Unitive Consciousness: Once a Man, Twice a Child
The first half of our life is the building up of our ego. The second half of our life is the breaking through of our ego. Essential for our early survival (much like the egg is to the bird), our egos must later be cracked in order for our inner spirit to fly. For that to happen, we must experience the pain of living. But this pain is not suffering for the sake of suffering, rather it is suffering for the sake of transformation. Our cage has to be rattled so we are no longer comfortable. Our assumptions about who we are and the world must be challenged.
We have three choices about pain in this life. We can try to avoid it, we can try to deny it, or we can let it transform us. The avoidance and denial of pain is usually accomplished by diversions and addictions. Accumulating more than one needs, drinking and eating too much, working and partying too much, climbing social ladders; craving more and more of what doesn’t heal us or satisfy our real hunger. This is why the Buddha recommended the Middle Path. And also why the Bible warns, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The rich man, like the bird in the gilded cage, never learns to fly.
Or we can let our pain transform us. In that space of unease, we take our first steps across a threshold. Leaving our ego’s cage, we fall through the darkness and discover our true self, our soul. And then, with our newly discovered selves we can rise into the light of unitive consciousness. This falling and rising is called the Pascal Mystery in Catholic theology. By falling, we find out who we are and our unique purpose (where the world’s needs and our deepest desires meet). By rising we rediscover our connection to each other and the world. This re-cognition of unitive consciousness (our second childhood) is our glimpse of Nirvana or Heaven.