As we continue to talk about spiritual growth, I have been hearing from more and more people who ask how they will be able to tell when they are growing spiritually. I used to wonder about that, too! But having worked at my own spiritual growth and been amazed both by how easy it is and how very different it makes you feel, I can answer this question now with confidence. And I know you really need to know! But my problem in sharing what I have learned is that everything else that I write has been assembled in the course of extensive research. Today, though, I will be sharing what is arguably the most important thing that I ever will write for you, and of necessity it will be based primarily on my own experience.
This universe exists to give us a place where we can push against negativity in order to raise our personal spiritual vibrations away from fear and toward more perfect love. The process of spiritual growth at our level is actually no more complex than that! No matter how hard this might seem to us, we are not talking spiritual graduate school here. Nor even spiritual college. Nor high school. This universe is a good and rigorous spiritual elementary school. We come here to get ready for what amounts to spiritual junior high, at which point we can cease to incarnate because we will no longer need negativity to foster what will be our eternal adventure of ever more glorious spiritual growth.
And here is why raising your personal spiritual vibration must be your main goal now:
YOUR SPIRITUAL VIBRATION IS WHO YOU ARE. You cannot do acts of cruelty or kindness, but rather you are those acts. If showing forgiveness and love in any instance feels as if you are struggling with a conscious choice, then you are acting in contradiction to your lower rate of spiritual vibration. The whole purpose of your having entered this lifetime is the transformation of your mind. And if you have to think about it, then you haven’t yet completed that transformation: you still are vibrating at a lower grade level. You are trying too hard, trying to “fake it until you make it.” And if you hope that faking it is good enough, then you won’t be making it. Not in this lifetime.
We all had a test of our personal consciousness vibratory rate only this past week, when an 18-year-old publicly hugged and forgave the murderer of his older brother. Watch this young man give his speech, then watch him beg the judge for an opportunity to hug the woman who had shot his brother to death in his own home. If you can witness young Brandt Jean’s beautiful act with anything but joy in your heart, then your spiritual development still needs work! And tragically, the reactions to what he did have been decidedly mixed. That fact horrifies me. No one who is a follower of Jesus can consider what Brandt Jean did to be anything but spiritual common sense! It is past time for people who call themselves Christians to sit and listen to the Lord Himself:
When Peter asked him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (MT 18:21-23).
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (JN 13:34).
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (MT 5:43-48).
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (LK 6:37-38).
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23).
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (LK 6:35-36).
Jesus gives us in the Gospels the easiest and most effective method for achieving rapid spiritual growth ever devised! All I did when I decided almost a decade ago to really try to grow spiritually was to take the Lord’s teachings as seriously and strictly as He means them to be taken. You will notice that He never says try! Always and forever, Jesus says DO.
I was an excellent experimental subject! I had been appallingly self-important, at the top of every class in school, expecting to be the winner in each contest, as impressed with myself as I could be. And I used to have a hair-trigger temper. I saw slights and reasons to feel annoyed in many of my interactions, so I was irritated a lot of the time. I didn’t realize how bad it was, since I had been that way for my entire life! I just thought my being so prickly was normal.
(As an aside, I suspect that spiritual growth is easier if you are already comfortable with thinking in an eternal frame, so I urge you first to study the afterlife literature and convince yourself your life is eternal. Then, go for it! No matter your age, you can make this your last earth-lifetime.)
I have spoken elsewhere about my process of applying the Lord’s Gospel teachings, which at first was just me messing with ideas and without real expectations. So I was amazed when, about six weeks into my experiment, I noticed a profound internal change. Something happened that should have vastly annoyed me, even blighted my entire day, and I noticed it, but now it didn’t bother me at all. It was as if there had been levers on the outside of me that people could fiddle with and make me crazy, but now those levers had been disconnected on the inside. No matter what happened from then on, I felt only peace. I continued to practice radical forgiveness proactively for a few months more, but before long doing that started to seem like overkill so I stopped bothering. And a few years later my primary guide, Thomas, unexpectedly announced to me that I am now living my last necessary earth-lifetime. Wow! What, me?? I still have trouble believing it, even though more and more I am coming to see that what he said may be true.
Growing spiritually feels like a peaceful distancing from every possible source of stress! It feels like a softening, a blissful deepening so complete that at this point I can’t even recall the agitation with which I saw the world before. As I think about it, here are the biggest differences that beginning to grow spiritually has made in my life:
The reason why spiritual growth is so easy at our basic stage is because it consists entirely in remembering who we already are! Thomas Merton was an extraordinary twentieth-century Trappist monk whose youthful autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, was seminal for me. Merton’s early death was by accident or by assassination. As he spoke to an audience on the day he died, he summed up the reason why growing spiritually at our stage is so easy. He said, “My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
Last week a reader asked me how we plan our earth-lives for spiritual learning. What a great question! It made me realize that when the universe exists as our spiritual school, talking about how that purpose fits with the process of life and death is basic information. I have been remiss in not discussing it much before now! Let’s see if we can remedy that mistake next week.…