The process of evolving is by definition a gradual one. Our evolution then—our personal growth and development—is a journey. As we grow, we’ll become increasingly aware of this process; it will become its own organic reality that communicates itself to us.
This process has its own laws and sequences, its own rhythm and supreme wisdom. It marches to the beat of its own drummer, following its own inner meaning. At first, as we embark on a spiritual path, we will occasionally have a vague sense of this. But as we go along, becoming more firmly anchored in truth inside ourselves, we will see how this process takes on a life of its own. It unfolds as though it is a living event. Which it is.
The mistake we make is that we think this process comes about as a result of our decision to follow such a path—a spiritual path in which we want to find and develop ourselves. We would be wrong. This process always exists. For everyone. The only difference is that now we are aware of it. When we “enter a spiritual path,” all we are doing is focusing our awareness on something that has always been there. Big whoop. Actually, it is a big deal to now be noticing what’s going on. Because now we can involve our ego in this process, rather than letting it lag behind.
Consciousness isn’t something that happens suddenly. It’s a waking-up process. This must include waking up our ego. Then we wake up to something that has always been there. We will begin to perceive subtle states of being in ourselves and others. We will make new connections between people and things. And we will see how everything fits together. Note, this is not the same as seeing a “sequence of events,” which is also a function of the mind that creates the illusion of time.
So our goal is not to expand our consciousness—consciousness has always been there—but we can expand our awareness of it. The problem is that our limited minds don’t perceive what is there. But the less limited our minds become, the more we will be capable of perceiving. It’s when our minds are slumbering that we confuse cause and effect, looking through the wrong end of the telescope and becoming more confused.
We may periodically have the universal dream of either riding on a train or being about to take a train. In the dream, we are anxious that we may miss it, have missed it, or are getting off the train. Almost everyone has this kind of recurring dream. They convey our relationship to being on the journey of evolution. For those who don’t have train dreams, this is not some kind of proof that we’re always on the right track. It may be that our unconscious has not been successful in getting messages all the way through to our consciousness. Or we may be getting our messages in a different form.
So, do we follow the movement of the train, or do we stay behind? The process is like the train that continues on its way, but the ego consciousness has a choice to make: Should I stay or should I go now? We may not always choose consciously, but we do always choose intentionally.
For instance, if we choose to go on a path of self-searching, hoping to find more meaning in life, we are making a choice. Just as we are making a choice when we choose not to do this, regardless of our believable rationales and convincing excuses. When we live any day as though it doesn’t matter, we are making as active a choice as when we decide to listen within and figure out what is going on. It’s as much a choice to be passive and inert as it is to be active and take initiative. Choices, choices, choices. Do we want to follow our inner evolutionary process or stay behind? We got options.
What determines the choice we will make? It may partly be about giving in to our fear that is always lurking in the background. Or we may be digging in the heels of our resistance. But both of these are so tragically misplaced. Because if there’s anything we should be fearing and resisting, it’s the stagnation that happens when we won’t go with the flow of our inner process—when we won’t get on that train—denying the wisest and most meaningful reality we could ever conceive of.
This is a weighty decision. It’s bigger than “should I enter a spiritual path or not?” And it includes the question: Am I willing to be all-in? From one side of our mouth we may be saying “all aboard,” but nevertheless, we’re holding something in reserve. “I am willing to go so far, but no further. I will take this train to the next stop, but not all the way to the end. But I will want you to think I am still on the train, because, you know, I got on the train.”
It’s possible, in our psyches, to be on the train in some areas, but holding out on the boarding platform in others. The places in our lives where we won’t get on the train count heavily. Because they create an imbalance in us. It’s like a discrepancy in our soul. Did we try to get off the train and hang out at the train station, hoping to jump back on the train at a later time? Do we not realize that the train doesn’t wait? Our inner processes are following a movement that has its own innate plan. When the ego gets off, the inner movement goes on. It is then so much harder to catch up again. When we find ourselves in such a predicament, we will experience long, drawn-out states of disharmony—depression and anxiety—along with crisis and upheaval. So then, all aboard?
