Essays on Spirituality

Important concepts and considerations on the spiritual path



Partnering to Divine Love

Embrace Purity          Willful to Witness Mind

Mundane or Spiritual Today?          Live Deeply

Spiritual Reductionism     Self-Realization and the Shadow  

Fifteen Things to Know About Meditation

Reconsider God in These Seven Ways

“Almost” Spiritual Materialism          Maybe this is For You

Like a Fish Drowning to Swim


Partnering to Divine Love

Even though we are all one and the same, no two of us are alike. And as a relationship goes forward the changing quid pro quowill demand that each partner learn to love beyond themselves. The archetypal forces of creativity and diversity have seen to that. So true lovers know that even in healthy and loving relationships there will always be differences in character and habit that will need to be addressed if love is to endure.

When honest with ourselves we know loving another means overcoming divisive forces that hinder mature development of love in relationship. Romantic love is the love of attachment. This initial love must develop beyond itself into a selfless love, one that supports each partner’s unique individuality and spirituality. When we acknowledge this responsibility, we endeavor to grow this limited love into an unconditional love. We examine our disappointments and frustrations, and use them as a means to resolve our personal irrational beliefs or heal our own psychological wounds. Issues that are primarily interpersonal are discussed with objective curiosity using good communication skills, e.g. active listening, conflict resolution. We assert with the other, and together collaboratively reach a compromise that considers and respects both partners without blame or fault. And equally important we learn to be indifferent to those ongoing irritants or unmet needs residing in the relationship thereby preventing them from interfering with or degrading our love for the other. We take them in stride much the same way we respond to the pet we love when it dirties the sofa, the friend who cancels when sick, or the way we forgive ourselves our own mistakes. Our loving, expressed through warmth, care, giving, trust, etc. remains steady.

As wonderful as this unconditional love is in a healthy relationship, there is a greater blessing available to us. When growing in relationship as described above we are given the opportunity to accept there will be certain characteristics of our partner or relationship that will never change. And certain of our needs will remain unmet. It is then that we can turn to our spirituality, to our higher nature, to love in an even greater way. In practice it might take the following form when one is presented with an inevitable irreconcilable difference. One moves one’s mind into a meditative or prayerful state rich with peaceful and loving feelings and reminds oneself that one is part of a reality and phenomenon greater than oneself. Surrendering our ego and its independence in this way we identify with Spirit and Its will, and a transformation occurs from loving to being love. Unlike common love or unconditional love, one’s being loveis characterized by the sacredness inherent in one’s spiritual nature. And now a holiness is projected into the interpersonal situation with benefit to both you and the one you love. Divine Love is bestowed upon your partner and you feel favored rather than shortchanged. Most significantly, you feel privileged to have so intimately connected with another’s essence. And the relationship with your partner, and with Spirit, is both strengthened and loved. With practice this Divine Love, through one’s being love, is shared in all one’s interpersonal relationships, and serves to benefit all with whom one comes into contact.


Embrace Purity

On the spiritual journey conflict arises between our philosophy, our everyday beliefs, and our actions. Realism and idealism clash. What we observe in the world goes against our metaphysical worldview and challenges our effort to be our better selves. Our attempts at compassionate and righteous actions fall short of the Divine prescription. At these times we must make the effort to insure that purity triumphs over nihilism. It is incumbent upon us to remain committed to applying wisdom and remaining devoted to the Divine. We must accept that we are to undergo the personally transforming heroic journey with its trials and tribulations. Though it is strong, we must resist the temptation to declare existence inherently disordered and meaningless. By doing so we resist taking license to behave irresponsibly while mistakenly calling it liberation. By doing so we honor Truth and what it requires of us. Therefore, regardless of the consequences we shun darkness and embrace purity, enabling our spirit to evolve and contribute to a better world.


