, but there is nothing inherently satisfying about a cool breeze. Once the discomfort of the heat is gone, the breeze doesn’t even have the illusion of satisfaction.
Religion recognizes this hunger as a problem that has a solution. That inner longing for a higher quality of existence, for something beyond the mundane, will lead us toward the source of our being.
The religious message speaks to that urge within us, assuring us there is an unseen world beyond this one. A heaven, a place of inner peace and harmony. Our eternal home.
Lifting the veil covering the divine
If reality has inner conscious dimensions which pervade all space and time, then heaven is right where you are standing. The divine is ever-present everywhere, the all-pervading inner substance of the world. The kingdom of God is within you.
The spiritual quest is developing the vision to see the divine immanent within the world. We need to dissolve the filter which shrouds our consciousness and limits our view of reality to the superficial outer world.
The spiritual quest isn’t to create an external utopia by rearranging the furniture of the world. Spirituality is a quest of inner transformation. It recommends spiritual and ethical practices designed to elevate and expand our consciousness.
It teaches us to love, to give of ourselves, to demolish the barriers we’ve built which separate us from the inner spirit of nature and from each other.
The goal of spiritual practices is to enhance our awareness and remove the ignorance of our separation. The divine can’t be known with the senses, the mind or the intellect. These are all coverings of ignorance, a filter which limits awareness and directs it outwards.
Heaven is a state of consciousness, a state of being. We don’t discover it by the death of the physical body, but the death of the selfish ego. Its heights are reached by an evolution of consciousness.
Heaven includes the awareness that love is a superior mode of existence to hate; forgiveness a more valuable state of the heart than revenge, and charity benefits the giver more than the receiver.
No material asset can buy an entry visa to heaven and no material circumstance can deny us entry. Heaven is the wealth of our soul, our natural birthright, the fulfillment of the evolution of our consciousness.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12