In stage 2 of creation, the separation from oneness begins. The move to creation begins with an initial energy pulsation, a subtle throb of and a hint of creation to be. You could think of this stage as being like the initial process that takes place in a cell that will one day become a living animal or human being. This stage is like the moment when the spark of creation is struck in a cell, before it begins to multiply.
In stage 1, you have the cell of pure Consciousness. Once this creative spark enters that cell in stage 2, it divides into two cells, which are represented in this chart by stages number 3 and 4.
During stage 3, a glimmer of the world begins to take subtle form. You can think of this stage as being similar to the state of your computer right after you push the button to turn it on. None of your individual folders or icons are visible or available on the screen, but the computer’s processor is starting to access the information, and is humming with the promise of your upcoming computer experience.
In stage 4 of this chart of universal creation (see Figure 14-1), awareness begins to take form. The experience of this stage of universal creation is similar to the experience you may have just before waking up, as your awareness prepares to move from the darkness of deep sleep into the colorful world of your bed and beyond.
When you’re about to awaken from a good night’s sleep, a vibration of your upcoming wakefulness starts to pulsate through the still field of your sleeping, unconscious mind. You begin to grasp a subtle remembrance of a world outside yourself, without feeling any separation between yourself and the world. You’re in a peaceful state of awareness that is free from the complications, expectations, and judgments of ego-based thoughts and desires. The scheduling, thinking mind is not yet in place to diffuse your peaceful awareness into the upcoming responsibilities and concerns of the day.
At this point, you’re still one with pure creative Consciousness and free from any sense of limitation. You’re completely powerful, with nothing holding you back in any way. You sense a world that exists outside of yourself, yet at the same time you know that you’re completely one with everything.
Once creation gets to stage 5, maya enters the picture, and that’s when everything hits the fan. The Sanskrit term maya is often translated as “illusion,” which is the closest English translation for this deeply metaphysical word. Maya comes from the root verb ma, which means “to measure, limit, and give form,” and is sometimes translated as “that which measures.” The idea is that the measurings of time and space are the basis of maya.
With maya in the picture, time and space are now measured and therefore limited. Within the previously all-pervasive and eternal universal Consciousness, five cloaks of limitation come into the picture and reduce universal freedom to limited experience.
Until this stage, universal Consciousness is unlimited, pure, and perfect within itself — eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and perfectly contented. Now, with the forgetfulness that comes from the power of illusion, the dream of this world begins. Universal Consciousness becomes covered with the five cloaks, which translate into Sanskrit as pancha (five) kanchukas (cloaks), or pancha-kanchukas. (I always like to share the fun-sounding Sanskrit terms with you.) And these kanchukas do pack a punch! The five powers that become limited by these five cloaks are omnipotence, omniscience, perfection, eternality, and omnipresence. These cloaks act like veils that cover and limit the full powers of supreme Consciousness.
Once the cloaks are in place, supreme Consciousness can do certain things but not others, can know some things but not others, can be in some places but not others, is satisfied with some things but not others, and can exist in one time but not others. When your true nature as universal Consciousness is covered by these five cloaks of illusion:
- Omnipotence (universal authorship) becomes limited abilities. Your previous ability to do anything and everything turns into limited action, where you can do some things but not others.
- Omniscience (universal knowledge) turns into limited knowledge. Your omniscience of being aware of everything at once becomes limited knowledge, where you know some things and don’t know others. Before this stage of creation, you were all-knowing, but now you have to study to learn things. Without this cloak, there would be no need for schools or universities, because the awareness that is everyone would already know everything.
- Perfection (universal satisfaction) turns into limited desires. Supreme Consciousness has no need for the roller coaster of fulfilled and unfulfilled desires. It experiences perfect satisfaction and contentment within itself. However, once this cloak of limited satisfaction comes into place, the universal experience of perfect contentment is compromised by desires, fears, fulfilled and unfulfilled hopes, attachments, aversions, and expectations.
