The importance of spiritual progress

Today, man is possessed of such power that he can travel in space and may soon reach other planets. On the other hand, such achievements if not coupled with spiritual progress will bring in their wake man’s destruction upon this earth.

~ Adib Taherzadeh, Source

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The Fourth Valley 

There is a consensus among psychologists who study such subjects that people develop their concept of who they are, and of what they want to achieve in life, according to a sequence of steps. Each man or woman starts with a need to preserve the self, to keep the body and its basic goals from disintegrating. At this point the meaning of life is simple; it is tantamount to survival, comfort, and pleasure. When the safety of the physical self is no longer in doubt, the person may expand the horizon of his or her meaning system to embrace the values of a community — the family, the neighborhood, a religious or ethnic group. This step leads to a greater complexity of the self, even though it usually implies conformity to conventional norms and standards. The next step in development involves reflective individualism. The person again turns inward, finding new grounds for authority and value within the self. He or she is no longer blindly conforming, but develops an autonomous conscience. At this point the main goal in life becomes the desire for growth, improvement, the actualization of potential. The fourth step, which builds on all the previous ones, is a final turning away from the self, back toward integration with other people and with universal values. In this final stage the extremely individualized person–like Siddhartha letting the river take control of his boat–willingly merges his interests with those of a larger whole.

~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, pp. 221-222.

Let us speak the truth about the world

Let us speak the truth about the world: the world is sometimes really crazy, messed up and broken. And sometimes it is really difficult to believe, to hope, to have faith. There are destructive forces operating in the world. Even the most faithful and strongest persons are sometimes overwhelmed by it, especially if you are a highly sensitive person. Sometimes this can lead to a great frustration and disillusionment. John of the Cross spoke about the dark night of the soul that occurs when a soul has attained a higher degree of maturity and has become aware of the suffering in the world. That’s part of the process that we call “spiritual awakening“.  The first noble truth is, that life is suffering. Well, it is not only suffering, but it is. That’s the teaching of the Buddha and that’s the teaching of Christ (and every other true prophet and truthful spiritual teacher)

Suffering is a necessary part in the evolution of the soul. There is no way around it. In Buddhism they call it “Dukkha”.

“Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha.” The First Noble Truth of dukkha (dukkha ariya sacca)

If we were ever in a state of constant happiness, there would be no impulse in our lives that lifted us to a higher level. In the beginning, we become aware of the suffering and then a deep desire to overcome this suffering arises.  That’s the first qualification that is necessary for awakening. There is no awakening, no enlightenment, no true knowledge about anything and no deep faith without the experience of suffering. In a sense, this is the beginning of real humanization. The incarnation of Christ, the incarnation of Spirit into matter, is not conceivable without the cross, without a certain amount of suffering, therefore the cross is one of the great universal symbols of humanity.  Meister Eckhart said:

The beast that bears you fastest to perfection is suffering“.

In other words, the road to freedom is not to avoid suffering, but to face suffering fearlessly and to use it with intelligence and compassion for our spiritual growth, for the expansion of our consciousness. But we need a balance between love and wisdom. It is true that Hollywood likes to say that only love is enough, but love alone is not enough. That’s just a childish illusion. This may work in Disney Land, but not on the battlefields of our daily life. Yes, we need love, but there are different kinds of love. Love without wisdom is blind. And wisdom without love is not really alive and can’t touch and speak to the human heart. Wisdom needs to be balanced with a healthy amount of love and love with a healthy amount of wisdom. This is the marriage that we need, this is the skill and art of life that me must attain. This is what Christ is teaching us, with every word and action of his live, therefore he is the timeless example. Even today is his teaching and his Spirit alive and has the power to change everything, if you are ready and open for spiritual knowledge and illumination. The great persian mystic Rumi said it very well:

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
― Jalaluddin Rumi

The wound is the place where our heart breaks open, where the limits of our ego can break away and a greater Consciousness can transform our little lives into vessels of Divine Light. The whole story of Christ is about the transformation of the human consciousness. Metaphorically speaking: we can use our personal and collective “cross” as a springboard into the resurrection of this greater Consiousness. This is “the narrow way“.

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” ― Hermann Hesse

The suffering, which seemed to be a curse, can become a blessing. It can lead you in the direction of deeper and deeper self-realization. It can become your most effective and greatest spiritual teacher, because it is teaching you the lesson of unconditional love, it leads you to the full embrace of life. The darkness of the night is revealing the light of the stars. You can become such a star. In the next posts, I will try to describe more precisely how we can use the lessons of suffering more effectively for our spiritual growth. How we can see everything in life with the Eyes of the Spirit, from  a place of love and wisdom, and use it for the greater good. 

© mark david vinzens

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The True Faith of Christ

That’s the right thing, friends…. that’s the fullness of truth…. that’s home, that’s love, that’ s true life… that’s the heart, source and original spirit of our whole civilization.