Principles of Spiritual Evolution (Part I)
Spiritual evolution is about growth of being, an ever brightening of the godspark that is your consciousness. Knowledge is the crucial cornerstone of this process, but a cornerstone alone provides no shelter. Unaccompanied by other principles like faith and love, knowledge stagnates and fails its purpose.
Progress requires conscious application of several groups of synergistic principles in a balanced manner. They are as follows:
- and humility/forbearance/levity.
Omitting or marginalizing any of these principles either stunts or corrupts the process. I will attempt to define each principle within the limits of practicality, so suitably modify these for yourself.
Knowledge is gained by the conscious reflection and integration of experiences, observations, and thoughts. Conscious reflection is what distinguishes memory from understanding, as the latter requires it while the former does not. Knowledge encompasses both, being not just the memory of facts but also the understanding of objective truth.
Awareness is attention of the present moment, applied in context of prior knowledge. Knowledge broadens awareness by highlighting aspects of reality previously not noticed. With greater awareness comes a wider field of perception, sharper focus and alertness, and better readiness to acquire new knowledge and apply what has already been learned.
Wisdom transcends linear time and concerns the understanding of absolute metaphysical truths. It applies to our past, present, and future without fail. Wisdom is the understanding of divine principles, of the relation between self and others against the backdrop of Creation. It is knowledge tempered with love, or love tempered with knowledge.
Faith is trusting that in Creation, all things are possible. It is the suspension of disbelief. It works where knowledge fails. While knowledge stops at every precipice, faith leaps across it. While knowledge further refines knowledge, faith expands it. Simply put, knowledge is deterministic and faith is non-deterministic. Expanding knowledge requires leaping into the unknown, an act that knowledge finds irrational but faith finds necessary. Making paradigm leaps requires faith – not blind faith in what one chooses to ignore, but pure faith in what one cannot yet know.
Hope is knowing that in Creation, all things are possible. It is the reconciliation between faith and knowledge, of knowing that having faith allows one to accomplish the impossible. Hope is confidence in non-determinism, freedom from bondage to causality. It comes not from the ignorance of facts, but from the recognition of higher truths demonstrated by miraculous experience.
Love is the vibration of infinite truth. What resonates with love aligns toward the Creator. Seeing with love means seeing with the eyes of the Creator, a perspective chosen to be undistorted by prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, or separation. With love, all things are made possible because anything that is of the Creator is understood, allowed, accepted, and forgiven. To feel love is to feel the joy of remembering the divine unity of all existence and acknowledging the absolute truths within and before you. Loving another means recognizing the common godspark within them and therefore caring for their spiritual evolution as much as you would for your own. It is compassion without pity.
Humility is having awareness of one’s relation to the finite and infinite – that everything with a beginning has an end, and that any being regardless of rank is infinitesimal in the framework of infinite Creation. Humility is not about belittling or exaggerating yourself, as that is either false modesty or hubris, but about knowing your place and size in the grand scheme of things. It is choosing truth over ego, verity over self-importance. Humility begins with gratitude, an attitude that allows you to acknowledge truth without resentment by being thankful for whatever learning opportunities you receive.
Forbearance is knowing that every event has its proper time. This builds tolerance for difficult situations and patience for events whose time has not yet come. The doors of opportunity open when time is right. Having forbearance means aligning with the pulse of synchronicity; rather than choosing which doors to force open, you choose which open doors to walk through. This requires faith in letting things fall into place, and awareness of opportunities when they arrive.
Levity is having a sense of humor and a lighthearted approach to life. Without it, you overestimate the reality of illusion. Levity puts situations in their proper context, the divine framework in which everything is a learning lesson and learning is fun. You can laugh at what once seemed serious because you learned its lesson and since realized its purpose in your life. Levity is the choice to see this humor not just in past experiences, but in present and future ones as well.
These three groups provide the minimum requirements for stable spiritual evolution. Each principle in a group supports the other two principles, and each group balances the remaining groups. This creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts. A balanced configuration offers the optimal route toward accumulating wisdom, increasing freewill, and manifesting one’s spiritual potential. With this balance, life becomes effortless at best and challenging at worst, but never a struggle.
