An elusive play of Divine Spirit washes through our consciousness moment by moment, hinting to us about where we might look next, where our application of our energy aligns with Its work.
Our first clue may be a single value we make our central organizing spiritual perspective. We find God's qualities by activating them in ourselves. Love, for instance, can become the spiritual searchlight that illumines whatever our attention is placed upon, so we let it shine on unhappy conditions and hostile words. Or perhaps we want to express truth or beauty or service. We find in the life before us a quality we can embrace that seasons what we do, that is a beacon for us, an anchor to fix to that orders our own heart. Then we can be completely present to problems carrying at the ready the quality we wish to employ. When don't censor the experience coming toward us, it gradually unveils to our mind the information we need for the next step. If we can keep our rational preconceptions out of the way, we accumulate both what Spirit subtly gives us and what our minds gather.
Our constant spiritual question is "What is Spirit doing now?" If It's going in a direction different from our own, we want to know and adjust to that. A price of accurate perception is never to screen out what we don't want to hear. If we can assume that we're imperfect, the inescapable conclusion is that sometimes were wrong. And if we're receiving inner guidance, the inner will sometimes tell us so. If we can identify the impulse of Spirit in the moment, we're closer to cooperating with it. We're partners with God wittingly or unwittingly as our actions are done simultaneously by Spirit and by ourselves. This co-acting is not just mechanical, like an immanent power sustains nature, but personal, our consciousness imbued with qualities arising from the Divine presence in it. Our unselfish love for our fellow man, for instance, is evidence of spiritual activity.
The connection between spirituality and the social order is seldom obvious, however. A collective partnership with Spirit doesn't occur automatically but only from a steady focus on the possibility of it, allowing Spirit slowly to infuse us; then adopting a viewpoint for action that's consistent with that influence and brokering it into a form society can use.
We develop gradually the ability to make this transition to a spiritual viewpoint and back to the practical. If we're fortunate, we begin it as children when our elders direct our attention to values we can act upon. Then over time a partnership with God moves into consciousness, into more direct awareness. With practice and interest, we become more quickly and sensitively attuned to the presence of love in any situation--or to the presence of respect, reverence, joy, kindness, or any such quality. We improve by looking for what we want rather than for what we don't want.
The impact on the social fabric from such development is indirect but clear. Results arising from respect, love, justice, or truth have a longer shelf-life and manifest themselves in further ripples. A spiritual energy working in one person's love of beauty on one corner becomes a first cause for beauty traveling up the street. A system of enlightened justice in one country becomes a model for other countries and perpetuates itself by example just as does a model of wrong-doing.
Similarly, people we consider spiritual set a standard for the rest of us and raise the bar for what we can expect of ourselves. Spiritual convictions can generate the most unselfish and heroic action and be supra-sensible, reaching for understanding not available to the five senses while also appearing not "sensible," not prudent and careful because not conforming to prevailing attitudes. Led by this different clarity, the spiritual person can leave an uncommon mark.
Such inner sight emerges from absorption in an invisible reality that only later shows up as doctrinal or cultural difference. Watching for God, so to speak, creates a predilection or vigilance for noticing God, just as we look at something beautiful and allow love for it to emerge; "predilection," from two Latin words meaning "before" and "to love." One loves God ahead of other things and also "before" in time, loving God prior to God fully revealing Itself. Turning down the din in our life, we stretch to hear the whispers of Spirit, knowing that if we let the din continue, it may be only Thor's hammer that gets our attention.
We tend to bring about results that mirror our consciousness: What we habitually think about we reveal in our actions. The saints, seeing goodness everywhere, elicit it. They focus on the good that they want to bring about in their lives and society. Conversely, if one finds oneself preoccupied with others' defects or becomes heated about imagined offenses, one has there a mirror of one's inner state. We cant help but see in others what we look at within ourselves. We draw our perceptions from our available "stock in trade," like a restaurant owner who can only serve on his menu what he has in his pantry. We look outwardly through the lenses we place inwardly before our eyes; use the same habitual forms to look both at ourselves and others. It's said about the saints that "to the pure all things are pure."
Some will object that this is naive, that we cant expect social patterns to develop by the standards of the saints. But seeing the whole picture, warts and all, we get to choose our emphasis: do we want to elicit and work with the energies that are "pure," with the idealism people possess, with their highest motives? If so, then thats what we pay attention to.
Because of where he focuses attention, the spiritually mature person becomes better able to discern what follows from an action undertaken, especially the balancing of opposites: love with strength, truth with kindness, responsibility with spontaneity, spirituality with practicality, now with then. The spiritual sees both sides. Because it has no need to control, it penetrates conflicts that appear irreconcilable to the practical mind. It knows that in the most fundamental spiritual reality itself there cannot be conflict. Spirit can't be at war with Spirit, proposing contrary realities that a further agency resolves. Truth cant oppose truth. Somehow they must align. At the highest spiritual level there can only be unity: God knows what's what!
So contradictions are only apparent, due to the limitations of our understanding. We approach them constructively by entering as deeply as we can into our partnership with Spirit, holding ourselves open to both poles as long as we can until an avenue of reconciliation opens.
John Jensen is a member of the clergy of Eckankar.