By Harold Boulette
“When man first feels upon his soul the touch of the Divine Light, at once, and in a moment of time, his will is changed; turned in the direction of Reality and away from unreal objects of desire. He is, in fact ‘converted’ in the highest and most accurate sense of that ill-used word. Seeing the Divine, he wants the Divine, though he may not yet understand his own craving; for the scrap of divine life within him has emerged into the field of consciousness, and recognizes its home. Then, as in were, God and the soul rush together, and of their encounter springs love. This is the New Birth.” ~Evelyn Underhill
Ms. Underhill has a lot to say in these few sentences. Let’s take a look at it and see if we can get a better idea of what this all means.
The Divine Light of God is indeed the thing that awakens our spiritual faculties—out spirit and soul—and nourishes them as food nourished the physical body (which is why bread, fish, and wine are often used in allegorical writings to express this Light). While it is possible that our wills and desires change instantly when this happens, it isn’t always the case. Often it is a gradual process much like heating a pot of water over a fire: the fire is instantly hot, but it takes time for that heat to transfer to the water. The soul may be awakened instantly, but like that fire trying to heat the water, it takes times for that awakening to spread to the mind and the will, yet it will affect our behavior and thinking process even if we are not aware of it.
While the purpose of awakening and developing the spiritual faculties is spiritual, there are advantages in the material world as well. The awakened person is not easily fooled by illusions and lies, therefore, he loses desire for the temporary pleasures and comforts of the world of matter, the world of illusion. This doesn’t mean living in poverty and denying the needs of the body. It means meeting those needs without becoming so enamored or the physical that we get greedy and are constantly seeking for more and more, yet never being satisfied. The awakened person satisfies the needs of the body and mind, but no more. She is, in fact, apologetic to the trees cut down to make her house and the plants and animals prepared to feed her or be made into clothing.
Underhill then tells us that when the soul finally see the Divine, it “wants the Divine”. To put it more accurately, it wants to reunite with the Divine. If you were a grape, would you rather be part of a bottle of cheap table wine, or part of a bottle of top quality champagne? I think we would all choose the champagne, but first we must be made aware of it’s existence. That is what awakening the soul is all about. The soul wants to return home, which is to say, to the realm of spirit since the soul is spirit.
This reconnecting of the human soul with the Divine really is the “New Birth” as Underhill says, or the Rebirth that Jesus talked about with his apostles and which is grossly misunderstood by many modern Christian churches. In short, if we truly are to have a chance to go to Heaven after we die, we must be born not just physically, but spiritually as well. Until we have awakened those spiritual faculties, we hve not experienced rebirth no matter how many churches we have been to.
So go out whenever you can and touch the Divine Light, let it fill you, and become one with it.
“Spiritual Consciousness represents a new birth in which the total individual is born.” ~Gene Savoy
A version of this post previously appeared on the Solar Wind blog.