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“For only in man is


Many of us have accepted the idea that pain and suffering are part of life and certainly part of spiritual growth. We seldom examine where such ideas come from, nor do we question their validity. We have experienced growing spiritually through stress and crisis and have seen many others do the same.

In the Christian tradition people used to believe that suffering and holiness were nearly the same thing. In the Middle Ages people beat themselves with whips or lived for months on the tops of pillars in order to be closer to God. We are told we are vessels of clay, the dust of the earth. We have to reincarnate until we pay off our karmic debts. Physical life is, at best, a school and at worst, a prison.

Is it possible that we’re not flawed because we’re human? Is it possible that we have not come here to suffer? Edgar Cayce said that we are basically spiritual beings, children of the Creator. We certainly come into life with challenges, but those challenges are designed to help us find our gifts. There is no inherent value in suffering or pain. We can pay our karmic debts through pain and struggle or through grace.

The true self is a divine self, a piece of the God force. We are physical expressions of divine being. Enlightenment or Christ Consciousness means getting more in touch with that divine being, experiencing and expressing more of the divine in our daily activities.

Spiritual growth is partly dealing with our blocks and fears, our life issues and challenges. It is also our spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and other disciplines. I am increasingly convinced, however, that our blocks and fears may actually be protecting us from spiritual growth, especially from something as heady as Christ Consciousness.

Until we examine our beliefs about spiritual growth, we may continue to sabotage ourselves. Because God is the only source of consciousness and being, the universe has a positive bias. It must be possible for us to grow spiritually and experience some form of enlightenment or Christ Consciousness without suffering and struggle.

Pain, struggle, and suffering are not God’s ideas. They are our ideas. God is not going to interfere with us if that’s what we think we need to do, but the bias of God is one of Love, Light, Joy, and Fun. God does not judge us. We judge ourselves. Enlightenment is a part of a natural evolution of consciousness, not some end-all and be-all. It is just a better way of being-in-the-world, not the end of the world

The new human for the new millennium will simply be one who allows herself or himself to experience and express the divine more fully, to be, in Cayce’s words, a channel of blessings to others (and to self). To experience that, we must be open to a divine invasion, a shattering of the old life and emergence of the new. As enlightened beings we will still need to chop wood and carry water, but we will experience the world and ourselves differently and we will be aware of the pervasiveness of the divine in every waking moment.

The Golden Gateway, Vol. XI No. 2, Summer 1999

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