Spirituality and the Meaning of Life in Summary

To help with your spiritual growth and as a follow-up to my articles, “The Meaning of Life: Rise and Shine” and “What’s the Meaning of Life?, A Response, Part 1”, the following are four summaries of spiritual understanding that I’ve come across over my years of study. They were written in 1931, 1944, 2004 and 1981, respectively. The first is an excerpt from Edward Bach’s Heal Thyself, the second is part of Aldous Huxley’s introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, the third is a part of Ken Wilbur’s article at Beliefnet.com. and the fourth is from Leichtman and Japikse’s “Active Meditation”. As you read these notice the similarities between them and the overall spiritual themes being taught.

Edward Bach wrote in Chapter 2 of Heal Thyself the following “fundamental truths”:

“The first of these is that man has a Soul which is his real self; a Divine, Mighty Being, a Son of the Creator of all things, of which the body, although the earthly temple of that Soul, is but the minutest reflection: that our Soul, our Divinity Who resides in and around us, lays down for us our lives as He wishes them to be ordered and so far as we will allow, ever guides, protects and encourages us, watchful and beneficent to lead us always for our utmost advantage: that He, our Higher Self, being a spark of the Almighty, is thereby invincible and immortal.

The second principle is that we, as we know ourselves in this world, are personalities down here for the purpose of gaining all the knowledge and experience which can be obtained through earthly existence, of developing virtues which we lack and of wiping out all that is wrong within us, thus advancing towards the perfection of our natures. The Soul knows what environment and what circumstances will best enable us to do this, and hence He places us in that branch of life most suited for that object.

Thirdly, we must realize that the short passage on this earth, which we know as life, is but a moment in the course of our evolution, as one day at school is to a life, and although we can for the present only see and comprehend that one day, our intuition tells us that birth was infinitely far from our beginning and death infinitely far from our ending. Our Souls, which are really we, are immortal, and the bodies, of which we are conscious are temporary, merely as horses we ride to go a journey, or instruments we use to do a piece of work.

Then follows a fourth great principle, that so long as our Souls and personalities are in harmony all is joy and peace, happiness and health. It is when our personalities are led astray from the path laid down by the Soul, either by our own worldly desires or by the persuasion of others, that a conflict arises. This conflict is the root cause of disease and unhappiness. No matter what our work in the world-bootblack or monarch, landlord or peasant, rich or poor-so long as we do that particular work according to the dictates of the Soul, all is well; and we can further rest assured that in whatever station of life we are placed, princely or lowly, it contains the lessons and experiences necessary at the moment for our evolution, and gives us the best advantage for the development of ourselves.

The next great principle is the understanding of the Unity of all things: that the Creator of all things is Love, and that everything of which we are conscious is in all its infinite number of forms a manifestation of that Love, whether it be a planet or a pebble, a star or a dewdrop, man or the lowliest form of life. It may be possible to get a glimpse of this conception by thinking of our Creator as a great blazing sun of beneficence and love and from the center an infinite number of beams radiate in every direction, and that we and all of which we are conscious are particles at the end of those beams, sent out to gain experience and knowledge, but ultimately to return to the great center. And though to us each ray may appear separate and distinct, it is in reality part of the great central Sun. Separation is impossible, for as soon as a beam of light is cut off from its source it ceases to exist. Thus we may comprehend a little of the impossibility of separateness, as although each ray may have its individuality, it is nevertheless part of the great central creative power. Thus any action against ourselves or against another affects the whole, because by causing imperfection in a part it reflects on the whole, every particle of which must ultimately become perfect.”

In the introduction to the Bhagavad-Gita translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley wrote the summary of his Perennial Philosophy:

First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness–the world of things and animals and men and even gods–is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.

Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.

Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.

Fourth: man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.”

In a Beliefnet.com article titled An Integral Spirituality, Ken Wilbur wrote that most of the great wisdom traditions agree that:

1. Spirit, by whatever name, exists.

2. Spirit, although existing “out there,” is found “in here,” or revealed within to the open heart and mind.

3. Most of us don’t realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation, or duality—that is, we are living in a fallen, illusory, or fragmented state.

4. There is a way out of this fallen state (of sin or illusion or disharmony), there is a Path to our liberation.

5. If we follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within and without, a Supreme Liberation, which

6. Marks the end of sin and suffering, and

7. Manifests in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings.”

The following is from “Active Meditation” by Robert Leichtman and Carl Japikse. It is from the last chapter titled The Western Tradition and the authors describe the following as what should be the goals of those of us on the spiritual path in the West.

  1. To make the God within our primary source of enlightenment, growth and creativity.
  2. To link the personality with the higher self, thereby producing a spiritualized individuality capable of responding to the forces and qualities of spirit.
  3. To ground the life of spirit through the enlightened activities of the personality on the physical plane.
  4. To learn and use the skills of devotion, understanding, and obedience to link the personality with all three of the major aspects of divine life – love, wisdom and will.
  5. To purify and illumine all aspects of the personality so they become agents of spiritual force.
  6. To cultivate the spiritual intuition, by linking an illumined mind with the wisdom of the soul.
  7. To nurture a constant awareness of the underlying goodwill and unity in the divine presence.
  8. To recognize that it is our duty and privilege to serve the purpose of the soul.
  9. To become consciously aware of the reality of the Hierarchy and its plan for the evolution of humanity and civilization – and to assist in implementing it.
  10. To become consciously aware of the spiritual groups the higher self is part of – and to learn how we can contribute to the work of these groups.

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