We make much of the bodily aspect and it may even seem to us that the spirit is less real than the physical, so a “real” encounter comes to equal a physical one. Yet, only the spiritual component of each encounter is real. Without spiritual consciousness, a physical encounter is unconvincing and with spiritual consciousness the physical encounter may not be required. The external is, at best, an attractive adornment to a real meeting. Our ability to tie an encounter to a certain incarnate body is incidental. It is the energy component of any meeting that is essential.
And what of the bodies of the books and talks? Everywhere the mediators of great thoughts show both grandeur and flaws—the best are like magnificent stained glass windows, but with occasional cracks, splotches of dust, or missing pieces. One must find enough greatness of spirit to love the grandeur while not remaining blind to the flaws.
I do not see total validity or total authenticity in any book or person. I see that spirit pertains to the essence of things, to the rainbow of spirituality that is the foundation of the universe. But all verbal formulas provide a picture that is “through a glass darkly.” The texts we have, like our personalities, are never entirely satisfactory.
There are limits to be considered in every verbal formulation as well as in those of us who draw on the formulas. The value of a good teachings is it’s merit as general guideline and stimulus to thought and reflection. In the details and specifics, and their application to any time and space, there is often much ambiguity and vagueness. So, in a sense, we are still on our own—otherwise put—the intent of a great teaching is not to turn people into “wind up toys.” Teachings are not the truth, but a catalyst to aid us in our approach to the truth.
When I reflect on those I’ve learned the most from, I find that they are very personal people. They tell of themselves, but in subtle artful ways, and their motive shines through. In any case, I know it is not helpful to hide ourselves, to cloak ourselves in a concept of philosophic impersonality. We shouldn’t fear personality, but should be natural. I think there is a sense in which we must be very personal, that is, we should be honestly ourselves. And we should not imagine that this is not good enough for a given situation. If we fail in this, I think we may do so because we are too personal in the wrong way.
What is impersonality? It is not non-personality but illuminated personality. And if personality, in some sense, is to be renounced, it would be good to have an actual one fully in place for the ceremony. And if renunciation is empowerment, then personality will be strengthened, and the reflected light will be intense. Perhaps a paradoxapersonality is in order. It might be the flowering of the same personality, the veiled unearthly lights, that we see everywhere.
The physical body is fiery–its atoms are bits of fiery energy, so our body can develop in special ways along a fiery path. Desire is also fiery; we burn with it, and the mind is often represented as fiery energy. All these are personal fires, and in way all are, as mythology has it, “fires stolen from heaven.”
Ideally, our life would be directed by spiritual fire, by subtle fires transcendent to personality. Then the beautiful fire of heaven and the external fires of body, emotion, and mind might meet and blend in magical harmony. This would be meditation or mediation.
We might say that true meditation is the union of spiritual fires with more external ones. But what if we engage in a process in which we experiment, as a personality, with the fires of our external nature, and while doing so we call it “meditation” or some other methodological name? Then, mistaking personal fires for spiritual ones, we might become an inflamed personality.
How then to define a path leading to union with spiritual fire as distinct from an inflamed personality? I’m thinking that it comes down to the question of whether we emphasize form or spirit. Form has its place as a vehicle for the spiritual, but often the form dominates, eclipsing the spiritual. Let us count some ways this occurs:
- Emphasizing rituals and set forms of all kinds instead placing our life in order.
- Emphasizing physical postures instead of spiritual orientation.
- Focusing on a center within the physical or etheric body instead of the radiant spiritual energies behind and through our psychology (Love, spiritual will, harmony, beauty, etc.).
- Emphasis on breathing exercises instead of the spiritual “breathing in” and giving forth that is, or should be, a healthy daily life.
- Emphasizing finding a physical guru instead of attunement to our inner teacher.
- Desire for psychic powers instead of desire to use our existing powers for the benefit of others.
- Emphasis on physical methods using sound, color, technology, or body manipulation.
- Emphasizing symbol instead of meaning.