Wisdom tells us, sometimes you have to go to the darkest of places. For it is there in the shadows, and pure darkness, that truth lies. Not all of the truth, but what you were personally ignorant of, and feared most. Meeting and harvesting this truth increases understanding and offers exceptional direction. This is especially true if done with you relying primarily upon on Spirit to see you through the challenge. For then, Spirit will provide the just solution to the seemingly insurmountable. And it will be one that benefits all according to mercy and truth.
On a spiritual path we are encouraged to act gracefully when others act badly. Primarily beginning as ego we practice being assertive through our words and actions. This might mean changing the topic of conversation or politely excusing oneself and walking away. At other times one can speak up for oneself when one feels wronged. An effective method for this is letting the other know what s/he did, informing them of its consequence to you, and how it made you feel. Negotiating for change on the other’s part completes the practice. At other times the ego must consciously remind oneself to be accepting and generous to another who has acted badly. One takes the proverbial “high road”. Here self-talk can move one’s tolerance of an action, to the greater virtue of accepting the other person.
Eventually the spiritual path demands more than this of us. Now we must identify with all existence, with an awakened soul asserting itself in the world. This requires ego mind be naturally checked, and one’s spiritual mind deciding what will be said or done. What is unknown and unforeseen by ego, but recognized by soul, determines one’s actions. In this way the understanding and logic of Spirit uses the “still small voice” to guide us in gracefully responding to the world. In this regard, not only is one’s peace not disturbed, but one’s power is enhanced and effectively expressed with unconditional love. Sacredness may or may not be felt with this love; if present holiness will be experienced and the love is divine. Additionally, there is the profound sense one has acted, not in service of the other person, but in generously giving to Spirit/God.
The requisite for this spiritual assertion involves the paradox of empowering oneself through the practice of surrendering one’s individual self to Spirit/God. This relinquishing of one’s independent self amplifies Spirit/God, and both shapes and strengthens one’s identity as soul. This practice includes several fundamental tasks. One consistently reminds and wills oneself to have no expectations of others and circumstances, and to not judge in either a positive or negative way. Being receptive and accepting, one does not resist Spirit/God’s will or way. Also, in all situations one moves one’s mind to patience, and then to no-thinking, allowing the spiritual mind to be in charge. In this manner spiritual assertion originates from obedience to Spirit/God. While this obedience requires losing your worldly habits and ways, as soul you gain access to and guidance from the mind of Spirit/God. Sharing in Spirit/God’s omniscience and omnipotence you share in the true abundance all seek. Benefit comes to you, those with whom you interact, and the entire world as Spirit/God sees fit.
What do you mean when you say “I follow my heart”? Is it that you listen to your intuition, letting it prevail over rational thinking and conclusion making? Perhaps you mean you project love to others, being warm and sweet toward them. Or do you mean it the way many do, referring to interacting with others in a caring way? On a spiritual path, some say this when referring to using spiritual wisdom originating from higher consciousness. Perhaps you mean a combination of these. If so, you may be referring to your soul.
Do you follow your heart in all matters, big and small? Is it reserved for major life plans, family issues, and work-related decisions? Do you also employ it in private time alone, conversations with others, or in the simple time spent with pets and possessions? And when you are following your heart, what is it that you actually do? What behavior do you exhibit that only occurs when your heart is in charge? And how is it you feel? Is there patience and peace, an openness and wonder, spontaneous joy? Keeping answers to these questions in mind, consider what it is that stops you from doing this all of the time, in all circumstances. And reflect on whether your conclusions are acceptable to you. Listen to what your heart tells you.
While heart and soul share similar qualities, and many of us associate them with one another, heart and soul are markedly different. Be that as it may, diligently following your heart will lead to the emergence of your soul. Doing so guides you through your destiny, resulting in your unique psychology actualized as wholeness. Continuing effort beyond this existential milestone eventually brings you to spiritual actualization with a new identity. Individuality is replaced with unitive identity in which oneness with all is felt. Thoughts and actions become purified and righteous, and unconditional love dominates. Now, more than following heart, your transpersonal nature is being heart, soul. You are, while simultaneously interacting with others, lovingly one and the same with them.
