Our walk in the physical is a journey of experiential growth. A fundamental part of that growth is improving what Tom Campbell calls our “quality of intent”: that is, evolving our deepest “why” towards love, and past fear. This movement does not occur on one axis. We are multidimensional beings, so our expansion towards love is also multidimensional.
Yet since all we remember is our experience in a universe of duality, as we explore how best to respond to questions of spirituality or morality, we sometimes assume that we should be “moving in one direction and not the other.” We sometimes imagine that there is one “axis” for any given spiritual or moral choice, and as spiritual people, we wonder if we should be moving in “one direction” along that axis. As just a few possible examples, we ask: should we always be peaceful, or is it sometimes acceptable to harm others? Should we strive and exert will to accomplish things, or relinquish effort and surrender? Should we always give when another has need, or cut them off if we feel it is best for them? We might even include: should we believe in religious teachings, or let them go?
In all these deliberations, the paramount question we should be asking ourselves is: why are we making the choice that we are? Are we truly motivated by the best interest of the other and of the whole, or are we actually motivated to protect or serve ourselves?
As we genuinely explore that question, we find that even in love, different circumstances may demand different answers.
It may be meaningful then to recognize that as we refine the quality of our intent towards love, when it comes to making spiritual or moral choices, there are two important ways that we spiritually grow:
The first is that we grow strong in being able to perform in any given direction. Put another way: we strengthen a given virtue. We see “how far” and “how deep” we can go in making any given choice, even when the circumstance is difficult. So in response to the above examples: we learn how to be peaceful, even in the face of conflict; and we learn how to be courageous and to intervene when necessary, even in the face of danger. We learn how to strive and exert great effort; and we learn how to release control and surrender. We learn how to be selfless and give all that we can, even at the expense of the self; and we learn when and how to refuse. We learn when and how deeply to put our faith in the ideas of our world; and when to go one’s own way. Any one of these or many thousands of other aspects of experiential learning can be its own lesson: sometimes we can spend an entire lifetime or more just “learning” one type of strength. But each of these qualities, and a great many more, have their meaningful place in consciousness-based Creation.
The second is that we refine our ability to best discern which choice- which “force”- to employ in any given circumstance. We grow in wisdom. As we learn from our experiences and repeatedly live the results of our own intentions, we experientially develop discernment which is unobscured by ego. We develop clarity of awareness when appraising both external and internal environments such that we can appropriately identify and acknowledge what will best serve the whole. We grow in our ability to make the best choice for the betterment of the other, and we refine our ability to identify and select that choice even when the circumstances are complex and even when the personal costs may be great.
Both of these types of growth are precious to the spirit! The spirit seeks to mightily develop both as it journeys through lifetimes.
Both of these types of growth contribute towards the expansion of Love! Love is not on one axis- it encompasses them all! Love encompasses many virtues: peace, and bravery; will, and release; charity, and discipline; faith, and self-reliance; rest, and service; self-love, and love for others; confidence, and humility; prudence, and sacrifice; and many, many more.
In truth, the two listed above are not separate, and these dualistic ideas are very crude representations of the complex evolution of intent. But for us rooted in duality, it can be helpful to recognize that there is not one teaching or behavior that can fully communicate what it means to grow spiritually. Rather, each of us should do our best to meet our experience fully, genuinely, and selflessly, wherever we are, without necessarily leaning on a given belief or axis. This open approach helps us to use the human experience for all it is meant to be and facilitates growth towards love in all the many ways possible.