(Also published in The Razor’s Edge and The Pines Newsletter for protectors.)
Devotion is the natural expression of the heart. Everything else is unnatural, a distortion of Reality caused by a shroud that hides who we really are, leaving only a shadow of ourselves in its place. What we are is a dazzling incandescence of divine Beingness. What most people experience themselves to be is human, which is defined by the nature and limits of their physical body, dull and without much sparkle. The truth is infinitely greater. In fact, the body is merely a vehicle, a tool of our Beingness through which we experience and express in this physical world. The reality is that each of us is a Human Being, and it is through the grace of our Beingness that we can know the ultimate Oneness with God and with every expression of God (creation).
In fact, devotion is the only possible experience in response to the awareness of that vast, eternal Oneness, the knowing of the essential unity of all things. The experience of self-transcendence, yet with full awareness of the limitless expanse of both form and formlessness (creation and beyond), almost paralyzes the heart with an overwhelming sense of awe as it stands transfixed before an ocean of the absolute purity of Oneness in God, the essence and form of everything. And in the face of that awe, devotion is the only response possible.
As we approach the Oneness of God, we experience the essential qualities of divine consciousness, love and intelligence, and it is the love aspect of divine consciousness that brings the sense of awe in the face of the unboundedness of life. It brings a feeling of unconditioned love and of devotion for all things to the human heart, uplifting it to the ultimate knowing of Oneness. Here, in this recognition of the Self in Oneness with the Beingness of all life, the heart is finally stilled in absolute peace, rests in perfect faith, and lives in inspired devotion of God, the All.
Please understand that I am not talking about worship here. Worship and devotion are two very different things. In worship, there are two entities, I, and that which I worship, and in this dynamic the dualistic (limited) perception is maintained. Devotion, on the other hand, is the state of Oneness with the divine where all we see is the Divine, all we are is the Divine. It is not that “I” am devoted to the Divine, it is that as I come to know the Divine as myself, I am filled with the devotion that the Divine has for the totality of creation.
Make no mistake, this is the human journey of development from a belief in ourselves as purely physical, and therefore limited, entities to the awareness of ourselves as a Human Being where we finally know peace and freedom. This is why one of my favorite definitions of the spiritual path is “a turning away from the evidence of the physical senses and turning towards the evidence of the spiritual senses”. The physical senses reveal the physical world of form in all its expressions while the spiritual senses see Oneness, Love, and Intelligence all around.
When people walk the spiritual path they begin to awaken from their sleep as physical entities (experiencing solely through their physical senses) to their divinity, revealed by their spiritual senses. It is not a short journey, but it is made tremendously longer if we continue to place our faith in the powerless physical instead of in the all-powerful Oneness. And as we awaken to that awareness, as we “see” the true glory of all things, devotion overwhelms the heart and all taint of a purely physical existence is washed away.
Every spiritual practice, if it deserves that name, allows the practitioner to navigate through the shroud that hides their true nature to give each of them a glimpse of the light of their inner divinity. They catch a glimpse of Truth, and in the face of that truth no falsehood can long sustain itself. We call this process the purification of awareness.
But what is that glimpse? What does that beam of awareness highlight as you gradually penetrate further and further through the shroud? As you cast off the shackles of physical perception and as the heart begins to stir in Oneness, what do you see with your still somewhat fragmented perception? In a word, Vision.
What I described above, as the fully developed awareness of Oneness in Divine Consciousness, is God’s “Grand Vision” for the Human Being. And it is the Vision we, humans, seek through our spiritual practices. Of course, for most of us, the shroud remains a significant presence in our psyche, and as long as it is there, it will cause distortion to every perception we have, both inner and outer. And our spiritual senses do not escape that warping.
Naturally, as we move closer to Divine Oneness, through our practices, our hearts and awareness are purified and we feel uplifted, and our hearts begin to swell with a love for all of life (the precursor to devotion). But while we do see the goal better than from our starting point in a physical perception of life, we still see it distantly, as if through a mist, fuzzy and indistinct. And yet, despite that unclarity, what we see is charged with the touch of love. We feel a sense of rightness within it and we know it is important.
In other words, as we touch that truth of devotion, no matter how distantly, we get a glimpse of our own personal Vision. Personal Vision originates in our perception of Divine Love, but the personal aspect of Vision is defined by what still remains of the shroud! So personal Vision is a blending of the awareness of devotion and the effect of the shroud. Which means that there is much Truth in it. We feel that in the sense of rightness that comes with it.
So Vision becomes our guide because there is a deep knowing that living this Vision will move us closer to the Grace of God, to the Grand Vision of peace, freedom, devotion, and Oneness. Acting in accord with that Vision is our confidence that we are acting in a way that fulfills our yearning for a purpose that is larger than ourselves and that is aligned with the purpose of the Creator.
Most of you have heard me say that the Vision Quest is just about the most powerful spiritual practice available to us. It gives enough time to enter and navigate the shroud to catch that glimpse of the Devotion that absolutely saturates everything. And, just as with working out, when you push through the pain of one limitation, the next time you work out you find that that limit has dissolved, so too, as you work through the shroud, healing and digesting its content, you are moving continually closer to the pure clarity of our personal relationship with God.
But even with the first glimpse of personal vision, we know that acting in accord with that vision is acting in harmony with the intent of God for us. No matter how dim the vision, acting in harmony with it will align you with God’s purpose for you and will move you closer to fulfilling your spiritual longing for love and Devotion, and the realization of Oneness with All that Is. It is your next step.
This is why I love the Vision Quest. Our daily spiritual practice keeps us tuned to the deeper rhythms of life but to really push our limits requires more time and depth exploring and healing whatever we encounter in the shroud so that we can move consciously closer to the Devotion and Love of God. And with each step our Vision clarifies. Yes, daily practice is helpful, but you don’t go to the gym to do just one push-up and think you had a good workout or that you are getting stronger! There are times we have to focus our efforts and push harder and further to get the results we seek in life.
So, if you feel you are ready for another big step in gaining clarity of and connection to God and all that God IS, I invite you to consider this summer’s Prophecy Quest. In this Quest, Tom will teach us how to use the Quest to focus on a specific aspect of Vision, our future. Rather than the usual scattered, shotgun approach to Vision in the Vision Quest, we will seek something immediately more useful, what our future looks like and how to best navigate the difficult times ahead. This is the first time he has taught it publically. I don’t know if he will teach it again.
Additionally, we are gathering over a hundred people to Quest at the same time this summer, to amplify the energy and empower the results of this Prophecy Quest. So if you feel you are ready to take another huge leap into the Great Mystery that is God, join us. We are just a little over 7 weeks away from the Quest (as I write this) so act soon if you intend to participate.
However, whether you feel to join us or not, I want you to understand the relationship between Vision and God, so you can more deeply appreciate your journey and relish every step of progress, recognizing it as a step closer to the ultimate goal of our life journey, Oneness. I want you to recognize the true power of Vision to enable you to maintain harmony with the Grand Vision of the Creator and to walk your life certain that you are on your path. And I want you to see how Vision provides the means, through the sense of rightness, to recognize the temptations to be pulled off your path as you feel to chase the next exciting spiritual practice rather than hold firm on your Vision and continually seek greater clarity of Vision and of your relationship with God.