Willful to Witness Mind

Surrendering personal will to the Witness mind with it vastness of no-thinking and spaciousness of loving-heart brings one beyond the desires of the senses into an attitude of nonattachment to the world, everlasting equanimity, unconditional love, and joy. Spiritual practice supporting this awareness requires meditation in which one concentrates on silence and stillness of mind to strengthen no-thinking; replacing all feelings with calm, warmth, and affection to foster unconditional love arising naturally and without limit; and, applying transcendent principles of Truth whenever reflecting on self, others, or circumstances so one strengthens nonattachment and compassion. Along with these practices one makes an effort to observe and maintain moments of feeling peace, completeness, divine love, and bliss. With disciplined effort one’s identity transforms into Witness mind, with awareness aware of itself and exhibiting the loving and righteous character of Spirit.


Mundane or Spiritual Today?

 Spiritual practice enabling the spirit within to emerge is a moment-to-moment endeavor. A well organized and disciplined approach means following through on one’s spiritual intentions while also monitoring one’s worldly doing, comparing it to one’s spiritual being.

Recognizing choices made from morning to night about one’s activities is the easiest part of spiritual practice. Did you put aside time with Spirit through prayer, meditation, or contemplation? Perhaps you spent time in nature, read spiritually inspiring literature, or gave to others in some way. Or maybe you did not do these or similar activities, but instead caught up on chores or maybe relaxed around the house. Maybe it was lunch or dinner with a friend, some fun and exciting activity like biking or kayaking, or attendance at a once in a lifetime entertainment venue. And if there were any of these worldly events during the day, did they crowd out your spiritual activities, or maybe take away your spiritual mind or way of being?

The more challenging part of practice is regularly monitoring one’s spiritual mind. One compares the awareness associated with feeling spiritual to other more mundane states of awareness; and considers how well one maintains this state of mind. Did you track and attempt to maintain feelings of serenity, holiness, and love; and did they determine your actions? Reflecting on your day, were you effective at quelling feelings of fear, envy, or impatience; and were you able to prevent impulsively acting on them? Overall, how often did you calmly relinquish worldly thoughts or wants, feel and act lovingly kind toward another, or generously put someone else’s needs before your own? It is at these times one appreciates the spiritual feelings that arise and the actions they engender; and when they pass makes the effort to return to them as soon as possible, before the mundane mind re-establishes itself.

Not allowing mundane awareness to prevail avoids tacit agreement with the philosophy that human nature is lowly and without virtue or divinity. While days characterized by spiritual activity and ongoing spiritual awareness proclaim one to be the best of human nature, serving Spirit’s goals in the world. Our choices, made moment-to-moment, determine whether we travel the spiritual path as one who remains primarily conditioned by the world, or as one who lives genuine spiritual being.


Live Deeply

Liberation comes from disciplined obedience to your Divine nature. Do not act from your calm feelings but from peace. Do not rely solely on reason and logic but combine them with your intuition. Better still, wait for inspiration, using the knowledge that comes from the silent vastness of your mind. Let these guide you in your daily activity. And stop trying to act nice and caring about others. Instead, have your character be one of Love. Focus less on love as a verb and more on it as a noun, as your very existence, your true being. Attend to all aspects of love of which you are familiar and embody them into every one of your thoughts, feelings, and intentions. In this way, consciously practiced until natural, you free yourself from the subtle illusory aspects of living in this world; and you live deeply and free.


Spiritual Reductionism

“The Absolute Reality is the only thing that is real everything else is illusion.” “God is not male but female, the Goddess.” “There is no need to strive to attain realization because we are already enlightened.” When these claims are spoken and understood literally it is spiritual reductionism. A practice whereby one aspect of a complex spiritual concept is reduced to one quality or aspect of its meaning. Frequently used to emphasize what is generally overlooked or ignored about a concept these claims are well intentioned but can be very misleading. Listeners unwittingly accept the arbitrary punctuation of the truth and accept it as the whole truth. Rather than examine the conflicting ideas and draw one’s own conclusions through careful information gathering, one tends to perpetuate the spiritual reductionism. As part of the initial contemplation of the concept, one might instead attempt a reconciliation of the opposing ideas, using them as a springboard to a higher order concept that encompasses both, while transforming them into one that is more valid than either one separately. For example, the Supreme Being is neither male nor female but gender free while having masculine and feminine qualities; everyone’s awareness runs the spectrum from ego to enlightened, and conditions, in part determined by spiritual practice, will determine which awareness will operate in any given moment; and, while the everlasting, unchangeable Absolute Reality that is beyond time and space is the reason and cause of all that exists, and will eventually cease to exist, during the time of their existence these objects have substantive worldly life impact, consequences, and ethics in regard to one another.


