It's taken me years - and years - to reach a willingness to want to share my own spiritual life with others. Even speaking about some of my own experiences outside the sanctuary of the dialogues shared with my own spiritual director has required months of reflective decision time. I am extremely private about my inner life. I encourage people all the time to "stay off the radar" spiritually, to keep silent about matters unfolding in their soul, especially when rumblings actually begin, and to truly discover what it means to pray. I live by these rules. I have for as long as I can recall.
I have learned so much along the path of my own life and to be honest, I have had an on-going love/hate battle with mysticism and my own call to that journey for years. I suspect this struggle will be on-going. But on the love side of that path, I remain awestruck by the absolute truth - the huge, cosmic, beautiful truth - that life is genuinely a spirit-driven experience. That one truth, if understood as a "mystical truth", frees the human mind from so much suffering, as it disarms our compulsion to make life yield to our desire for logic, order, personal justice, and control.
Every one of these compulsions stem from personal fear, for who actually shares their sense of what is logical with another person? As for justice - well, every person believes he or she is "in the right". So, what exactly is "just and fair" in this world? And as for this business of being controlling, let's face it - every person needs to exert a measure of order and responsibility in life. But we enter into the sphere of madness and insanity when we break the boundaries of the natural order of life, believing that we can - and should - control the balance of nature. Now we are tampering with laws that are out of our league, if for no other reason than we are too immature to consider long-range consequences. We think in terms of profit instead of nature-consequences. We have so tampered with our own "thinking mechanism" out of fear and greed that we can no longer "discern" our own disaster-driven collective mentality.
So, why am I even speaking in such a voice to you? What do such thoughts have to do with spiritual direction or prayer - or you? Well, in these past months on the road teaching, I have read your FB postings every day, though I have not had the chance to respond on-line because (believe it or not), I do not travel with a laptop. I read your postings via my cell phone.
I love the many comments from all of you who regularly read my daily thoughts that are posted. I so appreciate your sharing those postings that are meaningful to you.
l take time to read the postings of those in the Spiritual Direction classes because I know that all of you are now walking an inner path together. You have dwelled on the same questions, you have "gone down deep" into the same stillness of yourselves together, and you have reached out to each other from the first day, forming a loving, supportive spiritual community.
Combined together, your insights and the sharing of your thoughts and often pieces of your life stories in the moment add to the insights that I have gathered and continue to gather on why spiritual direction is so essential to people at this time in our lives. For the past few years, I focused so much of my attention on world changes and the impact these tumultuous times are having on us as individuals and as a society. And of course, that impact is unparalleled. But of equal or greater value - at least to me - is what I am learning about how each of us is absorbing these extraordinary times within the confines of our ordinary lives. We are truly leaving everything familiar and venturing into the unknown.
For what do we really know about living in a fully high-tech society? Nothing - yet, but rules and laws and systems are rapidly changing to accommodate technology faster than we can even learn about it. And what do we really know about decisions being made to change the policies of our country? They are happening so fast that we cannot keep up with them. And what do we really grasp about what kids are being taught in school - or not being taught? Everything around us is moving faster than we can grasp.
The truth is that change is now immediate. One decision in this country impacts all nations. Change is now universal, touching everyone in some way. One person can influence the whole via his or her computer - just like that. This fact is a "technical example" of the mystical teaching that "What is in one is in the whole" and "What you do to one is done to all". Technology has caught up to mystical teachings, dare I say.
Part of venturing into the unknown includes our realizing that all traditional religions are disintegrating in front of our eyes. When I mention this is a lecture, I often hear applause, but I don't think those clapping grasp the full consequences of what this dismantling of religions actually signifies. Most often the applause is aimed at the ending of the Catholic/Christian Church; specifically the priests and pedophilia crisis. So that acknowledged, traditional religions need to get dismantled for far more profound reasons than criminal activities. Rather, all of their collective spiritual mythologies are no longer able to sustain the collective consciousness of the modern day technical-minded human being. All of them have failed to evolve to modern day stories, to keep up with the Jones's, as they say. They need to dissolve in order for something more truthful for the collective soul to emerge.
That something else is where you come in. While many people today shun the idea of going anywhere near a traditional religion, that sentiment does not lessen in any way a person's inherent desire to find a meaningful path in life. No one wants to live a meaningless life - at least no one I've met. And though we now prefer words like "purposeful and meaningful", such language is just contemporary-speak for matters related to the soul.
Because we are the sojourners in this era experiencing the dismantling of the familiar world of traditional religion, we have yet to find our comfort zone spiritually or even articulate our spiritual needs. Yet we are already well on our way to creating an entirely new external and internal spiritual landscape reflective of our psychologically/emotionally/
The way we now relate to the world around us - and within us - has been completely transformed; that's the obvious part. The not-so-obvious part of this mind-blowing transformation is the spiritual price people pay for living lives that move too fast, are far more isolated than they can handle, and lack a community of people that help a person sustain his or her ethics, morals, and integrity. Further, without such a spiritual community of some sort in which expectations are of righteous character and soul rather than profit, a person risks slipping into the darker psychic fields of shame, guilt, hopelessness, and fear. We need people to be able to share our weaknesses with - as well as our strengths - and without shame. We need to come into a group for guiding before we make a decision; not just afterwards because we feel bad. (FYI: The second Spiritual Directions course, Jewels at the Well, includes a session on the Dark Night of the Soul, examining the difference between a spiritual and a psychological crisis.
It is my deep belief that as we forge ahead in these times, more and more people will come to understand that they are being "called" not to BE extraordinary, but to LEARN all that is extraordinary about their own spiritual nature. Though we are moving beyond the old religious beliefs, as we should, the mystical truths - and I do mean truths - that are sacred and holy to Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, for example, will endure because they speak of the mystical laws that govern this Universe. And what you are now learning about the mechanism of your own consciousness is merely an expression of these laws (thought creates form).
I am now completing the course work for Drinking From the Well, which is the third Spiritual Directions class. Each course follows the natural progression of how the soul unfolds within in union with your own life. I have said for years that we are all being called to be "mystics out of monasteries" and I believe that more than ever. We are living at this incredible time of learning how it is our soul actually engages with the dynamics of creation. In Drinking From the Well, I will introduce in one lecture, for example, a mystical perspective to commonly asked questions, such as, "What is healing grace?" and "How does healing at a distance work? How can I help others to heal?" And in another class, we will confront the deeper spiritual mysteries that inevitably arise, such as coping with suffering and hardship. The full course description will be posted shortly.