Spiritual Practice

I visit my blog less often than I used to. I open the post page to write something because after all the point of having a blog is to blog; but I stare at the empty page because I have got nothing to write. I feel I have a lot to say, or rather a lot to share about what I have learnt from others. But I don’t feel right to write because that would make me a hypocrite. You see, I cannot claim to know anything as long as that knowledge is not assimilated by me and put into practice, by which I mean conformity to what I believe to be true, and I am very weak in that department. I love spirituality, and above all spiritual metaphysics. But it is one thing to read and talk and write about it which does not make one spiritual but only a little prepared for spirituality; and it is another thing to assimilate what I read and use it as a support for my spiritual practice; and without spiritual practice, which is adherence to one or another orthodox religious/spiritual tradition, nothing is ever accomplished.

It is a well-known fact that spiritual life-and life is either spiritual or isn’t life at all-and the journey toward God consist of two fundamental aspects: Doctrine and method. Doctrine is that which directs us; it provides a sense of orientation by giving an outline of the goal, much like a map. Method is the spiritual practice that takes us to the goal, much like the vehicle or instrument that takes us to gates of Heaven. Now, reading and thinking of spiritual matters alone, though it may make us feel good or give us some peace, do not accomplish anything because it can become a sort of obsession with the doctrine at the cost of forgetting the journey itself. Doctrine itself is never the Truth Itself but a pale reflection of it that is meant to evoke in the seeker a forgotten memory of the lost paradise, i.e. the paradisaical state of being and consciousness; thus, doctrine too is no more than an instrument and a support for spiritual realization.

Truth Itself transcends all doctrinal formulations to the extent that we are allowed to say all doctrines are false relative to the Absolute Truth Itself; it is false relative to Truth because it cannot be identical with It, for Truth transcends all formulations and is ultimately inexpressible. But all doctrines insofar as they are traditional and orthodox, i.e. have their origin in a non-human influence which is none other than revelation, have a relative truth to them because they are reflections of That which lies above and in transcendence. However, this relative truth has no value in itself if it is divorced from its metaphysical function, and the metaphysical function of the doctrine is to invoke in the aspirant the longing for the Truth that is reflected in the doctrine, and also to keep the traveler on the right path without going astray. Therefore, we must look at doctrine not as a fancy collectible to be used for decoration but as a rope hanging from the sky. We must climb the rope and not swing with or by it.

The spiritual practice, on the other hand, is meant to purify the soul so that it can reflect the Truth expressed in the doctrine. The soul that is purified by its nature reflects the Truth, for the pure heart knows nothing but God. All other forms of knowledge, including empirical knowledge of ourselves and the world, is a dirt covering the spirit, and spiritual practice is the way to clean up this mirror as a result of which our soul-which is essentially identical with the Spirit in its state of purity-remembers and reflects its transcendent principle, God.

That you must hate your soul and put your soul to death is a very true statement because it is this soul as dirt over the spirit that ties us to the belief in our independent existence and separation from God. This nowadays fashionable cult of “love yourself” goes contrary to all traditional values, i.e. to Truth Itself. Instead, you must love your Self which is the Self of all things and is none other than God; but to succeed in loving the Self you must hate yourself and put your self to death, for this inferior self is no more than dirt and darkness. So, to hate yourself is to hate delusion and separation, darkness and forgetfulness, arrogance and ignorance.

When the soul becomes pure as a result of spiritual practice it reflects, by its nature, the Divine qualities which are spiritual virtues of humility, generosity, and objectivity. These virtues are not possessions of the sage but rather belong to God alone. But when the sage has become pure at heart and poor in spirit he has in fact returned to the primordial state in which he was created in the image of God. In that state the spiritual virtues shine by themselves, for it is God Himself along with His attributes that shine through the sage. The humility of the sage is the reflection of God’s transcendence and absolute detachment from the world. The generosity of the sage is the reflection of God’s immanence and infinitude, His unconditional giving through perpetual creation and constant renewal of all things. The objectivity of the sage is the reflection of God’s perfect knowledge and justice. It is not that the sage, the pure in heart and poor in spirit, becomes God or even acquires divine attributes; rather, God’s attributes shine in and through the sage because he is no more himself, and in fact he has become no-thing so that there is nothing in him and with him that can obstruct the Divine Light which is shining everywhere and at all times. The sage has become a channel of grace because he has become nothing, because he hated himself and put himself to death.

All this being said, which is by the way too much considering my present state of literary impotence, all I meant to say was that I feel I cannot say anything of spiritual life unless I am myself in it, and to be in it is to practice it. I try to do my best and pray to God to give me strength and faith so I can practice, that is, to constantly remember Him and conform to His nature. On my own, with this petty human self of mine, I have no faith, no knowledge, no love and no devotion. I am in a state of absolute spiritual poverty and all I can ask Him is to forgive my forgetfulness and minimize my distractions so that I can practice, practice, practice.

6 thoughts on “Spiritual Practice

  1. It is good to read you again. It sounds like you are in the seventh valley of “true poverty and absolute nothingness”(see “The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys” by Baha’u’llah) You perhaps are wandering passionately in the desert of distance far from the goal yet in reality you may be closer than you ever have been. Forgive my boldness but felt to reach out. By the way, we cycle through these valleys or conditions throughout our journey.

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  2. All leave as we arrived, with nothing material. If a spiritual life has been well lived, there is a realization that only the spiritual can be taken; there are no regrets. Only experience, knowledge and the spiritual evolution acquired during the life can travel. (It is information.)
    A ‘light’ ,weightless but potent burden shining into the murky darkness of the unformed future enabling a better definition of the karma-bearing entities so facilitating better-informed decisions. Such decisions lead to the reduction in the overall burden of negative karma and an increased likelihood of fusion of the bounded and the boundless.
    This is no more than restating what was said above. Perhaps it needs to be emphasized that not speaking can be a form of progress that is recognized in both eastern and western traditions.
    The fate of information associated with matter falling into a black hole is controversial. Is if somehow preserved (by analogy with the process hypothesized above), or is it lost as currently suggested is the case by most working in the field.
    We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. T S Eliot.
    Whereof one cannot speak, therefore one must be silent. Ludwig Wittgenstein.
    Best wishes

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  3. I like to say, “sometimes you just have to close your eyes and feel the music.” We tend to think too much, to overanalyze, when in fact God is love and sometimes just resting in His presence, receiving Him so to speak, is the best way to draw closer to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

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