Self-Realization and the Shadow

Why is it that one must respect one’s personal psychology and attend to self-actualization, the fulfillment of the existential self, when on the spiritual path toward sage or saintly enlightenment? The answer to the question is that regardless of your spiritual tradition as you progress spiritually your shadow side will confront you. I doubt that there is one of us on the spiritual path who has not heard a story about the dark side of the guru who exploits and harms his/her disciples. Or one of us who has not asked ourselves why it is that our behavior has degenerated to something so self-centered or lustful. It is in the nature of humans to have their psychological problems come forth as they grow in virtue and altruism. Living one’s existential self that seeks fulfillment and wholeness is something contrary to the ego. The ego seeks satisfaction, the meal that tastes good, the intimate relationship, the promotion, or the spiritual advancement. Even as one’s spiritual growth is emphasizing renouncement of them, satisfaction leads to desiring more satisfying experiences. This allows, perhaps requires, the longer standing, more insidious, and/or more base desires to rise and exert greater influence. This does not mean this process will overtake you, just that unless you attend to it you may begin to exhibit behavior contrary to your spiritual intentions. This can be mild, such as more angry outbursts, shutting down emotionally, ego inflated feelings of superiority, or the more severe and harmful ones of addiction, sexual acting out, or narcissism. No matter how often your practice enables you to reside in the Being of the nondual reality of love, peace, and altruism unless completely enlightened you are subject to this challenge. And it is by attending to the depth of your personal psychology and working to be fully actualized as the individual you are meant to be (i.e. unique, fulfilled, whole, and living your personal spirituality) that you overcome this shadow process. When attentive to being authentically yourself you more easily recognize the rising up of the dark side of human nature while you are spiritually purifying yourself. Doing so supports attending to both the desired and genuine aspects of your character, as well as the unwanted maladaptive darker ones. One does not deny, ignore, or rationalize away less than righteous thought and action associated with one’s spiritual tradition. And because it is done in the context of your personal wholeness and emerging transpersonal identity, this honesty with oneself results in greater self-acceptance and self-mastery with improved management and resolution of one’s personal shadow. This exceptional commitment to self-awareness at the existential and transpersonal levels, and to the radical improvement of one’s character limits and/or prevents damage that can result from the impact of shadow forces contrary to spiritual development. Greater virtue and altruism are then more reliably sustained and lived, with one increasing the likelihood of self-realization or enlightenment.


Fifteen Things to Know About Meditation

The basic meditation method is simple: once the mind has strayed to unwanted thinking, have your attention return to the chosen meditation content, e.g. your breath, mantra, or prayer. Repeat this continuously.

Similar to the way the mind’s eye “sees” objects and events, your mind’s ear “hears” your thoughts. With consistent meditation all thoughts will become more quiet and soft.

As your thoughts become quieter they will seem more distant, more faint. You will notice that your awareness seems to travel from the front of your head to the back of your head. Thinking is now more subconscious.

Quiet mind means there are now longer periods of not thinking between your subconscious thoughts. You “hear” less in the mind.

Still mind is when there is more time of not thinking and your subconscious thoughts are slowing down and decreasing in frequency,

During meditation your attention will go back and forth between the chosen meditation content and subconsciously thinking of something else, occasionally and momentarily resting in no thinking.

Not thinking feels like timeless eternity with no beginning or end. You will not notice it has occurred until thought returns. One mentally recognizes the difference between what has just occurred versus the present moment in which one is now thinking again.

