The Challenge of the Spirit
“The Challenge of the Spirit”
by Richard C. Cook
There is something I want to say to each of us that will be taken as a challenge—even a slap in the face—by some of the many “I’s”—or personalities— within ourselves, my own included. But it should be said anyway.
And though I acknowledge that what you will be getting is strong medicine, be assured that I have already imbibed this medicine myself.
First, we should be clear that the Gnostic teachers identify the first requirement on the spiritual path to be the decision to lead an ethically upright life. From the standpoint of meditation practice, the reason is obvious—unethical behavior, even to the level of passing thoughts, disturbs the mind. It also gets us into situations, due to the law of cause and effect, that make it difficult or impossible to take the time to meditate with a clear conscience and a serene mind.
As the purpose of meditation is to pave the way for inner peace, where comprehension of reality in consciousness can take place, ethics then become critical.
Again, this seems obvious. A deeper reflection indicates, however, that it may not be so obvious after all, at least in certain areas.
Of course there are many categories of outer and inner behavior that no one can disagree are just plain wrong. Take murder or armed robbery, for instance. None of us goes around shooting, stabbing, or raping other people. The same with stealing, fraud, and other relatively high-profile misdeeds.
But then we get into some shadier areas. How many of us are absolutely, one hundred percent honest all the time, without hesitation or qualification? Who always refrains from lustful thoughts, honors our parents without exception, never expresses anger, refrains totally from gossip or slander, never experiences envy or covets another’s possessions, never feels resentful, impatient, or put upon, is without conceit, never has hurt feelings, does not over-indulge any appetites, is never greedy for money, and is never, ever lazy—again, all of the time, every minute of every day and, moreover, are never even tempted to do any of these things?
Through self-observation and seeing there are “I’s” within us who either need to clean up their act, be shown a better way, or be gotten rid of altogether, each of us clearly has some work to do in at least one or two areas.
But there is more. Even if our behavior is at a generally admirable level, are we ever anxious or fearful? Do we ever worry? Do we ever feel stressed? Do we ever wonder what is to become of us unless we get a break or can deal with some uncomfortable situation or difficult person? Do we ever have concerns about money? And how about worry about health issues, our own or our loved ones’?
Well, it is time for each of us to start viewing these as ethical issues also. Because they may disturb our inner peace as much as outright sin and bad behavior.
But what sin are we committing in these less obvious areas? Is it really a sin to be anxious, for instance?
Note, however, that the word “sin” is the translation of a word that in Greek meant literally “missing the mark” or, simply, “error.” It did not have the connotations of an angry God sending down punishing thunderbolts.
The answer, very simply, is that mental disturbances mean, at a deeper spiritual level, that we are committing the sin-or error-of atheism. We are not taking into account the fact, which is taught by every religion and spiritual path that has ever been, that we have been created by a loving God who cares for us, loves us, and wants to give us the Kingdom if only we open ourselves to it and are ready.
For a truly spiritual person, these are incontrovertible facts. A failure to realize them is due to no other cause than our own low level of consciousness, lack of faith, materialistic prejudices and, often, just plain stubbornness.
So the challenge to all of us is to include this consideration in our self-observation. See how often in our anxiety we assume we are alone and separate from our Source. Then take steps to remind ourselves this is not so.
We must take it as an urgent ethical issue to begin to think rightly on this critical subject. We need to begin to communicate with our Source every day—whether we call it God or use some other name—through prayer and inner reflection, then through spiritual treatment when we need it. Of course the basis for all our efforts must be impartial self-observation, through which we become aware of our many “I’s.” Then see what the result in our meditation practice turns out to be.
The good news—and remember “Gospel” means just that—is that once we have seen and separated from our many “I’s,” it is a relatively straightforward process to dissolve them in favor of residing in our real Self. The battle is half-won just with that separation followed by self-remembering.
The method is to pray to God to free ourselves from a negativity whenever it arises in consciousness. The aspect of God to whom it is most productive to pray is often the Divine Mother, characterized in Christianity as Mary, in India as Kundalini, in ancient Egypt as Isis, among the Aztecs as Tonantzin, etc.
Here is the way Samael Aun Weor, the modern Gnostic avatar, presents the “Hail Mary”:
“Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Yeshua. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, who have the sinning ‘I’, now and at the hour of the death of our defects. Amen.”
Weor writes that the Divine Mother “can forgive all our past Karma if we truly repent from our mistakes.”
Pick just one negative quality or habit and use this prayer to work on it for a month. You may then get your first profound taste of inner ecstasy.