“Each new stage achieved in the mystical development of the spirit has meant, not the leaving behind of the previous stages, but an adding on to them; an ever greater extension of experience, and enrichment of personality. So that the total result of this change, this steady growth of your transcendental self, is not an impoverishment of the sense-life in the supposed interests of the super-sensual, but the addition to it of another life—a huge widening and deepening of the field over which your attention can play. Sometimes the mature contemplative consciousness narrows to an intense point of feeling, in which it seems indeed ‘alone with the Alone’: sometimes it spreads to a vast apprehension of the Universal Life, or perceives the common things of sense aflame with God.” ~Evelyn Underhill
By Harold Boulette
Development of Our Spiritual Faculties
Some people fear that the development of their spiritual faculties will mean giving up their material life. Other fear that knowledge gained through years of study in material schools will be lost and replaced with the spiritual and mystical. This is simply not the case.
First, there is no requirement, or even expectation, in most modern spiritual schools that the student must give up material possessions and live like a monk. What is true is that as one becomes more and more spiritual, the value placed on things in the material world will lessen. We will lose attachments to such things as our house, our car, our clothing and jewelry. We may decide on our own than we are better suited with fewer possessions, and decide to sell some, or give them away. There is no force involved, and many people who are highly developed spiritually still have many possessions such as a comfortable home, but they lose all attachment to them and can easily give them up if they feel they are impeding further spiritual growth.
Second, when it comes to your educational development regarding the material world, that will not be erased by development of knowledge of the spiritual worlds, and the spiritual levels of being hidden behind those thinks of matter. Instead, they will be augmented by a higher knowledge. To use an analogy, it’s like the person who drives a car who becomes a mechanic. He still knows how to drive a car, and still does so, but now his knowledge goes way beyond just being able to operate a car, to understanding how much of it works, and repairing it when it fails. Just as that mechanic can fix many things that go wrong with the car, the spiritual master understands why certain things happen on the physical level and can “fix” many problems when they happen, or prevent them entirely.
Ms. Underhill finishes by telling us that the expanded consciousness of the “contemplative” or spiritual person can narrow to a point of severe aloneness, or expand to include the whole universe, including the spiritual realms. This does mean that in narrows in one person and infinitely expands in another, but that in one individual it will at times be sharply focused on self, and at other times be very expansive. That is exactly the way it should be. We shouldn’t see the tree and not the forest. We also shouldn’t see the forest, but not the individual tree. We need to see both the individual tree, and the complete forest. In spiritual terms, we need to see the spirit in a grain of sand, a bug, a dog, or a person. We also need to see the Great Spirit that is above it all called God. When we see spirit at all levels, that we truly have achieved Gnosis (divine knowledge). As the great Hermes supposedly said, “as above, so below”.
This post was previously published on the blog Solar Wind.