Fitting a Spiritual Life into an Already Busy Schedule
God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance.
--Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone
Since you are reading this, you are likely a person who feels the need or has the longing to have the spiritual be part of your life. You had to make an effort, maybe even a considerable one, to obtain this book and make the time to read it. But you did make that effort, because somehow finding a way to have a meaningful spiritual life has become important to you. This desire for the spiritual may be a new feeling for you, and you may want to explore the options. Or you may have been feeling this desire for quite a while, but have not until now found or made the time for this exploration. You may have alternatively been checking out various churches, spiritual schools or teachings. Whichever of these may describe what brought you to this point of delving into these studies of true mysticism and profound truths, I welcome you upon this way. If you open your heart and still your mind you will, through these readings, begin to have a sense of what the spiritual path really is and how you can make space for it in your life.
When people begin to feel the urge, the need and the longing to have a spiritual life, a very specific thing happens inside of their beings. When you recall that each of us is a soul and has a body, mind and feelings, you will begin to see many things differently. You will then understand why, sooner or later, whether this lifetime or another, we will all long to have a spiritual life. I am defining the word "soul" as that which we are in our essence, which travels from one life to another. Our souls have been formed and developed through all the experiences we have ever had throughout the many lives we have lived, while holding at the center of our souls, the God-Self, that spark in each of us which is pure God. It is often referred to as God within.
When you begin to long for a spiritual life or you really feel a need for it, it is actually your soul that is sounding the call to your heart and mind. It is saying that it is time for you to begin your journey toward becoming who you really are, in your essence, and toward coming into a close and clear relationship with God within you. The importance of this call arising from our souls cannot be overstated. From the point of view of the eternal part of you, nothing in all of life matters more than the undertaking of this journey. Your career does not matter to your soul, except in how it allows your soul to grow and express in certain ways, and your relationships have a similar value to your soul. Insofar as your work or career and the significant relationships in your life develop you as a being and allow you to learn love, selflessness, patience, discipline, tolerance and other positive qualities, then from the soul's point of view, they are useful. If, however, they become the central focus and the be-all and end-all of your life, they will instead get in the way of your soul's purpose and development.
Most people allow their work, their relationships and sometimes their hobbies or other interests to become the central focus of their lives. Our society condones this. People who love their partner, their children and their work above all are considered to be the best of people, especially those who love their partner and children more than anything else. Whatever happened to the great commandment that states, "You shall love your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind. And you shall have no other gods before the One God." How many of our love songs have phrases such as, "You are everything I am living for; nothing matters more to me than you; I adore you, live only for you, care about nothing but you." We tend to get all mushy about such wonderful love. How many times do you hear about people who gave up everything for their children? How many women, especially, truly believe that that is what they are supposed to be doing if they are in order to be good mothers?
This may sound shocking to you, but I am telling you that that is, in fact, a life and a value system that is out of balance. I am not saying that our committed relationships, our deep love for our partner and our immense love for our children are bad. They most certainly are not bad. They fulfill us and teach us and stretch us and sweeten our lives in so many ways. People without such relationships are often missing out on some of the best experiences that life has to offer. The problem arises when these relationships take the central place in our lives. When that happens, we have lost touch with our soul and with our soul's purpose for being in a body and living on earth.
You may be even more shocked by this next statement: All the good that a person may do, all one's charitable work, all the helpfulness one may give should not take the place of making a direct connection with God. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who is so honored and revered for all the good works she did for the poor, once said that what really matters is our prayers. She said that you can't pray all the time and you have to do something between prayer-times, so do something useful! And look at all the useful things she managed to do between doing what mattered most to her communing with God.
Here is the key to having a meaningful, deep, spiritual life while living a full life in the world. We must start by placing God and our work to come into relationship with God at the very center of our lives. We must decide to have no other gods before God. That means that our partner, our children, our work and all other activities and relationships must take second place to our quest to come into a deep and direct experience of God. When you do this, an amazing thing will happen; suddenly you will find you do have time to pursue the spiritual path. When you get your priorities straight, you will find your spiritual teacher and discover that you can fit the inner work and the work you will do with your spiritual community into your life without a problem.
