Adventures in Wonderland
Quotations on The soul is created
Quotations on The gods play in Wonderland
Quotations on The Fall
Quotations on School of hard knocks
Quotations on Enlightenment
From the time it is created until its return home, the soul has many adventures playing in the virtual wonderland of the universe. The mystics have described several stages or states that the soul experiences, as follows;
This sub-section will briefly highlight each of these stages.
The soul is created
“The universal everything is made of the singular consciousness of God. When a spark of that consciousness is individualized by God, it becomes a soul, capable of ultimately expressing the God-image in which it is made. In essence, the soul is perfect and complete, an exact reflection of God's ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss.” ~ P. Yogananda
“The divine purpose of creation, as far as man’s reason can grasp it, is expounded in the Vedas. The rishis taught that each human being has been created by God as a soul that will uniquely manifest some special attribute of the Infinite before resuming its Absolute Identity. All men, endowed thus with a facet of Divine Individuality, are equally dear to God.”
~ P. Yogananda
“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
~ Alan Watts
“There’s really only One here! All appearance of multiplicity is a dream, an illusion - conjured up by the one Self for the purpose of multiplying Its enjoyment.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
“He manifested Himself as creation. It’s He alone who is born in this world. He lives as all beings; it’s only Him everywhere.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
“You yourself are God, the Supreme Reality.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“God created each man as a soul, dowered with individuality, hence essential to the universal structure.” ~ P. Yogananda
“We human souls are, undoubtedly, of a two-fold nature: we are, in essence, identical with the Divine Consciousness, our Divine Self, which assures us of immortality and a free will; we are only secondarily individualized souls, with our accompanying karmic tendencies, by virtue of our embodiment in time and space. We are a combination, a duality, of identities existing together in the one spectrum of Consciousness: we are the Divine Self, and we are also the projected (superimposed) individual soul. Our essence, the one Divine Consciousness, is the only true ‘I’ in all the universe and beyond; It is everyone’s eternal Identity. But, by God’s mysterious Power of illusion, everyone born into this world takes on a limited set of characteristics as well, constituting the limited temporal identity of each, what we refer to as the individualized soul.”
~ Swami Abhayananda
“The Spirit is ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new omnipresent Joy; the soul is the individualized reflection of ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Joy, confined within the body of each and every being.”
~ P. Yogananda
Prior to creation, there is only Spirit, ever-existing, ever conscious, ever-new bliss. When Spirit begins a new cycle of creation, It dreams the many universes. Spirit also fashions countless unique extensions of Itself, in order to play in Its dream world as individualized versions of Itself. This is who we are. We start out as the soul, the Atman, each one of us a distinct version of Spirit. The soul and Spirit are fundamentally one and the same – immortal, infinite, bliss consciousness. This is our essential and real nature. We begin as such and as such we return from our Adventures in Wonderland.
Additional quotations on The soul is created are shown on the left.
The “body-suit” is occupied
“The human body and mind ... provide the soul with a means to experience the Lord’s cosmic chiaroscuro [light and shadow show].” ~ P. Yogananda
This next stage is a big one. The immortal soul puts on a “body-suit”. The soul in its native state cannot play on the stage of the universe because it is invisible, formless and exists outside of the cosmic theatre. In order to participate in the play, the soul must put on the garb of an actor. Once it puts on a “body-suit”, that soul is associated with that specific body and no other. The soul now becomes a witness to the actions of its actor body on the stage of the universe. Of course, it is really Spirit that is playing in Its cosmic playground through all of Its individualized soul vehicles and body-suits.
The term “body-suit” is used to emphasize that the bodies we occupy are not our real selves. We are the soul, immortal, infinite and in a state of ever-new joy. The “body-suit” is merely the instrument by which we play in the cosmic playground.
One can liken the body-suit to a virtual reality device. Just as a player of a VR game puts on a VR headset in order to enter the fantasy world of the VR game, so does the soul put on a VR “body-suit” in order to play in the fantasy world of the universe. It is exactly the same.
The term “body-suit” also helps to visualize how the soul, without the limitations of any form, puts on this body form like putting on an overcoat. One can imagine a scuba diver getting inside a full body-suit in order to go down into the ocean depths. We do the same. Our soul puts on a full body-suit in order to go down into the universal playground. It is the price of admission.