Let’s be realistic here. It’s impossible to always be following our inner movement faithfully 100% of the time. If we were that aware, we wouldn’t be here on this dualistic planet. The human state is what results from our disconnection. And so we need to struggle to once again find that connection with our inner reality. There is not a single human being then—no matter what spiritual path we’re on—who can boast of never going through periods of darkness.
It’s inevitable that we will go through rough patches. These are protracted states of escape and resistance to looking at ourselves in truth. And in a way, this is a good thing. Our everyday difficulties become signposts that remind of us why we are here. They spur us on to redouble our efforts and regain harmony within ourselves.
So what’s the sitch—are we committed to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Are we ready to stop avoiding what needs healing, surrendering our will to God’s will. We are the only ones qualified to give a truthful answer here; and if we wish to know the honest-to-goodness truth, we will know it. We only need to look at where we hold back, denying the holy process our inner movement into divine reality.
If we peer into the simple core of our fear and resistance, we’ll find that, bottom line, we don’t trust divine reality. We don’t trust our own Higher Self, and we don’t trust God or his will for us. We’d rather trust our own ego with its puny defenses and protective walls, no matter how destructive these are. “This may be regrettable,” we say, “But since I trust them more than I trust God, I’m sticking with them.”
Holding on to the false reality we create with our misconceptions about life, our strategic defenses and our illusory fears, somehow makes us feel safe. Or so we believe. We’re lazy and easily lured by the line of least resistance. We particularly enjoy the illusion that we aren’t required to move along on our evolutionary journey; we deny that such a thing even exists.
So we trust stagnation but distrust the beauty of the inner movement. We trust our denial of the truth, and distrust the truth. And we trust closing ourselves off to any messages that arise from our inner self. We don’t give the truth-finding process half a chance by attempting to confront what’s inside us and finding out how trustworthy God really is.
Meanwhile, we lament the way life constantly disappoints us. Yet we refuse to connect this with the way we routinely trust the wrong things. For example, we trust in wishful thinking. We believe that “what we don’t know won’t hurt us.” And we deny that we are missing the boat on meeting our own potential.
In this way, we create illusions, deny reality, become more disconnected, feel sad, confused and empty—and then choose not to understand why, preferring to accuse life of being bad. We fear the beauty that life could be and resist the truth. All of this may not apply to all of ourselves, but even if it applies just a little, it’s a waste.
The notion of an “illusory reality” may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not. We constantly make up stories about life that simply aren’t true, causing us to live in this temporary state of illusion. That’s what life on planet Earth is, you know. It’s a prime example of an illusory reality, and inside us is everything we need to wake up to the truth of this.
This brings us to the next aspect to consider along our evolutionary journey. Which is that everything that happens has meaning. Every mood or life event—big or small, inner or outer—is a message. And it’s up to us to decide to decipher them. Or not. If we make an effort, we’ll succeed in sorting things out. But it won’t all lay out in front of us immediately, and the process won’t be a straight line.
But sure as spring follows winter, the meaning of everything will unfold. The more this happens, the more peace we will know; our joy will expand. Know too that nothing will take on deeper meaning without our commitment and a serious effort. We have to put some skin in this game. Otherwise life will seem sterile and filled with anxiety.
It can be frightening to feel like we live in a haphazard world where events seem confusing and meaningless. Where life is a burden. But then we start to perceive how incredibly meaningful everything is. That there’s a much wider wisdom and purpose behind every event. And that there’s a deep connectivity woven throughout the totality of our lives. Well, then fear and confusion must vanish. Because everything we experience will start to have meaning.
Usually, though, we just put things aside. We chock up our emotional reactions and moods to the “that’s so random” nature of the universe. We think “if only this or that would happen,” or “if only so-and-so would do such-and-such”. Then all would be well. It’s no wonder we become depressed, anxious and confused.
We need to flip things around, assessing everything that happens in every hour of every day, and asking, “How is this a message? What does this reflect to me? How is this a sign of the total picture of my life that I am not yet grasping?” With this kind of open inquiry, we will get meaningful answers; reality will reveal itself to us. Then all the little pieces in our lives will start to fall into place. And we’ll sort out the puzzle that is our life.
