– Sri Ramakrishna
A simple, childlike story in India’s ancient scriptures tells how multiplicity emerged from unity. The Lord, the One without a second, felt very lonesome one morning. After all, he was the only thing that existed in the entire universe, so when he looked around him, he could see no one but himself. This did not satisfy him at all. He wanted to play.
So he made playmates. Out of himself he created the myriads of creatures, the two-footed and the four-footed. He started playing with them, playing hide-and-seek, which is what life is all about. We are all playing this game with the Lord. We are all seeking him, and he is hiding playfully from us.It is easy to talk about this, sing about this, paint this, but it is an entirely different matter to experience it. Yet in deepest meditation, the veil separating you and me can drop. Then, beneath the varied costumes, we will be able to perceive the same supreme Reality whom we call God, who is playing his game in the world.
I like Easwaran's wonderfully clear and simple telling of this ancient Hindu story better than I do almost any other version I've come across. But the thing is, Hindus and Wilberians alike seem to take this story as fact. They may call it "myth" and explain that it "points at" rather than embodies Reality, but it seems to me that, when all is said and done, they take the story quite literally. The "Ultimate Reality" is consciousness that has intentionally "involuted" Itself into the world that subsequently struggles and evolves to regain its original unity.
But every time I hear and consider this, I wonder why the perfection of Ultimate Unity would EVER consciously--i.e., intentionally--become a messy and chaotic multiplicity wracked by suffering. Yes, I know that the Hindu and Wilberian mystics joyfully proclaim that this multiplicity and suffering is still, ultimately, a perfect Unity. But their perception and mine on this seem so far apart that I wonder if one of us isn't terribly deluded and whether I am necessarily the one so afflicted. This world seems anything BUT unified and perfect, and just because mystics and integral philosophers tell me it is doesn't mean I buy what they tell me.
Ken Wilber suggests that if I undergo the right "injunction" or spiritual discipline, I will discover for myself that the mystics are right and that my old way of seeing things was wrong. But I wonder if this is isn't all-too-analogous to saying that everyone who takes psilocybin will, at some point, see strange things happen to the objects in front of their eyes; therefore, those things are ACTUALLY happening. The floor is REALLY undulating like the ocean, and those plants in the vase before you are REALLY growing and shrinking, growing and shrinking before your very eyes.