As you become more proficient at meditating your mind will rest in no-thought more often, resulting in a distortion of time, with time experienced as having passed more quickly than usual. This is caused by the greater periods of time in timeless eternity. This is one way you will know your practice included periods of not thinking.

It improves your mind if at the end of a positive meditation you remember how it has been to meditate, and remind yourself that you will relive it in the future when you formally meditate or spontaneously choose to remember the experience.

Meditation improves your ability to concentrate by improving the ability to observe and direct one’s mind, enabling one to keep the mind focused as one wishes, a necessary skill for most spiritual practices.

Periods of not thinking improve your ability to access your subconscious and unconscious thoughts, strengthen intuition, and facilitate divine inspiration.

Contemplation during meditation is holding one thought or question as the fixed meditation content and allowing all other thoughts that arise to come and go, only consciously considering them as answers or insights at conclusion of the meditation.

Successful meditation practice usually increases one’s psychic abilities in which one may experience subtle energies, influence manifestation of events, and/or receive information that ordinarily would not be possible unless the laws of time and space were transcended, i.e. clairvoyance.

If you attend to your meditation experience throughout the day, unconditional love, peace, and joy experienced in formal practice will arise and eventually be felt even when not making this formal effort.

Successful meditation practice is a transcendent experience in which one becomes one’s spiritual or transpersonal self. Over time this results in positive character change in which a person becomes more lovingly kind and altruistic.


Reconsider God in These Seven Ways

God is an unknown Substance that has a memory that remembers everything, has created everything, and continuously creates in all spheres of existence.

Everything that exists is a manifestation of God, but everything is not God, only an aspect of God in worldly form.

God is not a Being unless you believe God is, in which case you will experience God that way through spiritual communications, visions, and events. This is a valid belief, and so forming and maintaining a relationship with God is necessary and can be beneficial.

God creates objects and events without conscious willful volition. It is karma, or the law of consequences, that explains the manner in which God creates. God does not micro-manage, but instead reality reaches a “tipping point” and manifests as determined.

God as Substance (often called Spirit) exists within everything and everybody in varying degrees and in different ways. If you recognize this within yourself you will be guided by God, and will rejoice in doing God’s work in God’s way.

Submitting to, obeying, and serving God results in the paradoxical outcome of liberation in which one lives a life of faith awareness. All of one’s needs are met, one’s life and the world are experienced as perfect, and love abounds.

If you are one with God, you and God will collaborate in creation more than those who do not have that quality relationship with God; if enlightened you and God are One, co-creating the universe, guided by care and love for all.


“Almost” Spiritual Materialism

Spiritual practice is complicated, requiring one not pursue false routes, especially the apparent shortcuts. Being human our biology and conditioning tends to push us in that direction, toward the shiny objects that quickly ease our suffering and make us feel outside and beyond ourselves. Be careful though, it’s hard to get enough of something that almost works. It’s like shaking the bottom of an almost empty jar, like eating empty calories, settling for “like” when you need “love”; you’ll be starving even as you get more. And if it’s Spirit you desire, watch out for circumstances that say drink up, for one intoxication is not like another. One will just leave you drunk wandering in a no man’s land, a hungry ghost believing you’ve found heaven. But true Spirit does not keep you stumbling in the dark like a drug making promises it cannot keep. Spiritual high is of a character radiating its bliss and shining its light on all it knows in the world; invigorating life through love.


Maybe this is For You

If when others disappoint, anger, or hurt you the response they get from you is full unconditional love, then this is not for you. If you are one of those who recognize your painful feelings as they arise, and then watch them dissipate as you rapidly return to love, peace, and joy, then this is not necessarily for you. And if your behavior is ongoing pure and righteous even when not at a satsang, visiting the sangha, or worshiping at your church, mosque, or synagogue, then don’t bother to read further. But if you know and use psychological ways to address feelings, your behavior is frequently but not continuously compassionate and altruistic, and reminders of sutras, psalms, and aphorisms are needed to enlighten your experience and strengthen your conscience while simultaneously helping you feel liberated and closer to the Divine then there may be something important here for you to consider.

