A Path from Darkness

Path Out of Darkness

Path from Darkness

…and Spirit told me: Do not be consumed with fear and regret for past sins. Neither should your transgressions be dismissed nor forgotten. Repent, but recognize them as lessons to be learned and do not repeat them. Use them to move forward and fuel your resolve to rise to higher levels of spiritual understanding and virtue.

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An Echo in the Woods

I hear a distant voice calling.
Like an echo in the woods.

I pay no attention
But it keeps coming back
Like a poem’s refrain.

It’s telling me there is more.
That there is more than what I see all around me.
More to be done than simply satisfy my own selfish needs.

It’s telling me that I am so much more than this body of mine.
That I am so much more than my puny mind allows me to believe.

The voice is telling me that I have infinite potential
And great power as yet untapped.
It calls me to a more noble
And meaningful existence.

An echo in the woods…
Do you hear it?

Copyright 2016 by Blair Atherton

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From What Purpose Comes Meaning?

Meaning of Life

“Teacher, why am I here?” I asked.

“You are here to change the world,” the teacher replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

Taken aback I asked, “How can I change the world when I am only one among billions?”

“Ah, but you are not alone in this,” he said. “There are many like you around the world seeking to expand their spiritual awareness. There are even more who seek meaning for their lives, but are not yet spiritually aware.”

“But teacher, what is it that gives life meaning, or perhaps I should say: what is the meaning of life?” I wondered.

He smiled as a parent might to a child’s simple-minded question and replied, “There are some who seek meaning by pursuing a career. Others seek meaning through their family life. Still others seek meaning through devotion to their religion, but the answer is much more basic than these things.”

“I can see where one could get some measure of satisfaction and fulfillment from each of these,” I said.

“Yes, but there is something more fundamental that brings meaning to these and all human endeavors,” replied the teacher.

Not understanding where the teacher was going with this, I asked, “What is more basic than making one’s way in the world, love of family, and devotion to God?” When I heard his answer, I felt as if I were indeed a naive child again.

He said, “You must understand that all of the children of earth have kinship with one another. All of humanity arose from one and the same God the Father. Consequently, you are expected to give all persons you meet the same love and compassion that you would to your own parents, siblings, children, and so forth. It is helping and serving others that is most fulfilling and that gives life its true meaning.”

Trying to grasp a deeper understanding of what the teacher was saying, I declared, “So what you are saying is that love and compassion should underlie and guide all human interactions.”

“Yes, that is why you are here! That is how you will change the world! That is your life’s purpose!” he said. “This is the lesson that humanity must learn!”

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The Spiritual Experience of Knowing

Altered States of Consciousness

Altered States of Consciousness

What is the spiritual experience of Knowing and how does it differ from religious faith or belief? I will try to answer these questions based on my own spiritual experiences. It is an event that may be difficult to grasp through description, and for some difficult to believe without experiencing it themselves.

The spiritual type of knowing discussed here does not refer to factual knowledge, languages, or memory. Rather, as used here, it refers to an inexplicable revelation of spiritual truths of which one suddenly somehow knows with absolute certainty.

The Knowing may take place in a brief, spontaneous altered state of consciousness,  or simply by an abrupt, strong flood of thought. Either mode is sure to get one’s attention and there will be no doubt that something extraordinary has occurred. The knowledge given in this manner may be previously unknown to the recipient, or it may involve something of which the recipient had prior knowledge, but which had not taken deep root in their spiritual awareness.

A characteristic aspect of this type of knowing is that it is  unexpected, and sometimes powerful and overwhelming. It is a spiritual experience unlike anything you may have witnessed before. This is in contrast to faith and belief which are somewhat abstract, intentional commitments that one makes regarding religious and spiritual matters. That is not to say that spiritual experience cannot arise from foundations of faith, but rather faith and belief are not experiences in and of themselves.

For example, one may have faith and believe that there is a God, accepting His existence as a concept. Whereas, a Knowing would be to palpably experience His presence and qualities in an altered state of awareness.

In my book, I describe some of my spiritual experiences of Knowing. Each one was transformative and together they have changed the way I live, think, and view the world. They provided much of the impetus for this website.

The experience of Knowing is not something that one can willfully create. One must be spiritually ready to receive the knowledge it brings. A Knowing is a spontaneous event for which the factors or circumstances needed for its occurrence are largely unknown. It is my belief that if one has an open mind concerning spirituality, a genuine desire for spiritual truth, and strives for purity of heart that they may become fertile ground for the spiritual experience of Knowing.

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With Spirit Eyes I see

With spirit eyes I see you…

With spirit eyes I see you and I are kindred spirits.

With spirit eyes I see we are all connected parts of a whole.

With spirit eyes I see many paths leading to higher levels of spiritual awareness.

With spirit eyes I see a powerful being unaware of its spirit-self.

With spirit eyes I see your spirit body (the real you)—so beautiful and perfect.

With spirit eyes I see your potential for unconditional love for all living things.

 

With spirit eyes I see me…

With spirit eyes I clearly see and understand my transgressions.

With spirit eyes I see that my suffering can lead to redemption and greater awareness.

With spirit eyes I see the invisible ones always close at hand to help me.

With spirit eyes I see the beautiful light and love that radiates from them.

With spirit eyes I see that my purpose is to serve.

With spirit eyes I see that this is what gives life meaning.

