Saturday, July 2, 2016

Fears are the blocks to our awareness of Love's presence

The three spiritual stages described in the Christian tradition are the purgative, illuminative, and unitive. These stages of spiritual growth, experienced by the seeker, take the person to union with God. The purgative path involves the purification of the soul, ridding oneself of the ego. The illuminative path is the surrendering one's will to the holy spirit, Jesus, the Higher Power to enter more fully into the spiritual life. The unitive path is becoming one with godliness and achieving a cosmic consciousness.

The major obstacle to pursuing this path of spiritual growth is fear. Fear is borne out of our attachments to ourselves, to others, and to things. As the Buddhist tradition teaches, all suffering is caused by attachment. We fear losing relationships and things that are important to us. We are even afraid of losing face and being slighted and hurt by what we perceive as the unkind words of others injuring our ego.

Our biggest fear is that at our core we are defective and inadequate. Unconsciously, we experience the shame of not being okay. So we put our best foot forward and we build a wall of defenses around ourselves to keep the anxiety of this shame at bay. As toddlers we have our teddy bear, our dolly, our blankie and we suck our thumbs, bite our nails, and finger our hair. As we get older we learn our prayers, have our favorite piece of clothing or other object and develop superstitious beliefs in religious, sports, music, and other celebrity figures most of whom we have never met but about whom we develop all kinds of fantasies and beliefs.

As we mature we realize that these defensive beliefs and objects are illusionary. As much as we like the idea and are comforted by it, we realize that Santa is not a real person. It is our parents, if they are able, who leave the gifts for us under the tree which we find on Christmas morning. We come to realize that our mother and father are not all powerful, but who have problems and flaws and cannot always be depended on to love us the way we want to be loved.

All people grow old, this is inevitable, but many people do not grow up. Growing old and growing up are two different things and sometimes don't occur at the same time. Religious beliefs often have the quality of the belief in Santa. It is a superstitious belief whose function is to reduce fear and anxiety and provide an illusion of safety brought about by the fantasy of supernatural protection similar to the belief in Super Powers so popular now in our contemporary culture. What we fail to realize is that, at our core, we are perfect. We are not defective or inadequate in anyway because our very existence is  a manifestation of godliness and all human beings have an inherent worth and dignity. Becoming consciously aware of our divine nature, we can drop our fears, we are already okay. As we become more aware that our essential nature is one of Love we become less anxious and more secure. Realizing our essential nature we behave more loving, generous, compassionate, and forgiving for these are the manifestations of godliness of which we realize now that we are a part.

The key to dealing with fear and anxiety is to realize what we are and to rise above our attachments, take them in stride, keep them in perspective, keep calm and simply do the next best right thing as the opportunity arises. The opposite of fear is love and as it says in A Course In Miracles, "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance." The stages of "removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence" are described, as mentioned at the beginning, as purgative, illuminative, and unitive. Where are you on the path?

1 comment:

  1. The common complaint when tragedy strikes, "How could God do this to me!?" is indicative of the stage of the person's spiritual development which is still in an infantile stage. Many clergy fuel this childish belief in order to gain power over the person and family. Perhaps the clergy person is still stuck at an infantile stage of belief him/herself.

    The point about growing up is an excellent one and if churches actually facilitated this kind of spiritual growth might be putting themselves out of business.

    Thanks for a wonderful article. It says so much which is important.