"When I see that God wants me to be born again in another body to help others, and when I see that I am to re-assume a personality, it seems at first a bit like donning an overcoat on a summer day; hot, and a bit itchy. Then, I get used to it." ~ P. Yogananda
The original “body-suit” was magical. Made of condensed light, it allowed the soul to be entertained in the fantasy universe and marvel at the wonders of the cosmos. The body-suit lasted indefinitely and was impervious to accidents, disease, pain, sorrow, and death. All body-suits functioned perfectly and allowed souls to experience the cosmos through the five senses. As a co-creator with free will, the soul in its body-suit could build new structures and treasures within creation as entertainment.
“All happenings are determined by a conjunctive effort between God the macrocosmic Creator, and God the microcosmic creator through individualized expression in man.” ~ P. Yogananda
Unfortunately, since The Fall, the body-suit that the vast majority of souls occupy today comes with a host of limitations and problems. More on this shortly.
While in the fantasy world of the universe, each individualized soul is influenced by two “minds”, (i) the mind-processor associated with the body-suit, and (ii) its native soul-consciousness. More on this in the upcoming sub-section Ego-consciousness and God-consciousness.
“Whenever our mind becomes active, whether in waking or in dream, it first imagines itself to be a body, and then through the five senses of that imaginary body it perceives an imaginary world” ~ Michael James
The gods play in Wonderland
"Is it not written in your law, I said, you are gods?" ~ Jesus of Nazareth
“Original man was uniquely endowed to express soul perfection, maintain divine consciousness and return to Spirit after a blissful sojourn on earth.” ~ P. Yogananda
“Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Man’s unmodified divine consciousness, as the individualized soul, is the basis of all his expressions. God’s … power of visualization has been inherited by man … man creates his own illusions of reality and “materializes” or brings them into being or expression through … his … consciousness …thus is he a miniature creator, fashioning good or ill for himself and the phenomenal world of which he is an operative part. It is this creative force inherent in man’s thoughts that makes them so formidable.” ~ P. Yogananda
“You are all gods, if you only knew it.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
During the original version of the virtual playground of the universe, souls started out with a balanced blend of god-consciousness and ego-consciousness, such that they were aware of both their oneness with Spirit beyond creation as well as identification with a separate body form within a localized portion of the universe. This blend allowed the soul to enjoy the illusory cosmic playground of creation as if it were real, while still retaining the awareness of its true identity as Spirit. It was really Spirit that enjoyed Its own creation in the guise of these separate souls within Its pretend universe of form. Each of the souls occupying a body-suit acted as a “companion” to Spirit as well as a vehicle which provided Spirit with a unique experience of Its creation. During this original version of the universal wonderland, souls played like the Greek gods of mythology, immortals enjoying the paradise-like playground of creation. A glorious existence in a cosmic phantasmagoria.
These early souls knew their true selves as individualized extensions of Spirit. By putting on their VR body-suits, they were able to partially become immersed in their VR world and their player bodies. Through their VR instruments of five senses and associated mind-processor, they were able to play and co-create within the fantasy world.
The key to how well things worked compared to today’s experience was the ability of these early souls to retain awareness of their true identities as gods. The balance between their native soul-consciousness and their virtual body’s mind-processor was critical.
As such, they played like the true immortals they were in the fantasy land of the universe – a universe of pure beauty and joy, unblemished by the many pestilences, inharmonies and evils of today’s universe.
This glorious adventure continued for a time and then the souls consciously dissolved their body-suits and returned to their infinite, formless existence as souls and Spirit.
Additional quotations on The gods play in Wonderland are shown on the left.
“When the soul descends into body consciousness, it comes under the influence of maya (cosmic delusion) and avidya (individual delusion or ignorance, which creates ego consciousness) … the soul, as the ego, ascribes to itself all the limitations and circumscriptions of the body. Once so identified, the soul can no longer express its omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. It imagines itself to be limited – just as a rich prince, wandering in a state of amnesia in the slums, might imagine himself to be a pauper.” ~ P. Yogananda
“After the Fall, the state of divine consciousness was lost as well as the ability to see oneself as a soul encased in a wondrous body of consciousness, life force and atomic radiation. This was replaced by identification with the limitations of the gross physical form and the forfeiting of omniscient immortality and the paradise of Cosmic Consciousness.” ~ P. Yogananda (paraphrased)
“God sent man to earth to be entertained by the bodily dreams, not to obscure his consciousness of immortality by being identified with the body.” ~ P. Yogananda
So, what happened? From the early days of blissful existence as immortal gods with flawless body-suits playing in a fantasy universe of exquisite beauty and boundless joy we have somehow evolved to today’s world.
