05/01/2006 11:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Seven Spiritual Paths (Part 6)

It may seem that we have wandered far away from practical everyday reality into the realm of esoterica. After Path #4, which saw the birth of intuitive knowledge, everything that happens in the spiritual life happens in consciousness. The person doesn't leave material reality behind, but there is a radical new relationship with it. The three-dimensional world becomes what is often described as a waking dream.

Is there an advantage to this new relationship? Actually, yes, a tremendous advantage. The material world is presently in deep crisis. Human beings have been pursuing their idea of happiness for centuries, and yet the world remains a place of suffering, plagued by famine, disease, crime, war, and individual sorrows. We have reached a limit beyond which the physical world itself cannot go. On every continent, the collapse of traditional ways is mirrored by a huge yearning to escape the shackles of the past. Billions of people want to consume at a level that isn't sustainable.

This crisis bespeaks a huge spiritual need. We must remake the world so that we can live in it without fear of destruction, and to do that we must remake our own identity. This is all a prelude to Path #6, where the seeker confronts the possibility of a world based on consciousness rather than materialism.

Path #6: Seeking Universal Peace, Love, and Healing

Having discovered that spiritual power is actually real, the person who embarks on Path #6 begins to explore how far such power can go. The bonds of the physical world barely exist anymore. As the stories of Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, and great saints and sages testify, there comes a point where consciousness can transform the world. Miracles are no longer extraordinary, because they are simply manifestations of thought. Awareness is primary, the physical world secondary.

At this stage the person confronts human nature itself and feels great compassion for anyone trapped in the illusion of limitation. Pain and suffering are seen as completely unnecessary, being made of dream stuff. Now the issue is how to make other people wake up from their dreams, how to show them that their troubles are self-created. On Path #6 one sees that the only way is to re-enter the dream and talk to people on their own level. But at the same time, the teacher who embodies Path #6 interacts across the boundary of time. Like a shaft of light penetrating heavy fog, the presence of a Christ or Buddha stands permanently as a beacon in collective consciousness.

Every stage has its built-in contradictions, but on Path #6 these are very weak. The person who has risen this far may feel no longer at home in the material world. Therefore he has a free choice to do his work in a physical body or entirely from the subtle planes of awareness (this is the difference between what the Buddhists call a bodhisattva and a Buddha, the latter having no need of a physical form).

I hope that Path #6 doesn't seem to belong only to perfected beings who arrive once every few thousand years. The earth has reached a turning point, and we already have the examples of Christ and Buddha. There is no reason to repeat those dramas form the past. Our real hope is to experience a leap of consciousness that would be the same as theirs, but on an individual scale. It is possible to become sacred; each person's awareness possesses that potential. I see Path #6 opening up for many, many people in the future. Our fate will be decided not by the return of a messiah or world teacher but by our decision to accept the invitation held out by the messiahs and world teachers who have already been here. This isn't a mystical prediction but a simple possibility. That simplicity becomes evident when we reach the end of all seeking on Path #7. (To be continued)