Chapter 21 - Internal Resources - Strength for the Journey
Pacing Spiritual Growth
When we begin to discover the factual Truth of our personal Spiritual affairs, and subsequently develop a deep motivation to affect daily behavioral improvements, there is a tendency to move forward at an unsustainable pace. We are typically driven to the point of realization due to some sort of spiritual emergency or crisis, and therefore assume that the solution is equally acute, requiring rapid, drastic interventionary measures. While this may, in fact, be true to a certain extent, we must understand that we have uncovered a great iceberg of Truth, partially concealed beneath a series of acutely symptomatic happenings. These circumstances merely represent the immediate manifestations of a deeply-embedded, longstanding dilemma, which itself suggests a methodical, organized & strategic approach.
One would do well to pause the natural impulse to promptly set down well trodden paths, and rather take advantage of the present investigatory state. We often feel an immense pressure to change things, and are either looking for a specific solution, or for just enough understanding as we feel is necessary to solve things ourselves, based upon what we already 'know'. In many cases, the very core of the problem centers around the fact that we simply do not 'know' quite as much as we feel that we do. In modern culture, we are constantly conditioned to believe that intellectual understanding is adequate. This focus on mental knowledge leads away from experiential wisdom. We cannot truly say we 'know' anything until we have tested it in our lives first.
A strategic approach implies a period of contemplation, according us a careful familiarization with the total factors involved. It may also require further personal demolition work before construction on a solid foundation may begin anew. The good news is that in all cases, the prescription is identical. It is not necessary that we spend a great deal of attention & focus on trying to find solutions, as what we need most is an accurate survey of our internal strengths & weaknesses as presented. Our preexisting opinions on these matters are not only unhelpful, they are counterproductive.
It is important to realize that in order to attain lasting results, we must shift to relying upon internal resources. Our subconsciously-held belief that adjustments in external conditions directly lead to solid internal changes is incorrect. Whenever we reach a point of True knowledge concerning a specific subject, this conscious, internal illumination leads inevitably to improved exterior conditions. To put it succinctly, it is only by changing our perceptions that we change our world.
So how then do we change our perceptions? While True knowledge can be gained through various means, one of the surest methods available to each of us is to apply a daily process of retrospection, in which we reflect upon the results of our behaviors. If we are honest with ourselves, we can learn a great deal through this. This method provides us with immediate answers. When we begin to trace back the unpleasant, uncomfortable, and unfortunate situations that we daily find ourselves in, we will no doubt come to find their roots in certain attitudes, opinions, actions, etc. that we were either unaware of, or made light of prior to our study.
Over time, this informative & instructive process enables us to gain greater control of our perceptions, and thereby our lives. We can more easily let go of any imperfect internal conditions we discover, as through careful study, we come to completely understand how they are unhelpful to us. This makes modifying our behavior much easier. One may ignore future consequences, as these fall more in the realm of fantasy, but we are unlikely to continue to do things when we can predict without question immediately unfavorable results.
Whenever we attempt to force ourselves to 'improve', to be 'better', or to cease creating problematic situations, we are bound to fail in the long run if we do not focus our energies on understanding, and therefore eliminating their root causes. It is rare to fell a tree with one strike, and certainly one cannot accomplish the job by merely pruning a few branches.