Gazing at Jesus in the Devotional Visionary Realm
Opening to your Spiritual Guides Part 3
The experience of devotion to Jesus in the mystical visionary realm is the doorway to accessing your own spiritual messengers. Others, such as Cynthia Bourgeault call the mystical visionary realm “the imaginal realm.” Ken Wilber calls it “subtle consciousness.” I prefer “visionary realm” because that is the language the New Testament uses, and the word “vision” is commonly understood today in the mystical sense of seeing things that are not in the physical realm.
Visions include the sensed presence of another spiritual being, a picture, thought, feeling, bodily sensation, or an intuition that arises from your luminous interior. These can range from a fleeting moment to a dramatic journey in a deep trance state.
We find visions throughout the Bible and some specifically occurring in in what the New Testament refers three times to as a “trance” state. Christianity’s most vital originating moments occurred in a series of mystical visions by various friends of Jesus as they saw and interacted with the Living Jesus after his death and resurrection in the visionary realm. These visions of Jesus have multiplied down through history and millions of friends of Jesus sense his presence in some fashion everyday around the world.
The movement to the visionary world can be in the form of a long pilgrimage to a sacred space or the simple closing of one's eyes in a still mind to make the presence of a spiritual messenger real, an image visible, a feeling surface, a sensation obvious, and/or an intuition noticeable. This is not “imagined” or made up in our mind, but a different depth of awareness.
The visionary realm is quite different from worlds of rational scientific thought and of religious faith. Almost all religious faiths began with some lonely person seeing something transforming in the sacred world of devotional visionary experience. However, those same religions tend to only study and talk about the founder’s vision rather than teaching their followers how to enter that same world!
Visions have often been dismissed and minimized as references to ancient myths and pre-scientific religious and archaic Renaissance or Victorian worldviews. Integral Christian Network not only integrates the ontological realism of the visionary world into this world, but vigorously promotes it as an authentic Christian and universal potential in every person.
Devotion means starting with your heart
The devotional visionary realm is different from other visionary experiences which may not involve devotion. Christian devotion is a strong love for and dedication to following Jesus and God, as well as some degree of commitment to other spiritual beings, physically present friends, the world, and important social, justice, and spiritual causes.
This is the place to begin because it calls forth all the avenues of spiritual knowing and puts them in an emerging, loving, energy filled relationship with other loving spiritual beings such as Jesus, other messengers, as well as other people who are also in their heart space.
We start with our hearts because this is the source of authentic devotion and love. It is the relational space of connection, both in the physical world and the visionary world. We begin by activating our hearts.
Begin with gazing at Jesus
Set your intention to connect with love, devotion, and thankfulness for Jesus if you have not already. The devotional visionary pathway to Jesus has been deeply carved into the cosmos with millions of people accessing Jesus trillions of time down through history. He is the primary channel of divine guidance and spiritual companionship for Christians. If you are still healing from spiritual abuse in a traditional, rigid, patriarchal, or homophobic Christian setting, you may find Mary or other saintly guides more accessible. You may want to ask God to help you be open to whatever you are ready for.
If you begin with Jesus, you will find this opens the pathway up to access other guides. After you engage your heart space, let the deep devotion to and love for God and Jesus flow. Notice to what is happening to you.
As you gaze at Jesus, you might sense him as an energetic field, you might see him in a favorite physical artist’s image, sculpture, or icon — or feel his presence with a knowing or bodily sensation. Notice how his energetic presence is affecting your awareness.
You may experience bliss, feelings of exhilaration and euphoria, a happiness that is often unbearable and certainly indescribable.
Or you may not sense anything at all. Entering the visionary realm takes practice and attunement. Don’t give up if it doesn’t all come right away. Keep trying to move down into your heart and it will emerge in time.
Don’t interpret your vision—just sit with it.
Our undertaking with any visionary presence is not to interpret it or try to figure out what it means. Our only task is to sit with the messenger. To be with our spiritual companion. To immerse ourselves in the feelings, sensations, images, words, and/or intuitions that are the signals of the presence of our spiritual guide.
When the devotional visionary image involves sensing the presence of another being, a spiritual messenger, our task is to pay attention to what it feels like to be in this being’s presence. Our job is not to describe it or be dissatisfied, wanting it to appear differently. It is to engage what is present. How does this presence affect and enrich my life?
Visions can occur at any time. However, we intentionally open the door to our visionary perception when we engage in mystical awareness practice, such as during the Whole Body Awakening of Integral Christian Network, either alone or in WeSpace groups.
Our saintly guides, as well as departed friends and loved ones can join us in a visionary event. It is a rendezvous with your spirit companions. A meet and greet your messengers. A mixer in the visionary realm! This is where Jesus, St. Francis, Mary, and other saints can “come marching in” and meet with us. Actually, they, like Jesus, are already there. It is our tuning in that lets them appear to march into our awareness!
This is a reality of a different order. It happens to you, not because of you. This is a place where you meet with these loving beings but do not control them. They are supremely in charge while we soak in their presence, ask questions, make requests, express our longings, and listen for the messages they have for us.
We are not listening for what we already know. We are listening for what we are about to know!
The devotional visionary realm includes subtle bodies, energies, images, sounds, words, impressions, sensations, and intuitions. It includes thoughts that arise from our heart. We may hear them in our head, but the quality and richness of the thought indicates it came from the deep well of luminous heart love.
How does gazing make me feel?
When in the devotional visionary realm and aware of the presence of a non-physical spiritual entity such as the living Jesus, ask yourself, “How do I feel this in my body?
How did Jesus come to call God his Abba, his daddy? Perhaps, as he “grew in wisdom and stature,” and sensed God was present, he asked himself, “How do I feel when I am aware of God? He evidently had the same feeling he felt when his Abba Daddy, Joseph, was present. Perhaps this was a memory, as it is commonly believed that Joseph died while Jesus was in his late teens or early twenties. Whatever the circumstances, Jesus’ heart was filled with the kind of love he felt for his daddy—and he dared to call God by that very name!
Pay attention to what you feel in God’s motherly father presence or the presence of Jesus. And then name that presence with a naming that fits with your heart’s experience.
Gazing for the Cosmos
The devotional visionary capacity resides in every human being and is one which everyone can awaken. Cynthia Bourgeault writes that the visionary or imaginal realm is “collective and evolutionary; its ultimate purpose is to guide, shape, nourish, and where necessary offer course-corrections to our entire planetary and interplanetary unfolding. Therefore, it is also and primarily supremely the realm of cosmic assistance. It is the “place” from which saints, teachers, masters, and all manner of abler souls reach out across the apparent divide between the worlds to support or where necessary modify earthly outcomes in tandem with willing and attuned hearts here below.” (from Is the Imaginal Realm Real?)
When we open to our guides, we aren’t “navel gazing” just for ourselves, but truly gazing into the heart of the cosmos, the interior of all things for guidance, wisdom, nurturing, and so much more. All for the sake of the love of others and the whole world!
When the mirror of your heart becomes clear and pure,
you’ll behold images which are outside this world.
You will see the image and the image-Maker,
both the carpet of the spiritual expanse
and the One who spreads it.
— Rumi, Mathnawi: II, 72-3