So, there you are, enlightened… by Bill Harris (June 10th, 2008), continued
Where the Third Rank was impersonal, the Fourth Rank is very personal, and very humbling. In the Third Rank you thought you were beyond the world of suffering, that you had escaped from the vicissitudes and problems of the human condition. Now, having fallen, you’re up to your neck in personal problems, personal suffering, and the human condition. In fact, it seems worse than before. Everything is personal, and everything is relational. You feel your own suffering, plus that of all the others who suffer. And, having fallen from so high, you are humbled. In the Third Rank you felt quite extraordinary. Now you realize that you’re incredibly and totally ordinary.
And, in the Fourth Rank, you FEEL. You feel everything. Before the First Rank, back in pre-stage one, you were subject to the world of human suffering, but this time it’s different. In pre-stage one you were unaware, unconscious, unawake. Now you’re very awake, very conscious. And, because you are so conscious, so aware, you feel everything.
In the Third Rank you were “one with the universe” – but you were detached from the human aspect. You saw the suffering and even felt compassion about it. Perhaps you worked to help others wake up, to help others out of their suffering, but you weren’t really FEELING it. Now you are. You’re really one with everything now, including all the suffering. And, it hurts.
This is, however, not the same as it was when you were just another unconscious human being, before your “enlightenment” experience. Without having the experience of the first three Ranks you wouldn’t be able to handle what you’re feeling and experiencing in the Fourth Rank. In pre-stage one you had many defenses and ways of avoiding. You were able to repress, ignore, project, and otherwise delude yourself. You had “great hope” for something better in the future, some heaven or some better state or situation to hope for and anticipate.
Having experienced Great Doubt, though (part of the transition to the Third Rank), and having the awareness to clearly see reality for what it is, you now KNOW that there’s no escape. And, there’s no going back to your previous pre-stage one delusional state – or, to the delusion of the Third Rank. You’ll never again be able to feel that you’re above it all – that you’re divorced from the world, from suffering, from the human condition, and from cause and effect.
The Fourth Rank shatters the ego in the sense that from this point on delusion becomes very difficult. You know too much to be deluded by the Relative – and you also know too much to be deluded by the Transcendent. All the pain of being human, you discover, is real, and there’s no escape from it.