When we first awaken out of our identification with personal self, our ego-body-mind, we notice something remarkable. The reference point that mediated our experience of the world prior to Awakening is no longer our seat of being. We do not feel that we are experiencing the world from the same vantage point. Our perch has changed.

Prior to Awakening most people feel that their sense of self is located inside their body, usually inside their head. This is the location from which many people feel they observe the world and from which they reflect upon themselves — their thoughts, feelings, and sensations. This is their reference point.

There can be other reference point locations. A reference point in the head is a sign that a person identifies more with their thoughts. A reference point in the area of the heart is a sign that a person identifies more with their feelings. A reference point of a the gut or a bodily sense is a sign that a person identifies more with their sensations.

A reference point prior to Awakening establishes a clear distinction between what we call our self and what we perceive as outside of us. This self-referential mirroring process points to our “me” as distinct from other people, or anything else in the world, reinforcing our sense of individuated, separate existence, or duality. And it is self reinforcing, reminding us again and again that we feel we are a separate being.

When Awakening occurs, the reference point shifts out of the ego-body-mind. This shift of reference point is quite noticeable. That sense of observer, the sense of being, seems to no longer function inside the ego-body-mind. The sense of being is no longer identified with the point in the head, heart or body.

The sense of being has become something bigger, greater. Depending on the Awakening, that sense of self may seem to instead be above or behind your head, or seem to surround your body, or seem infinite without any location, or seem to be omnipresent throughout the field of perception, or seem to be everything. The shift of the reference point can be experienced or described in many ways. Here I just list some for illustration, but certain characteristics of the reference point define the Stage of Awakening.

I’m using the term reference point here to underscore how perception reflects our sense of being. At every stage up through Unity Consciousness (Oneness) what we perceive reflects, mirrors, back to us our sense of being. Prior to Awakening, our perception mirrors back to us a distinct sense of individual being, or a separate personal self. In Cosmic Consciousness (Self-Realization) our reference point has shifted to Pure Conscious Being in the depths of our soul, and perception mirrors back to us our infinite Being, but still with a distinct separateness from what we perceive of the world. In Unity Consciousness (Oneness) our reference point is Pure Conscious Being as the all-pervasive underlying nature of everything, so perception mirrors back that everything is us.

In each case, there is a reference point mirrored back to us in our perception. But what happens once we cross the threshold beyond Unity Consciousness? Now it becomes very difficult to articulate what a sense of being would be from the vantage point beyond wholeness and inseparability, and beyond the world, beyond existence, beyond Pure Conscious Being. And yet we have not ceased to exist or experience the world.

At this point we have crossed into Divine territory. And we struggle for words.

– Joel

The Mirror of Knowing