Does this mean that we should neglect our children, our partner, our work and other obligations? Absolutely not. Instead, we will, through our spiritual work, learn how to become more efficient, more loving, more patient and more caring. All those around us will benefit from the new light, life and love we bring with us into all our relationships. We will uplift and bless our loved ones with the spiritual energy we will come to carry. But we first have to take that crucial step of making our spiritual lives come before all else in our lives.
Placing God and the goal of coming to know God face-to-face at the very center of your life is the one and only way to walk the spiritual path seriously and with deep, lasting results. God cannot be an afterthought to the rest of your life. You will never be able to fit God into the periphery of your life. If you try to do that, you will find that it doesn't work. You will never find enough time to meditate, pray or work with a spiritual teacher. Your growth will be slow and frustrating, leaving you always feeling like you should be able to do more, experience more and grow more. You will see others around you growing much faster and wonder why that is not happening for you. For many people, a nagging guilt and other bad feelings continue to surface in them about not really having made a connection with God. These feelings do not let up until they make that connection and come into a real relationship with God.
When God and your relationship with God take center stage in your life and you begin to work with a teacher, you will be amazed at how fast you start having spiritual experiences and how you will grow and transform. In the school where I teach, every student gets individual instruction and guidance from a priest or teacher on a bi-weekly basis. Everyone is given spiritual exercises and studies to do which are right for them and which will launch their spiritual life into high gear. This is the kind of instruction you will need to find if you really want to move into the deeper spiritual realities. Reading books and working on your own or with a group of peers can only take you so far but those will not take you into the deeper spiritual realities. .
The spiritual path is not vague or unclear as to where it leads. It may seem so to those who have not walked it. Real spiritual teachers of any of the great world religions' inner paths (whether they be Sufi, Buddhist, Shaman, or mystical Jewish or Christian) will all teach the same path. They will teach it different ways, and some of those paths are significantly faster than others. But the steps will be the same because all of them will lead you from where you are now, through working with the light and receiving initiations, which bring the light into your body, to where you come into a face-to-face relationship with God within you. Nothing in your life could be more important. Nothing will bring more joy and peace and depth to your everyday. It all begins with giving God back God's rightful place at the center of your life.
As I said earlier, the soul is the one that calls out to your heart and mind, filling you with a desire to have a meaningful spiritual life. That you are reading this now is an indicator that your soul may already be calling to you in this way and that you are hearing it. Until a person's soul calls out, that person will have no interest in that which is spiritual. If you mention something spiritual to a person whose soul has not called out to him, he will likely stare at you blankly, or he will misunderstand and interpret what you said as being something different. But once your soul calls you, it will take considerable effort on your part to shut it up. You can shut it up if you try hard, but the longing to become whole and to have a deep relationship with God will leave an empty feeling in you if you do not find a way to respond to it.
Once you do decide to make this the most important thing in your life, as I stated before, you will need to find someone to teach you. The mystical path, which is the path we work with and teach, is one in which each individual comes into his or her own experiences rather than accepting someone else's teachings about God. Anyone embarking on this path and wanting to go far will absolutely need a teacher. The universe set it up this way to make sure that only those who are humble enough to ask someone to teach them and who will follow direction will rise up to teach others. It works very well to weed out the proud and arrogant early on the path. For one cannot seek to know God without becoming humble and becoming willing to be led.
I want this to be clear and simple for you, so that you know what you will need to do if you want to follow your soul's urgings: 1) You need to make your spiritual life the top priority in your life around which you build everything else. 2) You need to find someone to teach you and begin studying with him or her. If you have found a good teacher, from there on all will be guided, and you will come to achieve your goal according to how much you are willing to be transformed by the new truths and experiences of the divine that you will have. Being between a rock and a hard place refers to being between the rock, which is a symbol of the God-Self at the center of your being, and the hard place, which is the world in which we live. You will have to navigate that journey from the hard place to the rock, from the outer world to the inner. There your soul will be filled. There it will find peace. There you will become who you truly are and will be able to fulfill your mission on earth.
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