Physical life is a constraint set that offers the spirit the valuable counter-pressure necessary to participate in personal and collective expansion. To the unlimited powerful spirit, the opportunity to actually subject one’s self to “participation within a firm and rigorous context” is an extremely precious opportunity. The circumstances of your life are the valuable counter-pressure that your soul uses to become more. It uses circumstances to expand its awareness of what reality can be, to identify what it wants and does not want, and to refine qualities of the self within a context. Your life is the context.
A couple very simple metaphors may be helpful. Physical life might very crudely be compared to getting on a roller coast: once you are strapped in, you are in for the ride and you can’t get off. The ride may be terrifying while you are on it, but is exhilarating to experience and creates a wonderful memory. Oftentimes those who get off of a roller coaster get back in line to get right back on! Another very crude analogy might be: physical life is like lifting weights on a weight bench. The counter-pressure of the weights pushing against you is uncomfortable, but you utilize the counter-pressure to grow stronger and become capable of more. In our case, it is not physical muscle we are building, but spiritual muscle: we are growing our capacity to successfully engage realities in a creative, loving, and fearless manner. We are growing our capacity to successfully engage our experience of the present moment.
The physical universe is a high-intensity full blown “experience context” wherein the soul (your awareness) can temporarily adopt a role within form, and use that role within form to better discover and refine itself. Your circumstances then are not curses, no matter how dire they may seem. Your circumstances are precious opportunities. At times those “opportunities” can seem overwhelming, or perhaps even impossible to endure. There is no shame in becoming overpowered by circumstance.
Your true power does not lie in your ability to mold your circumstance to how you would prefer it to be. Your true power lies in your ability to choose how you will meet your circumstance. Sometimes physically speaking you can do nothing at all- and yet you always have the power to meet your experience with courage, humility, acceptance, and love. That power is the true power! For you have come here to do just that: to actually and personally meet your physical context with a high quality of intent. When you do that, you will be using the counter-pressure of the physical world as it was intended and will automatically begin to transcend the challenges of the physical experience.
Spiritual growth is not something that happens in the mind. It is not a correction of ideas, or even just a change in action. Spiritual growth is a change in one’s very being, in “what one is.”
This kind of change is not one easily undertaken. In order to grow, one typically must be willing to undergo significant personal alteration. Spiritual growth is often a destructive or painful process, and when the moment comes, many are unwilling to actually experience and undergo the intense personal alteration that is necessary. It is far easier to tell one’s self a story of what one is than it is to actually change.
Yet we are here to actually change. So much of the pain each of us experiences in our daily lives remains with us because we are unwilling to fully accept responsibility for our own state of being, and we are unwilling to grow into the humility and selfless intent that our pain calls us to. By the “laws” of the greater divine reality, our own past intentions have brought us into exactly our experience of this present moment- and yet many of us resist that present moment and the lessons it has to offer.
Spirituality is about your relationship to the present moment. It is about your actual experience, and what you do with it. If you meet that experience with willingness, openness, personal responsibility, fearlessness, humility, and selflessness, then you will allow the present moment to start actually shaping you the way it was intended. Willingness, openness, personal responsibility, fearlessness, humility, and selflessness all require a quality of intent- you must use your precious free will to choose the way your soul calls. Often that choice means walking in to the discomfort, pain, insecurity, or danger. Often that choice means taking personal ownership for yourself, for your world, and for the well-being of those around you. Often that choice means allowing yourself to completely let go of all that you are not, of all of your stories and definitions, so that you may actually change and become even more- no matter how dark or difficult that change may seem to the mind. Ultimately, you have absolutely nothing to fear- the Light is always with you and within you! And when you are willing to actually accept responsibility and grow, the universe itself actively responds to your willingness.
The rigorous cruelties of the world are not signs that reality is ultimately harsh and uncaring. Rather, they are demonstrations of the incredible lengths to which love will go in the name of creation and experience. As we lose ourselves in the experience of duality, including its many seemingly darker aspects, it is easy to see the extremes of our experience in form and subsequently reach some (form-based) nihilistic or existential conclusion about the nature of existence. We may correctly identify that form does not hold the answer, even as we forget the much, much deeper meaning of our experience here.
In fact, the extremes of this world have been created in a spirit of love, joy, and even play- not in a spirit of heaviness, necessity, and misery. We have become so lost in the duality, however, that we experience much of the latter. We have become so lost in the duality that we have forgotten ourselves, and when we do that, we suffer. And yet, consistently, the enduring nature of love never tires of standing firm. It waits for us- even silently- around every corner and every experience. We may see terror- but even the opportunity to see terror is ultimately a profound gift of love. The ability to add to Creation through the experience of deep contrast is a gift of love.
The ego rejects this. But it does not see the interconnectedness and purity of love that has given birth to the valuable experience of contrast that it operates within. Thus when you decide to step past your own ego, to stop fighting “what is,” and to just be fully present with your experience without judgment or rejection, you permit yourself to take a step back towards being personally aware of the more fundamental loving nature of existence.