Psychological intervention on your own behalf is necessary so that you may address the social and worldly slights done to you so your individual ego self does not react from its habitual socially and culturally conditioned response of the worldly person. This is so you lessen your pain and avoid harm to others, or long-term harm to yourself. Acknowledging all feelings, managing them well, and resolving them results in effective action that supports the healthy self necessary for movement toward psychological self-actualization, an integral component of authentic spiritual self-realization. Yet, this relationship between psychology and spirituality is frequently misunderstood, from both traditional psychology because it disqualifies spirituality, spiritual consciousness, spiritual phenomena, etc., and from spiritual traditions because their emphasis is on the metaphysical and supernatural.

Spiritual self-realization, recognizing and living the true identity you are, Spirit as nondual Being, is frequently offered as something that exists “right now, right here, if you would just be it”. Think it, and don’t worry we have plenty of slogans, proverbs, and aphorisms to help you do that, and just use your willpower to live this way. Well no, not really, because you are supposed to “not act”, which you are told is even easier, especially if you would “just do it”. And while using this direct approach, do not focus on your self, besides it does not exist anyway, and if you think it does, you are just dreaming. It is all an empty illusion anyway and if the you that is not real would just accept that truth and settle into it, that it is all an illusion, you would be spiritually realized, enlightened. Inherent in many traditions though detailed in different ways, this is a valid approach to spiritual practice, but it conveys that you are to completely forget that individual self, you, which is connected to Spirit. This can mislead you into ignoring your self, which is contradictory to growing and healing psychologically, and doing so will also hinder spiritual emergence.

Working to be psychologically self-actualized as your unique self so you experience feeling fulfilled and whole with a sense of completeness, not lacking for anything that is necessary for you to have meaning in your life is the sin qua non of psychological happiness and wellbeing. Your focus is now on being and less on doing. In that actualized stage of development you are inner directed in your actions while caring about others, and also deeply connected to certain of them. And now here is the important part. When not living the flow state of mind of doing what is fulfilling, or reflecting on it to create or support it, it is mandatory that you forget yourself by thinking of nothing but Spirit: Spirit as Source, Now/Witness Awareness, or God, in all ways proposed and possible for you to personally do so: beauty all around you, supernatural phenomena, unconditional love, the wonder that is life on earth, etc. Yes, it is right there; always, yes, just do it, as the above paragraph mentions. This combination of the psychological and spiritual is necessary in this Transmodern era in which we live. Spiritual practice now requires this reconciliation between psychological self-actualization and spiritual self-realization that results in transcending and including the self-actualized ego in the self-realized Spirit. And, perhaps most importantly, it provides you the opportunity and way to have a spiritual life that is more than happiness, service, and a spiritual identity that most people achieve and accept. It provides a life of Now/Witness Awareness to comprehend, live in, and be True Reality, an ongoing (not sporadic) altruism of easy joyful surrender, caring, and righteousness, and a liberated conscience that guides from a higher wisdom in a way that is liberating not restricting, a truer enlightened state.


Like a Fish Drowning to Swim

Living in the post-postmodern era you have seen religion give way to science and psychology, have studied the traditions and disciplines that integrate all three, and now have had a profound realization. After all this time you now know what you have been telling yourself all along, that one is not simply a human being in a physical universe, but that you are a spirit living in the world, a soul. You have been imperceptibly changing your desires and actions as you have studied and practiced spiritual truths, and now you recognize the greater sweetness and discernment with which you interact with the world and others in it. While competently living this life you have been influenced by, and drawn to something much bigger than your individual self. In doing so you have steadily relinquished things that once were so important to you. Now you more easily surrender to circumstances, intuitively knowing what to do, trusting the Source from which your direction is given. And while it can seem irrational, you now understand there is absolutely nothing more important for you to do than to keep your focus on this Source. A true renunciation, but not rejection, of the world has begun to take hold. You experience the universal truth that you simultaneously are, and belong to Spirit. There has been an awakening into a new identity signaled by improved periods of grace and virtue that persist outside of formal practice. Your love for God now penetrates every aspect of your life. However, even as you experience these exalted moments, a fear persists that you will suffer from the sacrifices necessary to continue to go forward.