- Eternality becomes limited time. Before this stage, supreme Consciousness experienced everything all at once as an eternal awareness and presence, but now it is limited by time constraints of past, present, and future. This limitation of time brings a whole slew of problems. When your true nature as eternal Consciousness becomes bound by the illusion of time, you begin to hope for something in the future or worry about things that happened in the past. You become locked into an idea of yourself as a separate being in time. From within this limited experience of sequential time, you can’t see things objectively or from a bigger picture perspective, but only in bits and pieces and in time-based succession. With this cloak, you feel that you belong only to this time, that you didn’t exist before, and that you won’t exist in the future.
This fifth stage of creation is where all-powerful Consciousness becomes trapped in its own dream, so that it appears to be at the mercy of outer forces over which it has no control. This stage sets the stage for the dance of limited world experience to take place.
- Omnipresence becomes limited placement. Before this cloak, you were completely free and all-pervasive. You existed everywhere all at once. Now, you have to travel to go somewhere, and you know how much of a hassle that can be. One modern analogy for the experience of omnipresence is the world wide Web of the Internet, where everything is existing and available to tap into all from one place – your computer. But once the cloak of limitation is placed over omnipresence, you can only be in one place at a time instead of being everywhere all at once.
You may wonder why supreme Consciousness would give up its divine freedom and take on these illusory limitations. The answer may be that only through these cloaks of limitation can the supreme all-knowing Consciousness get to have exciting limited experiences such as being surprised, happy, or disappointed – in and as you and everyone else. Only through forgetting that it is the dreamer of the dream of creation can universal Consciousness experience the play of the world, with all its colorful and exciting twists and turns (not to mention pizza).
With the cloaks of illusion and limitation in place, your mind, intellect, and self-awareness take form. In this stage of universal creation, the all-pervasive, infinite, eternal pure Consciousness becomes you, as you know yourself to be. Shrouded by illusion and forgetting its own nature, the limited individual experiences a world of duality through the mind’s faculties of self-awareness, mental comprehension, and intelligence:
- Self-awareness: In this stage, the self-conscious ego takes birth, which is not the sense of “I” as the highest “I Am” consciousness, but rather the ego’s “I am this but not that” awareness of being a separate, limited individual who thinks of everything in terms of: me, me, me, me, and me.
- Mental comprehension: Along with this limited “I” consciousness comes a thinking, perceiving mind, which is also called the “lower mind.” This thinking mind builds worlds of experience from the internal and apparently external materials of images, concepts, and words.
- Intelligence: Mixed in with this mental bundle at stage 6 is the superior mind, or intellect. In Sanskrit, this higher intelligence is called buddhi, which is related to the name of the spiritual figure Buddha, who is said to have achieved the great unfoldment of this superior mind. The buddhi brings forth intuitive perceptions and intelligent understandings that penetrate deeply into the nature of things. This superior intellect can become the doorway for the lower, limited person to re-enter the higher realms of experience.
Calming your mind and ego by reading potent spiritual philosophies and doing practices such as meditation and inward reflection can help to strengthen and polish your higher intelligence.
Once your mind, intellect, and ego are in place, the senses and physical world take form. On the bottom rung of this creation ladder are the physical senses (smelling, tasting, seeing, feeling by touch, and hearing), the physical universe, which is composed of elements such as earth, air, fire, water, and ether, and all the actions each person expresses into the physical world.
Tadaa! Perfectly free universal Consciousness now takes the form of all the strange and amazing creations in this world.
Even though the chart in Figure 14-1 appears to show a sequential transformation of consciousness moving down the chart over time, the whole multi-leveled process is also happening all at once.
It isn’t so much that pure Consciousness stops being pure Consciousness when the world takes form. Rather, even as pure Consciousness descends into the lower stages of having personal experiences in a physical reality, it never moves from its highest state of pure being.