One of the “reasons” we are not condemned for our sub-optimal choices is that God understands that we are often acting from a place where we ourselves have not received the love that we need. Others act unlovingly, and we become hurt, and we then make choices from the resulting “darkness” that end up hurting others. We buy into negative self-perceptions because others communicated them to us. Indeed, God has great compassion for the many ways in which we have not been loved. Yet often we do not practice compassion with ourselves.
When others hurt us, it is often not about us- it is about them. They are dealing with their own life situation, their own circumstances, their own constraints, their own beliefs, and perhaps most importantly, the pain of their own experience of lack-of-love. Those that hurt us are simply acting from their own place of lack-of-love. The pain gets passed along in a chain, often from one generation to the next. But all the pain, all the failings, all the fearful actions and judgements and hurtful words- they are all arising from a place of lack-of-love.
We can break that chain. We can be brave enough to see hurtful actions for what they are: ignorance of love! Others hurt us because they hurt, and they hurt because they are temporarily blind to the love that is so nurturing to their soul. Rather than allowing ourselves to perpetuate the hurt, we can choose instead to see those hurtful actions for what they are – simple acts of ignorance to love – and put them aside! We can decide rather than to let them bring us down, to choose to respond with love instead! We can choose to love ourselves in the face of hurtful actions, and we can also even choose to love those that hurt us while they are acting from their place of lack-of-love. This is a truly powerful choice! For choosing to meet the hurtful actions of another with love meets the problem at its source: it meets the hurt by giving it what it actually needs- LOVE! Doing so allows the powerful light of Source to slip in to any situation. And when that happens, even miracles can and do happen!
We can break the chain of hurt- and all it takes is our own choice to meet the ignorance of love, with love!
Being able to be something (while being “not something else”) is an exciting and amazing opportunity for the spirit. “All That Is” can become even profoundly more when it- through you- can experience actually being “this and not that.” Creation gains meaning in the process. Right now as you experience your own identity and circumstances, you are participating in that very valuable process.
As we participate in that process, we end up being deeply mired in the dualism (being “this and not that”). We become so entrenched in the perception of duality, and we focus on it so much, that we become “lost” in it. We forget all else. We might even say that in a sense we are currently “addicted” to form. We are often addicted to thinking, to defining, to quantifying, to identifying. It is common to be addicted to these things when one is existing in a dualistic reality such as ours, as such stark dualism is a remarkably alluring and rich experience!
However, it is worthwhile to note while we are here that our larger state of being always transcends all of the form. Our awareness itself spans incredible distances of time and space- in fact all of the distances of time and space- as well as all of the “this or that” ideas that exist here on Earth. You may be completely focused on the form, but in fact, you are fundamentally free! Those statements are not just ideas- they attempt to describe your very actual nature of being, even if you have forgotten it.
You can let go of the form. You are free enough to do that! You can let go of your judgments. You can let go of your needs. You can even let go of your thoughts themselves, and just allow yourself to be exactly with “what is,” just for the moment. You do not need to quantify or qualify anything at all. In fact, you may find that when you finally let go, the peace and joy available to you far surpasses any of the wonders available in beholding the stimulating dream that is before you.
At the most fundamental level, all life is connected to all life. All life is a part of all other life. Everything is unified. Yet we choose to have the experience of the illusion of separation. Since being separate is not what is fundamentally actually true, we suffer when we buy into that perspective of separation. When our local perspective or belief does not align with the actual fundamental truth, we experience suffering. Our suffering is a sign that we have embraced the illusion, and forgotten ourselves within it.
Beyond our forgetting, all remains connected. Unity is the underlying truth! This is why Love and Fear are the two great themes of spirituality: Love is inclusive, accepting, unifying; Fear is dividing, rejecting, separating. Love is the move towards What Actually Is; Fear is the move toward the illusion.
As we consider spiritual ideas we are in the intellect. Yet what we are- Beingness!- is not an intellectual activity (though the intellect occurs within Beingness). The name of the game- Love!- is also not an intellectual activity. Love is a state of intention genuinely pointed toward the benefit of another over one’s self. Love is a state of intention genuinely pointed towards inclusion, acceptance, and unity. Surrender is not primarily an intellectual activity either- it is also an intent. Love and surrender can occur through an intellectual context, but they are not of the intellect. The intellect and all of its knowledge and understanding of one’s current experience is but a tool and a context: the quality of the intent of the individual who is using that tool and operating within that context is the primary force that we are here to develop.
Our primary reason for being here is the growth of “what we are” toward love. What survives bodily death then is our true selves- our Beingness- which retains its true nature. That is retained forever! Even as form falls away, the quality of the consciousness which beheld the form and did something with it, remains. To the soul, the development of that quality of consciousness is well worth the price of being physical for a while.