Your day to day life is lived in a way that involves several distinct “levels” of reality. If you have an ongoing practice of meditation, you can take fascinating journeys through those different levels.

You are clearly aware of an outer world of people, places, and things—your family and friends, your home, buildings and traffic that you see in your city every day. That is your objective reality that you share with other people.

You also experience a reality that is your personal inner life. That is a private subjective reality that includes your thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs, memories, and other inner experiences. That reality can only be directly experienced by you, although you can communicate to others about it.

Thus, you have one reality that is outer objectivity. Another is your inner subjectivity. Most of your normal life is comprised of an ongoing interaction between those two levels. You live in the outer objective world, and you experience that world in your inner subjective experience.

You can consider your inner experience of the outer objective world to be your ordinary reality. That is where most people place their attention. Even though everyone can have different inner experiences, they can usually agree in a general way about the things that they perceive in the outer physical world. For example, if you say to a friend, “I see a mountain, come and look at it,” and your friend sees the same mountain, you can both agree that the mountain is actually there. It is objectively “real.” Anyone with vision can see the same mountain. Thus, you can describe your first level of reality as: An objective reality that can be perceived by human beings with their physical senses. The objective reality is usually seen as rather straightforward by most people, and it is fairly predictable, otherwise you would not be able to move around in it to accomplish what you need to do each day—go to work, drive to the market, and so forth.

If you say to your friend, “Look at the sun setting behind the mountain,” your friend can agree that the sun is actually disappearing behind the mountain. That is still the level of objective reality. Then, as the setting sun begins to create a brilliant display of red, orange, and yellow color in the sky over the mountain, and you and your friend inwardly react to physically seeing that color, you come to the second level of reality: The human subjective reality in which you respond to the physical world. You probably know by now that this subjective reality is quite complex, and not always straightforward. And, it can differ dramatically from one person to another.

In this example, imagine that your inner subjective response to the red, orange, and yellow color that you see in the sky is positive, and you say to your friend, “What a beautiful sunset.” You might expect your friend to have the same inner experience of beauty. However, if your friend has lost a loved one through a tragic accident while climbing that mountain, your friend might respond to the color in the sky in a different way and say, “That sunset makes me feel very sad.” Even though you can both agree about the objective realitythe fact that there is color in the skyyou each have a dramatically different subjective reality that is created inside you by your response to that color. This is an example of the complexity of the personal, subjective reality interacting with the more predictable objective reality. Then, there are inner experiences that you have that are only subjective. They are not direct responses to the objective physical world. For example, if you are sitting under the shade of a tree with your eyes closed, and you are daydreaming, and you begin to imagine a beautiful, gleaming, golden castle in the sky, your experience in that moment is entirely a subjective experience. There is no physical castle in the sky in the outer objective world for you to respond to. Thus, your third level of reality is: Subjective experiences that occur only within your inner life without being directly stimulated by the outside objective physical world. This is even more complex than your subjective response to the objective reality.

As you sit quietly during a period of meditation, it will be very important to understand that you will be working at the third level of realitythe subjective reality that occurs only within your inner life. During a deep meditation, your experience of the spiritual realms of existence will be entirely subjective. Clearly, that is because spiritual beings and the spiritual realities of life do not have physical forms like mountains that can be directly perceived in an objective way. Therefore, the spiritual realms that you become aware of during a deep meditation will be discovered within your subjective reality. However, that does not mean that those spiritual realms are not “real.”

Because of the complexity of your third level of subjective reality, you will need to be aware that there is a possibility of personal confusion being created about your meditation experience. Even though all people can agree on the existence of something physical like a mountain in objective reality, they can have very different ideas and beliefs about the subjective perception of non-physical realities that appear during a deep meditation. Some people will tend to dismiss such subjective perceptions as fantasy, and they will have difficulty believing in the existence of the spiritual realities. Others, after they gain enough experience through a deep meditation practice, will have a profound inner knowing that the personal, subjective level of reality can actually penetrate into unseen spiritual dimensions that are quite real. Through their subjective experience during deep meditation, they will be able to gain direct perceptions of spiritual realities that do exist, but that do not have physical forms. They will be able to touch into the spiritual dimensions in order to verify the existence of such realities within their inner experience. That verifying inner experience is achieved by drawing upon an intuitive sensing capacity that is opened through a deep meditation practice.

Through the ages, from certain people who have used their intuitive sensing capacity to go beyond the limits of ordinary human perception to actually enter the spiritual realms through an inner penetration, there have come reports of experiences that have been quite similar in nature. Those people have spoken of such things as: a pure, all-enveloping, unending love; a cosmic oneness and unity of all existence in all realms; the presence of perfect spiritual beings. Even though people in different ages have explained and conceptualized their experiences in different ways, from ideas about God and angels, to revelations of divine metaphysical principles, the overall general consistency of their reports points to real aspects of certain non-physical levels of existence. Those are realities that are not normally perceived by human beings in either: (1) the first level of experience with the outside physical world (seeing a mountain); (2) the second level of inwardly responding to the outside world (experiencing beauty in a sunset); or (3) the third level of purely subjective inner experience (seeing a golden castle in the sky).

So, where do you go when you meditate? From many years of personally entering the spiritual dimensions literally thousands of times, I can say that in a deep meditation experience, you first go to your third level of subjective inner experience. However, rather than remaining at the level where you are simply imagining a golden castle in the sky, the deep meditation process stimulates your intuitive sensing capacity and expands your consciousness so that your inner experience goes beyond imagination to a direct engagement with the spiritual dimensions of reality that have no physical form, but that have been inwardly perceived by certain humans through the ages. Your level of subjective experience, when expanded through deep meditation, penetrates those spiritual dimensions in a way that carries you beyond personal imagination into the actual reality of the spiritual world. And, as you learn to deepen your meditation more and more, you can actually go to the level of cosmic existence in which you can directly experience for yourself the ongoing beauty, majesty, and love of the extraordinary spiritual beings that inspire and guide humans in their life on earth.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Ron Scolastico is a distinguished spiritual psychologist, teacher of meditation practices, and author of six books on personal growth and metaphysical wisdom. For more than thirty years he has provided spiritual counseling for thousands of people throughout the world. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, has received MFA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Iowa, and has studied at the University of Bordeaux, France. Ron's latest book is available digitally at www.becomingenlightened.com.