Developing Our Spiritual Foundation
I have met many people over my lifetime that are seeking enlightenment or pursuing greater awareness. This is wonderful and can be very beneficial if done properly; however, it is not always the panacea that many believe it will be. The reason is that developing ourselves requires more than knowledge, it requires us to build our awareness on many levels and in many areas so that we stay in balance as we grow. When we are out of balance we find that we can feel disconnected from those in our lives or from the world as a whole.
I am intimately and personally aware of how this can affect people. It can lead to general unhappiness, disillusionment and even angry, a sense of abandonment or even withdraw from ones daily life. As someone who shares knowledge that can aid people in developing their awareness it is incumbent upon me to also assist people in building a strong foundation so as to avoid these problems. This is the purpose of this composition.
If we look back we can see that for most of our history the path of enlightenment has been guarded by groups devoted to keeping and protecting the knowledge. In order to gain access to the knowledge, or as some would say secrets, they required aspirants to follow a strict path. People had to show, through years of work, that they were worthy to have and ready for the “secrets” they guarded. This is due in part to the egos of those in these groups as well as to keep the knowledge out of the wrong hands where it could be abused, but also because they knew that one cannot reach the heights of awareness without building a strong base upon which to stand.
The knowledgeable Master observes their students continually and could help guide them along a path. This helps the student develop themselves and their base of knowledge so that they could reach higher without the risk of their succumbing to basal needs or falling into confusion and uncertainty.
This started to change a few centuries ago when some began to disseminate the knowledge to a broader audience; however, with communications still restricted to word of mouth or through books which were not easily attainable, those who shared the information were far more likely to be in contact with those who received it and also, few were able to gain access to it. This has changed dramatically over the last century, especially in the last thirty years due to the explosive growth in communications.
Today, a growing number of people have decided to follow a more spiritual path in their life and as a result are focused on, at least in part, trying to develop their higher attributes. They are doing so because they are ready and able to do so. This is wonderful and those that do this can find they are experiencing life on levels they were not even aware were possible. This is aided by the fact that we can find information that at one time was deemed too dangerous for the general public on the shelves of bookstores, on tens of thousands of websites or by attending seminars and workshops.
Yes, it is great that we have access to vast stores of knowledge; however, what we get is bits and pieces rather than the whole picture and often we get pieces that are not aligned or even in conflict. The later being primarily due to the core differences between, for example, eastern and western schools of thought. The result is we can excel in some areas but lack an understanding of how they all fit together as well as some crucial pieces of the puzzle. This can and often does lead to one of two challenges.
The first challenge is that we may find ourselves out of balance, like a table designed for four legs having only two or three. The table becomes less stable the bigger and higher it gets. Further, by not belonging to a “formal school of knowledge” we do not access to learning that is structured to help one develop a solid foundation or base. In addition, the seeker can find they have no one to help them when they face challenges of the type I mentioned.
Everything We Build.... Needs A Foundation
Except for the most enlightened among us, everyone takes on the illusion that is commonly known as the ego. For the modern seeker who is unaffiliated with any “school of knowledge” development is focused on only a few aspects of the self. It is like developing a really big head without the neck strength to support it. It is important to remember that the illusion of life is thick, for most it is too thick to see through at this time. What they are focused on is working out the karma they brought with them in this incarnation including what they have manifested since their birth. Therefore, when they learn something, while still heavily mired in the illusion, they can find themselves stuck out on a limb.
Learning must occur on many fronts. This is why teachings, in many of the older esoteric orders, varied according to the capabilities and level of development of the student. Almost without exception, as I mentioned above, students were not given the “deeper secrets” until their teacher or the Master determined that they were ready and able to handle them. You could summarize it as “To each in their time, according to their need.”
Certainly some of this was based on the approach and thinking of the teacher, though a primary concern was that students develop themselves enough to be a suitable vessel for the knowledge. There is a reason it is called the path less traveled, and not only because there are few who take it, it is also because once you take it you can become separated from the world as you knew it to be. This can happen, for example, when we develop our awareness, or honesty and acceptance of personal responsibility to a higher level than those around us without commensurate reduction in our ego.I have seen both of these many times, the result being that those who experience it start to feel very uncomfortable with and disillusioned about by the lack of growth of those around them. Dealing with this is not necessarily easy as it can take years to develop the aspects of self needed in order to reduce this tendency.
