“So we will go straight to St. Teresa, and inquire of her what was the method by which she taught her daughters to gather themselves together, to capture and hold the attitude most favorable to communion with the spiritual world. She tells us … that the process is a gradual one. The method to be employed is a slow, patient training of material which the license of years has made intractable. …
“The real mystical life, which is a truly practical life, begins at the beginning; not with supernatural acts and ecstatic apprehensions, but with the normal faculties of the normal man. ‘I do not require of you,’ says Teresa to her pupils, ‘to form great and curious consideration in your understanding, I require of you no more than to look.’
“It might be thought that such looking at the spiritual world, simply, intensely, without cleverness, … was the essence of contemplation itself; and indeed one of the best definition has described that as a ‘loving sight,’ a ‘peering into heaven with the ghostly eye.’” ~Evelyn Underhill
The two major things St. Teresa says is generally accepted in all real spiritual schools. First, becoming spiritual, becoming enlightened, is a process, not a single event (with a few, very rare, exceptions). It is a process that is gradual and takes years to accomplish. You don’t become enlightened by simply joining a church or spiritual school anymore than you become rich by buying the latest issue of Forbes magazine. You have to follow the teachings of the spiritual school regularly and you will progress gradually until you can truly claim to be enlightened.
The second major point is found in the phrase, “I require of you no more than to look”. What that simply means is that you must approach spiritual enlightenment with an open mind. If you have too many strong, preconceived notions of what God is, what the spiritual worlds are like, what is really behind the illusion of matter, etc. you can’t be forming an image in your mind of what you believe those things to be and expect them to be replaced with the true image. As the Oriental sages put it, you must empty the cup before you can fill it again. If you have a cup already full of water, and then try to fill it with wine, you will simply spill the wine on the ground and what remains in the cup will be almost all water. Clearly, you should empty the water first before you try to fill the cup with wine. Even if you are not entirely successful at dumping out the water (false beliefs), the more you do empty out, the more wine you get in the cup. So all real spiritual schools and spiritual teachers encourage students to have an open mind about everything and to study widely to help clear out those false or distorted beliefs.
Underhill tells us that this open-minded approach is the best way to look upon the spiritual world. What she doesn’t go into, at least not in this section, is how does one going abut looking at the spiritual world. Here is a hint: Satan is found in darkness, God and angels are found in Light, so look to the greatest light around you to see into the world of spirit. Underhill does hint at how to see the spiritual when she says, “a ‘peering into heaven with the ghostly eye’”. What she is saying with that statement is that we see the spiritual with the spiritual and the material with the material, so just as the eyes of our material body see matter, we need to open our spiritual eyes to see the spiritual with any clarity. To open our spiritual eyes, we must awaken our spiritual faculties and that we do by taking in the spiritual Light that originate with God.