Even as you trust you are becoming your true essence inner conflict arises from not knowing who you will be. Though you feel eternity at your side you know something is dying, that you will be forever and irreversibly changed, with much of what you have valued forsaken. There is a nagging feeling that perhaps you are fooling yourself, that your renunciation of worldly materialism is a denial or avoidance of sorts. Requiring that you further summon your courage, previous experience tells you the course ahead will not be governed by conventional logic, but rather absurdity and paradox. Excitement and self-doubt exist side by side. There is a feeling of being pulled into a whirlpool that will give life as never before, a drowning you hope results in resurrection. This is at once both a celebration and a challenge as you undergo further refinement of your spiritual transformation. You want more of this awakened state, and you want the confusion and discomfort to lessen. Though you consider settling for things as they are, you are reminded daily that navigating this turbulence successfully can put you on the saintly side of love, justice, and forgiveness, enabling not only your own, but others’ liberation. The stronger tendency to do something about your situation prevails, but what is it you can expect to happen, and what if anything should you do?

When the awakened soul cries out for and cleaves to God the body’s needs relax. And as long as the soul has God’s attention this balance is maintained, body and spirit are one; lover and Beloved are betrothed. If you were able to retain this awareness your disciplined efforts at relinquishing your individual identity and renouncing ways of the world would be said to have left you liberated, ensconced in a saintly transpersonal self that identifies with and loves all. However no seeker is as powerful or as wise as to be able to directly secure this prize. Instead, one’s natural inclinations, encouraged and strengthened by society around you, cause you to lose your way. The lovers are separated and the body’s needs claim dominance again, sometimes for moments, sometimes for days. You find that your love for God can weaken, and concomitantly so can your love of the world. What was becoming a familiar feeling of numinous expansiveness and unity with all around you disappears. There are aspects of what you have read about as the “dark night of the soul” yet they seem like ordinary sadness and loneliness, but perhaps irrational or unwarranted because you have friends and family, and you’re busy and feeling fulfilled. This distress is in sharp contrast to those times when you are living in beatific peace and strongly identifying with God. You are in love experiencing the Beauty in the world like never before, the radiance of reality shining through, the Divine sharing with you Its Truth and Goodness. Mindful presence is strong; as is contentment from living as the spiritual person you’ve always wished yourself to be. Blessings occur, and your needs seem to be met without effort, you feel more secure in the world. But again and again there are those periods of exacerbated grief from the times the Lover seems to have deserted you.

Hide and seek with the Lover can be a roller coaster of emotions and widely fluctuating moral behavior in which you are in a daily struggle for your true identity. There is the recurring preoccupation with the mundane tasks of everyday living, from appointments to be kept, to money matters, to health concerns. Maladaptive habits return and new virtues weaken, self-interest returning with a near sinful ferocity. And each time these have precedence over the sacred you slowly and almost imperceptibly increase the gap between God and yourself. As this separation grows you become more and more the individual self, but now also one that feels the loss of the Divine; awakening has regressed to samsaric mundanity. Previously lessening, attachment to outcomes becomes strong again. Defense mechanisms reactivate, material satisfactions dictate selfish behavior, and scarcity dominates abundance and shows as win-lose competition. Pride pursues personal success in attainment of goals monetary, sexual, and social with one’s shadow once again projected onto others. Temptations appear offering relief from your pain, even seeming like blessings for your disciplined efforts of sacrifice and service. You consider compromising the greater virtue you are beginning to live but your spiritual wisdom reminds you that worldly desires will no longer satisfy.

