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Raymond Torres

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The Spirit as Our Foundation

Posted: 09/23/2012 2:30 am

As people living in an undetermined world our instinct for security largely occupies our minds. This desire for security compels us to act in ways that primarily promote our survival. The pursuit for this survival allows us to value companionship, hard work, success, monetary rewards, etc. With this ever-growing need for personal security and mobility, it's easy to think that our prosperity depends on how well we handle the material world. It's easy to assume that our success is conditioned by the measure of our self-reliance.

Confronted with this psychological landscape, its no wonder we're led to believe that all of life's challenges must be overcome by the intensity of human effort. As a result, we bypass any hope of optimizing the source from which our effort can receive the strength, insight, and profound capacity that can assist us in our lives. Human effort is certainly required to grant our lives some measure of comfort and predictability.

However, the routine to overly rely on our minds to control our experiences can unconsciously make us attribute undue credit to our ego, when in truth the rightful bearer of our success is our spirit. Our spirit is clear of its own needs without any input from our mind. It knows how to guide one's life without the aid of the mind's needless deliberations. It readily avails itself the best means to obtain the best end for our lives. Its mission is for one thing: to guide our hearts and minds into the realm of the formless, where thought and feeling are suspended and the spirit alone rests in sweet serenity.

Our mind is a gift of the world; our spirit is a gift from God. As the ancient Roman Stoic Seneca once remarked, "There resides within us a divine spirit which guards us ... and the good we do." The contours of our life are illuminated once we take full heed of our soul's commands. The essence of our spirit is divine in nature and is elevated with power and lucid insights once reunited with its original source. As Seneca adds, "Hence the greater part of it is situated where it descends from." Life offers a myriad of different routes along our journey, but it's our spirit that provides us with the coordinates to our destination. Often times we focus on our destination but overlook the method that can get us there the fastest. The spirit contains its own higher intelligence freely deposited by God and intuitively responds optimally to any circumstance. The greater its reliance on God, the more vibrant and fruitful the prospects that shape one's life.

But there's a catch. The spirit's guidance cannot be summoned without adequate spiritual conditioning. For this we need to discard those worldly principles of self-sufficiency that have suffocated our willingness to submit our hearts to a higher order of existence. There must also be an initial openness to identify oneself with their spirit if they are to reap the dividends of an abundant life. Some believe that becoming spiritual entails relinquishing one's material comforts. While one's appetite for worldly delights does fade in importance, a person's spiritual strivings needn't conflict with one's material tastes and necessities. Jesus Christ said it best when he said, "Seek first his kingdom .. .and all these things will be given to you as well."

This admonition doesn't polarize spirituality against materialism. It merely asserts the prerequisite ground for obtaining success. Success as a spiritual concept has a distinct meaning from its worldly alternative. Its nature is rooted in universal abundance. The use of the word "kingdom" in this context does not refer to some physically-elaborate habitat, but a spiritual plain of unparalleled peace and insight that is experienced once one's spiritual frequency is channeled into God. This passage helps us to understand that it is the life of the spirit that is our foundation for prosperity. Material rewards are a subsequent result of the quality of our spiritual nourishment. Aligning our soul with its proper origin and designation is the surest way to accomplish harmony with the natural world. The forces of the natural world respond in our favor when we activate our spiritual identity.

By favor, I do not mean that a relationship with our spirit and God precludes us from experiencing difficulties in this life. Sometimes it is only through difficulties that our character is shaped and refined. What I mean by favor is that the full clarity of our purpose begins to find residence within our souls the moment we make that pilgrimage into the sacred. There's no other feeling more liberating than to discover that one is doing what one is meant to be doing. That despite the outcome of our actions and the good or ill fortune that awaits us, everything is or will be as it has been divinely determined. This experience and mindset can only be arrived at by accepting that our spirit is a part of a higher cosmic destiny, which should warrant our complete trust. Spiritual realities are too vast to ponder their significance. We need only release our minds from its rational bondage and experience with an open heart the wonder of this transcendent source.

As great the rewards are that await us along our course, this inward journey is not without its share of embittered resistance. Our spirit is usually impeded from its full expression by the tyrannical influence of the ego and its mercenaries, e.g., pride, passions, appetites, the "flesh." Egotistic behavior, as it is culturally defined, applies to the way we magnify our own self value at the expense of undermining the value of others.

We value ourselves so much that the world, alongside everything, and everyone in it becomes nothing more than objects we use to accommodate our own interests. An individual with this kind of perception sees the world as a harvest for their desires so they beckon to exploit every aspect of the outside world for their own gratification. Our spirit is always inviting our courtship. Failure to heed its company expands the reservoir of our ego. Not surprisingly, many religious traditions recognize within the ego an adversarial source of detriment that is at permanent odds with our spirit. As the Apostle Paul once wrote, "The flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh."

This "flesh" or ego has singlehandedly been responsible for the modern day paradox we experience today. That is, living in a world filled with people, yet still confronted with marginalized levels of intimacy with our fellowman. An ego-dominated life is one that doesn't see an end to what it can achieve or desire. It has a blind infatuation with the temporal order. As soon as relief of what it desires has been accomplished, it's back trying to avoid its restless spiritual state by sedating itself with more self-deceptive desires.

If man seeks to desire anything, let it be the permanence of an immovable and exalted spirit that doesn't wither or waver amid the menacing assaults of life's trials. The spirit's prosperity is first of all measured within itself. Beyond this, all which is of value to support one's personal sojourn in their prescripted lot will be granted, but only in so far as you keep your spirit as your guide.

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