Limitation and darkness
Now let us move to another way of understanding this, though this will be somewhat similar. Here we will distinguish two kinds of limitation, one which is inner and the other which is external. One is a limitation of Self-knowing, and the other is a limitation of external expression. That is, we are each limited in our knowing of the Universal Self (which is the greater Wholeness of our self/being), and we are each limited as to how we express the Universal Self. Our self-knowing is a limited portion of the Universal Self Knowing. The Universal Self is Who we really are, but our knowing of this Self is limited, and this limited knowing is what we identify as ourself. The Universal Self expresses through us, but this expression is limited by our present capacity and also by the existential fact that an individual self can only do a limited bit in respect to the greater field of life. Our external sphere of influence is limited, and the quality of our expression is also limited (though this quality of expression could become near to God-like).
In essence we are each God. This is quite a dramatic statement. It is true that we are God, but we need to be careful in how we understand this. The wholeness of our inner being is God; yet because our knowingness of our whole self is limited, it would be incorrect to say that our present knowing of who we are is equivocal to God, so what we know as “ourself” is not really God in the fullest meaning of God, and yet it would be true to say that we are God if the meaning of “we” (or “I”) includes all of ourself (including that which is unconscious, as well as that which is conscious). This is why it is more often said that God is within us, rather than stating that we are God. Also, God lives through us, to the degree that we are conscious of God-in-full and to the degree that we express God-in-full.
The self is limited, and yet it is a hologram of God. All of God, all of Universal Being, is present in ourself. Yet this wholeness of the Universal Being is not fully conscious in ourself.
Everyone has barriers or veils, which hold back the intense Light of Pure Knowing and universal knowledge. Each of us usually have different barriers, but we also vary as to the degree of such barriers. Some have more and some less, but we all seek to have less barriers as we spiritual move toward the Divine light. If there were no more barriers, then the spiritual search would be over. But if we are honest, we will realize that we have some barriers, and more as well that we are not yet aware of. It is said that after one great door is opened for us, the spaciousness is so much greater, and yet this too is but another room, though bigger, so it too has its own particular door and greater room beyond it, and so it goes from one level to the next. Each level, or each person, has its particular walls, barriers or veils, most of which the person is unaware; just the man who is locked in a prison cell but does not yet know it because he hasn’t yet tried to explore all of its space. Only the inner space explorers can ever know about the walls; the other folks aren’t even exploring enough to learn that walls exist. Well, this analogy occurs at all of the many levels, from small to large spaces.
We do not have to think of these barriers as necessarily negative. Sure we would like to transcend them and move into greater knowing. Most people will hope for knowledge over ignorance. But barriers and veils are simply a fact of our existence. It is what makes us human, rather than God. So we might as well accept this fact of how we are. Everyone will have some barriers and some degrees of ignorance. Also, we need to accept that these barriers to greater knowing will inevitably cause us to make stupid mistakes at times or inadvertently hurt people in some way. This is why some spiritual traditions practice a prayer for forgiveness; because there are these mistakes people make, and people need to feel alright about this, without feeling good about making the mistakes. The mistake is acknowledged as a mistake, rather than re-translated as something divinely intended or soul-intended, or whatever positive spin people put on it. The fact is that we make mistakes, real mistakes, just like at any moment we are ignorant to some degree. People who do not admit to this are simply fooling themselves, so they can feel better. But the forgiveness practice at least acknowledges there being a real mistake or fault, though it mitigates or absolves the shame of this by an act of acceptance. God does this, but we can do it as well.
It is an acceptance that this is just the way one is, at the time. In one sense, we can be blamed for not perceiving the Truth, or for making a poor decision, or for deciding in favor of selfishness. Yet in another sense, any of this could be viewed as simply a fact of how the person was at that time. And applying the analogy of a barrier, we might simply say that the person had a barrier in front of their sight; they couldn’t see over this barrier and they couldn’t jump over it. In other words, everyone is in some space of a prison, with barriers and veils; so this particular person is simply acting in accordance with their limited knowing, within the prison of their barriers. Once we view people in this way, seeing that they have particular limitations or barriers or veils, which produce negative behavior; then we are more inclined to be forgiving and compassionate about them, though without falsely believing their actions are actually good or that they are actually perfect beings.