Soul identity emerges with spiritual practice over time. And this requires much self-examination and habit change in service of truth. The questions asked about following heart now become ones associated with being soul. Are you guided by reasoning or raised consciousness of claircognizance or direct-knowing? What is the nature of the love you feel toward others, is it born of attachment or is it unconditional? Can you distinguish the times you act as soul from times you do not? And as in preliminary practice of heart, what accounts for these differences? In this way, monitoring experience across the spectrum of human and spiritual possibilities fosters spiritual emergence. Your spirit within recognizes itself, and aligns evermore with divinity in the world. And soul and world are one.
As we develop spiritually we all shine our own unique “light”. A one-of-a-kind amalgam made from elements of the archetypal spectrum, originating from a vast and enormously complex Source. Explained to us by science and philosophy we are given an infinite variety of psychological, religious, and spiritual ways to describe our personal existence. Even while employing these to the best of our ability our self-knowledge remains limited, and perhaps worse, others never really know us. We all suffer the fate of being misunderstood, maybe even falsely accused. But there is no greater form of this injustice than that imposed on God. Spiritually, no matter whether it is the origin of all, the deity you are responsible to, or what is often referred to as raised consciousness, your god is being maligned. And most often you are the one doing this. For no one can know the true identity of God. Nevertheless, we claim we do. Especially if the aspect of God identified is deemed positive or good. And nowhere is this more rampant and damaging an error than when we declare that God is Love. For no self, and especially that of the Almighty, can be reduced to only one aspect of its being. Complexity of this nature cannot be restricted or made finite. God shines in its own way.
So, rather than professing we know God, we should simply rejoice in the Divine with which we are familiar. Living in the world we inhabit with the God we know. All the while knowing that seeking out what we have yet to understand about existence will reveal more of God’s nature and ways. We then observe God all around us, manifesting as common objects and everyday events. When recognizing the prevalence of godliness in the world it is clear God is more than love. This practice also gives insights into our part in the Divine Character. We come to know God’s presence working in, and through us. And, we recognize that each one of us brings some aspects of God into the world. Nowhere is this more true than when our spiritual practice is one of intimately knowing God. Then, uniquely shining through each of us, God’s Being announces itself and is felt in the world. We become instrumental in revealing the magnificence of God, our God-given brilliance contributing to the godliness all around us.
How do you feel after completing that “deep” meditation, or having understood that spiritual aphorism or teaching? How does it compare to a “good” yoga class, or perhaps a soul retrieval experience? Scanning your body head to toe, noticing points of warmth, lightness, ease, or their opposites, will give you especially useful information if you correlate it with your conscious awareness. Reflecting on this mind-body connection will inform you of the quality of your spiritual nature and of your relationship with Spirit. Assuming you feel at peace, your mind is quiet, and the world appears fine as it is, what do you do next? Surely, ego monkey mind and its attachments will rise up in you again unless you try to sustain your spiritual feeling. What technique will you employ to maintain the spiritual awareness recently secured from your formal practice time? It need not, nor should it, require great effort, or be noticed by others. Consider activities that are a regular part of your practice that you can employ in a private manner. Simple activities as you continue your day might include carrying a small sacred object in your pocket, focusing on all the beauty around you, silently chanting or praying to yourself, or engaging in random acts of kindness toward others. Not only does this effort contribute to a more enduring spiritual awareness, it also brings Divinity into the world, thereby benefitting others.
Healing others, mystical union, or making the world a better place are all legitimate spiritual endeavors. But spiritual practice is complicated, requiring that you not pursue false routes. This is especially true of tempting shortcuts that prove insufficient, and even harmful in the long run. However, being human our biology and psychological conditioning push us in that direction. We move toward the shiny objects promising to quickly accomplish our goals, ease our suffering, or make us pleasantly feel more than ourselves. But be careful. It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works. It’s like eating empty calories or settling for “like” when you need “love”. You’ll be starving your soul even as you get more of what you want. And especially when seeking spiritual union, watch out for circumstances that say “drink up”, because not all intoxication is the same. Some will just leave you “high” wandering in a no man’s land, empty and addicted. But the patient and moderate pursuit of spiritual consciousness yields a different result with significantly less hardship. Consistently integrating the sacred union and wisdom of true spiritual experience results in feeling complete and needing nothing more. And as you let it strengthen your spiritual nature, life becomes invigorated by peace and love. Resulting in more than fulfillment for yourself, there is nourishment for all.