Today, the fantasy cosmic playground that was once a perfect world of boundless beauty and joy has become a battleground filled with dualities. Where there were once only positives, the cosmic playground now has matching negatives, i.e. joy comes with sorrow, pleasure with pain, good with evil, happiness with sadness, love with hate, health with sickness, life with death, harmony with inharmony, peace with war, etc. Today, the body-suits that souls occupy come with a host of limitations and problems. First of all, they do not last forever. At some point, they become useless and must be discarded. The body-suits are subject to accidents and a myriad of diseases that can severely damage or destroy them well before their role in the cosmic drama is complete. The mind-processor that comes with the body-suit can malfunction, limiting its processing ability and causing a variety of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, etc. As well, today a soul enters the cosmic playground in an infant form of a body-suit which is almost useless and requires years of growth before its full size, strength, motor skills, and mind-processor capabilities are formed. Some body-suits even start out defective, physically and/or mentally, and stay that way.
Rather than dissolving our body suits after our stay in the fantasy universe, we now have body-suits that “die” prematurely, before our stay in the fantasy world is complete. Since the body-suits are just a pull-on VR instrument, we do not die when the body-suit dies. However, because the deluded soul identifies so strongly with its body-suit, it believes that it is dying. Death has become both a painful and traumatic event. Our true self is still the immortal soul, but we have forgotten that. When the physical body-suit dies in today’s world, the soul takes off the now useless form and continues its existence in an astral body within an astral world. The astral body and worlds operate with light forms that are far less dense than their physical counterparts. As a result, the astral body and the astral worlds are actually seen as light forms. Some religions refer to the astral world as “heaven”. However, our stay on the physical plane of existence was interrupted prematurely so we eventually have to go back. In fact, in today’s world, we cycle back and forth between the physical and astral worlds over and over again until what we were supposed to accomplish is compete. More on this later.
So again, what happened? As mentioned earlier, original man was always able to retain his awareness of his true nature as an immortal soul while playing in the fantasy universe. This is the critical requirement – to retain one’s soul-consciousness or god-consciousness at all times. In doing so, one never “gets into trouble” by violating the laws built into the VR fantasy world. One enjoys the entertainment and then, after a time, consciously takes off the body-suit and ends the game.
Gradually, over time, the cosmic hypnosis of maya and avidya became stronger and stronger such that souls putting on body-suits found that they were more and more identifying themselves with the body-suit and its mind-processor and less and less with their true soul-nature. Eventually, souls succumbed to the magic spell of maya and avidya so completely that they totally forgot their true soul nature and came to believe that the body-suits were their real selves. Without the awareness of their soul-nature, the deluded souls came totally under the direction of the body-suit mind processor, which is known today as ego-consciousness. Ego-consciousness without the guidance of god-consciousness is not a pretty thing. With free will and co-creation powers still intact, deluded souls under ego-consciousness violated all of the laws built into the VR fantasy world of the universe. Harm to their fellow souls became commonplace as did inharmonious creations within the universal structure. Once a law is violated, one is obliged to make amends. This is known today as the law of karma. Deluded souls built up more and more karma but their body-suits did not last long enough to make amends. As a result, deluded souls were required to come back to the physical plane of existence after a sojourn in an astral world. Reincarnation was now a part of the game, even though it was not part of the original cosmic design. Not only did deluded souls have to fulfill the law of karma, they also had to overcome the cosmic hypnosis of maya and avidya to ultimately recall their original soul-consciousness. In other words, ego-consciousness had to be overcome and replaced with god-consciousness before one could leave the game of creation and return home. Many, many, many lifetimes were required to complete all of the above. The VR game of playing in the virtual universe had changed considerably.