The reality is that most of those seeking the kind of development I am referring to are doing so while they go about their lives. They did not start their deeper spiritual learning at a young age so as to build a foundation that would help them maintain balance as they shift from where they were into a higher state of awareness. They are building their “new mental house” on a foundation that does not necessarily contain the elements required for a firm one.
In the series on Awakening Our Gifts I went through the stages of development needed to become more aware and balanced. I spoke about how to keep from adding to the poor programming of our minds, which creates our ego, and how to work on the poor programming we have developed already. I went on to discuss how we should follow this with working on feeling more connected to the world around us and then about the notion of personal will versus Universal will. I listed the steps in the order I did for a reason, that reason being following this path helps one to build the foundation or base to which I am referring.
The other challenge can be that despite ones best efforts, the seeker finds themselves unable to access more of their higher awareness. This is a different issue altogether than the first case where on has developed some attributes or skills to a higher level without other skills or awareness’s that are needed to provide balance. In this case, they have may have developed more skills but none to a sufficient level to access more of their awareness. Neither of these situations is better or worse than the other, both can be problematic in different ways.
At this point you might think, regardless of which challenge you face, that this is all well and good yet wonder how to get beyond the discomfort or uncertainty you may be feeling. The answers to both of these situations are simple despite their actual complexity. Simple in that the steps themselves are not hard to understand and complex because there are so many factors that can be in play.
In either of the situations I have mentioned, resolution can be found by exploring what we are “feeling” and then looking within. What we lack within will be reflected without. In the first case, namely the development of only certain awareness’s that leads to imbalance. What we need to do is examine our reactions to our experiences as these lead us back to their source.
While there can be many reasons for our negative or problematic reactions to experiences, there are primary sources for them. If you read the Awakening Our Gift series you may remember that I listed ten areas we need to work on in order to develop our higher awareness’s (found in Part 5 of the series titled “The All and the One” (1)). Further, I grouped these ten areas into three categories. To take advantage of what was covered there I will list the primary sources for one’s discomfort under the three categories as follows:
Modification: The creation and development of our rational mind
- Thoughts that are in conflict
- Thoughts that are out of balance
- The absence of thoughts that would enable us to deal with the experience
Preparation: The impact of our thinking mind on us (its affects our thoughts, energy etc.)
- Too much lower emotional energies in our aura
- An under developed higher emotional body
Alignment: Developing and expanding our relationship with the Cosmos
- Lack of a connection to our “inner self”
- Being disconnected from those around us
- Lack of a connection to the ALL
I have mentioned numerous times that there is a great deal to learn, far more than one can learn in any one lifetime. Still, having even some of our awareness is, from our perspective, a very significant amount. We do not come into a life with the goal of learning ALL aspects in one shot. That is why it is rare for someone to have strengths in all of these areas. We come into each life with specific lessons to learn, and in order to do this we are “given” or bring with us aspects of our experiences and self that are necessary for us to do this. Further, we are born into circumstances that allow us to work on them.
Now, it is natural to follow ones strengths therefore we tend to work with these rather than our weaknesses. As a result we tend to build on our strengths and work around our weaknesses. However, much like in trying to learn calculus, for instance, if one lacks an understanding of or interest in equations, factoring polynomials or struggles with circular functions and so on, becoming proficient at calculus can very difficult even next to impossible. So it is with finding balance in our lives.
Let us say that one has started clearing old negative blocks in their awareness, perhaps limiting beliefs of self. This can improve one’s sense of honesty and personal responsibility, critical elements in growth, which in turn can improve one’s perception. This is a good thing, unless one finds that also start to become aware of a lack of honesty or responsibility in others. This can lead to questions such as “Why don’t they get it?”, “How can you not see ....?” or “Why do they need to lie about that?” and so on. One can have a hard time dealing with this, especially if it occurs with people with whom we have a close relationship. This can lead to difficulties in relating to them and not wanting to be around them. This in turn leading to various degrees of isolation, perhaps even anger if it threatens aspect of life we hold dear and do not want to lose.
When we start to develop our honesty and take personal responsibility for all that occurs in our lives, and combine this with working on our sensitivity to energy, we open up a whole new world. We also step outside the bounds the average person lives within, which can lead to the perceptions I mentioned above. The reactions (the questions are part of our reactions) come from judgments, and often judgments we are not conscious of making. The judgment is that we are more aware than they, that there is some failing in them for their lack of some quality or they are being deliberately ignorant and so forth. Make no mistake, any awareness, knowledge or skills we have acquired does not make us better than others, or reduce them in any way, it simply means we are different than we were.
