The first and most remarkable thing about this 'higher' state is its familiarity and its naturalness.  It's as close as the nose on your face.  And perhaps, just like the nose on your face, it's best seen in reflection - in interaction with others.  In the words of Zen masters, this higher state is 'nothing special'.

And yet, we've become such unnatural beings.  In the course of growing up and establishing our lives, we come to think that we're our identity, our personality - our ego.  Whilst constructing an identity is an important achievement, it reflects only the first developmental stage in the spectrum of human consciousness.

Traditionally, going beyond our ordinary (identity) state of consciousness is said to require years of personal 'work' or development.  And that is true when transcendence is correctly understood as a different way of living, a different way of being in the world.  But a very real taste of the experience of the ultimate, the ever-present, is available to all.  And this 'taste' can inspire us to begin to live our lives from an entirely different orientation.

What is this Higher Way of Being?

We taste the experience when we're deeply absorbed in something.  This 'something' might be our work, a hobby, sport, or an engrossing conversation.

It's also found in feelings of love towards others.  For many people, the most notable experience of it is when they're 'in love', an experience where the whole world seems to change.

In this state, everything seems to flow.  It's as if we're no longer an individual; we're a part of everything.  If we stop to assess what we feel, it's a sense of lightness and of ease.  Everything seems possible; everything even seems to be taking place naturally and in that moment.

It's our natural state, sometimes referred to as 'being spontaneous'.  Unfortunately, what is called spontaneity is too easily confused with self-interested (or ego-driven) behaviour, which can also feel 'right'.  The difference is found in who the behaviour benefits.  If it does not benefit others, then it's not true spontaneity.  True spontaneity is not impulsiveness, nor does it deny the value of reasoning in the appropriate circumstances.  In fact, true spontaneity is characterised by all of our capacities functioning in harmony.

In this state, it's as if all the power of the universe is flowing through us.  And, whilst this might seem overly exotic, or be hard to accept, it's an apt description given the mystery that underlies it.  We've already associated this state with Christianity's teaching of love.  It's also at least partly acknowledged by a number of psychologists, perhaps most notably Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi in his descriptions of what he calls 'flow'.  And it's emphasised in the 2500-year-old Chinese writings of Chuang Tzu (especially his references to wu wei or 'non-action') and in the Tao Te Ching.


This higher way of being takes time and practice to sustain as an ongoing experience.  Gradually, though, this state can become your default way of being in the world.

To this point, we've taken a sometimes exotic, even esoteric, approach to who we are as human beings.  Let's now put who we are as human beings into a bigger picture: what reality is.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly.  The Evolving Self (1993).  HarperCollins Publishers Inc, New York

Palmer, Martin (trans).  The Book of Chuang Tzu (1996).  Arkana (Penguin), London

Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (trans).  The Tao Te Ching (by Lao Tsu) (1972)  Vintage, New York

Blackstone, Judith.  The Realization Process - available on CD from