Now from a theological view, one might say that these barriers were given by God. This is true in one sense but false in another. The barriers we have are what we have. We are who we are, and we were given certain predispositions. We do begin with certain limitations, and these limitations simply exist for us, without any choice on our part. This is who we are; this is who we are given to be. In other words, it is as though we wake up into a particular dream, to find that we have certain limitations and barriers. It is the particular human circumstance we find ourselves in; like here I am, with these barriers, these veils and this ignorance, and these anxieties and impulses, etc. Here it all is; here I am; and how I got here I don’t know. Here I am sitting in this particular cell, this particular circumstance with problems and limitations, with these unique barriers. How am I to be completely blamed for this psychological and physical circumstance, when I just woke up to it today and found myself stuck in this way? So in this sense, my situation is given. Yet it is also true that we are each responsible right now for how we deal with our present limitations and how we go about moving beyond them. We do begin with barriers, but we don’t have to keep them.
In any case, we find ourselves in limitation and with barriers; so the practical question is what can we do about this?
There is a certain kind of awakening in life, which can happen when we are fairly young, but sometimes it is later in life. It is when we realize that we have real limitations, deficiencies and faults. It is not useful or helpful to bash ourselves over the head about this, or become judgmentally angry at ourselves or depressed about our shortcomings. Yet it is useful that we recognize this human fact about ourselves. Similarly, we need to acknowledge that we do not know it all, and that sometimes we are wrong in our ideas and make wrong decisions and actions. Some philosophies attempt to abandon this talk of faults and wrongness, maybe because it hurts to accept it, but we are not interested here altering the truth in order to make people feel better. So without having to be mean or depressed about it, it is useful to acknowledge in humility that we are all limited and deficient in some ways, and that we all have some faults or make some mistakes, and that sometimes we can be wrong. So now, once we have accepted this understanding and this humility, it is possible to make the next step; which is an openness and receptivity to higher knowledge, to greater truth, and to changes in ourselves for the better. For if we do not make the first step, the acknowledgment and acceptance of our present situation of limitations and faults; then we cannot really take the next step of humbly asking for help and being truly receptive for guidance, truth and rightness. If we remain in arrogance and pride, that we already know it all or that we are already perfect, then we do not make the next step. So this is why one needs the attitudes of humility and receptivity; for without these, we cannot be helped, since we will have blocked ourselves off from help and transformation, through this arrogance and pride. In our relationship to God we need to be in an attitude of humility, openness, receptivity, wakefulness and readiness; much like being a very good student in order to learn. This is the opposite of pride and arrogance.
Everything existent (in our experience) can only be a limited reflection of God-Existence, the One Ontological Being-Source from which all comes. Ontologically, each limited reflection is somewhere between dim and clear, relative to the Being-Source which is Absolute Light-Substance and the First Essence of anything. Absolute Pure Essence, Light-Substance, Being-Source, and God-Existence all refer to the same Reality but are different Ways to describe and understand It. This Essence IS the Primal Reality, but its fullness and unlimitedness is transcendental and incomprehensible to us; and to us it is the Source-Potential for everything existing. This Essence becomes existent (from Its Existence), meaning that It becomes known and manifested, yet whatever It becomes can only be but a limited knowing or manifestation. So when the Essence becomes existent, It necessarily loses Its Unlimited and Absolute Pure attribute. The Unlimited Essence still remains as Itself, like an Ocean that can never be depleted in any way; obviously, because it is unlimited. Yet when It becomes existent as something, or even as an Idea, Its unlimited absoluteness is lost in this something; or really it is hidden. So, the Absolute God-ness cannot exist - as a thing or even as a whole universe – without losing Its unlimited absoluteness to become limited in some way. The Absolute Essence is still the Reality-Existence, and this Essence is still hiding in all things, but in anything and even every thing It is has become limited.
The Essence-Absolute-Being has also become veiled by its manifestation. In other words, the manifestation and appearance hides the Essence. Yet the Essence is still hiding in anything and everything. So in our experience, anything is always a veil and a limitation, to some degree; yet there is always more of the hidden Essence in anything for us to uncover. Just as from the perspective of anyone, there is always more of the hiding divine Essence for one to uncover.
In everything and everyone is the Divine Essence, which is the Source of that limited being and also the unlimited Potential in hiding. The Source of Light is not identical to its rays, yet the rays are limited expressions of the Source. Everything is made of the One Light, but no one thing or being is Light Itself. No manifested being is Light-Essence Itself; yet every manifested being comes from and is made of Light-Essence. Every manifested being, every manifestation, is a form that is not Light Itself. In fact, it is a veil hiding the Essential Light. Yet, each form or veil is itself an expression of the Light-Essence; so in each veil we can see God in limited form. And if we see deeper, we might see more of the God-Essence underneath this form/veil. Each being, each expression, can be understood as God and not-God, simultaneously. Each is certainly not-God in their limitation and ignorance. Yet each is God, in that God can only manifest as a limited and somewhat ignorant being.