*******

Each of us has the potential to see the world through our spirit eyes. It is a choice we can make, but one that must come from purity of intent. That is, a desire to not only see as spirit, but to also live life according to what spirit shows us.

Copyright 2016 by Blair Atherton

The Privilege of Special Abilities

Christ Healing the Sick  Painting by Washington Allston, 1813 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Christ Healing the Sick
Painting by Washington Allston, 1813
Source: Wikimedia Commons

I recently saw the movie Lucy which is about a woman who is exposed to a drug that enables her to use 100 percent of her brain. In the movie, it is said that we use only approximately 10 percent of our brain. However, I am not aware of any evidence that substantiates this claim or hypothesis. Brain scans show neuronal activity throughout the brain.

But I do not wish to debate whether we use all or a part of our brain. What interests me is the idea that the human race has not accessed or expressed its full potential regarding powers of the mind and body. No wonder considering that so few appear to have expressed the third aspect of being—the spirit-self.

I believe that humanity has indeed tapped into only a tiny fraction of its physical and mental abilities. Any uncommon, extraordinary, or special abilities or powers that we observe in a small percentage of the population provide a glimpse into some of the amazing human potential that lays dormant in all of us.

I must stress potential because, as noted, only a very few have extraordinary abilities, and usually only one special ability exists in an individual. Perhaps some day, special abilities will become more commonplace. However, it may require many millennia of spiritual evolution of the human species before this can happen.

Why is it that we cannot access and express the full range of special abilities that we know to exist, as well as a host of others of which we are not yet aware? I believe that the human race is not spiritually ready for the awesome power that lies latent within it. Humanity’s potential power will gradually unfold and express in accord with its level of spiritual progression and evolution. We must as a species demonstrate that we understand the responsibility that comes with knowledge and special abilities. That is, we are expected to use these only for good and to unselfishly help, heal, inspire, and uplift our fellow human beings.

We can begin to see the danger in jumping ahead too quickly. Man had progressed in his scientific knowledge and ability to learn how to split the atom. However, he was not ready spiritually to use its power only for good. Instead, one of the first applications of that knowledge was to make an atomic bomb.

Although extraordinary and special abilities are seen to manifest physically, I believe that they are actually powers of the spirit that are being expressed through the body. The privilege of such power must be earned. In order for uncommon abilities to be expressed, one must be at a level of spiritual awareness and evolution that is sufficient to assure that they will be used responsibly.

Witnessing the Spirit-Self

For a long time I have wanted to learn how to meditate. Initially, the main reason for my wanting to do so was to slow down my mind. I wanted to free myself from the incessant flow of thought. My hope was that by doing so, I would become more present in every moment throughout the day.

Now my hope is that meditation will help me come closer to my spirit-self, and, as a result, facilitate its expression in my everyday life. These things may be referred to as enlightenment by some. I call it witnessing the spirit-self.

I was superficially aware of a number of different meditation methods and their benefits, and tried to meditate on a number of occasions in the past without success. A big part of the methods I attempted was proper sitting posture. In fact, seemingly volumes are discussed about the nuances of posture, while the actual meditation method is covered in a paragraph or two.

Trying to achieve and maintain correct posture for meditation was a problem for me as I am not at all flexible. My experience sitting in the manor required ranged from extremely uncomfortable to painful. It was a major barrier to meditation for me.

Recently, I decided to look into transcendental meditation (TM). The general description of the technique sounded remarkably easy and required only two 20 minute sessions per day.

I went to TM.org , a national organization that presides over TM training through a network of certified instructors. There is a video on the web site that gives a very good overview of TM and its health benefits. The method used for meditation is extremely simple. Anyone can do it without difficulty. For one thing it does not require a specific sitting posture. I encourage those interested in meditation to take a look at the video.

As I dug into the web site, I eventually came across the cost of instruction—on sale from $1,500 to $960! This to learn a method that is so simple and easy to do as to be almost trivial! Furthermore, this simple method puts us in touch with our natural ability to find our inner quiet. I don’t know about you, but I am not going to pay exorbitant fees to be shown how to access the God-given stillness that is already present inside me any more than I would for someone to show me where the fuse box is in my house so I can turn on the lights.

I ran across a book titled Deep Meditation by Yogani that appeared to provide instruction in TM. I got the book and indeed it did describe the TM method along with what to expect, the spiritual benefits, and various phenomena that may arise during practice and how to deal with them. The book was exactly what I had been looking for! Total cost for learning TM: $3.82 for the Kindle book. If you have been wanting to get into meditation, this book will give you a remarkably easy and effective way to do so.

After reading the book, I realize that I have already experienced, by other means, some of the personal and spiritual benefits that can arise from regular TM practice. Examples include positive changes in disposition, becoming more tolerant and accepting of others, becoming more grounded, centered, and relaxed even in stressful situations, and eventually witnessing the spirit-self.

I achieved the above benefits through many years of qigong and tai chi practice. Nevertheless, I feel I can progress much further and faster by adding meditation to my daily practices. There are health benefits from all of these practices, but for me the changes in my outlook on the world around me, and the leap forward in my spiritual awareness were the most rewarding.

Tai chi and qigong are technical practices to cultivate and increase one’s internal energy that require instruction and study to learn. Whereas, TM is not technical and easily accesses our inner stillness. Consequently, in my view, TM is the best and easiest practice for the general public to transform themselves by transcending the outer noise and confusion and cultivating the inner silence that is the spirit-self. I encourage everyone to give TM a try.