Saturday, February 17, 2007

Essay on Spiritual Transformation, part 1

In spiritual transformation, what is it that we are attempting to transform? It is our lower self, or our ego. When we recognize the Truth, through the Word of God, we realize we fall short of the standard set for us by the Prophets. At this point, several responses might occur. A sense of guilt may be triggered--a feeling of inadequacy. We want to cover this up, so we set out to follow the laws and rules to give us a sense of worth, and so we will be seen as acceptable in the eyes of God and others. Another response might be to feel this inadequacy without attempting to cover it up with good behavior. The inadequacy may be painful, and leave us feeling exposed. We may then turn to God in prayer, read His Word, and commune with His spirit, and feel that His powerful presence wipes away our feeling of inadequacy, or transforms it into power—spiritual power which is not from our ego, but from the grace of God.

Words, concepts, and acquired knowledge often act as a veil or cloak covering our feelings. Negative feelings are an indicator or a barometer for our body and soul, revealing to us that we are in need or out of balance in some way. We avoid experiencing negative feelings so we can continue to uphold our idealized self-image and continue to receive the approval and validation from others that comes from conforming to society’s standards of how one should be. Not only are these feelings painful to experience, but when we do experience them, we suddenly find ourselves out of step with society, alone, and unsupported by those whose life’s purpose is to avoid insecurity and instead uphold the idealized self-image. We fortify and shore-up our ego self in order to shield against and ward off feelings of insecurity, loneliness, or emptiness.

So you see there is great resistance to experiencing pain. When one can allow himself to actually feel pain or shame or heartache, it is a step away from falseness. It is an act of bravery. It breaks the rigid fear that comes from constantly repressing one’s feelings in the name of trying to look good. We think this ‘looking good’ and ‘keeping up appearances’ helps others and sets a good example, but we just teach others to be fake and superficial, without real humility, and leaving no room for growth. It is actually selfish, because we are afraid to feel the inner shame and emptiness that comes when we realize we have been fake our whole lives and that we don’t know what reality is.

If we’re busy upholding an image for others, we cannot grow or transform. If we cannot feel insecurity, we cannot turn to God for security. If we’ve acquired knowledge, house, family, job, religious and secular titles and positions, relationships, possessions, and received our security and identity from these things, then there is no room for God, no way to realize that God is the only Comforter and Provider. If our heart is attached to the comforts of this world, how can we experience God as the one who bestows the joy and peace? How can we seek peace if we cannot feel the struggle inside us? If we are constantly appeasing our struggle with the pleasures and securities of this world, how then can we let God into our hearts? Even religion and our religious friends serve as worldly comforts, which perpetuates our attachment to this world. We actually use religious meetings and religious knowledge as objects to possess, which serve to build up our personal power and give us worldly security, in order to shield against feeling our inner emptiness, shame, fear, and insecurity.

We need to dig deep into our life, and recognize that we have feelings of fear, insecurity, shame, inadequacy, and this makes up the greater part of our inner self. And we’ve been conditioned to attach ourselves to our knowledge, family, job, position, house, etc., in order to prevent us from experiencing these feelings. But those inner feelings don’t go away—they just get covered up. And then we become superficial, materialistic, intellectual, and unspiritual. Then comes the creation of the false shell which may imitate spirituality, or at least imitates what the mind thinks is spirituality. True spirituality may not look like what you imagine it to be--because you can’t have true spirituality without authentic recognition and experience of that which is not spiritual—the untransformed ego self. After the arduous process of letting down the defenses against your unwanted ego self, you can spiritualize that very self, and apply the remedy of the Writings, and enter the battle with ego. After awhile, you will see that the struggle, the battle, the pain, the selfishness, is all part of God, it is all good, and it all issues from His grace. But these are just concepts until you first get real with yourself, and feel your pain and your inadequacy, instead of talking about it in your head from a safe distance.

We spend our whole lives shielding against and warding off feelings of fear, insecurity, and weakness, and especially against showing it or expressing it in front of others. Instead, we spend all our time creating false identities of power and security and attach ourselves to various things in the world which we and society as a whole consider symbols of power and security. Underneath all our anger, fear, worry, resentment, shame, and guilt is a need and desire to be loved, forgiven, and comforted. If we can let ourselves feel that need wholly, and turn to God through His Prophets instead of turning to the things of this temporal world, we will have eternal rest--the deep peace and love our souls crave.

Since it is extremely difficult to be this vulnerable in public--while working and conducting our daily affairs around people who are not going through spiritual transformation--we need to have support groups which train us in how to stay open-hearted and turn to God for our strength while still interacting with people in our daily lives. No less than intense, sustained, and regular support and cooperation among small groups of interested individuals is required for authentic spiritual transformation.

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Blogger Michael said...

I know very little about Baha'i...but being a follower of Christ. I must ask why one would feel the need to look for any more than Jesus Himself? If Baha'i claims to follow the teachings of Christ, He said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me" John 14:6. He also said He is the WORD of God (logos), therefore putting an end to the need for any further Scriptures (Scriptures being inerrent Words from God Himself found in the Bible). You sound a very spiritual man interested in changing for God, so myself being His follower and commanded to love all, for His glory and our joy, am concerned about what teachings anyone chooses to put their trust in. Have you read the Gospels?

9:21 AM  

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