Living the Divine Life

The spiritual path has been likened to climbing a mountain. It's difficult, exhausting, and frequently unsuccessful. In truth, most people don't make the attempt. They just sit on a rock, perched on the side of the mountain. In fact, in some Christian doctrine there is no effort required. Spiritual success is assured by faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. St. Paul preached that it isn't your efforts that ensure your acceptance into heaven, it's your belief in Jesus. In fact, this kind of institutional religion could be seen as one dimensional, like a point. There's no growth, no expansion, and no movement. It's static. Doctrine is set. Rituals are fixed. Hierarchies, regulations, organizations, and history are determined until the authorities say differently. There are those who prefer the known and the  immutable, and those people find conventional religion to be the structured environment they need. But that doesn't appeal to everyone these days. Some people hunger for spiritual growth, or at least something more fulfilling. They want more latitude in finding their way to God. These people typically have left the one dimensional church for the two dimensional spiritual path. The point becomes a line. So, the person sitting on the rock gets up, and instead of climbing the mountain, takes the easy route by walking laterally around it. The line becomes a circle, and while the illusion of motion, of progress, of purpose is created, ultimately the circle leads nowhere. The plane created by our circle allows latitude in two-dimensional movement, but is still bounded or circumscribed by that circle. It's a limited plane of knowledge and activity called the physical plane.

So we read books, watch movies, listen to lectures, go to gatherings such as study groups, and perhaps even practice some spiritual disciplines. We'll probably congratulate ourselves on our progress, but maybe someday, if we' re honest, we'll admit that we really haven't changed much. To put it another way, we've been on a spiritual treadmill. Of course, we'll probably decide then that our path wasn't really working for us, or sometimes, if we're more honest, that we weren't really working on our path. In any case, we'll decide the path has gotten stale, boring, unworkable, or difficult, and decide to move on to some other path that seems more appealing. Many people go from guru to guru, program to program, or workshop to workshop, for example, as if that would change anything or make the work easier.

But there is a third dimension to spirituality, and that's depth. Unlike the circumscribed boundaries of the physical world of form and action so characteristic of human endeavor, not to mention religion, the depth of the soul is limitless. And to plumb its depths is to enter the realm of the divine. Every great spiritual master has told us that the way to discover our divinity is to remove our ego. That's mountain climbing. True, we add depth, or a third dimension, to our spiritual journey by climbing up that mountain, but alas, it just gets steeper the higher we go. The problem is, few make it because to remove our ego requires us to give up our sense of ourselves. We are human beings with self-interests, including desires, aversions to pain and addictions to pleasure. As human beings, we don't have much depth, but we live on that flat, two-dimensional plane, so it works for us.. more or less. In fact, we have no other sense of ourselves other than as human beings. We can accept intellectually that we are a soul having a human experience, but we don't actually know it except in rare cases of illumination. So how else can we add depth to our spiritual experience?

Rather than climbing up that hill, discarding our ego as we go, we can tap our soul and let it emerge naturally. While it's true that the ego covers our soul like mud caked on boots, it is still true that much of what we are as a human springs from a divine source. If we cultivate that source, we can refine and purify the impulses that arise like water out of a spring until it sparkles with clarity. And in the process, our egos will matter less and less, eventually falling away.

If the soul is a spark of the divinity that pervades the universe, then the depth of our soul is infinite. And the soul, if it is divine, would naturally reflect divine qualities. Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of divinity is wholeness, a holographic inter-connectiveness that orders all things into a seamless tapestry. If everything is divine, then there really is only one thing that appears to us in different forms. And wholeness implies harmony. Examining nature, for instance, reveals that everything operates in a flawless interacting system of ecology despite the seeming endless changes of birth and death, creation and dissolution.

The ancients believed that the universe reflected mathematical precision, and so sacred geometry was devised to measure proportions and relationships. Beauty was thought to reflect that harmony, and the aesthetic quality of harmony was incorporated into art and architecture. Likewise, social mores and ethics were designed to ensure harmony in society and the home. The values we hold as beneficial all reflect harmony, that sense of wholeness. Love is more than passion. It is the implicit recognition that we are all one in God, and we are all harmoniously interconnected. Truth is being in harmony with the record of events, as well as being in harmony with the consciousness that wills existence. Creativity is being in harmony with the inspiration that our soul provides us if we let it. Joy is the natural state of being in harmony with our own soul.

On the other hand, disharmony goes against the divine workings of the universe, and sin is essentially defined as when we make the decision to be out of harmony with our divine nature and impulses. Sin, or disharmony, leads to frustration, anger, and sadness. It's the ego that sins, that separates itself from the flow, or Tao, of the universe, and insists on its own way. If you want to know if you are operating from your soul or your ego, ask yourself if your feelings are negative or positive, and whether your feelings are dependent on getting what you want. Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness is a temporary emotion that reflects the ego's satisfaction with reaching its goals. Joy is independent of what happens to us. It bubbles up from the soul.

So the way to let our divine nature spring forth from the depths of our soul is to simply allow it. To a large extent, that means being aware of our impulses and where they come from. It also means evaluating how we react to life. In ancient Egypt, the dead were allowed into heaven only after their hearts were weighed and found worthy. The heart is the key to it all. In Egypt, nobody judged the deeds one committed in life. It was the motivation behind the deeds that was judged. It's been said that life is empty and meaningless, and that only we decide what things mean. The meaning we give our own actions, the actions of others, and the seeming random events that surround us in life, all depend on the quality of our hearts. A heart in harmony with our divine soul will be in harmony with life and God. A heart weighed down with fear, defensiveness, anger, selfishness, and other negative qualities, will be in disharmony with life and God.

