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Mystical Life and the Steps to Follow

“Here, then, is the classification under which we shall study the phases of the mystical life.

  1. The Awakening of the Self to consciousness of Divine Reality. …

  2. The Self, aware for the first time of Divine beauty, realizes by contrast … the manifest illusions in which it is immersed, the immense distance which separates it from the One. …

  3. When by Purgation the Self has become detached from the ‘things of sense.’ and acquired the virtues which are the ‘ornaments of the spiritual marriage.’ … It has awakened to knowledge of Reality. …

  4. … The final and complete purification of the Self, which is called by some contemplatives the ‘mystic pain, or ‘mystic death,’ by others … the Dark Night of the Soul. …

  5. Union: the true goal of the mystic quest. In this state the Absolute Life is not merely perceived and enjoyed by the Self, as in Illumination: but is one with it.” ~Evelyn underhill

The Mystical Life

There are many ways of breaking down the mystical life or mystic’s path into steps, and no one of them is necessarily true or absolute. They are simply a convenient way for a particular school of teacher to judge where the students are along the path. Whether you have five steps, seven, or eight doesn’t matter. Like the division of the rainbow into colors, they are somewhat arbitrary.

Not only is there overlap in the steps of the mystical life, but they are not always followed in order. There are, for example, cases where one goes through the Dark Night of the Soul to bring about the Awakening of step one. But for now, lets look at the path described by Ms. Underhill.


This step of the mystical life means a spiritual awakening, not a physical one. While the mind may be involve, it is primarily a thing of the soul. We come into the world of matter with our spiritual faculties alive, but in a dormant state. It is as if they are in a deep coma. Making those spiritual faculties active is often called “Awakening.” It may also be called “rebirth”. It is this awakening that Jesus and the apostles meant when they said we needed to be reborn. Continue reading “Mystical Life and the Steps to Follow”

Two roads, Pythagorean Y

Pythagorean Y and the Road Less Traveled

“The famous Pythagorean Y signified the power of choice and was used in the Mysteries as emblematic of the Forking of the Ways. The central step separated into two parts, one branching to the right and the other to the left. The branch to the right was called Divine Wisdom and the one to the left Earthly Wisdom. …The neophyte must then choose whether he will take the left-handed path and, following the dictates of his lower nature, enter upon a span of folly and thoughtlessness …. or whether he will take the right-handed road and … regain union with the immortals in the superior spheres.
“It is probably that Pythagoras obtained his concept of the Y from the Egyptians, who included [it] in certain of their initiatory rituals.” ~Manly P. Hall

Pythagorean Y

I don’t think the Pythagorean Y is as famous today as Mr. Hall indicates, but the idea of the forking of the ways certainly is. Many, however, think of this decision symbol as representing something much simpler like deciding which profession to go into or who to marry. While we make many decision in our lives, only one is the Y. That one decision is whether we want to follow the path of materialism or the path of spirituality. All other decisions are secondary. And I have no doubt that poet Robert Frost was really talking about this in his “The Road Not Taken” where the wise traveler eventually chose the “one less traveled”. The path less traveled is the spiritual path.

Right or Left?

Unfortunately, choosing the correct path is not as simple as it sounds. It is not just choosing right over left. It is not always obvious which is the path less walked. Here are some hints.

  • The easy path – This is almost always the wrong path. The only exceptions might be if your father is a spiritual teacher or you were born into a very spiritual family. Then the easy path would be to stick with your family, and it would also be the correct path.
  • The popular path – When we are young we often think that if something is popular, it must be good. Just think of restaurants. The places selling the junkiest fast food are often the most popular while the ones selling a healthy and well-prepared meal are less so. Popular doesn’t mean good, and it doesn’t mean correct. This is usually the wrong path.
  • The moneyed path – It is always tempting to take the path where one can make the most money. The rampant materialism of the day encourages this. We idolize those who make great sums of money. Sometimes, we make movies about them. We write books about them. But greed is not and never will be a virtue. We do have to make a living in this world, but beyond that, choosing the moneyed path is the wrong choice.
  • The moral path – Choosing a path of moral values is a good choice. A path that values people and values life. A path that values fair play and honesty. You can’t go wrong taking that path.
  • The environmental path – a path that cares for the environment we all have to live in is generally a good choice. A spiritual person values all life and that means caring for the environment.

That is not a complete list, but it hopefully helps. Continue reading “Pythagorean Y and the Road Less Traveled”

Seeking more, Supreme Good, Spiritual Evolution, Everywhere Church

Seeking Truth, God, and Heaven

“We find in all the mystics the strong sense of a mysterious spiritual life—a Reality—over against man, seeking him and compelling him to its will. It is not for him, they think, to say that he will or will not aspire to the transcendental world. Hence sometimes this inversion of man’s long quest of God. The self resists the pull of spiritual gravitation, flees from the touch of Eternity; and the Eternal seeks it, tracks it ruthlessly down. The Following Love, the mystics say, is a fact of experience, not a poetic idea. … Man, once conscious of Reality, cannot evade it.” ~Evelyn Underhill

Seeking the Seeker

According to Ms. Underhill’s interpretation of mystical writings, the great mystics believed that God was seeking us even more than we seek Him. On the other hand, God will not force us to awaken and become spiritual; it must be our choice. In that, we can agree with her.

She also says that, according to these same mystics and prophets, God needs us more than we need Him. That I cannot agree with. Yes God seeks us and desires very much to bring us back to the fold, but only because he loves us. He can, however, function quite well without us.

By Underhill’s interpretation, we would be justified in believing that we can do just about anything we want to and get away with it. God will, in the end, forgive everything because he desperately needs us back. Much like the football team that ignores the crimes of the star player because they need him.

But heaven is not at all like a football field. It is a place of the perfected, and only the perfected. So while God certain does want us to return there, if we are unwilling to do what it takes to make that happen, He will not just allegorically shrug His shoulders, and let us in anyway. Continue reading “Seeking Truth, God, and Heaven”

Heaven Bound

The Path of the Heaven Bound

“The narrow way to which perpetual ascension into Heaven and imitation of Christ is this. Thou must despair of all thy own power and strength, for in and by thy own thou can not reach the Gates of God. … Also thou must resolve to watch and guard thy mind, thoughts, and inclinations that they admit no evil into them, neither must thou suffer thyself to be held fast by temporal honor or profit. … Thy will must be wholly pure and fixed in a firm resolution never to return to its old idols any more. … Thou must also forgive all thy outward enemies and resolve to meet them with thy love, that there may be left no Creature, Person, or Thing at all able to take hold of thy will and captivate it; but that it may be sincere.” ~Jacob Boehme

Heaven Bound Path

Boehme’s words from several centuries ago may be difficult to follow because of the different uses of words today and because translations are rarely 100% accurate (since Boehme was German, so I assume his books were originally written in German).  Spiritual insight allows us to make sense of them.  First he tells us that the path to Heaven is a narrow one. By that, he means that it is a difficult one and one that has certain rules and laws if you are to succeed. Some spiritual groups today, as in the past, will say that all paths lead to heaven, must as they used to say all roads lead to Rome. Try getting on a road twenty kilometers south of Rome and heading straight south and see how soon you get to Rome. The direct path is generally best, and Boehme is talking about taking that path rather than walking around in circles for many years until you die. Continue reading “The Path of the Heaven Bound”