So, whose fault is it that the cosmic game changed so drastically? A good question. Mystics say part of the blame is due to the stronger dose of cosmic hypnosis, i.e. maya and avidya, which souls in today’s world are subjected to when putting on body-suits. This change was consciously implemented by Spirit. Spirit chose to make the game more difficult such that it took longer for souls to return home. Remember, souls are actually individualized Spirit, so Spirit was making the game tougher on Itself. Some mystics also place part of the blame on the individualized souls who are endowed with free will. If a soul’s free will choices never violated the laws built into the fantasy world, the game would be much easier and shorter for that soul. Some mystics have also suggested that evil is a conscious force that is built into today’s VR universal game. The purpose of this conscious force is to try to keep souls deluded by making ego-consciousness as appealing as possible.
Much more on these topics is found in the upcoming sections on Cosmic Hypnosis, Ego-consciousness and God-consciousness, Karma and Reincarnation, Destiny and Free will, and Why is there Suffering? The topics of Is Evil Real?, The Mystery of Death, and Astral and Causal Worlds will be the subject of future entries that will be found in the What’s New section.
Additional quotations on The Fall are shown on the left.
School of hard knocks
“Desiring fruits, the embodied soul
Attains its goals, and then becomes attached;
Experiencing pain, it learns, and in this way grows”
~ Svetasvatara Upanishad
“All the misery on the planet arises due to a personalized sense of “me” or “us.” That covers up the essence of who you are. When you are unaware of that inner essence, in the end you always create misery. It’s as simple as that. When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
After the Fall, when we lose awareness of our true self and native god-consciousness, we falsely believes the body-suit to be our identity. The mind-processor of the body-suit, i.e. ego-consciousness, now runs the show. Preservation of the mortal and perishable body-suit becomes paramount, i.e. safety from hazards and predators; adequate food and water, shelter, etc. The ego-conscious body-suit will do whatever it takes to ensure it has what it needs to try to preserve itself. The ego-conscious mind feels separate from everything and everybody, unlike its true god-conscious mind that had always felt a part of all. The ego-conscious mind no longer knows where it came from or why it is here. The only things that matter are looking after the needs of the body-suit and clutching at the pleasures and diversions provided by the sense instruments.
Once in delusion, it is very difficult to get out of it. The ego-conscious dominated mind just does not comprehend that there is any other existence than eating, sleeping, sheltering and otherwise maintaining the body-suit; fighting to protect the body-suit from external harm, including wars against perceived enemies; and, clutching at the few pleasures that the body-suit sense instruments provide as an escape from an otherwise difficult existence. And in the end, the body-suit “dies” anyway, from disease, injury, or just wearing out. It does not sound like much fun, but that is how many people live in today’s world.
And as mentioned, ego-consciousness without any balancing soul-consciousness is not pretty. More on this in the section on Ego-consciousness and God-consciousness. The good thing is that most people on the planet have re-acquired some qualities associated with their original soul-consciousness.
There are three primary ways to re-acquire our lost god-consciousness, (i) learning from higher sources and thereby raising our awareness, (ii) learning by observing the actions of others and the impact of their choices, and (iii) learning through karma, i.e. the school of hard knocks. At the early stages, we tend not to even acknowledge that there is any such thing as higher sources; it seems so foreign to our ego-conscious dominated mind. So the first option is deferred until later, when we enter the Journey of Awakening. The second option, learning from the actions of others, is always a good choice. For example, if we observe someone do harm to another, we can observe the hurt that that causes the other person and his loved ones. We can observe that the person doing the harm is eventually hurt himself. We can decide that harming another is just not worth it, even if we want to do it. In time the desire to hurt another is almost eradicated from our consciousness. Similarly, we can learn from other observations. However, not everyone learns that way. That, unfortunately, leaves the third option, the school of hard knocks.
The school of hard knocks is largely covered in the upcoming sub-sections on Karma and Reincarnation and Why is There Suffering? It basically says that if we cannot learn by higher means, then we must learn by suffering. The suffering is not meant as a form of retribution; it is to help us learn that certain actions are leading us further away from our real home.
After a long time in the school of hard knocks, perhaps many, many lifetimes, eventually we are so beaten down, that we determine that there must be a better way, a better existence. We begin to question and seek answers. And thus starts the Journey of Awakening.
Additional quotations on the School of hard knocks are shown on the left.