Mindful of these lapses the seeker frequently becomes dismayed, the hope of realizing God’s vision for oneself and humanity seems a fantasy. Practicing loving kindness, wanting freedom and justice for the world something only the irrational idealist would pursue. Feeling this separation from God, one is now at great risk for settling for less than noble virtues and right action. Christ consciousness, though a divine promise to all, now seems out of your reach. What is a little sin anyway, we’re all human and no one is perfect; one cannot always be free of irritability and resentment, always patient and kind. Permission to be selfish, even exploitive, can be granted to oneself by feelings of omniscience and/or omnipotence hijacked by an inflated ego, which convinces one of special abilities empowering one to do what others cannot do. During these trying times of vacillation between spiritual strength and lapse you learn that only total and complete surrender of all you have and all you are will suffice; and experience now gives you insight into the enormity of this task. You balk even though you know the schism between head and heart, the conflict between intellectual understanding and subjective knowing, is part of the inherent variability of the experience at this stage and is the precursor to lasting union with the Source. You gradually concede there is no reasoning one’s way around the truth of this sacrifice. You are being confronted by the Divine Romance, with its demand of archetypal surrender to the Lover of lovers. You’re participating in the journey that embraces all nature of sentient experience, keeps one attuned to the world’s Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, and blesses one with love and joy. Mercifully with time and effort, it becomes more natural to live what is required for the letting go that leads to liberation. You grasp the adage that one does not choose a life with God, but that God decides who will be saints, and you find assurance remembering God has been, and will continue, endorsing you. Chosen, you resolve to waive your personal interests and plans for your life.

It is now that one most needs to access wisdom and guidance from beyond oneself and this requires a dependence on, and devotion to God. You again recognize that only the Beloved’s will and purpose matter, not ones own. Whether God is near or far, beneficent or mean, one worships and trusts that God is working to fulfill the inspired vision. Striving and seeking become less important, while adoring and surrendering to God become paramount. Right action from regularly and consistently being mindful of your spiritual commitments and intentions is required. Commandments echo intellectually in your head. Remain alert to, and resist old maladaptive coping strategies of excess that may have lessened but you now find yourself tempted to employ because of your grief. Exercise caution regarding worldly pleasures lest you revert back to attachment and dependency on them. Be careful not to regress on your new standard of virtue. Remember the bar has been raised; some of what is socially acceptable for others is no longer permitted for you. Wiser, you choose not to tempt fate in this way but avoid risks you would have taken in the past. Now, you refuse a romantic involvement solely for fun and excitement, or the business venture that gives you a huge gain at another’s expense. And you realize willpower alone will only lead to failure in this righteous effort. Focus on the Source, your god, is all that will lead to success; nothing short of a devotion in which all else is secondary will suffice. Only in this manner will you be fully engaged in this ego to saint experiment, allowing the Source to have its way with you, guiding, strengthening, fulfilling, and transforming you.

This renewed diligent focus on the Divine results in the fuller embodied richness of “being” that is promised by renunciation. By reducing your mental and emotional focus on undesired thoughts, actions, and temptations the mind becomes free to devote itself to your relationship with the Source or God. The emphasis is on feeling Divine Presence. This involves willfully ignoring ones desires and needs in any given situation, refusing to dwell on your and others’ stories whether positive or negative. You unconditionally accept the world as it is, letting go of what you want and your plans, your ideas about the way things should be. An effort is made not to worry. Outside times of formal practice you may find yourself reciting aphorisms, mantras and prayers to secure the stillness, concentration, and wisdom that bring about the empty and clear mind you associate with the sacredness, witnessing, and love of the Divine. Using mindfulness you engage in strategic thought stopping in which you turn your distracted and wasteful thoughts to those of worship. These actions reverse moments of irritability and generate acceptance of others, circumstances, and events. In doing so your actions are more consistently characterized by greater warmth and loving kindness toward others; and it is extended to oneself as well. You’re more joyful in disposition, mentally less critical, and more patient with others. Even minor spiritual arrogance is loosening and falling away. And, there is an increase in you easily wishing others well even if they slight you. In spite of continued fluctuation in your experience you more consistently feel closer to the Divine Source. You experience the freedom from suffering and enjoy the feeling of spiritual immortality that comes from identifying with God. The world becomes a different place, its inhabitants and ones relationship with them changed; saintly virtue more resilient to life’s mundane insults and routine challenges. Not only do you feel better living in the world, there seems to have been cleared a way for more righteous action on your part. Your behavior is more often prompted by spiritual principles received as higher intuition or direct knowing. Through divine guidance you are more cognizant of natural desires while less lustful, lessening their power to tempt you into wrongful thought or action. Prevailing in this way you reestablish the saintly work of going beyond spiritually experiencing archetypal Beauty in the world to bring the universally hoped for archetypal Goodness into the world. Knowing and living archetypal Truth in this manner enables you to once again be both the change you want in the world and to inspire others to do the same.

