Just as my last post corresponded with Christ Mass, I would like to weave this post into a message for the New Year. Once again, the timing seems to be “just right.” 😉
To date, we have discussed the first three of the Five Stages of Spiritual Integration, where we have witnessed the Soul come to the Realization that there was something greater, beyond, and more meaningful; pass through a process of Edification where spiritual growth became a more earnest and dedicated pursuit; and proceed to Transformation where a process of sanctification and holiness of body, mind, and Soul began and (hopefully) continues.
Now the Soul, having been faithful and devoted to the process for (typically) several years, is granted the opportunity to achieve something quite extraordinary, and unfortunately rather rare: ILLUMINATION.
The “Illumination of the Soul” is presented in one form or another in nearly all religious traditions. Once again, we see the “spiritual” serving as the “saving grace” within religions that have become dogmatically over simplified and often woefully detached from the lifeblood of mystical (personal, direct) experience.
ILLUMINATION is, therefore a highly individualized experience of the inflowing and enduring presence of the Divine Light. It is often depicted in religious art as a Halo around the head of those who have experienced it, but this is not to be interpreted within the context of a (religious) conceptualization of a purely intellectual experience.
ILLUMINATION is, rather, a Soul experience that has mental and physical implications. While it is true that it can bring with it increased physical vitality and Divine knowledge/wisdom, its ultimate aim is to bring the Soul closer towards Unification (post forthcoming, perhaps on Valentine’s Day) 😉 with God.
In the Christian Tradition, we find multiple references to ILLUMINATION experiences:
Moses’ face glowed when he descended from Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29)
Jesus was “transfigured” during prayer (Matthew 17:2)
The Disciples received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)
Saul was blinded by the LIGHT, and was transformed into Paul (Acts 9:3)
We also encounter multiple references to ILLUMINATION experiences within the writings of the Saints, where we read of in-flowing, in-dwelling, revelations, knowings, etc. that changed these individuals radically and permanently forever.
But now, a caveat: While much can be said about what ILLUMINATION is, not as much can be offered regarding the process of its attainment. This does not mean that there are not specific Spiritual Exercises that can foster it, but that it is more a “process and not a product” that we quickly and easily “get” somehow.
ILLUMINATION is a GRACE from GOD that is bestowed upon those who steadily, faithfully, and painstakingly live IN GOD, and allow GOD to live IN them. THIS IS NO SMALL UNDERTAKING, but it is both possible and intended as an outcome of the Spiritual Quest. We can, by the Grace of God, attain to it. The PATH will continue to be shown to those who are duly prepared and are willing to persevere.
In closing, and as promised, let us now consider our New Year’s interface with this message:
What better New Year’s INTENTION could be better than for 2023 to be a year of further individual and collective spiritual development and evolution?
What greater ACTION could we perform than to remain steadfast in our personal spiritual devotions/practices, and our acts of service to those who God has placed in our care?
And what greater HOPE can encourage us into and through 2023 than to continue to KNOW and UNDERSTAND that “Humanity is Rising?!?”
A DIVINE PROCESS is most certainly underway. May we all choose to seek HIGHER, GREATER, and DEEPER ILLUMINATION in 2023!
Happy New Year, everyone!