Journey of Awakening
“These individualized souls, we must not forget, are manifestations of the Divine. Nonetheless, while inhabiting or being associated with bodies, they pass through various experiences which may serve to forge a strong bond with the material world. However, over time, the indwelling Divinity instructs those ‘individualized souls’ by those very experiences in the errors of their ways, and returns them by various and sundry ways to the awareness of their true nature, guiding them by the most blessed path to the reformation of their loving intent and the restoration of their natural bliss. This is known as ‘the evolution of the soul’.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” ~ Franz Kafka
“I had ambitions to set out and find, like an odyssey … this home that I’d left … I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so I’m on my way home” ~ Bob Dylan, from the movie No Direction Home
At some point, the school of hard knocks causes the soul, buried beneath the ego-consciousness of the body-suit’s mind processor, to call out for redemption. The body pleasures associated with an ego-conscious existence become no longer worth the return in pain and sorrow. In the faint background of the mind comes the call – “there must be something more than this”. And the intuitive response echoes back – “you are not this body. It is merely a vehicle by which to play in the VR fantasyland. Your true nature is infinite bliss, your true home is infinity. You have mistaken yourself to be this mortal clod of clay when you are really an immortal god. It is time to return to your home of sublime and endless joy”. The soul begins its search to find a way out of the VR game of creation in which it is caught. It was the mind that fooled the soul into believing it was the body-suit; it is the mind that now must find its escape. The path to enlightenment, the Journey of Awakening, is an internal one, one travelled in the realm of consciousness.
This is a profoundly important topic. As such, it will be addressed in much detail in a later section. It is mentioned here as it is a key stage in the odyssey of the soul within the VR playground of the fantasy universe. The long, and sometimes winding Journey of Awakening ends in enlightenment, or liberation, in which the soul fully recalls its divinity and “in joy and more joy” leaves behind its false existence.
“When worldly enticements are at last deemed not worth their toll of suffering and precarious wanderings in maya, and the player cries out from his core for deliverance, then the hidden God by His unseen touch melts the band of unknowing from man’s eyes of wisdom. That soul no longer has to blunder through the stygian darkness … God liberates that soul forever. Then in joy and more joy the Lord appears openly to His devotee. He makes known that man’s sojourn in maya was meant only for entertainment; and that if everyone found Him easily, then His cosmic lila of hide-and-seek would be over in a trice. He explains that His hiding was not meant to cause suffering, but to heighten the enjoyment of man’s ultimate, inevitable discovery of the Eternal Love.” ~ P. Yogananda
“Is this living Splendor, this beaming Sun of Life, beyond the slightest touch of earthly sorrow, suffering or pain, my real Self? O wonder of wonders, am I this immortal Being, happy beyond measure.” ~ Gopi Krishna
“Having access to that formless realm is truly liberating. It frees you from bondage to form and identification with form. It is life in its undifferentiated state prior to its fragmentation into multiplicity. We may call it the Unmanifested, the invisible Source of all things, the Being within all beings. It is a realm of deep stillness and peace, but also of joy and intense aliveness.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
“I am that Brahman, one without a second … I am infinite. I am absolute bliss.” ~ Shankara
“If only you knew what bliss I find.” ~ Rumi
“Words cannot describe the joy … Only those who experience this joy know what it is.” ~ the Maitri Upanishad
“I am supremely blessed. There is no earthly joy to compare with my great bliss … How great my bliss, my infinite bliss!” ~ Swami Vidyaranya
“When one’s true nature is known, then there is Being without beginning and end; It is unbroken Awareness-Bliss” ~ Ramana Maharshi
“The ego consciousness is transmuted into the inconceivable bliss of the Spirit.” ~ P. Yogananda
“It is His drama, and He is the Self-consciousness of each of us. When ultimately we awake, we shall know the Source of all selves, the Source of all forms; we shall know that we were, are, and ever shall be, the One who lives in eternal bliss.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
The final stage on our odyssey home is enlightenment. The successful conclusion of the Journey of Awakening results in the overcoming of ego-consciousness and the attainment of full remembrance of our native soul-consciousness. The soul or Atman is a unique, individualized extension of Spirit. As such, once full awareness of god-consciousness is re-acquired, the soul can become one with Spirit. Becoming one with Spirit does not mean becoming a small part of the greater Spirit, it means becoming Spirit Itself. Each returning soul attains the full state of the consciousness of Spirit. The unique, individualized nature of each soul is never lost however; its memory is retained forever.
