steps of illumination

Steps of Illumination and Spiritual Growth

Steps of Illumination

“There are three main types of experience which appear again and again in the history of mysticism; nearly always in connection with illumination, rather than any other phase of mystical development. I think that they may fairly be regarded as its main characteristics, though the discussion of them cannot cover all the ground. In few forms of spiritual life is the spontaniety of the individual so clearly seen as here: and in few is the ever-deadly process of classification attended with so many risks.

“These three characteristics are:

  1. A joyous apprehension of the Absolute: that which many ascetic writers call ‘the practice of the Presence of God.’ This, however, is not to be confused with the unique consciousness of union with the divine which is peculiar to a later stage of mystical development. The self … is not immersed in its Origin, but contemplates it.
  1. This clarity of vision may also be enjoyed in regard to the phenomenal world. The actual physical perceptions seem to be strangely heightened. …
  2. Along with this two-fold extension of consciousness, the energy of the intuitional or transcendental self may be enormously increased. The psychic upheavals of the Purgative Way have tended to make it central for life.” ~Evelyn Underhill

The Phase of Illumination

Ms. Underhill says that these three experiences generally happen during the illumination phase of spiritual development. She has probably defined elsewhere what the various stages are, but I don’t have the list handy at the moment. In any case, I think that virtually all spiritual growth is aimed ultimately at complete illumination, so there seems to me to be little need to define stages or phases of the process. It is sufficient to know that it is an ongoing process, not an instant event.

The Apprehension of the Absolute

The joyous apprehension of the absolute is the first of the major steps of illumination. It isn’t a thing that just suddenly happens. It isn’t like turning on a light switch. It happens gradually, in many small steps. The first step is simply the recognition that the physical world is flawed, or that it is largely an illusion. Next is the recognition, or at least consideration of, spiritual worlds beyond the physical. These spiritual words may seem like they are completely separate from the material one, but the next step is realizing that they are entwined. In fact, all the dimensions of reality are linked together, and crossing barriers between them isn’t terribly difficult.

A lot like traveling in the physical realm, though, going up is harder than going down. So we can very easily go from the third dimension to the second. We do, in fact, interact with the second dimension all the time without even realizing we have done it. To reach into the fourth and fifth dimensions, though, is somewhat more difficult, and is almost always done intensionally. This is another step in this Apprehension of the Absolute. Continue reading “Steps of Illumination and Spiritual Growth”

understanding evil

Understanding Evil to Control it and Avoid it

“Is permanent happiness, secure prosperity, and abiding peace a foolish dream? No, there is a way, and I speak it with gladness, by which evil can be slain for ever; there is a process by which disease, poverty, or any adverse condition or circumstance can be put on one side never to return; there is a method by which a permanent prosperity can be secured, free from all fear of the return of adversity, and there is a practice by which unbroken and unending peace and bliss can be partaken of and realized. And the beginning of the way which leads to this glorious realization is the acquirement of a right understanding of the nature of evil. It is not sufficient to deny or ignore evil; it must be understood. It is not enough to pray to God to remove the evil; you must find out why it is there, and what lesson it has for you. It is of no avail to fret and fume and chafe at the chains which bind you; you must know why and how you are bound. Therefore, reader, you must get outside yourself, and must begin to examine and understand yourself.” ~James Allen

Permanent Happiness

I’m not sure Mr. Allen is correct in saying it is possible to have permanent happiness. After all, even the happiest of people suffer grief at the loss of a loved one, pain from illness, and so on. So we can’t be happy all of the time, but we can have happiness most of the time. Of course, life isn’t all about happiness. Life is about learning and growing. In order to do that, we have to face some hardships. So happiness shouldn’t really be the primary goal of one seeking spiritual enlightenment.

Secure Prosperity

On this one, I can agree with Allen. One can be financially secure all the time. But I have learned from one very successful business person that financial security isn’t primarily about having huge amounts of money. It is having the knowledge that if some disaster causes you to lose what you have, you have the necessary skills to get it back. With that attitude, you don’t have to be ridiculously greedy to be financially secure. And even spiritual people can have financial security. The well-known Psychic Edgar Casey is reported to have said that he didn’t worry about money. He knew that when he needed it, God would find a way to get it to him. And for him, that seemed to work.

Understanding Evil

Yes, Allen is correct. The secret to a generally happy, prosperous, and peaceful life is understanding evil. He is also correct in saying the solution is not to deny that evil exists, or to acknowledge it’s existence, but simply ignore it. If we ignore gravity, we still have to deal with it. If we pretend gravity doesn’t exist, we don’t start floating away like a weightless balloon. Gravity exists so we have to deal with it. The same is true of evil. Pretending we are in a fantasy land where there is no evil doesn’t help us or anyone else. And it doesn’t stop evil from having an effect on us. As an old saying goes, the devils greatest power lies in making you believe that he doesn’t exist. That makes it so much easier for him to manipulate you.

Mr. Allen also says praying to God to keep the evil away from you isn’t a solution. Again, he is correct. If God was willing to do that, evil would long ago have ceased to exist. Yet as everyone with an actual brain knows, evil is real and very active these days. In fact, evil seems to be getting stronger. That, however, may be due to it being the End Times, which means, among other things, that evil truly will cease to exist sometime soon.

We have to deal with evil as it is, just as we deal with wind, rain, and gravity just as they are. Pretending they are not there doesn’t help. You can deal with rain by using an umbrella. But an umbrella doesn’t help at all with gravity. You have to use the right tools for the specific problem. You start to deal with evil by looking at yourself. Are you truly good, or do you sometimes give in to evil? If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you have done some evil in your lifetime, even if only of the very minor kind. Understanding evil means understanding yourself. Not that you are evil, but evil works through all of us.

