Let’s talk about what we mean by ‘real’. Consider a model in which there are two aspects to reality – Absolute Reality and relative reality.
In this model, Absolute Reality is reality as experienced from the perspective of Infinite Oneness – the perspective of Eternal Timelessness. In this capital ‘R’ Reality, there is only Oneness and we are One with that Oneness. In the Absolute, we are indeed pure expressions of God, radiant, whole, perfect and complete all the time. There is only Good. There is only Light.
Relative reality describes reality as experienced from the limited perspective of our human existence. This is reality as experienced through our five senses – sight, sound, taste, smell and touch – and as processed through our human reasoning mind. This reality is temporal and impermanent. This is the reality in which Infinite Oneness manifests itself into this physical universe. And, our experience of the relative is governed by our limited human ego consciousness.
We human beings live in both of these realities – The Absolute and the relative. The Absolute Truth of our Being is that we are expressions of Infinite Oneness made manifest – made in the image and likeness of God – whole, perfect and complete, all the time. And yet, on this human journey, we experience the illusion of separation. We see God, and we also see suffering. Though we can experience deep connection, we also experience isolation. In the relative, we experience Love as something that can be given or withheld.
Some people have thought that our ultimate purpose in life is to escape the relative and return to the Absolute. I don’t believe that. I believe our ultimate purpose is to bring a conscious awareness of the absolute into our relative existence. Our goal is to wake up and remember that while we are having this relative experience, we are also Infinite Oneness.
So, in the Absolute, I experience Oneness, Peace, Harmony. And in the relative, there are people and circumstances in my life that really, really, really irritate me. There are people who are clearly just wrong in how they think, feel and behave. In fact, what I know about them is, if they would change, my life would be perfect. (Of course, if they ever did change, I would find something else to complain about.)
So my spiritual practice challenges me to live in this messy relative realm, while holding a space for the Absolute to flow through. It challenges me to gently embrace my own human reactions, to dive into the deep end of my humanness, and at the same time, to grow and expand my awareness of Infinite Oneness. It does not play out as a grand moment of enlightenment, but through a thousand small choices every day. It plays out in every moment of self-awareness, of compassion, of forgiveness, of connection, of love, of joy. And that is ‘real’ life.