There is a prescribed path that one can use to become spiritual. It is tested and is a common path that many Christian mystics have followed over the years. It was originally designed by Bonaventure (1217-1274) who framed it from a Christian theological perspective. I’ve tweaked it a bit so that now a person of any religious background, or none at all, can use it as their own road-map to the Divine without a strictly Christian viewpoint attached to it.
Before we get started, I must offer a few words.
This path is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not even for most people. While the early steps are easy and will leave most laughing at just how simple they are, the later steps require certain sacrifices of belief, mind, and lifestyle that few are truly willing to make.
Many will disagree with what being spiritual means from this perspective, but few will deny that at least some spiritual wisdom can be gained at various points along this path.
While this is not my own path. I present it here, so others have a chance to determine if it’s a path that works for them and so others can understand that they, at times, do indeed connect with some of these various steps/stages which are spoken of.
Step One: In Nature
The first step involves getting out into nature. It involves sitting on the grass, sand, woods, or by the stream, lake, beach. It involves having a fascination with animals and plants and observing them, in person, from afar. It involves feeling the sun, rain, heat, cold, etc. all upon your skin.
You may ask what does this have to do with being spiritual? The response is everything. You must allow yourself to partake in these experiences, if possible, daily in some form. It is through these nature experiences that you can begin to understand that something larger is at work around and even through you.
Step Two: Through Nature
Now that you have grown aware of nature and the natural world around you, you can begin to do what is referred to as merging with nature.
To merge with nature is to start asking… “How would I respond to this problem if I were a blade of grass, a tree, a stream, a wolf, a bear, a dove, an eagle, the sun, the moon, the stars?” It is the process of learning to see the world through the eyes of another creature of our world. It is about stopping and realizing that everything that is at work in our world is part of the larger work of art. It is about coming to the understanding that most of the natural world doesn’t think, it only lives. It’s about setting the groundwork in the subconscious mind that to be spiritual isn’t about denying life but to be fully present in life as it is at work in its many glorious ways.
Step Three: Introspection of Self via Love
Once you’ve mastered seeing the world through the eyes of nature. It’s time to turn your attention inward. As much as people hate it, journal writing becomes very important at this stage.
Introspection is the process of looking within and understanding the self. It’s not meditation, but it’s a force as great as that of meditation.
When introspecting it’s important to look for inner love. To ask the self, at the inner deepest most level, what is love? How do I manifest love? How do I love myself? Is that action I’m thinking about doing a true representation of love? Is what I’m about to say something I would say if I were in love? Are the emotions I’m feeling a true representation of the love I am capable of choosing to feel? These are answers no guru can give you, but you must find within. Only when you can view yourself as a fully loving being that tries with every ounce of your inner being to show and express love toward yourself, will you be ready for the next step.
It’s important to realize that sometimes loving the self, means saying no to things you don’t like. Sometimes loving the self, includes telling someone you can’t be around them anymore. Sometimes loving yourself involves doing what you must do for you and your own peace of mind. Though this point can be debated later, the process to that later must begin here.
It’s equally as important to ask yourself questions posed from a positive framework, as we always find our own answers to the questions we ask. Additionally, a positive framework is more becoming of love as opposed to a self-criticizing framework.
So instead of asking, how can things be worse – ask: how can I help make things better. Instead of asking the self “Why do I attract the wrong man?” Try asking yourself, “What qualities must I have in the man that is right for me?” Instead of asking, “Why can’t I ever accomplish my goals?” Re-frame it as “What goals are most important for me to accomplish first to get to my larger goal?” Etc.
Through fostering self-love and being reflective, a person can further begin to rewire the mind to perceive the world and the self as part of the world they are within and that is within them differently.
Step Four: Introspection about Others as Love
As you master self-love, you must begin to move from inner self to the inner workings of others. You must begin to state perception and then phrase a positively focused question based on that perception. The question must be about the person, not about you. The question should contain no I or me statement.
Example: “She is being mean to me today. What would make her day better?” “He is saying he doesn’t care about me the way he once did What is best for him at this moment?” “My boss just fired me. What new opportunities await?” “The family ran out of food and has no money. What resources are available to lighten the load, if just for a bit?” “He just cut me off and is speeding. Is there an emergency?”
The basic tenant of this step is to become aware that most people act on impulse and just live, much in the same way that the natural world around us lives. They have that spark of love inside as well, they may not know how to access it, or the circumstances of their life may be preventing them from temporary accessing it. How you respond will either bring pain and suffering to yourself, or it will help to release some pain and suffering within their own lives. When you send out positive energy you help to release pain and suffering When you are attached to your perceived views that a person must act a certain way, you will create more pain and suffering for yourself.
Again, this does not mean you should seek out such experiences in life. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have emotions when these experiences come up, but it does work to continue to adjust the way the mind and emotions choose to view and experience the world and thus your experiences within that world. It is starting to train you to become aware of judgments and false perceptions and to transform your thinking so as to not give power to them.
Introspection and journal writing should continue at this time. The only difference is we are now introspecting about others and the inner nature of others as influenced by the external nature as opposed to introspecting ourselves.
Step Five: Contemplation on the Divine as one ultimate power.