Enlightenment may come while one is in a physical form. If so, one is overwhelmed in the rapture of the bliss-consciousness of Spirit. One may continue to retain the body-suit for a time, as a living example and as a teacher to others. In this case, a slight amount of ego-consciousness is required just to keep the body-form in place. If ego-consciousness is totally let go, the body-form would disappear. Of course, the law of karma also has to be appeased before final emancipation from the game of creation. However, once one attains full god-consciousness, any residual karma is burned away with ease. One also may be blessed with the redeeming grace of Spirit to aid in this regard.
Enlightenment may also come while the soul is occupying an astral or causal body in the higher realms beyond the physical universe. More on this topic later in the What’s New section.
The soul upon attaining enlightenment may choose to remain in a causal world prior to becoming Spirit. In the dream causal world of pure ideas, the soul can create its own dream universes populated with dream beings just as Spirit does. In this way, Spirit creates dream universes directly as well as through the individualized extensions of Itself.
The enlightened soul may also choose to go beyond creation altogether and become the infinite, formless Spirit Itself. As Spirit, it becomes a blissful witness to the goings-on in the dream universes but does not itself occupy any form. It has been a long journey home back to its native infinite, immortal bliss conscious state.
As humans, can we truly conceive of what enlightenment truly is? It is so far beyond our normal consciousness that it is hard to fathom. We have the words of the mystics, as seen in the quotes provided herein, which can give us a small appreciation, but the mystics say over and over that words are incapable of describing this state – it is so far beyond normal human experience and understanding.
Once again, we can turn to analogies to help us gain a better understanding. The allegory of Plato’s Cave (that was introduced earlier) may be helpful. Imagine prisoners chained to a wall deep inside Plato’s Cave whose entire life experience has been watching the light and shadow forms reflected on the cave wall that they are facing and hearing sounds reflected off the wall. One of the prisoners escapes from the chains and decides to climb up the long tunnel leading to the outside world. After an arduous climb to the surface, the freed prisoner experiences for the first time the sublime world outside the cave – the sun, bright skies, clouds, warm breezes, cool mountain streams, waterfalls, oceans, etc. The freed prisoner returns down into the dimly lit cave to tell his friends inside. Alas, he is at a loss for words – how can he describe the world outside the cave to people who have only experienced a world of shadows within a dimly lit cave. The freed person is ecstatic with joy over his awakening to the existence of this beautiful world, but the cave dwellers think he has gone mad – he cannot speak about his experience and he is in a blissful state that is entirely unbeknownst to the cave dwellers.
And so we are the cave dwellers, living in our dim world of light and shadows. The mystics and enlightened ones, who have experienced this glorious world beyond, are like the freed prisoner. They have experienced a sublime existence so far beyond the normal that it is impossible for them to describe to others. All they can do is encourage everyone to escape from their chains and climb the long tunnel up to the surface.
Another analogy that may help is the following. Imagine you are playing a virtual reality game in which the virtual environment you have chosen to play in is two warring countries. You chose to play a soldier fighting for one of the countries. Of course, the real you is the player of the game outside of the VR world. But for fun, part of your consciousness pretends to be this soldier in this VR environment. The soldier is a full 3D rendition immersed within this realistically generated immersive world of warring countries. To start, part of your consciousness pretends to be the soldier and part of your consciousness is your real self – the player of the VR game, existing outside of the game. At first, the game is fun, because you know it is all just entertainment – nobody is actually killed in the war. But then you get so involved with playing the soldier in this very realistic immersive VR environment that you forget your real self and begin to believe you actually are the soldier. Then the game is no longer fun. Your fellow soldiers are being killed all around you. Then you get word that the city you live in has been overrun by the enemy and that your family has been massacred. In spite of your overwhelming grief you fight on, only to be shot yourself and left dying on the battlefield in agony. Imagine that at that moment you remember your true consciousness- that of the game player existing outside of the VR game. You are not the soldier – it was all just pretend. Imagine your overwhelming joy at that moment of awakening to the consciousness of your real self.
Similarly, the mystics tell us that once we attain enlightenment, we at last remember our true selves - infinite, immortal, euphoric beings. The mortal humans in this world of many troubles that we thought we were are now understood to be just play things, virtual creations, an illusion.
At that point, we can continue to play, now understanding that it is all just pretend. Or we can leave and create our own virtual worlds and create our own players to play in them for entertainment. Or we can withdraw for a time from all this playing and just exist in a state of infinite, sublime bliss consciousness, without any forms.
Additional quotations on Enlightenment are shown on the left.