There is a phenomenon of consciousness which I’ve observed to be the cause of much heartache in the field of religious pursuit. It is something which causes the believer to strictly divide in his mind between the earthly reality that appears here, and the supposed heavenly realities which await him at the end of his trials. This fissure in his view of the world causes him to maintain a harsh distinction between where he is – his current state – and where God is believed to dwell. Always He seems infinitely far off, never close, never “as near as our life’s vein”.
This attitude is not simply a mental position, but a fissure at the heart of our spiritual awareness. No wonder so many faiths equate reunion with their Lord to the ending of the world: more than a few of them view this fault as an essential failing of reality itself, a mistake destined to be corrected. We were meant to live as a unity, but something wicked crept into man so that for now, we dwell apart in this mortal penance.
But what is this belief, and where did it come from?
This “split” envisions a barrier between ourselves and our Goal so real, our belief in this life as partitioned off is complete. Of those who pray, who hasn’t said a prayer and wondered if it reached its destination, as if the syllables themselves had faced a terrible hike of some kind?
We’ve been conditioned by our experiences in space and time to imagine most concepts in terms of scale, measure, duration, etc. Even if we think of “eternity”, we picture it as an unending duration. Things exist in compartments with clear divisions, such as the “universe” (though we’ve never seen its end), and “Heaven” as a place we go to after we die.
and never fully approving of who we’ve become, since where we are is never where He is. The failure to satisfy an Entity Whose motives and thoughts we simply cannot imagine causes a persistent sense of separation – a rift in our consciousness of God, which I have come to call “the split”.
Depsite its ill effects, the Split seems to be a necessary stage in the development of consciousness. As children, we begin to realize that we are not our parents, and that our wishes are not the same as the wishes of existence. Here the “we/they” gap begins, but from there it is vastly widened: not only are we different from the others we meet, but we begin to perceive a difference between who we are, and who we had the potential to be. As soon as we’re scolded for doing something wrong, for example, there is presented to us an image of ourselves having not done the thing in question – and alternate path, so to speak. This makes sense of the question, “Why did I do that?”, as if some greater I had had the choice between two paths and the questioner is only the result of one of them.