Strange as this may seem at first, there isn’t anything we experience that doesn’t need to happen exactly as it does. This isn’t because a God-in-the-sky is meting out punishments and rewards; that kind of thinking totally misses the point. Rather, our experiences are the net result of where we are on our journey. This is our own personal process. And we cannot in this moment be in any other place than where we are right now.
To be angry, self-rejecting or impatient about where we are in our growth process is akin to a child being upset because it is not yet an adult. We can likely all agree that that would be foolish. If we’re halfway grown up, there’s no value in scolding ourselves—or anyone else, for that matter—for where we are. Moreover, if we reject our current state and get angry about it, we put up barricades that prohibit the train from moving.
On the physical level, it is clear that if we restricted our bodies from growing, we would cripple ourselves. It’s no different with our mental processes. We stunt our growth when we’re impatient about our current state. We end up hating ourselves, denying this, feeling guilty and projecting this onto others. That’s how we cripple ourselves from expanding our consciousness—that’s how we miss our train.
There are a number of spiritual laws that govern this whole evolutionary process; two are worth pointing out. The first is that the more advanced we are on our spiritual journey—the further down the tracks we have gone—the greater will be our potential to be aware of this process and understand it. Commensurately, the greater will also be the repercussion if we don’t develop to our full potential. If we’re “old enough” to know better, we need to do better.
So if we’re ready to follow a demanding path of self-exploration but we don’t do it, we will not find peace, joy or meaning in our lives. This is not true for someone who simply hasn’t reached the same point on such a path. The repercussions for our inner discrepancy may not show up as tragedies, although that could be part of it, but may be more like a chronic state of depression, anxiety or feeling disconnected. Perhaps we are generally committed to our own growth and healing, but we hold some part of ourselves back out of fear, shame, secrecy or the wishful thinking that it won’t matter. The blindness that inevitably results, even if it’s only momentary, may be puzzling—and it will momentarily rob us of peace.
We can search for this blindness by exploring our daily moods: What do they reveal about our process? We don’t have to let discrepancies between our ego and inner process accumulate until they become seriously disturbing. Our work is to sift through any unpleasant feelings—which are not a punishment but rather the grace of God at work—giving us the incentive to open our eyes and not stagnate.
Every single day we can use our experiences, praying for the guidance to be open, to understand and to trust God’s will. Then we can let go and be carried by the process. If we keep this up, we have the potential to create a faultlessly peaceful and happy life.
The second law to mention is about making connections. When we connect the dots, the process rolls forward splendidly. When we duck and run, the process goes into hiding and the events we could have learned from will seem isolated and unsettling. There are two kinds of connections to make: the ones between what’s happening in our outer and inner worlds, and then between the inner attitudes that may, at first glance, not seem to be related.
We can only make connections between outer events and inner reactions if we are aware that—what do you know—there’s a connection. When we open to it, the deeper meaning will, sooner or later, be communicated to us. As we start to see the intrinsically meaningful nature of all events and how they fit into our path, we’ll gain a far greater understanding of life.
Regarding the connections between seemingly random inner aspects, we’re going to discover that apparently unrelated problems—including all our faults and conflicts—are directly connected. Say, for example, what could possibly be the connection between not having a fulfilling relationship and feeling blocked in our career? Or what’s the link between being greedy and pushy and not feeling sexually satisfied? Or between being submissive, on the one hand, and covertly hostile on the other?
Finding the connection between disparate events will lend us a wholesome sense of meaning, with our world no longer seeming so fragmented and capable of making us anxious. The parts of the whole must all fit together; there can’t be anything in our lives that doesn’t connect with everything else, whether good, bad or indifferent. Positive links with positive, and negative links with negative, but positive and negative also share a connection on an inner level.
Here’s a good opportunity to use our fine reasoning faculties, giving our brains a little exercise. This is the active aspect of the activity. Then we must let go and allow insights to surface from within, as our intuitive faculties spring to life and well up with connections. When this happens, everything will take on a whole new shape.
The more we make the deliberate choice to explore what our outer life means for our inner process, the more exhilarated our consciousness will become. We’ll be more energized, more joyful, and more secure about the meaning of life—not just this present life, but also the larger evolutionary process in which this one little lifetime is an important link as part of a very long chain.
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