In the beginning Men were merely primordial selves immersed in the ocean of universal consciousness; and the history of everything has included the progressive and incremental separation of these selves from the universal primary reality.
We began as immersed in universal reality - joined with everything, and everything joined with us - with permeable selves... We end with a Self that is aware of its own separation from things, from other people, from memories - and even from its own thoughts...
Why? Because separation is necessary for freedom, for agency; we must first be separate in order to be free. And free in order, ultimately, to share the divine status of the Creator - because God is free.
This separation of the self can physically be be imagined as a process of precipitation - of solid bodies coming from gaseous spirits.
Or on a biological analogy; as development. A baby lives at first in the ocean of amniotic fluid, inside the mother; and only gradually, incrementally, does the baby's self become separate from the mother's self - first by birth, then by development and increasing independence... but only in adolescence does the child at some point become existentially separate - an agent.
And once reached, and attained, that cannot be undone - he can get stuck in adolescence, or move on to adulthood; but he cannot return to childhood. Consciousness, separation, can temporarily be obliterated by disease, or intoxication - or suspended during sleep - but is essentially permanent.
(Incarnation is an example. When we became embodied, we could not return to the spiritual state; the preceding spiritual being could not be restored - because our selves are in our bodies; and if the body is then subtracted, what remains is not what there was before. Therefore after death the only alternatives are resurrection - with a renewed body - or else a fundamental change of the spiritual self with loss and distortion.)
So we begin by participating in the whole of reality - that was given. But our selves were only feebly independent, and not sufficiently separate that we could be free agents. Then a process began in the history of the human race, which is recapitulated in individuals - we developed agency by separation of the self from everything else.
At some moment the self is cut-off from everything else - and therefore unfree, because isolated. So there is a step beyond, which is a return to participation with universal reality.
Universal reality is always there - that is, everywhere - we used to be in reality but the future, the destiny, is that we should think reality.
The self now needs to - voluntarily and by an effort - engage with universal reality in a free relationship; knowing that this is happening.
The task or destiny is to re-engage with universal reality - which is everywhere for everybody, as it always has been, in a deliberate, explicit, way. This is not a matter of 'thinking about' universal reality - it is a matter of thinking-universal-reality; in other words, by thinking to become part of it.
But universal reality is everything - does this mean we can know everything? Not exactly and not in practice.
It does mean that there are not ultimate limits to knowledge - excepting other selves, which lie outside the system. But in practice we must navigate through this unbounded and vast world of universal reality - and for our experience to lead to valid knowledge, we ourselves must be Good and the experience we encounter to be undeceptive.
In practice, we navigate universal reality with love. It is love which leads us to the people (and entities) we can learn from; it is love which leads us to the truth rather than the falsehoods and misleadings, the evil entities, which also lie within universal reality.
Love is the cohesion and structure of everything in God's creation. And love is our safe-guard against the possibilities that would emerge is we were motivated by power, or even merely by 'curiosity'.
Imagine yourself as a self, guided by love, navigating the ocean of universal reality! That is the possibility. It is love which guides us to our Heavenly families and which guides them to us; it is love which guides the great composer to the beautiful music with universal meaning; it is love which guides the real scientist to the intuitive truths about reality...
So participation is given, knowledge is given... but what must be achieved is the autonomy of our-selves; and having been achieved the destiny is to return to participation; to take it up again but not to be inside it, but outside of it while yet part of it.
In a sense, with Final Participation, the vast world of universal reality is experienced as 'within us' - within our thinking. Instead us us being immersed in the ocean - the ocean is, somehow, in our own thoughts! And therefore we engage with the ocean from a place outside the ocean - and our relationship with the ocean is one of self-awareness, purpose and will.
And this is, of course, a godlike state; in the sense that a god is a cause not a consequence; outside the system and not contained-in the system; a creator not that which is created. And that is the whole point! For us to become adult, grown-up children of God, we must become like God in our nature, including our consciousness.
This moving towards divine consciousness can only happen by our choice, as an act from the agent-self.
Therefore, the task is to set-aside nostalgia for the original state of immersive participation: this is now impossible. It is to acknowledge the state of Modern Man as an error - a failure to move-on; a perpetual adolescence in which freedom has reached the absurd and self-refuting point of existential isolation - and got stuck.
Universal reality awlays was and still is there. We have cut-ourselves off from it. This was necessary as a phase - but is lethal as an end-point. We must re-engage with universal reality - and again participate in that universality; but from outside - in purposive thinking from our true selves.
Participation is given, knowledge is given, even love is given; but from where we are now, we need to make the choice and effort to acknowledge then create a new autonomous and free relationship with this reality.
Our task is to re-engage with universal reality in what eventually may become fully divine consciousness, but at first will be a partial, distorted and temporary kind of divine consciousness; which is thinking engaged with universal reality, and guided by love.
(The above is a development of the ideas of Owen Barfield, which were substaintially influenced by Rudolf Steiner.)