The pitfalls along the upper path leading to the realization of the immortal self are well marked by the aspiring souls who have gone before us. Their legacy of spiritual insights and revelations serve as signposts along the way for all who wish to awaken their sleeping divinity. In this instance, all traditions, East and West, point out three distinct stages of realization through which the aspirant must pass. Each stage is unique in its character, and none may be skipped; much like a seed gives rise to a flower, and from that flower is born its fruit, all three stages are required or nothing real can grow.
Stage one: When first stumbling upon the true upper path, most aspiring souls are highly motivated; they share a single positive sentiment: “Watch out world I’m coming through! Nothing is impossible for me.” This stage is called “false certainty.” The newly fledged seeker cannot yet see that his or her budding confidence is the by-product of self-flattering images and their attending pleasures; the aspirant is fully identified with the promise of imagined powers just ahead. Filled with the sensation of standing in this false light, his success feels certain, so that it only seems logical to think: “Very soon now, whatever I wish to manifest shall come to pass; money, power, and people will be mine to use as I please. And, as soon as God acknowledges my greatness, everyone else will, as well; so that no one and nothing will ever stand in my way again.” This is the first stage.
Stage two is marked by an ever-increasing sense of doubt. This is the stage of “uncertainty.” Many of the earlier illusions have been crushed, and even small successes have proven themselves to be painfully incomplete. What was once believed to be strength or resilience – their best qualities – show themselves as being either unavailable when needed most, or worse, non-existent. The aspirant enters into a dark place; none of his or her imagined powers have any real light to offer; it seems like there is no way out of the darkness.
So, the aspirant now thinks: “This path, my life…is impossible! Virtually nothing I’ve done to awaken has changed anything, save for showing me how asleep I am!” At this point, the aspirant feels lost, like a ship adrift at sea with holes in its hull! Slowly a conviction grows that either the Divine has abandoned him, or that her whole journey was never anything but a spiritual pipe dream. Which brings us to the third stage.
Stage three: If we go through the first stage of ego-induced dreams born of what amounts to an imagined divinity – where all seems possible, and then stay the course through the next, necessary stage of ego-shattering shocks – where all seems impossible because we now imagine ourselves to be the lowest creature on earth, then we reach the third stage.
Here we gradually come to realize that both our former “great” self, and our “terrible” self are secretly one nature, a level of consciousness that sleeps in a world of its own dreams. In the light of this revelation – that these two seemingly separate selves are secretly one – we come to a divine realization:
Who we really are, our true Self, is neither one of these false identities. The whole illusion collapses before our interior eyes. We are moved, effortlessly from a world of dreams ¬– ruled by illusions – into the reality of a conscious relationship with our immortal Self.
The three stages are complete. We realize their culmination, and receive their Divine gift of real certainty.
Key Lesson: The false self, ever-pursuing or struggling to protect the dream of its imagined sense of importance, doesn’t care how it sabotages itself, or victimizes others; all that matters to this divided self is that it find a way to validate its pressing need to feel significant...which means its character is incapable of either humility, compassion, or remorse. It loves itself, and itself only.
Excerpted from The Secret of Your Immortal Self, by Guy Finley, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2015.
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. For more information and to download Guy’s free 60-minute MP3 “Five Simple Steps to Make Yourself Fearless,” visit http://www.GuyFinley.org/kit
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