I am frequently asked if my being a scientist automatically means I am an atheist or agnostic, or if my work in science interferes with my personal relationship with God, should I happen to accept the idea of a Supreme Being. While science is filled with the first two types of people, I am not one of them. Rather, as a human being, I have determined from my own experiences in life, that there is a "Spiritual Something" that underlies Creation. In my opinion, this Spiritual Something can accurately be defined as a Supreme Being, the specifics of which are personal to me. Further, I have found that details or specifics of this Spiritual Something are important and particular to each individual. Taken generally, one's religious tendencies or affiliations are supposed to cover those specifics. But what is not so apparent in the religious aspect of this matter, is how one establishes his or her own personal link to this All Pervading, All Knowing, Eternal Something. So a gap between our sensing the Presence of this Spiritual Something and our coming to know It personally, has been created by our relying exclusively on religious affiliations to provide the answer in making this link.
Why the necessity of such a link? All religions espouse the applications of their teaching, not simply to the individual's spiritual life, but to the worshiper's practical, daily life grind. It is also clear that while many people attempt to apply their religion's attitudes and methods of prayer to daily problems, still, something is missing. By trial and error then, people have come to realize that a personal link with this Spiritual Something is necessary in order to deal with life effectively in the here and now. Then, the specifics of the individual's religion can make sense, and help to bring about a physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness.
The reader will find ample evidence of this latter attitude by taking a short trip to the local bookstore. The need for people to gain a greater control over their own lives, and religions' inability to provide the method of making this personal connection became obvious about thirty-five years ago. At that time, self-help books were just coming into vogue, mainly based on psychological perspectives and techniques for changing one's attitude about his or her life. Next, came a new 'sub genre' that dealt with making 'positive changes' in one's personality in order to bring about desired changes in one's personal reality. Close on the heels of these attempts to expand the individual's active role in his or her own life, came the New Age books dealing with anything from divination methods for revealing one's future, to the Earth religions and Magic.
Today, all three approaches literally fill the walls in any bookstore. When these approaches are taken together, it is easy to see that the movement away from the standard religions of today has flowered. Individuals are more intent then ever before, not simply to take control of their own lives, but to bring about positive changes in their attitudes and environments as well. It is equally clear from the explosion of such books, that the standard religions and their offerings no longer completely serve the needs of contemporary people caught up in the most complex, confusing, rapidly changing, and dangerous time the world has ever passed through.
Unfortunately, these attempts at self-help and self-direction through the use of these new approaches have failed to provide the average seeker with the methods and insights needed to make this vital link. Some of these contemporary books have as their central idea the integration of the individual another term for the link between God and humans. Whether it's the psychoanalyst's removal of the cathexis from the individual's psyche in order to produce 'a whole and effective person,' or Magic's "attainment of the knowledge and protection of one's guardian angel," both are talking about the same thing a direct link with a Spiritual Something greater than the reader. To be sure, many of these new books do provide a spiritual succor to the individual. But usually, the spiritual high derived from reading and practicing their methods is just that, and is short lived. Then, it's back to the daily problems of life... and to the bookstore for another book that gives a different approach to the problem of making the link.
It is unnecessary to continue to line one's bookshelves with more of the same of abandoned techniques for achieving this personal link. Rather, it is necessary for the Seeker to understand and accept some hard facts about him or herself, if they are to eventually succeed in establishing this vital link. Principally, our reactions to life, its problems and challenges, are ones of frustration that arise from three very negative habitual attitudes that we have developed and made a part of our Western culture:
While there are general guidelines for the method or process of linking, the need for a rigid, numbered approach is not one of them. Neither is it necessary to make a book length masterpiece out of these natural, flexible techniques. But before we look at these simple but very effective guidelines, we have to understand a little about the unholy trinity above that underlies our frustrations of life. We have to understand how they work, and the manner in which they interfere with our spiritual growth, and in our attaining worldly satisfaction, if we are to deal with them effectively.
