Those who have sought
have found God within themselves and have taught that the path of unfolding is individual and spiritual realization is interior.
In ancient Egypt, only the priests were allowed to enter the inner sanctum. The profane (pro=before + fanum=temple) remained outside it. The monumental temples testified to the presence of God upon earth, but those who exercised religious power did not allow ordinary human beings access to them. The priests were the mediators between heaven and earth; the crowds gathered outside, in the great temple courtyards and galleries. A direct relationship with God was only possible for chosen and consecrated souls.
However, even though we now enter temples and witness sacred ceremonies, we don't always feel we are in contact with God. We still tend to identify the spiritual with the place to which we go to pray. Compared with temples and religious ceremonies, the other aspects of our lives seem common, materialistic, not transcendent at all.
The transcendent always seems to lie beyond our possibilities. Even if we have the habit of raising our thoughts to God, it is difficult for us to integrate our spiritual life into our everyday life. In a way, we act like the ancient Egyptians-we separate the sacred places from the profane, the divine from the human, the spiritual from the material. Since we normally have to contend with situations and problems which are quite
worldly, we feel materialistic. When we look within ourselves we do not find highly elevated feelings. Our actions do not easily show the spiritual aspect of our lives. We are then inclined to think that the realm of the spiritual and the divine is outside ourselves, that it is a state we have to discover some place. We search outside ourselves for the solution to the relationship between the divine and the human: we
seek the formula for salvation, the miraculous intercession, the magic touch that will open the doors to the transcendent. We have the idea that there must always be
someone or something between the spiritual and the material, between God and the human being.
Since Egyptian times, when the priests and the people lived in different worlds, we have advanced a great deal. Today, we-ordinary people-have the right to realization, a realization of almost limitless possibilities. But any limit to unfolding sets off what is beyond it: the unknown. The more we know the more conscious we are of what we do not know and this deepens our yearning for God.
Those who have dedicated their whole lives to the realization of a spiritual ideal seem extraordinary to us, alien to our condition as ordinary people. They seem to live in a different world from ours, without the problems and tragedies we have to confront. It never occurs to us to think that we ourselves could be saints or mystics. No matter how high our aspirations may be, we feel that the spiritual is in some inaccessible place, behind closed doors that only some High Priest can open and walk through.
Nevertheless, those who have sought have found God within themselves. They have taught that the path of unfolding is individual and spiritual realization is interior. They have also emphasized that the search for God is carried out by following a method, with determination, perseverance and love.
It is in our hands to build our inner temple and establish there, in a direct and simple way, our relationship with God. How can we do this while we live our usual, everyday, ordinary lives in society? This is, in fact, the art of spiritual life-to transform ordinary acts into the means for awakening the transcendent in our lives.
Nothing in life lacks transcendence. Each act, each instant, is unique, irreplaceable, and contains a teaching we need to discover and learn. We can all achieve mastery in this art of living, but it would be difficult to attain it without the help of a method of inner work, without the help of those who have already walked this path and without formally committing ourselves to the effort that this implies.
It is indispensable to find the appropriate guide. Yet, it is clear that no matter how perfect the teaching we are given is, it is reduced to mere words if we do not realize it in our lives. Thus, though it is necessary to receive good spiritual assistance, it is not enough. Spiritual unfolding demands on our part a sincere commitment to work on ourselves and on our effort to attain it. That is to say, on the one hand, we need orientation and, on the other, we depend on our individual work to realize in ourselves the spiritual teaching we receive.
This spiritual and individual work takes us directly to our inner temple; it teaches us to seek God within ourselves and unfold through our own effort. Divine assistance helps us discover our path which we, ourselves, have to traverse with our eyes fixed on our inner temple.
We have the responsibility to choose our path of unfolding and follow it to the end. It is not enough to go to the temple's gallery and wait for others to intercede; it is necessary to go into its innermost sanctum. This possibility is open to all human beings in all circumstances and in each moment of life.
Reprinted from Living Consciously.