Consequence of Imbalance
An imbalanced or partial configuration slows progress and creates opportunities for corruption. The resulting pain, discouragement, struggle, or depression alerts you to what requires attention. It is easy to see what one principle without another can bring. Knowledge without humility leads to intellectual arrogance, and humility without knowledge leads to self-deprecation. Levity without faith becomes nervous laughter, and faith without levity becomes anticipation. Faith without knowledge leads to foolishness, and knowledge without faith becomes stagnant. After pondering the other combinations yourself, it should become clear just how important each principle is to the whole.
Buildings fall when built on poor foundations, and the downfall of countless organizations, individuals, or belief systems can be traced to imbalance or omission among these principles. Imbalance destroys either via the natural process of implosion, or by offering vulnerabilities opportunistically exploited by malevolent forces who have a vested interest in slowing or corrupting the evolution of all under their influence. Anyone targeted by negative forces would do well to strive for balance because a fort with a missing wall offers no fortification.
Origins of Imbalance
Where does imbalance originate? Primarily from the triad of ignorance, stupidity, and naiveté. These may best be described as follows:
- ignorance is a choice
- stupidity is a condition
- naiveté is temporary.
This is said not with condescendence or insensitivity, but with the aim of accuracy and practicality; euphemisms and political correctness only obscure the truth.
Naiveté is a temporary lack of knowledge and awareness concerning a particular truth. This state eventually remedies itself as it’s just a matter of time before an unknown truth is learned. Therefore, naiveté deserves no blame. The naive student is open to a truth but simply hasn’t yet encountered it.
Stupidity is the inability to grasp a particular idea due to its perceived overwhelming complexity. It also deserves no blame because stupidity is a condition that one can do little if anything about, as it stems from the natural shortcomings of one’s mental abilities.
Ignorance, however, is the choice to ignore truth even when presented with it. It is a conscious decision to deny or turn away from the truth in favor of more trivial pursuits. Ignorance cannot be remedied by anyone other than the person who holds it, for any attempt to change his mind only reinforces his decision. Such a decision cannot be commended, but it must be respected if freewill is to be preserved. Ignorance improves to naiveté with the simple choice to open one’s eyes.
Discernment necessitates being aware of the subtle differences between these when interacting with others and getting to know yourself. For example, while naiveté welcomes truth, ignorance rejects it and stupidity misperceives it. A debate arising out of naiveté is an exchange of information that ends when mutual understanding is reached, but a debate founded on stupidity or ignorance becomes an argument that rarely resolves itself. We are all uniquely ignorant, stupid, or naive concerning various areas of knowledge, so this is no opportunity for judgment or prejudice lest one succumb to hypocrisy.
Imbalances by themselves merely slow progress, which is really no big deal since even slow things eventually reach their destination. The real concern is corruption of the process, as that implies heading toward an entirely different and unintended destination. Freewill allows this to be so. Although we incarnate with a general pre-planned outline of our key experiences and lessons which structure the course of our lives, the freewill of ourselves and others allows for deviations from the optimal manifestation of this plan.
Life Experiences as Learning Lessons
There are easy and hard ways of learning the same lesson, and a missed life lesson repeats itself in alternate ways. Lessons become as painful and difficult as one’s skull is thick, so ignorance guarantees drastic experiences. Having conscious volition to see the truth as soon as possible speeds and smoothes the process, often eliminating the necessity for harsh experiences when the mind is receptive to subtler versions of a lesson.
The general purpose of life lessons is to catalyze one’s growth of being, to increase soul strength. In our case, this often requires emotionally charged experiences because emotions provide a type of energy that temporarily boosts or retards what we are capable of doing depending on how they are used. Without this boost, we would be reluctant to transcend limits or explore new ground because our motivation would depend solely upon old ways of being and doing. The efficient use of emotions in a learning experience increases soul strength and expands knowledge, and thereafter nothing more than the newfound understanding is required as motivation when facing similar experiences in the future. On the other hand, emotions can retard progress if they limit what you feel you can do.
Learn to separate emotions that limit you from ones that open you to new possibilities. The value of positive and negative emotions depends upon what you do with them. Positive emotional energy can be used directly to put knowledge into action with gusto.
The Role of Negative Emotions
To be of any use, negative emotional energy must be transformed into positive after the truth they accompany has been acknowledged. When confronted with a shocking truth, a person usually experiences negative emotions as the initial involuntary reaction. In those cases, negative emotions serve as wake up alarms that rudely awaken a slumbering mid. But after getting up, there is no use in keeping the alarm going.
