Being Aware Joyfully

Theory of Platonic Zen

The worlds of religion are treasure-houses of wisdom for the journey of a lifetime. The journey of the soul towards final salvation occurs within and beyond the ordinary human world. "Salvation" implies an initial condition of deficit to be saved from, a final state of fulfilment to be saved to, and a practical way of getting from one to the other. All religions preserve this dynamic at their heart, and it is codified in the Buddha's Four Noble Truths.

All religions tell their own version of one common essential story. The story concerns the dynamic of salvation: it explains who and where we are, where we have come from and where we going. The wisdom traditions in Western philosophy and Eastern religion all teach that the ordinary world of space and time is a temporary phenomenon that overlays and obscures the eternal truth. The ordinary world of empirical reality is the wool we pull over our eyes so we can hide from the truth about ourselves and the Universe.

The empirical world of objective things came into existence, it may be said, when eternal transcendent spirit materialized into space and time. (According to some, this happened some fourteen billion years ago with a Big Bang; others say it happened with our first impulse of life or thought – they may both be correct.) The wisdom traditions agree that the ordinary visible world, as evident to science, culture and language, is a temporal materialization of eternal spirit. "Time is the moving image of eternity," says Plato. Once it produced the temporary world of matter, space and time, the original creative spirit didn't just cease to exist. Spiritual reality remains as point-source, true nature and ultimate fulfilment of all things and lives and minds. Though it's overlaid and obscured by the transient flux of physical sensations, spiritual reality endures as the constant background that unites each passing moment of consciousness and existence. Tradition, reason and experience all affirm that the reality of final salvation is good, happy and forever.

The saints and sages of religion and philosophy diagnose suffering, evil and death in the world as due to a lack of right relation between human thought and true life. Ordinary objective thought is out of touch with the unique transcendent life that creates, sustains and fulfils the original and true spiritual nature of reality. The right relation between life and thought is to enjoy spiritualising material things by thinking and making the best of them. The absence of noble inclination and the preference for unhappiness in the contemporary world highlights the relevance of perennial philosophy today.

Salvation is achieved with restoration of the proper connection between the visible human world and the invisible transcendent reality. Thus, the reality we're saved to is the one that originally produced us, while the condition we're saved from is the one we've constructed for ourselves in isolation from our own true nature and that of all other things and lives and minds. Hence, Christianity teaches that salvation is both already (i.e. divine and eternal) and not yet (i.e. human and temporal). Buddhism, too, holds that Samsara is Nirvana. "Rely on yourselves, not on any external authority. All compounds grow old. Work out your own salvation with diligence," advised the Buddha. Everyone dies for the same reason, because they were born. To find eternal salvation while we are alive, we should look within ourselves for that which is uncompounded and unborn. Once we find and establish ourselves in that simple identity which was never born, then we (whoever we are then) will never die. "Being at one with the Tao is eternal. And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away" (Tao-Te-Ching, 16).

What makes salvation a possibility is the presence of an enduring continuity between the ordinary empirical world and the transcendent spiritual reality that is its source and goal. That continuity abides within and extends beyond the present empirical world of ordinary human consciousness. Popular religion offers the external authority of doctrines that give us grounds for faith. Platonic Zen is a way of life and thought that offers practical techniques for gaining first-hand experience of abiding spiritual reality by admitting its presence into our consciousness and intentionally affirming its goals.

Platonic Zen draws on the traditions of wisdom from West and East, integrating the mystical philosophy of Plotinus with the psychological practice of Zen. It offers techniques of psychic transformation that allow transient surface appearances to be distinguished from constant profound realities. Through a series of advanced meditation or contemplation exercises, empirical distractions are marginalized and consciousness is clarified to its own intrinsic nature as sat-cit-ananda (Being Aware Joyfully). Direct experience is then capable of revealing the ultimate origin, nature and end of existence in the-One-without-another.

With awareness of the distinction between the mind's transient empirical content and its constant spiritual container, the original eternal background can be glimpsed in unique moments of transcendent experience. Those moments of unique spiritual experience are the opening threshold to the sanity and salvation of Enlightenment or God-realisation.