“Nothing is more certain than this; first that we shall never know the spiritual world unless we give ourselves the chance of attending to it, clear a space for it in our busy lives; and next, that it will not produce its real effect in us, unless it penetrates below the the conscious surface into the deeps of the instinctive mind, and molds this in accordance with the regnant idea. If we are to receive the gifts of the cultus, we on our part must bring to it at the very least what we bring to all great works of art that speak to us: that is to say, attention, surrender, sympathetic emotion. Otherwise, like all other works of art, it will remain external to us.” ~Evelyn Underhill
This is something I have said more than once: those who can’t find God, those who can’t experience anything spiritual are simply not looking for it. Many of them are so egotistical, they actually expect God to go after them, rather than the other way around.
Ms Underhill tells us that even seeking out the spiritual regularly is not enough. We need it to penetrate below the surface. What this really means is that we can’t just look for it, we must open up to it, let it fill us, let it take control of us, at least briefly. Only then can our souls be truly awakened to the Light and be nourished and enlightened by it.
I had not thought of using the analogy or art appreciation, but it is a good choice. Whether it be a painting, a piece of music, or a great poem, letting yourself be absorbed by it, becoming a part of it’s world, is the best way to totally appreciate it. We have probably all experienced this at least once with a movie or TV show where we become so involved in it that we start rooting for the hero, or crying when Ol’ Yeller dies, etc. We become so involved, that we actually become part of it. That is the way we need to approach spiritual growth and enlightenment. If you approach it only like a historian reading about it, the best you can do is become a spiritual historian, not an enlightened person. This is true even if the book you study is the Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads, or other books considered scripture. Reading books can only take you so far. You need to experience spirituality. You need to actually practice spiritual techniques. You need to let it fill your mind and soul and spirit. Only then can you truly become enlightened. But don’t expect it to happen overnight. Like all great things, it takes time.