The biblical prophet Isaiah spoke of a shroud that enfolds all peoples, a sheet that covers all nations (Isaiah 25:7). He also described the earth as being covered in darkness--a thick darkness over all the peoples (Isaiah 60:2). Is there a correlation between these two images? Most definitely. The shroud is the cause of the darkness.
As we ponder Isaiah’s use of imagery we right away dismiss the idea that he was speaking literally. There is no literal sheet hovering over the world of men, and the darkness is not a blindness of our physical eyes. Rather these are allegorical images used to describe a spiritual condition. The darkness that covers the earth is a spiritual darkness, and the shroud is a shroud of illusion or spiritual misperception. Furthermore, these spiritual conditions do not have their source in our bodies or minds. They are the outgrowth of our state of spiritual consciousness. In other words, it is our state of consciousness that is dark, and since consciousness is a creative force it is this spiritual darkness that has created our material world. And because our state of consciousness is the result of our own choice, it can then be deduced that we are fully responsible for the dark condition of our world. This is also how the New Testament views these matters. In the Apostle John’s writings he describes Jesus (not the person but the state of consciousness he was moving in) as the light of the world (John 1:4,5,9). But then he poignantly concludes: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).
What this means is that when Jesus appeared among us, we had a golden opportunity to come out of spiritual darkness and into the light. All we had to do was to recognize the light that was in him and let ourselves be drawn to it. In this way we could have shattered the shroud of illusion and banished forever the darkness that has been hovering over us since time immemorial. But of course that is not what happened. Rather as a collective entity we chose to banish the light from our midst and remain in darkness (though many individuals have accepted the light). Thus the perceptions of both Isaiah and John still apply to our situation thousands of years after the fact. Or to put it another way: nothing has really changed in the world of men.
The shroud of illusion still enfolds us, and the darkness it causes still covers the earth. Also the collective consciousness of man has not changed, while our status quo policy makers renew the choice for its perpetuation each and every day. This is the truth of our ongoing predicament. To say that we are stuck in a holding pattern of spiritual inertia is a gross understatement.
Lift up your eyes and look around you. Do not be fooled by the appearances of modernity and technological advancement. Acknowledge the fact that not only are we still living under the shroud of darkness that Isaiah spoke of; it could be argued that we are more lost than ever. Those who seek the perpetuation of the status quo are more given over to evil than ever. And those who might willingly embrace the light are more oppressed and persecuted. They are literally captives being held in bondage by this present world order.
Behold how spiritual darkness has twisted human values and priorities. Behold the vanity and emptiness of our present way of life. Our entire take on life is given over to futility. Each of us is born into the dream of time and must march to its peculiar drumbeat. We have all become like mindless automatons, marching to the ticking of a great unseen clock. We each conform to the prescribed reality view of our particular culture. We spend our early years being “educated” and our middle years being “productive” (that is, having careers, families, and building a broader social network). Then we grow old and die. This is our dream. And we all are stuck in its web, waiting for the giant spider we call death to devour us.
Can you understand now what Isaiah and John were talking about—how the imagery they used still applies? The shroud of illusion is still over us. And beneath its enfoldment all is dark and meaningless.
This brings us once again to the realization that if we are to take any affirmative action regarding this situation, it is not going to be from the angle of changing the world. Rather it must necessarily come from the angle of what the Bible calls: saving yourself out from this world. To attempt to bring light into this present dark world will result only in greater despair and hopelessness. (If Jesus could not do it, who are we to think we can?). But when we come to see the truth of our predicament as individuals and privately set about the task of saving ourselves out from it, our despair begins ever so slowly to ease.
Saving ourselves has nothing to do with becoming better people, as our religions teach. There are plenty of people who have achieved moral impeccability but who are still living in futility and marching the march of death under the shroud of illusion. What then? Saving ourselves implies nothing short of changing our state of spiritual consciousness—from the age-old state of Adamic prodigality to the Christ consciousness of eternal freedom and light. In the imagery of Isaiah, saving ourselves means only one thing: banishing the shroud of illusion that has up until now defined our state of consciousness and coming into the light of truth.
It is completely within our power to do this. Though the removing of the shroud of illusion from the collective consciousness is beyond any one person, changing our own individual consciousness is easier than we have been taught to believe. In fact, when we have decided to do this, there is nothing in this world that can stop us. And as if this were not enough, we then come to understand that it is by each one of us individually changing his or her state of consciousness and coming into the light that the world of men will ultimately be changed and liberated from its dark holding pattern.
In the east spiritual practice often involves another image pertaining to this individual salvation. They call it transcendental consciousness. In this use of imagery the realization concerning the shroud of illusion is the same, but the approach to banishing the shroud is a little different. In this approach the spiritual aspirant learns to rise above or transcend the temporal dream of man’s world. In meditation he or she lifts their spiritual consciousness out of its dark holding pattern under the shroud and lets it soar in the heights, where the light of eternality shines brightly. In other words, we do nothing to the shroud. Rather we rise above it, to where we can then look down compassionately and see not only the shroud but also all the people of our world that are lost beneath it and floundering in the dark. The more time we spend practicing this approach, the easier it will be for us to maintain its enlightened perspective. This will then be the sign that our spiritual consciousness has crossed over from darkness to light or death to life. Thus though we are merely transcending the shroud of illusion, in so doing we are also banishing it.
When as individuals we succeed at banishing the shroud of illusion, we find that we have also laid hold of what Jesus called eternal life. Eternal life is not merely a never-ending, deathless life experience. Rather it is life beyond and outside of the confines of time. And since time is one of the main elements of life under the shroud of illusion, the moment we banish the shroud we also break the stranglehold of time over our lives. Thus we enter in to eternal life. To merely enter a non-ending continuum of life under the shroud of illusion would not be heavenly. It would be a living hell.
And so my friends, I encourage you to do all within your power to break free of the shroud of illusion, whether it be through shattering it with the weapons of truth or transcending it like an eagle soaring above the clouds. Lay hold of eternal life. Expand your individual spiritual consciousness from darkness to light. Leave the world alone and go off into your own private closet. Do not tell another living soul what you are doing. Wait until your transformation is fully accomplished. Then shout it from the rooftops, if you like. For, the more of us that accomplish this, the greater will be the vibration of our eternal presence. Then it will no longer be necessary to try to change the world. The vibration of our frequency will shatter the shroud of illusion, and the entire human race will be liberated from the captivity of darkness.