I know many would say they do not feel this way, having had this conversation many times; however, the separation between us and others has a source, and that source is our reaction to what we perceive in them. This begs the question, “How does someone go about finding out when and why they are making sub-conscious judgments, what they are and then clear the thought pattern(s) that lead to them?”
To help with this let us reduce what we are to our four aspects, vehicles or bodies. When we are incarnate we have matter of all the sub-planes of the seventh plane, namely we have a physical body, an emotional body, a mental body and what many refer to as a soul or a piece of our higher or true self.
The Four Key Aspects of the Incarnate Self
You can imagine that the aspects we are most familiar with, our thoughts, feelings and physical bodies as enveloping a core that is essentially the kernel of our existence. We need to develop aspects of all of these vehicles in order to be in balance. This goes back to the list above, namely we must develop our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self.
At the physical level we must have the necessities of life, food, water and in some cases shelter for protection from the elements. At the emotional level, we need to work on developing our higher emotional aspects (compassion, devotion and affection). At the mental level we must clear the thoughts that create blocks and filters that limit our mind and at the spiritual level we must come to terms with the connectivity of all and discard notions of personal will that block this awareness. This is a holistic approach, one that recognizes that we have many aspects and that while they are “separate” they are not independent and that we must develop ourselves in a number of areas to stay in balance.
When people consider their lives they tend to see the physical first then "look up" towards their emotional, mental and spiritual self. This is actually the reverse of what is the case when we incarnate, as the higher self takes a portion of itself and it is this which descends through the sub-planes down to the physical (our bodies). So while we can start our learning from the physical aspect up, become better emotionally balanced, clear our thoughts of poor programming and start to feel our natural connection to ALL, this is only helpful to a point.
The reason for this is that there is a multiplication of expression, which means a greater degree of differentiation, as you descend or go down the sub-planes from the spiritual towards the physical. Consider that while one builds a house from the bottom up, starting with the foundation, one does not build the house without a plan, and one does not have a plan without a reason to build the home in the first place and one decides to build a house in the first place because of root need or want for a home. So, what we do in terms of our emotional and mental development must be guided by a root concept and even higher from a purely spiritual source. So, while we can work on the issues in our lives, find the emotions and then thoughts that lead to them, there is a core reason or reasons we are doing so even though we might not realize it.
Ask yourself this: “Why am I choosing to grow?” This may seem like another simple question, but it is not. Are you growing to move past issues? Are you growing to become more in balance in your life? Are you growing to have more personal power or awareness? These are all reasons to grow, which means they are part of the ego. Our higher self is in a sense aligned with the all, we however, are not. Our descent into matter has cloaked our divinity in a shroud that becomes our ego. As a result, we generally end up working from the bottom up (outside in) and we will have to deal with every single issue individually. Again, this is useful to a point but what we want to be doing is working from the top down, and the top is our core, our spirit or soul.
To help in understanding of why this is important I will reiterate an analogy I have used before. Consider the virtually endless objects we create for resting, sitting or sleeping. These things are physical manifestations, but we wouldn’t have built them without an emotional component and above that a guiding thought (as emotions are a consequence of our thoughts) and above that a root concept that encompasses all thoughts about sitting, resting or sleeping, namely the idea ofrepose.
- Root Concept: Repose
- Thoughts: to sit, to rest or to sleep
- Emotions: to sit comfortably so I can put my feel up, to sleep in a bed that is soft etc.
- Physical: rocking chair, lounging chair, couch, stool, love seat, bench, divan, a big bed, and firm bed and so on.
If we consider this in terms of spiritual growth this becomes, more or less:
- Root Concept: I am a reflection of pure unconditional love and am at one with the ALL
- Thoughts: There is only universal will (personal will is part of the ego), I care about everything that exists as I am part of the ALL and so what I do/am affects ALL
- Emotions: I care about and am devoted to ALL, I am focused on what helps ALL
- Physical: I treat others and myself with love and compassion; I help others rather than hinder them on their journey and I respect that they too are part of ALL
All Is One
For the advanced seeker this means that while we can start to work from the outside in, we must work from the inside out, from the root or core towards the physical. Everyone is here for their particular lessons and while they may seem out of alignment or imbalanced to us, they are exactly where they need to be to learn the lessons their higher self set out for them. This is why judgment holds us back; it is part of the ego and is not aligned with the root concept.
Why is treating people with respect important? If we are doing it because we think or have been told that it is important then we are working from our ego’s perspective, which is from the outside in. The fact is that, in the grand scheme of things, our respect for them is irrelevant, they are part of the ALL and are no less or more important than we are.
