When I teach I always emphasize that there are two equally essential aspects of spiritual work – the attainment of inner freedom, and the art of creative illumination. On the spiritual path we must first liberate our awareness from the false ideas and perceptions that keep us from seeing the true magnitude of who we are. Before attaining this level of perceptual freedom we remain imprisoned in a world of separation, isolation and limitation. Once we have experienced beyond our habitual ways of seeing reality we are free to move into a new perceptual reality that is illuminated by our own deepest spiritual insights and experiences.
Inner freedom is attained through the spiritual work of letting go, which happens when we learn to unconditionally accept the way things are. This depth of surrender demands that we give up control and relax all preferences. When we want nothing other than what already is, we become a profoundly free human being. The inner freedom of total acceptance opens a new world of possibility to us. At this point we become available for a radically transformative shift.
Once we are no longer trying to control life and have liberated our consciousness from the relentless assumption that things should be different than they are, our relentless struggle with everything we used to think was wrong comes to an end.
Suddenly there is nothing to fight against. Everything is just what it is and all of the creative energy that used to be consumed in the never-ending battle to shape reality in the way we think it should be is now freed up in us. Our hearts and minds explode with the power of pure possibility and we wake up and see that reality is not a set of external circumstances that constrain us; reality is a perceptual landscape that we ourselves are co-creating in concert with a host of unseen forces and influences.
Inner freedom opens our awareness to the fact that there is no reality independent of our experience of it. Reality is not a physical place. Reality is an experienced event. And the nature and quality of that experience is determined by the experiencer as much as by that which is perceived. We are half of the equation out of which reality emerges into existence.
Our perceptual filters and lenses bring reality to focus in a particular way, but we can also change our perceptions and bring new realities into focus. In some ways, shifting realities is as simple as tuning a radio dial into a new station. We have been culturally conditioned to see reality only one way. We have been trained to pay attention to certain dimensions of our experience and disregard others. These preferences create the experience that we have learned to call reality, but that is only one possible reality.
The second essential aspect of spiritual work is creative illumination, which occurs as we bring previously hidden dimensions of reality into the light of awareness by refocusing our mind’s eye in new ways. And we cannot change how we look without changing what we see. When we change the way we look at ourselves, we become a different person. When we change how we look at the world, a new world is born. We are not creating new realities out of thin air as much as we are discovering more of what was already there.
As I already explained, the attainment of inner freedom liberates our awareness from it’s habitual struggle against the way things are. At that point, what immediately becomes apparent to us is that there is much more to reality than we ever dreamed of. We had been habitually focusing on a tiny fragment of what is real without ever imagining the vast wells of possibility that extend infinitely beyond it. Our spiritual work begins with the liberation of our inner vision and continues as we bring new possibilities into existence by creatively illuminating the invisible potentials that are waiting to be born.
Also in this series:
Essay 2: The Individual and Collective Soul
Essay 3: The Gifts of a More Highly Developed Soul