Most people want to jump to stage five without doing the work of the first four stages, and this is generally not beneficial as the proper mind has not been developed.
All religions teach us to pray or affirm. This is roughly the same as to Meditate and to clear and focus the mind. These things are done so that we can become aware of the Divine and that the divine essence is one ultimate power.
When we contemplate on that divine essence, we start to realize how big that essence really is. When we pray, chant, affirm, engage in ritual, or meditate we do so with the purpose of connecting to and coming to an intimate communion with the divine essence. To feel and experience that divine essence not only around us but completely within us.
It is only after you have had (and know in your own heart that it has occurred) and understand direct personal experiences with the divine essence that you are ready to move on to the next step. Introspection should continue at this time, with thoughts/feelings/experiences being noted and reviewed consistently.
Step Six: Contemplation on others as all part of or within the Divine.
This is where things get tricky and confusing and in essence, eliminates the first five steps.
At this stage, you are ready to acknowledge that the Divine is within all. Not just nature, but people. You are able to start to recognize that everything that is happening is happening according to a plan. That your free will, though having the illusion of free will, is helping to mastermind a plan that is beyond human comprehension.
There is no karma, no divine reward. Everything that is occurring is doing so because it’s meant to be that way. You are simply a living being who is partaking in that divine plan, regardless of if you try or don’t try – if you want to be or don’t want to be.
You come to realize that all horrible events; past, present, and future happened for reasons beyond human control at the time. That no matter what person lies to you, cheats you, hurts you, and no matter what emotions come up in you – these are all still part of something which is beyond human understanding.
At this stage, you will begin to question morality. You will begin to question philosophy. You will begin to question the divine itself – some will even slip into what our modern world calls atheism or agnosticism, but in doing so, you’ll still be living out the divine plan.
Does this mean we as humans should hurt people? Lie to people? Cheat people? Etc. No, this brings us to step seven.
Step Seven: Realization and Living life with Divine Mind.
On the contrary, because of our awareness of stage six, we begin to enter stage seven. It is here that we start to live life with Divine Awareness of all that is, has been, and ever will be. It now becomes more important than ever to do good in all that you do and say. After all, you will begin to come across many people and start to realize all the people who live in the world with their inner eyes and hearts closed.
You have a responsibility, at this stage, even if it is a free will illusion, to help and bring awareness to and awaken others to the reality of what is possible when one has full divine mind comprehension. The point when everyone steps into divine mind is the point when the world as we know it is transformed – where “heaven” on earth truly begins to exist. When the world, as a living organism, reaches “Nirvana,” and where people seek to not only not hurt others and let their ego control life but to take care of others and be without ego in all they say and do.
There are no attachments at this stage. It is the equal of what Buddhist call enlightenment. You do not worry. You are not afraid. You can’t hate, as there is nothing to hate. There is no suffering. There is no anxiety. You become fully aware of life beyond the physical world. Your intuition is heightened. You love and feel the love that is beyond verbal expression. There is no desire to harm another. There are no judgments about others.
- The seven steps, while they should consciously be done in order, they will often time unconsciously change order from person to person as that person simply exists in life.
- The nature of the soul is without ego. It must be without Ego because the divine is without Ego. Since the dawn of man, humans have wanted the divine to have a personal interest in their lives. To be like a father or mother. While there is nothing, in essence, wrong with this concept, it is important to note that when one is of the divine mind, there is no desire to punish someone. To do so would be to punish the self and to punish the self would be an act of non-love towards the self which as a result would eliminate the ability to perceive the world through the eyes of others.
Ego only occurs because of our humanness. That humanness is primarily related to our brain and its functioning. It is not related to our soul or our spirit. This is why it is often said to aspiring students by spiritual gurus of various religious traditions to “get the brain out of the way.”
- Most people will not be capable of staying in the divine mind framework all the time. Hence the reason for suffering in the world. When one realizes that suffering in the world is part of the master-plan for those who are choosing to experience suffering, they will be able to release their attachment and either help those people or those people will no longer be on the spiritually enlightened person’s radar. While this seems to contradict what is being said, it does not. We may all be one within the divine, but we each maintain our own separate illusion of the world and, within the human mind, it is this illusion that we live in. Within human mind, others appear to infiltrate our illusion, but that too is part of the illusion for both. When in divine mind no illusion can truly exist.
- The best way to describe divine mind is to ask if you’ve ever had a day that went absolutely perfect in every way shape and form and when you retired to bed at night you just couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing the day had been from beginning to end. If so, you’ve had a taste of what being in divine mind – or the divine flow – is like.
- Though this process can be understood by all, that does not mean all will live it. From the divine mind perspective, it’s okay if something separate from ourselves chooses to do its own thing, as it’s still part of the whole equation to the bigger things. I.E., my legs walk, my heart beats, my lungs breath…. they all do different things, but in doing their different things they are all still part of the larger being that is me.
- The best way to be a fully spiritual being is by starting in your own human life. Do what you’re good at. Follow your human dreams. Help and show love and mercy to others. If you’re in a bad situation, don’t give up, rather keep working to improve it. In doing these things, as small as they are, you are doing for yourself and as such for the larger whole.