We find more balance when we start to accept the root concept I stated above in one form or another. We must spend time identifying and working on our core beliefs so that they are in alignment with this root concept. When I cannot look at someone who is hurt or angry with unconditional love I am operating from the perspective of my ego. The question we ask then becomes “How do I go about dealing with my ego?”
There are many ways to do this, though they all boil down to exploring our reactions. One of the best ways to do this is in meditation. If one has developed some skill in grounding, clearing and centering then can use their memory of an experience. By remembering an experience, when our minds are stiller, we can feel the emotion energy of our reaction. That energy is manifested by a thought, which is what we want to find and clear. We use the Law of Limitation (2) to do this as we must be able to isolate issues from each other, for we cannot clear them all in one fell swoop. Consider the following passage from “The Cosmic Doctrine” by Dion Fortune:
“Remember then that in all undertakings limitation is the secret of power. This does not imply, however, that you should always seek to achieve small things. Always correlate your effort with the Cosmos itself, and see your work in relation to the whole which you take in your hands. To weigh yourself against that which is greater than yourself is to be outweighed by the inertia of the mass, but to circumscribe a section of the mass and separate it from the whole, is to enable yourself to achieve piecemeal that which you cannot achieve in bulk”
We do this when we isolate a particular emotion that is out of balance. This way we can focus on it to the exclusion of others. By focusing on one particular vibration (or emotion) we can use it to lead us to the thought or thoughts that gave rise to it, similar to how a sensory perception can lead to an old memory (smells are a common trigger for this). One must learn how to listen to the emotion consciously though, and obviously it can take time to do this, especially if it is connected to buried or partially buried memories due to strong emotional elements. As the quote suggests, if we try to grasp the whole we will struggle because we are taking on too much. We can speed up this process by some direct actions.
Our judgments of others are facilitated by poor programming in our minds. All such programming, regardless of the nature of the thoughts that leads to the judgments, creates separation between us and others. We want to clear the layers of this programming that creates the separation and this means replacing the poor programming; however, what we also want to do is build new thought forms that will supplant them. This will empower our efforts as we will also begin directing our attention and hence energies in more balanced way. The question now is, “What do we supplant them?”
Judgments are based on a false notion of “good and bad”, “us and them” and are founding in a misunderstanding of the nature of people’s lives. Each and every one of us has lessons we are here to learn. There are no good lessons or bad ones, they are all merely lessons. If we observe another and find ourselves judging them then we are not accepting that whatever they are experiencing is in their best interests and is PRECISELY what they are supposed to be experiencing right here and now as are we. If we cannot accept this then we are missing or short on one or both of two other qualities: unconditional love and recognition that the Cosmos is unfolding precisely as it should.
Can we not feel for the person whose programming prevents them from being honest right now? Can we not accept that “If they could have and should have they would have?” It is all well and good to become more honest, sensitive and responsible; however, without a commensurate amount of pure unconditional love and acceptance that each of us is where we are for a reason and it is right for us we shift to judgments.
To embrace these ideas on must truly believe that there is such a thing as unconditional love, which is not an emotion at all. I spoke to this in my last essay, titled “Don’t You Know Me” (3) I stated the following:
“For example, say someone is trying to express compassion for someone but are unable to do so without conditions. This occurs when they have not developed the capacity to resonate at the higher level. As a result that love can manifest as possessiveness, anger or the need to control. How we express it ourselves or perceive it in others is dependent on what reaction capacities we have developed within ourselves. A more enlightened person might perceive the original thoughts and realize that the person is trying to express their love and are not yet capable of expressing it at a higher emotion level (high sub-plane). Someone not so aware might just see the person as being "a jerk".”
We find ourselves becoming more isolated from others because we too are isolated from our spiritual core. The result of this is that we forget that ALL is ONE. Love others because they are part of that all and do not concern yourself as to whether they are worthy of it. The fact is they are, and that we cannot see it speaks to what we are lacking and not what they may or may not be.
The Buddha taught the following to his son Rahula (from "Old path white clouds" by Thich Nhat Hahn):
"Rahula, practice loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return. Practice compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return. Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred. Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success. Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice. Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because that is. Myself and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.
I call these the four immeasurables. Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others."
Earlier I mentioned how we can use meditation to work on our issues, but as you likely know we can do a great deal more than that. In the context of this topic, one of the acts we can also undertake in meditation is we can work on our connection to our inner self and to the vibrant Cosmos around us. When we meditate, always grounding, clearing and centering when we do so, we begin to get away from having our thoughts dominate our attention and awareness. We should take the time on a regular basis to elevate our emotions and thoughts to a higher state.
