The Great Insight is the goal in sitting meditation. When the separation occurs between our True self and the false-self illusion of our identity as body, mind and emotion, we understand that we are the observer (the True self) not the object (the illusion of form). As the observer, “feeling” Simple Reality or the Oneness of all of Creation, we are no longer entrapped by our old identity (the false self). The Great Insight has enabled a critically important “heartfelt” paradigm shift. We have attained what the Buddha called “Right View.” At this point our whole life becomes a meditation employing The Point of Power Practice to begin the reconditioning process changing our reactions to responses, moment by moment, day by day.
The Great Insight can happen spontaneously to anyone because this experience rests within each person waiting for an opening into consciousness, waiting for the True self to awaken. The spontaneous shift can occur anywhere anytime of course, in sitting meditation or on the therapist’s couch. A 28-year-old woman in treatment for anxiety spells, anger issues and self-loathing had such a breakthrough and the way she describes it helps us more deeply understand just how spontaneous it can be. She had been shamed as a child by her mother and relatives for being illegitimate.
“Later on that night I woke up and it came to me this way, ‘I accept the fact that I am an illegitimate child.’ But ‘I am not a child anymore.’ So it is, ‘I am illegitimate.’ That is not so either: ‘I was born illegitimate.’ Then what is left? What is left is this, ‘I am.’ This act of contact and acceptance with ‘I am,’ once gotten hold of, gave me (what I think was for me the first time) the experience ‘Since I Am, I have the right to be.’”[i]
“It is like going into my very own Garden of Eden where I am beyond good and evil and all other concepts.” [ii] Here she has transcended her intellect and the illusion of form itself and moved into the realm of pure feeling, the present moment. “It is like the experience of the poets of the intuitive world, the mystics, except that instead of the pure feeling of and union with God it is the finding of and the union with my own being.”[iii]
The woman speaking above was the analysanda[a] of Rollo May and he realized that her insight was the beginning of her awakening process. “First, the ‘I am’ experience is not in itself the solution to a person’s problems; it is rather the precondition for their solution.”[iv] She was now ready to go to work using The Point of Power Practice to complete the process of remaining in the present moment that she had only tasted in her spontaneous peak experience. Since she did not have the complete paradigm of Simple Reality as a context, her awakening was probably only temporary, but we do not know since we do not have her complete story in May’s book. What we do know is that she had tasted the answer to the First Great Question and needed to experience the answer to the Second and Third.
“The essence of self-awareness and insight are that they are ‘there’—instantaneous, immediate—and the moment of awareness has its significance for all time.”[v] “In some cases, there is a sudden and complete awareness but this is comparatively rare.”[vi]
“Bill Devall and George Sessions, representing the movement known as deep ecology, point out that ‘this is the work we call cultivating ecological consciousness, the insight that everything is connected.’”[vii] Everything is indeed connected, interdependent and interrelated which is what Oneness means.
Most of us experience what is usually a very brief peak experience at least once in our lifetimes but do not know what it means. “An individual can tune into spacious-mind operation two or three times in a lifetime without realizing it, and have experiences that he finds difficult to interpret later. The affirmation involved is one of transcendence, in which for a time a person affirms his reality in flesh and at the same time states his independence from it—and realizes that both of these conditions exist simultaneously. A dual perception takes place in which the spacious mind is activated. By ‘activated’ I mean that the physical organism is suddenly aware of [the spacious mind’s] existence.”[viii]
Roger Whately (1787-1863), Archbishop of Dublin, in the 8th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica writes, “The mere fact that civilized men do exist, is enough to prove, even to a person who had never heard of the Bible, that, at some time or other, men must have been taught something by a superior Being; in other words, that there must have been a revelation.”[ix] This revelation exists within each person and can be called our “inner wisdom” or the “still, small voice” or simply “intuition.” In shifting our identity, we arrive at The Great Insight often referred to in the East as “I am That.”
The day that you discover the sanctuary of the Divine within you
is the day that your life settles down forever and that you’re
ready for the magic of the true adventure.
— John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher
[a] Any person who is undergoing psychoanalysis.
[i] May, Rollo. The Discovery of Being. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1983, p. 99.
[iv] Ibid., p. 100.
[v] Ibid., p. 137.
[vi] A Course in Miracles, Volume Three: Manual for Teachers. Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975, p. 53.
[vii] Wilber, Ken. Sex, Ecology and Spirituality. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1995, p. 5.
[viii] Roberts, Jane. The Nature of Personal Reality. New York: Bantam, 1974, p. 439.
[ix] Fadiman, Clifton [ed.]. The Treasury of the Encyclopedia Britannica. New York: Viking, 1992, p. 269.