A popular Indian prayer says, “That highest Consciousness is perfect; and this creation is perfect. Perfection arises from perfection. Even if you take some of the perfect from perfection, still it remains as completely perfect.”
Imagine moving your personal consciousness up the chart in Figure 14-1, walking back up the ladder of creation from the physical world and senses, through the mental conditions, beyond illusory limitations, and into the great freedom of your true nature as universal Consciousness. Imagine being an enlightened person who can live in the entire map of creation all at once, being aware of all the levels of consciousness at the same time.
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The Shiva Sutras:
Recited in Sanskrit and English
The Shiva Sutras are the cornerstone of Kashmir Shaivism, and contain the firm and powerful ancient roots of some of today's "new age" concepts of universal creation, power of the mind, and a great and wonderous vision of a wide array of powerful and enlightening teachings. This text is one of the greatest gems of humanity to have survived the waves of time.
The Spanda Karikas:
Chanted in Sanskrit with English Translation
The Spanda Karikas is another powerful scripture from the great philosophical tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. This rendition was recorded in October 1982 by Kumuda (Sharon Janis) at age 22, to honor the passing of her guru, Swami Muktananda. Muktananda had instructed her to study the Spanda Karikas as a means of discovering the merging of science and spirituality.
Recited in Sanskrit and English
The Pratyabhijnahrdayam translates as "The Doctrine of Self Recognition," and it is one of the main scriptures from Kashmir Shaivism. This short but enlightenment-packed text expounds a great vision of universal awareness and how we fit into the universe from the highest perspective. This rendition was also recorded by Kumuda at age 22 in October 1982.
CLICK HERE to watch a talk Sharon gave to yoga students about the Bhagavad Gita, Kashmir Shaivism, and psychology
More about Spirituality For Dummies
Reviews for Spirituality For Dummies:
“You can be sure you will no longer be a dummy if you finish reading Spirituality for Dummies. This 330-page primer provides a general overview of spiritual knowledge and awareness, and offers specific spiritual exercises and principles designed to expand one's universal consciousness. Author Sharon Janis fuses mystical traditions with "new thought" to encourage individuals to see beyond mere appearances and use intuitive perceptions to comprehend the spiritual laws at work behind the outer conditions in their lives."
— Sacramento Bee
“Spirituality For Dummies is a Mecca for those who are sincerely seeking the genuine meaning and practice of spirituality. Sharon Janis fuses mystical insights drawn from the east/west approaches, resulting in a volume that opens the heart, exhilarates the mind, and inflames the soul. No matter upon which rung of the spiritual ladder you now stand, expect to be catapulted to the next level of awareness through practice of the wisdom-offerings in this scripture of Truth.”
— Michael Beckwith, Agape and "The Secret"
“This book bridges the gap between conventional experience and the spiritual life. Spirituality for Dummies gives practical advice for entering the path of spirituality, borrowing wisdom from a host of religious, philosophical, and comedic traditions. Insightful, wise, and humorous, this book can and should be read by all, from novice to saint!"
— Dr. Christopher Key Chapple, Loyola Marymount University
“If you feel empty inside (and not because it's been six hours since your last burrito), it might be time to search for the meaning of life in Spirituality for Dummies… Even skeptics can gain self-knowledge from the thought and visualization exercises strewn throughout the book, which demonstrate how to take a positive view of negative experiences and let go of emotional baggage—like going to a therapist, but cheaper. Janis explains meditation, yoga, and other practices in a chipper, down-to-earth style, using everyday analogies and many an exclamation point, that won't scare off the novice.”
— Village Voice
From the Publisher (Wiley): Want to get in touch with your spiritual side? Spirituality For Dummies 2nd Edition shows you how to use spiritual principles to understand and improve your life, empower you mind, and nourish your soul. Complete with a CD filled with calming, spiritual music, it is your personal guide to serenity and spiritual healing.