The first member of the trinity is very understandable. Usually at the beginning of his or her Quest, the Seeker makes the mistake of confusing the method of making the link with a Spiritual Something, with the specifics of one's religion. That is, the individual continues to attend a religious service on a more or less frequent basis, reading the prescribed prayer books, and devoutly saying the church, synagogue, or temple sanctioned methods of prayer, chapter and verse, only to end up with a cookbook approach to the problem of linking. When the individual's prayers are not heard, they try all the harder or more frequently, but still, the answers they need are not forthcoming, and their problems become more serious as they try harder. Somewhere in this maelstrom, the individual has confused the specifics taught by their religion, e.g., aspects of the Nature of God, with the method of making the vital link with God. Or at the very least, they have not realized that the sanctioned methods of their religion just don't work for them. Eventually, though, those that actively become Seekers, do put two and two together, and their search continues in their own hands, when, more often than not, they are certain they will find their answer at the nearest bookstore.
The second element of the unholy trinity is insidious, and is rooted in one of the miseries our rapidly growing technology has brought with it the idea of speed. From the cars we drive to the computers that are now part of our daily life, we have made a demand that everything in our lives must be accomplished with speed. In and of itself, speed may not be a problem. But trailing close behind the concept of speed, is the demand that the first time, or the one effort, should be enough. That's what makes the idea of speed so attractive. Taken together, speed and the single effort syndrome produce a feeling of security. That is, we feel that by combining and applying them to a given problem, the solution will be immediate and forthcoming, allowing us to move on to the next issue or problem.
If the single effort doesn't work, doesn't solve our problem or produce the result we want, then its associated promise of instant solution by speed is thwarted, and frustration results. As the reader's past may very well tell him or her at this point, there are no permanent, quick fixes to anything in life, and instant gratifications never turn out to be as fulfilling as we thought they would be. Establishing the vital link with the Spiritual Something is subject to the same conditions, and turns out to be a lot like Life in general. This is a process, and one that takes repeated effort and time to achieve. Yet, it is entirely possible and even probable a link can be forged, provided the Seeker will simply remember this all too human problem of speed.
The third member of the unholy trinity can be as severe as the second. We are so accustomed to having our learning spoon fed to us in cookbook fashion, that we have become fixated upon the idea that "If this approach worked for the author of the latest bestseller on coming into contact with God, then it's got to work for me too!" Realistically, it doesn't, as all those books on the subject lining your personal bookcase can attest to. Besides the spiritual succor derived from such works, we can, however, discover insights into our problems, as well as possibly learning the motivations we have in desiring a spiritual link. But we often overlook such potentials in the new book we just bought.
Not only do we demand a quick fix by slavishly following the approach another used, we also demand that it be in a "cookbook" fashion. At the same time, it's important to remember that every book has something worthwhile to offer the reader. It's simply a matter of going over the material with an attentive mind, and the right attitude. Think about, take, and apply what your recent purchase has to offer, but always with an eye to how you can personalize it in your own Quest. Because if anything, the Quest is most personal. What works for one, rarely, if ever, works for another.
How then, does one go about making this vital link which all religions and philosophies have heralded as the ultimate key in solving life's problems, and in obtaining spiritual growth? The general method suggested here has worked for many. It will also be recognized by the seasoned Seeker as underlying the many books he or she has studied on the subject, albeit what is presented here is more direct and practical in form. There are four steps to this "process":
Ideally, a week's vacation alone at a remote, deserted site will bring the most satisfying results in this Quest sooner, but without being fast. Being alone for such a period of time is vastly underrated today, if for no other reason, then most of us are literally afraid to be silent and to listen to the emptiness that comes when the mind's chatter has been eliminated. If such a period of time cannot be realistically taken by the individual, the process can yet be entered into and continued. Just follow the suggestions given below loosely, while trying to stick with the spirit of them as best as you can.
Slowing down is the difficult first step. There are very few of us who don't have more on our daily plates then we can handle, and always, there seems to be some pressing family, career, or personal need that is of immediate concern. Life seems to be just one problem after another, and we have designed ourselves to meet each one head on. But the operative term here is seems, as even a cursory examination of many of our past daily problems will show. It is hardly likely that if you don't get to the grocery store today, that you will starve tonight. Neither is it likely that if you don't do the laundry just this minute, you'll have nothing to wear to work tomorrow. And that report that the boss was hounding you about. Remember that one? You got it to him before it was due, only to hear, "I don't have time for it. Maybe next week."
Of course you have to be responsible and take care of first matters first, but the real string of "necessities" is never what you make them out to be. And why? Because we have geared ourselves to thinking about things incessantly, before actually doing them. It's called worry. So much useful time is lost in this wasted emotion. But even it can be controlled by simply slowing down. This mysterious state is relatively ease to achieve, too. It simply requires that you set aside specific blocks of time during your hectic day to refocus on the 'you' that's living life. Nothing more.
