Modern day spirituality is evolving right along with society. We have surpassed the time when individuals were duped into thinking that the only way to the divine was through an institutional church or a priest. It seems analogous to the many changes we have seen with the “Age of Information”: the individual is empowered. We can look up almost anything on the internet. We can travel basically anywhere in the world. We can change our environment and grow our own food. And, we have decided, collectively, to believe what the mystics have always known: we can access spirit directly.
It may be that this one thing is what saves our world. For, in accessing spirit directly, we become more conscious citizens, we become aware of our direct link to all living things, we become humble before the powers that sustain life, and we become slower and less rash in our collective actions. God is not a commodity. Universal love is not for sale. We each equally channel and feel this energy, this love, that permeates all things. To connect with it is to change, dramatically, the way you interact with life. To connect with it is to connect with your life’s purpose, to bring your soul to the driver’s seat, to banish depression, insomnia, insecurity, and malaise. For a life lived with the quest to inhibit the controlling ego while letting the Self flourish, to battle Resistance to all things creative and good, to carve out your territory, to go forth and become what you were born to be – this is a life that will feel vital and good.
It sounds so easy! However, it may be our greatest and most beautiful challenge. As Caroline Myss, renowned spiritual author and teacher, says, “It takes great courage to get to know your soul” (7).
Contemporary and ancient spiritual instructors seem to teach a similar basic truth: the divine is within. Jonathan Ellerby, current spiritual director at Canyon Ranch Resort in Arizona and author of Return to the Sacred, says, “In time, I’ve come to understand that The Sacred is everywhere: within you; within me; within all things; and far, far beyond” (Ellerby xxv). Caroline Myss phrases it thus: “I believe that the divine is everywhere and exists within even the most intimate details of our lives” (3).
Yes, the divine is within, but how does one reach the divine? How does one connect? Ellerby’s book focuses on this subject. He takes 12 time-honored spiritual practices and describes them, saying that we each have a preference to the way we would connect. The key, he emphasizes, it commitment. And in our fast-paced solutions-now world, commitment to a spiritual practice is no easy task. It is no place for isolation, either. “Don’t underestimate the importance of mentors, friends, and community along the way,” Ellerby says. “You may have to seek guidance, but that, too, is part of the process” (xxvi).
In truth, we are connecting all the time. “If you truly seek growth and healing, then respect each voice you encounter in life: neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, trees, rivers, fire, wind, and our animal relatives. Everything teaches if we’re prepared to listen with the heart” (xxxi). Indigenous cultures have long known that the natural world guides us. Our world is one being, and as individual cells, we must find our niche, the place that allows vitality and functionality. A healthy cell would never seek to destroy its host – a healthy cell is a vital part of the one being.
A healthy cell receives instruction all the time from the larger being – through chemicals, heat and cold, electrical changes, etc. In similar fashion, we are constantly instructed as to how to thrive in this greater being. “Patience, trust, and faith must become constants for you; you cannot, and indeed you must not, even attempt to believe you know what is best for you. The divine will reveal its plan for you; you have to be open to receive it” (Myss 3). And when we do so, we feel a contentment, a satisfaction, a joy.
It is around us all the time – this greater being of which we each are a part. And our greatest joy is feeling the deep connection to this being. “We cannot stop our longing for the quest for a deeper spiritual experience, because the attraction to the divine is the most basic force of our lives. Kahlil Gibran called it ‘life’s longing for itself.’ The pull is more potent than the fear” (Myss 16).
So yes, great fear arises when you want to put your ego out of business. We fear the loss of control, the loss of material wealth, the loss of stability. More significantly, we fear what we will gain (Myss). A comfortable life is hard to change. And yet, you will always feel slightly dissatisfied with a comfortable life that has no depth, no soul, no sacred aspect. Begin a path – just try it for a month – and see how you feel.
You’ll see that no matter where you’re at in your personal life – high or low, rich or poor, sick or well – this is the perfect time for you to embrace a spiritual practice and discover the ever-present power of The Sacred. Everything you’ve gone through up to this very moment has been exactly what was necessary to prepare you for what comes next. You need nothing more than what you have with you right now to experience the most profound peace and wisdom of your life (xxxii).
Become a contemporary mystic following the ancient truths that mystics have known for thousands of years.
The contemporary mystic is called to represent an invisible power in the world through a personal spiritual practice, through the power of prayer, through living consciously and practicing compassion, and through becoming a channel for grace…Mystical service means providing calm in chaos, kindness amid anger, forgiveness at all times, personal integrity – to live, in other words, mindful that every second offers a choice either to channel grace or to withhold it. (Myss 29)
This greater being, this earth, is a worthy vessel! The beauty is past our greatest imaginings. The wind in the trees, the sun on the water, the dragonflies, the hawks, the butterflies, the snakes, the foxes, the skin of an elephant, the whiskers of a cat, the rainbow within the waterfall, the golden wheat fields, the forest floor, the sunrise after a night of rain…
One of E.M. Forster’s most famous quotations was, “Only connect.” Connect with other human beings. Connect with the earth. Connect with the sky. Connect with the snails crawling along the rocks in your front yard. Connect with the divine.
What are you waiting for?
There comes a moment when you must come to terms with your contradictions. If you truly believe that this life has spiritual purpose and that you were born to find your purpose – then how can that belief not take charge of your entire life? Everything else in your life should become a servant or a means to finding and living that one truth. (Myss 52)
Ellerby, Jonathan. Return to the Sacred. CA: Hay House, 2009.
Myss, Caroline. Entering the Castle. NY: Free Press, 2007.