Varieties of spiritual journey

What? You talk of “nonduality” as one or two peak experiences for a moment, in your entire lives, years ago? Ha! I am nondual all the time!

One of my judgments is that it is wrong to boast of spiritual growth, but as I spoke to Friends of God in me, and the judgment or thought that second-guesses God and stops God from speaking, the words “melts away” formed in my mind. I had intense judgment against that, the claim to wisdom or spirituality, and yet-

In me there is that of God, and what else? Judgments, ego, introjects, something I do not fully understand but attempt to, using whatever language I have and concepts from philosophy or psychology. In that moment, speaking to Friends, the “whatever else” seemed to melt away, and I felt extreme joy. I do not want to boast, and I want everyone to experience that joy.

I experience inner conflict between that of God and the something else, and experienced it in that moment- the insistent words “melts away” and the horror at claiming something I do not know to be true, and the self-doubt- and then it melted away, and I spoke the words. Anguish gave way to acceptance and wonder.

Heaven is human integrity, where that of God within shines out through that person’s thoughts, words and deeds, and there is no alloy or admixture of anything else: that person is nondual.

I felt shame this week, does not matter what for, and it was clear to me that it was my own rather than some introjected shame- a feeling to help me reach my goals and best self, rather than anyone else’s demands. Instead of being my enemy it was my friend. That felt new, and delightful.

Part of the way I might help others experience that joy, and understand humans or humanity, is to describe my own experiences. How much this has value depends. Is the inner God of other people like mine, or does it vary as human character and personality varies? What else is there, and is the something else in each person different? How does the spiritual journey differ- there is an unveiling of God Within, until it stands fully visible, in all its beauty, but does the way the unveiling proceeds differ between people?

I saw God, and so God Within, as “powerful,” and letting go of that concept has helped me see God in me so much more clearly. Yet it seems to me that God in others might be powerful, or that at least the concept would not get in the way of others seeing their inner God as it did for me. Words are at best a way to approach reality.

Are there people who grew up in ideal conditions, such that their inner God was nurtured and cherished and there was never much in the way of veil to begin with? Quakers aim for such nurture, “leaving [children] free to develop as the Spirit of God may lead them”.

If I call the something else “ego”, there is the word “egotistical”, meaning self-aggrandising, but my inner judgments called me worthless. Carl Rogers pictured the self-concept and organismic self overlapping, and in my moment of becoming conscious of the spiritual journey, when my understanding of the world seemed completely contrary to how the world is, mine seemed to be entirely separate. My conversion might be like a Road to Damascus moment, but not everyone’s need be. Possibly, some might be unable to bear such an experience.

And there is common humanity. Because our eyes have cones and rods in similar formation, our experience of colour is similar, and different from a dog’s. While I cannot know my experience is like anyone else’s, we have a number of words for emotions which have a similar understanding in each of us to be useful, and we can look at another person and guess or sense what they are feeling. We are programmed to recognise faces- the youngest infants will respond to them- and who knows what else is programmed? We are eukaryotes, mammals, apes.

Some people may simply be nondual. Others may approach that. It is my way to worry and question, and also to use my analytic mind soberly to assess what is true. It is my aim to see God in myself and others more clearly which will mean loving God more dearly, and to help others do the same, and I will grow in my ability to do that.

3 thoughts on “Varieties of spiritual journey

  1. Some of the greatest poets were mystics who saw God within themselves and all around them. For instance, Rumi, Hafiz and Walt Whitman. These are my translations of Rumi. I like to think one can feel his spirit in his words, even in translation.

    Elevate your words, not their volume. Rain grows flowers, not thunder.—Rumi, translation by Michael R. Burch

    Forget security!
    Live by the perilous sea.
    Destroy your reputation, however glorious.
    Become notorious.
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Your heart’s candle is ready to be kindled.
    Your soul’s void is waiting to be filled.
    You can feel it, can’t you?
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Why should I brood when every petal of my being is blossoming?—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    What you seek also pursues you.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Don’t be satisfied with stories of others’ accomplishments. Create your own legend.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Love renders reason senseless.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Your heart’s an immense ocean. Go discover yourself in its depths.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The only prevailing beauty is the heart’s.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Love is the bridge between your Heart and Infinity.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Bare rock is barren. Be compost, so wildflowers spring up everywhere.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Your task is not to build love, but to bring down all the barriers you built against it.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    I want to sing as the birds sing, heedless of who hears or heckles.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    We come whirling from nothingness, scattering stardust.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    I was so drunk my lips got lost requesting a kiss.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Ignite yourself, then seek those able to fan your flames.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Eyes identify love. Feet pursue.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    If your heart is light, it will light your way home.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Are you still in the dark that your light lights the worlds?—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Why do you remain prisoner when the door’s wide open?—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    As you begin to follow the Way, the Way appears.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Everything beautiful was made for the beholder.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The universe lies not without you, but within. Look within yourself: everything you desire, you already are.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    When the inferno rages, it will incinerate a hundred veils and carry you ten thousand steps toward your goal.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Come, come, fellow traveler. Wanderer, worshiper, itinerant: it makes no difference. Ours is no caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken ten thousand vows. Come yet again, come, come.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    When will you begin the long trek toward reconciliation with yourself?—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    There is eloquence in silence. Stop weaving and the pattern is perfected.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The essence of the rose abides not in the perfume but the thorns.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The moon is brightest when it embraces the night.—Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The moon shines most bright
    when it embraces the night.
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The moon shines brightest
    when the night is darkest.
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    The heart is the thousand-stringed lyre
    Tuned to the chords of Love.
    —Hafiz, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    This is love: to fly toward a mysterious sky,
    to cause ten thousand veils to fall.
    First, to stop clinging to life,
    then to step out, without feet …
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    I am not this hair,
    nor this thin sheathe of skin;
    I am the Soul that abides within.
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Let yourself be guided by the strange magnetism of what you truly love:
    It will not lead you astray.
    The lion is most majestic when stalking prey.
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Songbird/Birdsong
    by Rumi
    loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Birdsong relieves
    my deepest griefs:
    now I’m just as ecstatic as they,
    but with nothing to say!
    Please universe,
    rehearse
    your poetry
    through me!

    Beyond
    by Rumi
    loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Don’t demand union:
    there’s a closer closeness, beyond.
    The instant love descends to rest in me,
    many beings become One.
    In a single grain of wheat ten thousand sheaves germinate.
    Within the needle’s eye innumerable stars radiate.

    The Field
    by Rumi
    loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Far beyond sermons of right and wrong there’s a sunlit field.
    I’ll meet you there.
    When the soul lazes in such lush grass
    the world is too full for discussion.

    Two Insomnias
    by Rumi
    loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    When I’m with you, we’re up all night;
    when we’re apart, I’m unable to sleep.
    Thank God for both insomnias
    and their inspiration.

    I choose to love you in silence
    by Rumi
    loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    I choose to love you in silence
    where there is no rejection;
    to possess you in loneliness
    where you are mine alone;
    to adore you from a distance
    which diminishes pain;
    to kiss you in the wind
    stealthier than my lips;
    to embrace you in dreams
    where you are limitless.

    You must understand
    “one” and “two”
    because one and one make two.
    But you
    must also understand
    “and.”
    —Rumi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

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