How do you increase awareness, and of what? This is the easy one of yourself. Not the person with a million thoughts skirting through your mind, not the individual who needs a television or radio for companionship, but the you that's doing all of this thinking and worrying. It can come almost automatically just by slowing down. At first there will be a constant stream of invading thoughts, concerns, and apprehensions of any and every make. But after awhile of this 'alone time' in which you slow down, you will find that, first, the invaders have less impact upon you, although they will still come. After that, they will slow down, and stop almost completely. This is what you want, and what has been called by some mystics the state of "emptying the mind." In short, the mind chatter will stop, or nearly so.
When this happens, you will become aware of your Self . . . not 'yourself' . . . but the foundation of what you call 'you,' in a new and dynamic way. It is a state characterized by exceptional clarity of mind, and a near-shattering sense of the 'you' that seems to live in your body. Along with it comes an automatic 'distancing' of yourself from your immediate environment. That is, while you are still in that environment, it has now become merely an external surrounding. 'You' are more than it, and yet, are somehow inextricably connected to it. This awareness will increase, until you feel that you could, or have, absorbed it. That is, you are aware that you are greater than it.
The third step is more difficult, but it always follows close on the heels of the second step. You will probably experience the second step many times before succeeding in this third part of the process, as this part usually takes considerable time and practice, especially when trying to implement this process in daily life. But having succeeded in achieving the first two states, this third part will most certainly come. This is the "event of listening." To what? You will be surprised. It will be more than you presently think possible. After the mind has quietened and your new awareness has unfolded, many report hearing a sound a voice that lies just below the level of a whisper. It is delicate and almost imperceptible, but it is there. It is neither the echoes of mind chatter, nor the delusions of megalomania, that is, those voices in the head that torment the mentally disturbed. The gentleness and states of joy that accompany it are unmistakable, and are like nothing the Seeker has experienced to date.
In time, if the process is continued, the message of this voice becomes clear. When it does, the joy gives way to what can only be described as ecstasy. It is in that moment when the ecstasy dawns, that the commonest of objects in daily life suddenly take on a holiness and meaning the Seeker had not even glimpsed before. As this part of the process is continued, day after day, this state of holiness begins to extend to other people, and finally, to the individual involved in the Quest. It is as though it necessary for the Seeker to first understand and experience that he or she truly exists in a vast spiritual universe, in which they live, move, and have their being, before being graced by the realization of their own state of holiness. This state has been referred to by mystics throughout time as the "State of Grace."
The final part in this drama of interior initiation, occurs closely behind the "State of Grace." At some point, what can only be called an "Experience" occurs. During this state, the Seeker touches something that defies even the remotest or simplest of descriptions, but whose reality is beyond question. A comprehension of all Life flows into the individual, and a unity with that Life occurs between the ticks of a clock. The event brings with it permanent changes to the personality, and a clarity and depth of mind that is remarkable. The individual's physiological, mental, and emotional mechanisms are completely renewed in addition to undergoing a change, such that the very fabric of their daily life experience is now different.
In a way, he or she now sees and perceives normal life matters and conditions, but in a new and dynamic fashion. Attendant to these changes, are the surfacing of new talents and abilities that are both far reaching and wide ranging. The individual has been renewed changed and in a manner that is self-evident for all to see. But the matter does not end here. The intuitive faculties are also sharply accelerated, and provide a constant stream of insight and guidance by which the renewed individual can manifest the gifts given him or her during their transformation, while living daily life in a new and sacred way. Yet at all times, the former Seeker could be aptly described as one who "has their head in the clouds, but their feet firmly rooted in the earth."
At this point, many return to their earlier religion, seeking the specifics of that part of God they touched during their Experience. Still, many others no longer have a need for their mother religion. Rather, through their established, vital link with this Spiritual Something, they seek further direct contact with It, in order to learn of Its laws, free from the dogmas and doctrines of the established institutions of men. The choice of path is completely up to the transformed individual.
In the times in which we live, more people than ever before have dire need for achieving a fulfillment in life that lies beyond material accomplishment and excess. This is clearly evidenced by so many so called successful people who are still searching for the "Bread of Life that will not buy a poor man a small candle," but for which many of these people would give most or all of their worldly accomplishments to possess. The method presented here works. If the reader will try it and persist, he or she will find the results well worth their effort.
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