Maintaining a state of negative emotional shock longer than necessary turns it into a choice rather than an involuntary consequence. This would be like holding the clock to one’s head while going about the day, relentlessly listening to its blaring sound. Why would someone do this? Maybe complaining about the pain gains him sympathy from others, maybe suffering makes him feel like a martyr, or maybe because since an alarm clock serves to wake him up in the morning, then it should continue to increasingly wake him up with every passing minute of the day, right? In the end, this attitude would instead leave him stressed, tired, and deaf.
Indulging or wallowing in negative emotions leads to stagnation, victimhood, and severely weakens spiritual resiliency. While negative emotions arise involuntarily, there is no excuse for choosing to continue them beyond their initial function as alarm clocks. They must instead be transformed into positive emotional energy and reunited with the truth originally alerted so that the latter can be put into use effectively. Consciously seeing truth in context of its divine significance accomplishes this, as does choosing to see and apply the truth with an attitude of love, humility, and levity.
While negative emotions alone can motivate one into taking action, such action is far from impeccable. Knowledge combined with positive emotions allows one to accomplish the same with greater efficiency, safety, precision, and skill.
Three Stages of Learning Lessons
With the preceding section in mind, one can see that there are generally three steps involved in the successful learning of a lesson. The first stage precedes the lesson and consists of ignorant bliss, a vulnerable state of emotional positivity that remains so because it has been undisturbed by truth. The second stage is the negative emotional shock that comes from realizing the truth. In the third stage, negative emotion is transformed and the resulting positive emotion is united with truth. The third stage, that of positive awareness, is stronger than the first and more effective than the second.
Positive emotions open you to progress, and awareness shows you any pitfalls to avoid. Not only realizing the truth, but viewing it in full context of its metaphysical significance is the first step in transforming negative into positive energy.
Symbolically, truth is a sword that in darkness merely cuts, but when exposed to light also emits a radiance that turns away danger. Ignorant bliss is going unarmed in the sunlight. The sword of truth is found in a valley of darkness and despair. It must be retrieved from the valley and brought into sunlight to exude its total power. However, if your heart glows early on with faith and a strong love of truth, the sword will be energized by this inner light even amidst the valley’s darkness, thus allowing safe passage into sunlight. Getting lost in the valley with no inner light to empower the sword puts you in direct battle against the creatures that dwell there…and eventually turns you into one of them.
Harmful Negative Emotions
Negative emotions serve little purpose when they are unaccompanied by truth. The blaring of an alarm clock after you have long gotten out of bed only annoys and distracts you from your daily duties. This metaphor manifests in several ways. One example is obsession, the investment of energy without return of knowledge. When one repeatedly dwells on the futility of some disparaging situation, negative emotional energy is wasted. A stuck car spinning its wheels for too long damages its engine.
Another example of harmful negative emotions is when they are directly induced by malevolent forces as part of a psychic attack seeking to undermine your faith and disrupt the harmony of your spirit. This happens very frequently among truthseekers because they are primary targets. Although truth can be shocking, it is in the interest of these forces to amplify and perpetuate the negative state, for this not only slows and possibly corrupts the esoteric progress necessary to evolve beyond their grasp, but this also creates an abundance of negative energy upon which they feed. These types of negative emotions color the truth rather than result from it.
The choice to succumb to such negativity weakens spiritual resiliency, creates imbalance, and opens further opportunities for even deeper attacks. Continued indefinitely, this gradual weakening process ends with the truthseeker successfully incapacitated. Any imbalance among the principles of esoteric evolution invites this possibility, especially when the imbalance is due to insufficient knowledge, love, or humility. Thus, beware especially of ignorance, obsessive negativity, and self-aggrandizement as these unlock the castle gates and invite danger.
In reading this, keep in mind that discernment is the ultimate necessity in flexibly applying any guideline, as formulas and rules are bound to have exceptions which malevolent forces eventually exploit. Discernment is the application of freewill, applying knowledge and wisdom in a balanced manner to fit the unique circumstance. Believing that any single source of knowledge holds the complete truth, or subscribing to any rigid system of belief, marginalizes the role of discernment and therefore makes one predictable and easily controlled or corrupted.
Knowledge, awareness, and wisdom provide the bricks of spiritual evolution. Faith, hope, and love places these bricks in line with the divine blueprint. Humility, forbearance, and levity provide the mortar that gives the wall its strength. All are necessary and their roles must be balanced. Seek with love and understanding the truth and beauty in all you encounter.