do we need to live Spiritually?
are in circulation some weird and wonderful ideas of what it means to live
a spiritual life. Many of these ideas are a product of the imprint of
Piscean mysticism which emphasised the split between heaven and earth and
which make it hard for spirituality and the everyday to co-exist in any
cooperative relationship. In many cases the form has become completely
divorced from appreciation of the purpose that it serves. As a spiritual
model, Piscean mysticism has now done its work and served its purpose.
This means that its ability to help the human family is reducing.
We have, around us, all that
we need in order to live a spiritually useful life - all of us, by
courtesy of the fact that we are here in incarnation. We need no special
conditions, props or paraphernalia; we need only the understanding that,
regardless of our circumstances, we do
have all we need if we can produce, from within ourselves, the right kind
of approach and the right kind of effort in support of our goal to do and
to be better, whatever we perceive that to be.
Up to the Third Initiation,
to what we commit is far less important than the fact of commitment.
Spirituality needs commitment not concepts, something which religion has
never wanted to acknowledge.
The circumstances in which we
find ourselves are not coincidental or irrelevant. They reflect who we are
and as we change so our circumstances will change. If they seem to us
unsuitable or intolerable then they are exactly where we need to start. To
use imagery drawn from IT: these are the windows we must shut down before
we can get to the possibilities and relative freedom of the desktop. Our
circumstances are not as they are by coincidence; they are there because
our personality has attracted or created them. If we rely on simply
swapping up our circumstances without changing anything else about
ourselves, we will find ourselves recreating the same traps and problems.
Our circumstances reflect us. Through looking at them and through looking
at ourselves in those circumstances, we will discover a great deal about
ourselves, as we are now, but whatever that might be, it is not all there
is to us. There is, in addition, all that we may be if we will work
steadily and sanely towards unfolding our potential, working through our
circumstances and letting experience change us as we strive to change
circumstances, in line with our aspirations.
We do not start our lives on
Earth with a blank slate. We bring through into incarnation the quality of
consciousness developed in past life and this places us - to carry on with
the IT imagery - within certain windows when we are born. This is known in
esotericism as the Law of Opportunity and it places us in the
circumstances which reflect our being but, by virtue of being
reincarnated, we are equipped with a fresh supply of opportunities. The
natal chart, appropriately read, will reveal these opportunities. We have
to understand, however, that opportunity is something the unfoldment of
which we may need to assist through awareness and intelligent choice. It
may not come rapping on our windows.
The realisation that, to lead
a spiritually active life, we do not need anything other than ourselves
and the circumstances in which we find ourselves, which should be such a
liberation, all too frequently is a source of great disappointment because
it doesn’t promise transportation to another place, a rapidly altered
reality and ready answers. It means that we could be spiritually committed
and, yet, still staring at the same grey streets, turning into the same in
fulfilling job, enduring the same pain of a failing relationship, the same
difficulties in the family, and yearning for something different. Indeed,
spiritually aware people, all over the Western world, are experiencing all
these things but, hopefully, growing stronger and more purposeful as a
result of the awareness, disciplines, and priorities conferred by their
spirituality. Maybe, in time, they will see their way out of their
uncomfortable circumstances or find a new way of looking at those
circumstances which, as we have said, are not there by chance, but because
they reflect who we are.
This is true spirituality
because it involves transformation and not evasion. Spirituality
does not begin when pain and difficulty end; it begins with a willingness
to see pain and difficulty as a starting place. It is purposeful work on
self with the intention to bring about a change in consciousness.
Embracing spirituality does
not guarantee sudden change and a cessation of difficulty. It involves
living with a certain understanding and a willingness to look at self; it
involves holding certain values and letting those values inform our
conduct and decisions over time. If we are wise we will expect our
spirituality to encompass the everyday, to help us make headway with and
through habitual situations, not set it up as something apart which needs
the high, unpolluted altitudes of the Himalayas or the sunshine and
history of Egypt to sustain it.
Our spirituality needs to
enable us to give a value to the opportunity which is our lives, as they
are. It needs to inspire us to do better. Our lifetimes, in incarnation,
are the biggest opportunity we will ever know and it is up to us to give
them value and distinction. This is the choice conferred by free will.
Spirituality offers us a way to do that. It does not have to involve
religion; it does not have to involve ritual and practices - although all
or any of these things might help. It needs to involve the knowingness
that we can make ourselves into something more than we are, the
willingness to see ourselves as we are now and the acceptance that this
path to unfolding our potential is governed by certain rules.
These rules do not govern
dress, circumstances or the quantity of knowledge held. They govern
intention; the extent to which the outer appearance matches the inner
reality; how well and honestly we live and work with the understanding
that we do have; and how much effort we put into those things which we
know matter, which include picking ourselves up after perceived failures
and shortfalls. This is how we become better i.e., more useful through the
living of our lives.
We have all we need and when
we think we do not it is because we have an idea that spirituality is
about certain conditions and activities. We may want
different conditions and, indeed, may benefit greatly from changing our
conditions but that is what we
perceive we need. It is not what spirituality needs. Spirituality needs
only life and a being who is aware that there is something higher to which
to aspire and work, who knows where to start and is committed to the goal.
It is this realisation that makes every day valid and important and
which makes communication with familiars as important as communication
with a spiritual teacher.
True spirituality knows no
separation between what we call spiritual and the non-spiritual. It knows
only the one life which is dedicated to its goal and which encompasses all
facets of that one life and deals as carefully and as considerately with
detractors of that goal as it does with those who give ready agreement. It
is not simply sitting in meditation or development circles that builds
spiritual muscle but the extent to which we can take the awareness created
by those experiences into all areas of our lives.
Yet, to work effectively with
everyday situations, we have to create ways of remaining aware and not
getting caught up and zombified by the routine. This is the value of
contact with people who are also working to remember, of teaching,
practices and ritual, and of creating a sacred space in our homes and in
our lives. The purpose of these things is not to escape and forget and
take the eyes off the everyday but to strengthen us and our awareness of
ourselves and our conduct in familiar circumstances, including those in
which we are challenged. So much disappointment and disillusionment comes
to people who have engaged with the idea of spiritual development from the
erroneous expectation that to embrace spirituality is an insurance policy
against suffering and ordinariness.
On the contrary, in its early
stages, a spiritual path is likely to bring more not less suffering
because different perspectives and values are introduced, against which
everyday situations have to be assessed. This rarely makes familiar
circumstances more comfortable. Yet, the eventual
rewards of having embraced a spiritual path will be those of
clarity and strength, and later, the experience of integration. Then a
person knows, without any shadow of doubt, that we have all that we need
and understands the origin and nature of all suffering.
Change starts with our
appreciation of the desirability of change. It starts with us and where we
stand. Truly, we have all that we need to do better and to be better. What
we perceive that to be may change with time and experience but the
important thing is to start with who we are and with what we know.