The beginning of the spiritual journey, often filled with excitement, zeal and spiritual “work” is quite different from the path that leads to deeper, richer, spiritual maturity.
There is a time and a place for work to be done. Much like falling in love, our first experiences of our spiritual-selves and the path these encounters invite us toward are titillating. Our heart pounds and we grow faint with excitement as we realize the Ocean of Being that exists within us and that is ours to explore. We discover that diving into this bottomless abyss is somehow making us see more clearly, understand more fully, and love more deeply. It’s intoxicating. Hours upon hours may be spent in mediation and prayer, long days given over to fasting, and a new zeal for good works (outward expressions of Love) consume our thoughts as this invisible realm of God (of peace and joy and unity) becomes our new and fullest reality. This starting leg of the journey is of course wonderful and exhilarating but for many, though the years pass, nothing will change. The good works continue (probably), the prayer continues (maybe), but the depth that Jesus invited all men to, the discovery and living reality of being a manifest Child of God who can say, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father,” continues to be as mysterious and out of reach as it was in the beginning. We keep worshipping a God who is far away; more an act of servitude than a life of perfect union.
Spiritual depth does not come through hard work. Accumulation of head knowledge, Biblical or otherwise, is not the goal of any true spiritual path. The journey is about transformation. About realizing that the God that, in the beginning, you tried so hard to “get closer to” actually exists within you and within every person or creature that you might encounter. Spiritual development lays, not in learning more about God but in our eyes being opened to the truth that God is omnipresent (everywhere) and is all-loving, all-merciful, all-kind… and our role is to simply join this God who is Love, in becoming Love ourselves. This kind of metamorphosis does not come through more doing and effort but through resting in Love.
Obviously the likes of good works, meditation, prayer, etc. have a place. They are useful. They are just not the point. The point is that we would eventually and actually become that which we are seeking. As the Apostle Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthians, “By gazing upon God we are transformed into the image of God.” Note that we he didn’t say that by working harder our end is achieved. As our eyes are gradually opened to seeing God everywhere we look, we can then love God everywhere and in everyone. Thus the “Great Commandment” is fulfilled, as we love God, our neighbors and, seeing Christ within, ourselves as well.
Rest in Love. See Love in every person you meet and remember that it is through this “gazing” and in your resting that you are transformed. It’s something that occurs in and to you, not a result of your hard work. Simply allow yourself to be loved to life and enjoy the process.