The most important thing is to learn to know the difference between your own divine intuition talking to you, and an emissary of evil doing the same. This is not easy and takes much practice. It helps quite a lot to awaken your spiritual faculties: your spirit and soul. When you awaken them using the light of the spiritual sun, you have available to you a source of absolute good and absolute truth. The soul may sometimes find it difficult to directly communicate with your brain-mind, but it never tells you lies. It is never evil. You have to understand evil and deny it the right to control you. Understanding evil, and avoiding it, is a large part of being a good person.

torches of Ceres

Ceres’ Two Torches: Intuition and Reason

“Pluto, the lord of the underworld, represents the body intelligence of man; and the rape of Persephone is symbolic of the divine nature assaulted and defiles by the animal soul and dragged downward into the somber darkness of Hades, which is here uses as a synonym for the material, or objective, sphere of consciousness. …

“The Greater Mysteries (into which he candidate was admitted only after he had successfully passed through the ordeal of the Lesser, and not always then) was sacred to Ceres, the mother of Persephone, and represent her as wandering through the world in quest of her abducted daughter. Ceres carries two torches, intuition and reason, to aid in the search for her lost child (the soul).” ~Manly P. Hall

Rape of Persephone

Hall Says that Pluto (or Hades) represents the intellect of man. Some people will feel insulted by that statement. Nevertheless, it is true. It is not that the intellect of man is evil, but it is limited. While it is superior o the brain-minds of lesser animal, it is still animal and material in nature. The human brain-mind, or intellect, can understand the physical realm very well. It cannot, however, understand anything spiritual. It may think it can, but it always tries to reduce the spiritual to something similar to the material. It can accept the existence of angels, for example, but sees them as humans with bird wings on their backs, which is far from what they truly are.

I think it may be an exaggeration to say that the rape of Persephone represents “the divine nature assaulted and defiles by the animal soul and dragged downward into the somber darkness of Hades”. I think it would be better to say that it represents how man’s lower nature, his animal self, blocks and suppresses the spirit and soul. By doing so, it keeps us looked in the realm of matter, which is just one step above Hades, but it isn’t Hades. It also keeps us moving toward Hades (Hell), instead of turning in the other direction for salvation. Continue reading “Ceres’ Two Torches: Intuition and Reason”

New thought, opinions, thought power, impassioned images

Opinions and Beliefs can be a Help or a Hindrance

“Use thine opinative faculty with all honor and respect, for in her indeed is all: that thy opinion do not beget in thy understanding anything contrary to either nature, or the proper constitution of a rational creature. The end and object of a rational constitution is, to do nothing rashly, to be kindly affected toward men, and in all things willingly to submit to the gods.

“Casting therefore all other things aside, keep thyself to these few, and remember withal that no man properly can be said to live more than that which is now present, which is but a moment in time. Whatever is beside either is already past, or uncertain.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Opinions With Honor

It isn’t wrong to have opinions. There are some things we should have opinions about. But those opinions must be based on logic and/or spiritual insights. When they are based on fear, jealousy, or are otherwise illogical, they harm us more than help. Take political elections, for example. If you vote for a politician out of fear you will almost certainly learn that the politician does not have your best interests at heart. The kind of politician who encourages fear in people, then prays of their fears to control them and manipulate them is never trying to help anyone but himself. Sir Winston Churchill was correct when he said that the only thing we need fear was fear itself. That is the kind of politician the rational person votes for. It is also the kind the spiritual person will vote for.

The real problem with having opinions about everything is that that often evolve into beliefs. Then when we are faced with something that doesn’t fit that belief, we ignore it. It has even been proven that people will sometimes not see something that is right in front of them because they don’t believe in it. Beliefs that are only partially true, or completely false, prevent us from learning truth. Our own subconscious mind blocks out anything that will conflict with out beliefs.

Rational Constitution

Aurelius says a person with a rational constitution does nothing rashly. He thinks before he acts. That is good as far as it goes, but we need to go further. We need to get our spiritual faculties involved in our decision making as well. Not just in matters that are clearly spiritual in nature, but in all decisions. Our opinions and decisions will be much better if we do.

Let me give some examples from personal experience.

  • When I was a teenager, I took driver’s Ed in High School, but failed the behind-the-wheel exam. There was not enough time left in the school year to take more lessons and try again. I graduated two weeks later. For a while, I really didn’t need to drive, so I didn’t bother to try again. When I was twenty-one and in the Army, I reenlisted to get into a college program that I wanted. I wanted to use my reenlistment bonus to buy a car, but I still didn’t have a license. So I began taking lessons, now in a different state. I planned to buy a car right after I passed the exam. I took the exam and again failed. But my intuition told me to go buy the car anyway, so I did. Four days later I passed the test. I couldn’t have a new car and not be able to use it.
  • Some years after that, I was looking for a job. The company I had been working for had to cut staff on the project I was on. I looked at what was available on other projects within the company and didn’t like any of the openings that I qualified for. My intuition told me it was time to look for a new company to work for. When I did, my intuition told me I should accept one particular job offer. I took the job. Less than year later, the company I had been working for was bought out by another and about one-third of the employers were laid off. Ten year later I retired. I stayed with the new company that whole time. As a result, I was eligible for their pension plan which I now collect from. They were probably the only company in the software business offering a pension plan and two years after I started working for them they discontinued it for new employees. If I wasn’t getting that pension check, I would be living in poverty now with just Social Security.

So intuition and spiritual insights can even help us on the material level. Awaken yours and find out.