Spiritual philosopher Sharon Janis shows you how to discover the deeper calling of your soul, survive and thrive through adversity, and look at the world with optimism. You’ll learn how to use meditation, yoga, prayer, and journaling for inward reflection and to spark new vistas as you unfold your own spiritual wisdom and move forward on your spiritual journey in your own individual way. You’ll find similarities and differences among a variety basic spiritual concepts from different religious and philosophical traditions, and you’ll discover how to:
- Find your spiritual path
- Uplift your body, mind, and spirit
- Fulfill your greatest dreams
- Spiritualize your relationships
- Cultivate your spiritual virtues
- Increase your inner peace and happiness
- Turn troubles into triumphs
- Recognize yourself as a co-creator
- Be a VIP: a very inspired person
The companion CD that accompanies this gentle guide brings you more than 60 minutes of inspirational music from around the world. It features the author and other artists performing songs and chants from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions in their native languages.
The Spiritual Guide that Comes with It's Own Ego Test
CLICK HERE if you are offended by the title
Humorous, edgy, profound, and enlightening, Spirituality For Dummies brings modern-day spiritual seekers a view and approach to life that is universal, personal, and optimistic, with the dependable style, clarity, and friendliness of the “For Dummies” series.
User-friendly descriptions of spiritual teachings, principles and practices are brought to life with with humorous anecdotes and insightful quotes from great thinkers, scriptures, and texts from many traditions. With a friendly and conversational tone, Spirituality For Dummies gives readers tools tofind and enter the spiritual dimensions of their lives in today's unique world circumstances.
Spirituality For Dummies guides readers to the awareness of their natural and inherent identity with spirit and the all-pervasiveness of divine spirit in everything. It does this with a realistic and common sense approach that is scientific in nature, without asking readers to subscribe to fluffy or black-and-white ideas.
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What makes Spirituality For Dummies different from other contemporary spiritual books?
- Breadth and depth of coverage – It is rare to find a contemporary spiritual book that covers the breadth and depth of topics covered in Spirituality For Dummies.
- It's Universal and Personal– The author brings quotes and ideas from many spiritual, religious, psychological, ancient wisdom, scientific, and philosophical traditions together with personal insight and advice.
- Friendly, knowledgeable guidance with no strings attached – The author’s goal in writing this book is to share beneficial ideas and worldviews that are accessible to people from all walks of life.
Excerpts from Spirituality For Dummies at
10 Small Things You Can Do to Uplift Your Life
10 Spiritual-Sounding Lines and What They May Really Mean
(humor with photos)
10 Opportunities to See Your Life with Spiritual Eyes
About the Author:
Sharon Janis was brought up by psychology-teacher parents and studied neuroscience and film at the University of Michigan, before spending ten years living a monastic ashram life – studying, chanting, and serving in deep spiritual immersion, while producing and editing hundreds of videos for the worldwide Siddha Yoga spiritual movement.
After a decade of monastic life, Sharon moved to Hollywood for a career as film editor, director, and producer of popular television shows and films – including many evening news and news-feature shows, Hard Copy, X-Men, and The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – winning a Los Angeles Emmy, an Associated Press National Board of Directors award, and many other accolades. With her combination of monastic life and Hollywood creativity, Sharon offers a fresh view and style that motivates, entertains, educates, and enlightens with a down-to-earth intimacy, touches of music and singing, and a generous dose of humor.
Find more info and video and audio clips of the author at: Sharon Janis Speaking.
Every copy of Spirituality For Dummies comes with
A CD of inspiring devotional music!
The Spirituality For Dummies 2nd Edition music CD comes in the back of every book and gives a delicious taste of inspiring spiritual music, including Gregorian chanting, Christian songs, Buddhist texts, Jewish prayers, Hindu chants, Latin hymns, and gospel music, sung by artists including Erik Peterson, Cantor Kathy Robbins, The Eternal OM, the Desert Fathers, Kali Mandir, Premanand Trikannad, Swami Nirvanananda, and the author.
Additional Works by Sharon Janis
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