Chapter 18 - Devotional Practice
I feel that it is very important to have a balanced and wise spiritual ambition. We should be aware that we have incomplete understandings of the greater mysteries of the universe and of spiritual truths and we should explore and expand our understanding through wise practice. By making a commitment to aiming our spiritual practice at that which is most divine, to that which is most pure and loving and which is above all else, we are aligning ourselves with divine love and we can be sure that we are always heading in the right direction, even if we still have challenges and difficult choices to make. We cannot fully understand ultimate reality but we are each connected to it and it permeates all human consciousness. If we have the faith to take even the smallest step in a direction that the highest part of ourselves tells us is right, then that faith will be rewarded.
The great and the good
Great consciousnesses incarnate all the time but sometimes very great beings incarnate with special missions - to teach, lead by example and leave a message and legacy of great love and wisdom. Consciousnesses such as Buddha, Jesus, Krishna are so great that people see their consciousness as a guide to growth and can worship them for the divine incarnation that they were. Such consciousnesses are indeed so great that they will be with us if we are committed to their path but we know that these great beings lead us to something beyond them - to the ultimate reality - and that our spiritual commitment should be to this. I believe that the great religions of the world ultimately lead us to the same place but by different paths. Through our many incarnations we have each been Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Taoist, agnostic and atheist and these have helped our souls to grow and have brought us to where we are today.
Our divine guidance comes through a hierarchy of great consciousnesses, or spirits, in the form of spirit guides, teachers, masters and lords. The greater consciousnesses know every aspect of your consciousness and can see your growth from your creation as a new consciousness to your current state. Furthermore, the greater consciousnesses can predict the choices you make and the response of your soul to internal and external influence. Great consciousnesses are great because of their love and wisdom, whether this was learned through living human incarnations or growing elsewhere in the universe. Whatever our spiritual or religious beliefs we can acknowledge and give thanks for these divine blessings - that those wise and loving beings choose to be with us and to help, guide, heal, protect, nurture and teach us. We can feel gratitude for our nurturing education and respect for our teachers and elders.
As souls on earth and in human incarnations we are blessedly protected and nurtured so that we can learn and grow. Our souls are protected from being thwarted by too much pain or suffering so that we are never given more than we can handle. Furthermore the pain and suffering that we create for ourselves and others is redeemed by great divine beings: that is to say that the pain that we create in ourselves and others is taken from us when we have overcome the fear that created it and it is transmuted through divine love. When we have grown beyond the need for particular fear or pain, it will leave us for good.
These are things to be grateful and thankful for and these alone can be the basis of a wise spiritual practice - feeling gratitude and giving thanks for these and other blessings. Whether or not you know who or what you are thanking, gratitude opens the heart and upper chakras to divine love.
We all have compassion since we all have functioning heart chakras and tuning in to this compassion is a good way of developing it further. By engaging our compassion we are practicing compassion and are therefore developing it. With a quiet mind, in a meditative state you can intend that energy flows from the Earth to your lower chakras and into the heart chakra and from the universe into your upper chakras and into your heart. You can imagine your heart light radiant and shining through you own body as you feel a sense of acceptance of yourself as you are now while wishing progressively more love, happiness and wisdom for yourself. Then you can intend the heart chakra light radiating from your heart beyond you in all directions as you feel a sense of acceptance of every person as they are now while wishing them progressively more love, happiness and wisdom.
Acceptance of yourself and others is an important part of compassion and comes from an understanding that we have all been through many, many lifetimes in which we have all made choices that have brought pain to ourselves and others and we have all done good things that have brought happiness to ourselves and others. Acceptance comes from an understanding that we have chosen a human incarnation in order to understand our divine essence and to fully realise our divine nature. We are all inseparable from the divine source, whatever you conceive that to be. Even people who seemingly have no sense of their spirituality or who deny it or who have malicious intent are still, ultimately divine beings. No person is better than any other since however great our consciousness, we are all but small children in this universe. Accepting all people as they are and as our equals can help us to develop compassion.
Wishing progress towards ever greater happiness for people is another aspect of compassion that can help us to develop. We can surely see that the evolution of humanity is a process of us realising our divine nature and becoming more loving and kind towards each other. We are inevitably moving forwards in this regard and by creating an image of another person or even all people as being completely happy, we can form wise desires and intent for the progress of others. Forming specific ideas of what would make people happy is obviously unwise but there are certain things that we can wisely wish for others. Balance is a wise thing to wish for ourselves and others since this would rid us of inner conflict and pain. Likewise harmony is a wise desire for ourselves and others since this suggests wise and loving relationships with all people, with all things and with the universe. Wishing ourselves and others progress includes the idea of our souls becoming more loving and wise and these are fundamental to our ever increasing happiness.
If you believe that our souls are each progressing, this brings about the notion that positive change and evolution is the way we are going and that we are moving onwards and upwards. We are becoming greater and our consciousnesses are learning to embrace our true divine nature more fully. As we grow we can allow our spiritual beliefs, attitudes and practices to change and evolve. This doesn't mean that we should just neglect a chosen path but rather that we can develop our practices to explore our spirituality further.
With wise devotional practice the greater mysteries of the universe can be revealed. Great religions have mystical aspects - for instance Islam has Sufism and Judaism has Qabalah - but this does not mean that you need a religion to develop your spirituality in a wise way.
The way to move forward to become more spiritually aware and healthier and happier is through devotional practice. The wisest intent is to know yourself and seek divine union and if your prayers and practice are to this end, then you are doing something wise and wonderful with your life. If you additionally want to commit to help others, then ask how best you can serve a divine purpose and the answer will come.