No matter where I am on the mystical path, and no matter the degree of severity of my “dark night of the soul”, it lasts only as long as I allow it.
My beliefs and rituals either bring me back to God in a timely fashion, or I endure a protracted loss of identity and suffer a hell of my own making.
If it is the latter, it is usually because I misunderstand the message I am being given by God. Or, I am resisting the way of truth that is being laid out before me. Only a disciplined return to my authentic practice solves this dilemma.
My mystic path tells me: surrender, adoration, and glory. It says return to sacrificing the self, loving all unconditionally, and praising God. Give up your will, attachments, and pride. Return to the helping hand, faith-based love, and being of God.
Mystic surrender is giving up on the mundane “wants”, “shoulds”, and “don’ts” in life. Letting them go, not seeking or resisting. No judging, except for being sure you do no harm, and that your actions originate from mystical consciousness. The awakened voice that brings with it definitive truth, mercy, and love. It cannot happen any other way, lest the soul be wounded. When the “wants” presented in your life coincide with your wishes, accept and praise God. When they don’t, bless the circumstances and move on. No celebration or grief, they only serve to strengthen ego. “Don’ts” are often good intentions gone wrong. The result of ignoring or disrespecting what Spirit, from its wisdom, deemed you should do. Acting on your own accord you restrain the spirit, which only serves to deflate the soul and hurt the heart. And if of bad intentions, duality most likely severed your heart from God’s, causing you to do harm. Your “me” having become paramount, a little god seeking its own glory. With forgiveness and compassion re-establish union with God and allow the Divine to guide you in giving up trivial prohibitions. “Shoulds” seduce you into believing you are secure and in control. All that is required is to act as others do, and follow the rules. After all, there is strength in numbers, and the majority must be right. But the mystic’s life, while for the benefit of the tribe, is not a life of the tribe. It is one of remaining close to Spirit, obeying revealed sacred principles, and living the freedom granted you by doing so. A liberation characterized by love and abundance, the result of diligently following and glorifying God.
The mystic pursues union with Spirit through non-ordinary states of consciousness, e.g. peak experiences, unitive awareness, awakened witnessing, supernatural events. In direct opposition to separation, these moments are influenced by nonduality, and are the ones that raise our awareness beyond ego. Eventually our soul awakens, and we become closer to God. With time our habits and character change, and we become a new person, no longer of this world. It is our spirit now that lives here. And it spends its time following the way that is laid out before it by Divinity. Stillness of mind and unconditional love giving rise to “superconscious thought” and spontaneous “action without action” determining our response to the world. Not predicted by, and significantly deviating from ego, this results in each moment feeling fresh and filled with goodness. Living becomes a wandering of sorts, filled with peace, love, and communion. And, with each moment glorifying God.
Spiritual purification rejects the ego perspective and moves one closer to God. This transition is aided by adopting an attitude of refusing to remain upset, e.g. feeling down, annoyed, pessimistic. Instead, one commits to always returning home to Spirit through practices involving forgiveness, intercessory prayer, or praising and/or affirming one’s relationship with God. While purifying, these actions also reduce one’s distress. Returning to soul, the mystic benefits from the Divine viewpoint with its peace and love. And is often provided a new and unique course of action for challenges being faced. Concomitantly, the mystic’s soul is strengthened and emerges more fully alive in the world, bringing goodness, compassion, and love to others. But most importantly, the mystic’s life purpose of glorifying God is served.
If there are no coincidences, then it wasn’t me. If all circumstances are sacred, then it most certainly could not have been me. Then, what was it that caught your attention? What was it that caused you to stare? It wasn’t me. The spirit within you saw it, felt it. Was drawn to it. But it wasn’t me. Familiar to you, perhaps even quietly desired, the feelings you felt were welcomed. And you thought it was me. But, it wasn’t. You may have wanted to, but you dared not approach. Or, you may have been awed, and moved away. Maybe you approached, getting so close you could touch it. But it wasn’t me. No, you had been gazing upon, and subtly communicating with the spirit within me. There was beauty and there was love. But it wasn’t me. It was Us.
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.