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The Solitude of the Path
By: Rev. Dr. William Wong

 

It's the reason why so few manage to proceed down it.  The well intended start off with a full head of steam but the need for companionship and security is a stronger call.  Two or more may start on the road but differing rates of progression and realization soon separate them.  This brings discouragement.

Seeking oneness with the Creator (Mystical Union) is the ultimate goal of those on the spiritual path.  Regardless of which path one takes or what programming language (religion, mysticism, etc.) one uses, the ultimate goal is the same.

Joseph Campbell taught that it was the lover within who dreamed of goals and accomplishments and the warrior within who set about attaining the goals.  In many of those who set on the path the warrior is found wanting.  He lacks strength.

In the last three generations, the people of the modern world have grown accustomed to the nearly instant attainment of their desires.  This trend makes folks unwilling to put in the effort required to achieve even moderate levels of spiritual accomplishment.  In past generations, lack of accomplishment was due to knowledge hidden from the masses!  With our generations, from the children of the Great Depression onward, it's because of sloth.

In physical endeavors, we see this mindset often.  Many martial arts students expect to be proficient and earn their black belts in mere weeks.  Ancient acolytes studied not just for a couple of hours a couple of times a week but all day long for years to attain mastery.  In exercise, most people who start a program will drop it within the first three weeks.  These folks expect a physiological change to occur in the blink of an eye.

Likewise, many step onto the spiritual path with high hopes and dreams of great attainment.  But, when they discover the path is slow and long, as the mind dissolves the blockages it itself creates; they become discouraged. The discouraged either drop off of the path or, like the phony black belt, pretend to have achieved a level of development not yet attained.  Others with an eye to see, an ear to hear and a gut to intuit will see through those who can talk spirituality but can't walk it.

Does all this sound too negative?  Too judgmental?  Too Bad!  Wake up!  For 30 years in the spirituality movement we've thought of the spiritual path in nicey-nice we are the world, we are all love, we will all make it hippie-type platitudes.  Not so!

Few are those who take up the path; fewer still are those with the strength of soul and conviction to make it to the end.  Few you will see actually apply the principles they have supposedly internalized!  Those who fall away along with those who have never attempted the path will be left back in the school of life until they brighten up enough to figure things out. (Gee, is that like winding up in purgatory?)  There will be those souls who will never figure things out, even given eons of time.

To each soul is given a certain amount of time in which to attain balance and mystical union.  When, through sloth, they fail to make progress in the time allotted, the Creator simply retrieves the spark of Himself (Spirit) from the individual and erases the personality and experiences (Soul) recorded on it.  Much like erasing the music on a cassette. The entity then is no more.

To progress on the path requires self-motivation.  Groups of like-minded individuals can provide support for the journey but beware of group dynamics!  There was never a group that achieved simultaneous attainment.  There was never a group that did not become dominated by its strongest personality or dragged down by its slowest learner.

The ascending mountain path that leads to enlightenment and mystical union is wide enough for only one to walk.  At times there is room for a teacher met along the way, but only for a while.  Eventually the trip must be made alone.

As the assent grows steeper, the less need there will be for teachers; answers will be found more by going within.  At higher levels of attainment will be had higher levels of ecstasy and union during moments of deep meditation.
But the ego of man is strong and the fall can be great for those who falter while at such levels.  Many have been spiritual teachers who have failed their Satsushima (great test) before their final enlightenment.  The higher desires gave way to greed, sex and the need to dominate their students' lives.  Rebalancing their karma and atoning for their actions will take a long time and tremendous effort.

The path holds great promise, and delivers great knowledge.  It is the way back home.  First we must call forth the love to mount it, then the strength to stay on it and finally the wisdom to reach its summit.  And, we must do all this alone.

 
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