A person in harmony with their own divine soul will be loving in the sense of seeing everyone as equal to one's own self because all things are one in God. The elements of love are respect, consideration, patience, tolerance, and compassion. And those are the qualities a genuinely loving person brings to their relationships. The outcome of a truly loving heart is service to others without expecting compensation. A loving person will not only grant forgiveness for the errors of others, but will believe in that other person's right to redemption by making amends. A person who loves also feels a tremendous urge to complete the merging of the masculine and feminine aspects of creation to create wholeness. It has only been in the modern, western culture that sex has not been viewed as one of the most powerful means to achieve God consciousness. That's why sex was always considered sacred and sanctioned by God through marriage. And it was part of religious rites and obligations in some cultures. What's more, every transaction between two people, sexual or not, is procreative. It gives birth to an outcome. Every act that connects with another person involves a giver and a receiver, the masculine and feminine aspects of divinity. The act of giving is the hallmark of someone who loves, and those who love never tire of giving.

The hallmark of the unloving is selfishness and an attitude of greed. And, of course, a person who loves would avoid hurting others. Such a person will also treat other non-human living things with love and respect, even if they have to be killed for our use. The heart of someone who loves imbues every act with goodwill and good intentions while avoiding judgmentalism.

A person in harmony with their own divine soul will be truthful. That means more than just not lying. It means that every event will be seen as a manifestation of the divine flow that orders the universe. Whatever happens isn't good or bad. It simply is. Ultimately, there is no such thing as good or bad. There is only love or its absence. The righteousness of an act depends on the motivations of the person doing it and how it affects other people. Truth is beyond dualism because it reflects the wholistic nature of divinity. It means that what we view as truth in the normal sense is relative. So, such a person takes a longer perspective on the mundane events of life, and the happiness or grief experienced is not taken as seriously as if it were final because it isn't the real truth. Life is seen as an illusion and could be compared to a stage play, a trip to the amusement park, or even a school. We know when the production is over, we will leave the stage and resume living the truth, not the illusion. The heart of someone who values truth rejoices in the immortality of the soul and courageously faces physical reality.

A person in harmony with their own divine soul will be creative and exert a force on life that those who are passive cannot experience. The very nature of the divine is to create, and that force exists in the soul. The mode of creation varies, of course, and ranges from the primal urge to have children to the highest artistic and engineering achievements. Deconstructing reality to determine the how and why of nature, that is, the role of the scientist, is valuable. Constructing reality to satisfy the urge to create, that is, the role of the artist and engineer if taken in the broadest definition, is even more valuable. Those who create slide into a flow that seems to come from beyond their own resources. It can result in a focus that transcends mundane thought. To create is to literally open the valve to the soul and to let the energy out. The heart of the creative person rejoices in the sheer act of the creation, and takes no pride in comparisons or contests. They simply don't matter. Creation is done for its own sake.

A person in harmony with their own divine soul will have a keen appreciation, if not a longing or yearning, for beauty. The aesthetic quality of beauty as witnessed in nature, the human body, art, architecture, and even the astonishing elegance of mathematics, is a function of harmony. It is an aspect of human existence, and a reflection of the desire for beauty, that the wealthier a person becomes, the more that person attempts to beautify his or her surroundings. Of course, the wealthy can afford to devote their resources to beauty. Those who are poor typically live in ugliness and squalor, and that is destructive to the expression of their soul as well as the self-esteem of the person who lives in it. Our psyche reflects our surroundings and our surroundings reflect our psyche. So the divine soul seeks to recreate the conditions in which it normally exists, that is, in a state of beauty.

There was a time when every event or act in life was considered a manifestation of God's work. Rituals and sacrifices were performed to honor or propitiate the divine and thus, to ensure the welfare of the individual and society. In the secular age, spirituality is consigned to a separate, compartmentalized corner of our existence. Yet the emergence of the divine soul, if it is to be expressed in life, requires the conscious sanctification of our activities. We should regard everything we do as an act of God. That is the key to living the divine life. While that may not be feasible in this age, there is at least the possibility of reminding ourselves of who we are and the importance of what we do by consciously making something in our life sacred.

That activity can be almost anything as long as it is done according to divine principles. It is difficult to transcend or remove the ego and uncover the divine Self.  It is not difficult to live as though life were sacred. We may not be able to climb the mountain, but we can draw from the well of divinity that is our soul. Some people take up art or writing as a form of creativity, and as artists know, the peak experience of creating is when the ego falls away and the artist enters a sort of timeless flow that seems to come from beyond. Recognizing the divine nature of creativity, the Greeks said it was the muse that inspired us to creative acts of genius. But any form of creativity can be sanctified. Even cooking dinner can be rendered divine if the chef dedicates it to God and is inspired to create a work of art.

Likewise, sex can be a divine act if the participants think of their partner as the other half of the divine coupling of masculine and feminine, and the lovemaking is done creatively and selflessly in a spirit of giving. Serving others is one of the best activities for imbuing with sacredness if those being served are conceived of as divine and the service an act of worship. The opportunities for service abound everyday whenever we encounter another human being. Even our daily job can be seen as service if we dedicate it to God and keep that thought in mind as we go about our work. A daily walk in nature with appreciation for its beauty and order is humbling if it reminds us that creation exists for its own sake, and not everything exists to satisfy our human egos. That certainly qualifies as a sacred activity. So the dedication every day of at least one otherwise mundane activity as a sacred act serves to remind us of who we really are, and in the upwelling of divine energy, we grow closer to God. And when that activity is naturally sanctified, we can add another activity, and yet another, until we fill our lives with the divine and sanctify our life.


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