With ones faith built on a strong trust in God’s karmic will one understands that ones hopes are being refined so they may be more attuned to the God given spiritual vision. God’s promises will be kept and desired gifts granted but most likely in a way one has not envisioned. In this turmoil in which you are drowning in both the sweetness of grace and pain of suffering opposing forces are actually working in concert. There is recognition of the universal logic of Truth as the paradoxical juxtaposition and reconciliation of incongruity and contradictions. This is illustrated in the personal freedom sought that requires disciplined surrender and submission to something more than your personal self. Relinquishing your self-interest in ways of the world results in identification with the Source, granting you the freedom desired. Restraining and training one’s mind has provided it access to greater openness, wisdom, and latitude in action than was available prior awakening. Additionally, identification with and reliance on the Source or God to deal with all concerns epitomizes the awakened awareness of “striving without striving”. It is the enactment of “being” in which one does not focus directly on one’s or another’s wellbeing or spiritual development but on the Source from which all originates. Aligned with God as pure consciousness, you remain in the eternal present, unconcerned with the past or future. Now it is unnecessary to employ willful effort to experience transpersonal states of mind, to address concerns in one’s life, and to accomplish personal goals. Remaining attentive to God is all that is required, because now what you seek is present before you, and merely involves loving the world as you love yourself. Like a fish drowning to swim, you have died to your essence, renouncing the world to become it. You are more enabled to love God, to think and act as God does, and to love as God loves. Maintaining this divine perspective on reality, faith is stronger and life characterized by an ease and freedom with which to accept and address life’s variability.

Because your mind is no longer your own the paradox of your experience does not end here. Accepting you are no longer an individual self in a permanent world you are granted freedom from separation and sin. You now embody the loving Christ consciousness living in a heavenly present with its more refined virtue. And unlike what you may have willfully attempted in the past, this virtue comes naturally and is enacted with ease. You find your conscience is stronger, nobler, because the Source or God is guiding you. It is God’s creativity in the moment manifesting according to God’s purposes, working through you bringing Light into the world to benefit others. And this accords you a freedom from self-conscious monitoring and restraint formerly required to behave properly and beneficently. You have discovered and now live from a liberated conscience. A conscience not based solely on one’s thoughts and beliefs, societally or culturally conditioned principles, or mythological truths but one that while incorporating these elements, is predicated on the information and direction given by God. In the context of the present moment you experience it as the discernment of a spiritual situational ethics showing what you need to know, and instructing you what to do. Something you could not have reasoned or imagined on your own, it is divine intervention according to God’s logic and standards. You are now living as an awakened soul in the world, identifying with the world, gracefully loving the world.

Your spiritual journey is radically maturing in ways described by various traditions, but nonetheless experientially novel for you. With your awakening you’re learning to live an ongoing grace and renewal, a faith consciousness in which God is trusted to provide, and in which one selflessly shares the gifts one receives. This further commits you to spiritual practice and worship but in ways that are markedly different from those previously required for your spiritual emergence. Now with greater patience for its unfolding there is improved resilience to worldly experience and temptations. You have let go of your self and your lifelong beliefs and habits about living in the world, trusting God to creatively handle the details. Granted freedom, your spiritual journey is an enlivened adventure experienced moment by moment without expectation, guided by the greater virtue of a liberated conscience. A saint is being born.