We can do this by various means, some of which depend on one’s skills in meditation. For those still new to it, and that would be those who have spent less than about one hundred hours doing, is to focus your attention on the root concept of being unconditional and at one with the ALL. When you do so you might notice you have reservations about it, or start thinking about what it means. Both of these indicate that you have not yet completely accepted the idea. This is natural, the ego is strong. To counter this do not get into a tussle with yourself over whether people are worthy of your unconditional love because you already know that you are uncertain of this. Instead, continue to focus on the worthiness of the idea rather than the worthiness of others.
Imagine being unconditional with all the will you can muster. Whenever a competing thought comes forward simply tell yourself it is not relevant and resume your attention on trying to feeland be unconditional in the moment. You can work on individual thoughts that contradict this during another meditation. All you want to accomplish is to feel and be love as much as you can, for as long as you can. Tell yourself that this is where you are going, that this is your focus and hold onto the feeling of being unconditional and being one with the Cosmos. What this does is it helps us to add to our “compassionate body” which I discussed in the essay “Don’t You Know Me?” (3):
“If we do not exercise our muscles for long periods of time they will atrophy. The same applies to the energies within our vehicles (astral and mental energies within our aura), with the added condition that we may not have, for example, a well developed “compassionate body”. I put quotes around this as there is no such “body”; I am only referring to the collective energies within an aura that can express compassion.”
Those with more experience in meditation can actually focus on the particular energy they would like to develop, that is imagine the energy of compassion or devotion or affection and then allow yourself to resonate with it. The goal being to elevate our energy to the level of these vibrations and by allowing the vibrations to grow in both strength and intensity we start to become one with it. This elevates our entire auric field to a higher level of vibration. The longer we can hold it, the greater it’s influence on other thoughts and emotions that are not in sync with it. The benefit of both of these methods is that rather than reacting to, resisting or trying to block out our ego, we are moving towards something. When we react and/or resist such things we are actually keeping ourselves down because this act, that of opposition, locks up our energy and what we are trying to do is liberate ourselves from such things.
You will know you are being successful if after you have done this you can think of someone who you believe has harmed you and feel compassion for them rather than lower emotions such as hurt or anger and so on.
Up to now I have been focused on the first of the two challenges I brought up at the start. We will now look at the second which was that despite one’s concerted efforts they find that they seem unable to access more of their higher awareness. I mentioned this one second because the challenge is related to the first, in that we remind ourselves of what we are doing by asking ourselves the same question, namely “Why am I choosing to grow?”
Our development hinges on our degree of alignment with the ALL. So, the question then becomes, why are we concerned that we are not growing or developing our awareness as we think we should? The simple answer is that if we are working to reflect our being part of the ALL or as some would put it GOD, then we should accept that so long as our efforts are directed this way we are moving in the right direction.
Is our progress too slow for us? That is our ego talking. Do we want more awareness right now? This is our ego talking. I could continue but I think you get the idea. We should not measure our growth by some artificial and ego based idea of where we should be right now. We are precisely where we need to be at this point in time. If we are concerned about this then our focus should not be on how to develop our awareness more, it should be on why we feel the need to judge ourselves as being unsuccessful at this point in time.
Why are we not content that we are doing all we can right here and now? It is one thing to not exert ourselves sufficiently and not get results and quite another to exert ourselves and not get the results we expect. In the former we must examine our intent and desire (4), in the later we must examine our expectations. In this case I try to remind myself that the road is not nearly as hard as it is long, and if my intent is aligned and I am working towards it then what is, is and I will get to wherever I am going by continuing to do what I am doing. Instead of being concerned with what appears to be a lack of success, I try to focus on staying in alignment with the root concept I named above, “I am a reflection of pure unconditional love and am at one with the ALL”
This is certainly has been a long look at the issues we can face in our growth, though it is far from exhaustive. In either case, imbalanced or slow growth, we must explore the issues we have be it with others or ourselves from within. When we find ourselves struggling with matters in our daily lives either internally or in relation to others, elevating our “thoughts” towards the root concept is one of the best ways to clear some of the fog our consternation creates. We are where we need to be here and now and if we do not like where we are or what we perceive we should focus on why we feel that way. This way we can see where our thoughts are not in alignment and can work on aligning them, rather than fighting with the issues these thoughts manifest.
© 2012 Allan Beveridge
Last updated August 6, 2018