As your spiritual awareness develops you will have greater expectations of yourself. Do not expect or insist on the same from others. That will only cause you disappointment and frustration. Renounce all expectations you have of others whenever they arise. This strengthens the light you bring into the world, and further brightens yours.
Though there is some commonality to the post-biological death experience it is postulated in an almost limitless number of ways across cultures and history. And most often it is either a permanent destination or a temporary one before returning to life on earth. This phenomenon of “life after life”, with all its people, worlds, and events, exists as and within what is described as the subtle. The subtle is neither material reality, nor the formless non-conceptual Absolute (causal). It is the form that exists between the two. Most are familiar with it as energetic bodies that support our physical body and spiritual mind, and the energy meridians and chakras associated with our bodies and involved in alternate forms of healing, e.g. acupuncture. However, the subtle is more than energy and vibrations. It is also raised consciousness and alternate realities.
As higher consciousness, the subtle through its relation with the material and causal (formless, non-conceptual) reflects one’s spiritual philosophy and creates one’s unique spiritual life and experiences. It may be consciousness as archetypal luminosities, e.g. ecstasy, divine love, or as consciousness existing apart from the physical body, e.g. astral projection. It also takes the form of higher consciousness that breaks the conventional boundaries of time and space, e.g. clairvoyance, precognitive dreams. Additionally, subtle alternate realities exist as other-worlds or after-worlds and are contacted through raised consciousness, e.g. mediumship. Associated with these alternate realities are diverse spirit forms, e.g. spirit guides, angels, which one interacts with in this world. Along with ones already mentioned, when considering other recognized states of awareness, e.g. waking, sleep, lucid dreaming, near-death experience, enlightenment, human existence may be understood as constantly shifting from one state of being to another. The exact nature of these states is shaped by personal beliefs, lifestyle, and images and symbols depicting meaningful aspects of one’s existence. Put another way, one’s mind and spirit determine the nature of one’s comprehensive life on earth.
With reality understood as the intertwined concurrent phenomena of material, subtle, and causal it is reasonable to posit that the transition from this world, as well as the after-world at which one arrives, originates within the individual psyche and spirit. Highly personal, the post-biological death experience is influenced and created by one’s life (or lives) history across all levels of mind from the physical to Absolute. Of course, this requires a spiritual life dedicated to practices such as non-attachment to the material including attenuated individuality, a personal theology that serves as one’s map of reality, and familiarity with the subtle, its phenomena and operating principles. Though ultimately the Divine Principle determines this outcome, through specific mastery of one’s body, mind, and spirit one can actively influence the form, quality, and outcome of one’s immortality experience(s).
When others do not understand and then ridicule you, they reveal their ignorance. With a strong ego calmly detach, observe the foolish behavior, and remember who you are. From this stance assertion comes easily, the topic changes, and there are smiles all around. Meanwhile, the spirit within acts from grace, privately wishing them well, and sometimes even praying for them. It is in this last gesture that you move your being to divinity, and feel and project unconditional peace and love. And now if God is willing, the event moves beyond geniality, and ignorance is transformed into principled behavior on the part of the previously ill-mannered. In a miraculous moment your prayer has been answered and has benefitted everyone concerned.
Spiritual development is getting outside yourself, beyond yourself, and becoming part of something bigger and more than yourself.
You objectively recognize who you are and what you do, then you discover what is truly meaningful to you and genuinely live it without limitation. Lastly, transcending individuality, existence now becomes unity with all forms, and your being is the pure consciousness that gives rise to them.
Your identity shifts from ego to existential self to spiritual self, and then to Absolute Source.