Stage Two: Author of Our Own Story
In the second stage of spiritual growth, we become more self-reflective and we begin to notice our internal motivations. We find that evaluation and criticism from others can contain valuable information about our behavior. Our intention becomes an important part of our understanding of who we are and what we want, and plays an important role in how we justify our behavior to our developing conscience and internal system of values. We realize that our story has been constructed to protect our self-image, but as the authors of our story we can change how we see and react to our experiences. We realize some of our fears have an illusory quality, and that we can handle even our most painful self-discoveries. We recognize that sometimes we have to break the rules and there are exceptions to the “good” and “bad” choices we were socialized to accept. These experiences show us there is a subjective quality to the classification of something as “good” or “bad.” We begin to realize that elements of the belief system we have been given, our faith, are subjectively determined. Our spiritual behavior can be a reflection of a superficial self-image of humility. We act humble, but inwardly we have not truly and appropriately subordinated ourselves to God because we see the act of humility as worthy of a reward.
If we are in Stage Two:
- We realize the value of self-knowledge and self-awareness.
- We realize that many of our fears are based on illusion and that even the most painful personal self-discoveries do not destroy us.
- We realize that we are the authors of the story of our lives and we tend to protect our self-image in the stories we construct about ourselves.
- We recognize exceptions to rule-based systems of spirituality.
- What we consider to be valuable and important we begin to understand as subjective determinations. There are shades of gray between good and evil.
- Faith, while still operating as a system of belief, begins to incorporate subjective values and principles.
- Devotion uses a superficial self-image of humility that is not grounded in our true identity.
From The Readings
2012-52 The first thing that you need to get over, is that life is going to be messy. People are going to be imperfect. People are going to be all over the place with their emotions, with their ideas, and no matter where you go or what you do, you’ll never be able to escape this. And this is something that you have to get used to in all areas of your life, not just the spirituality, but also with the material aspects of your life—where you live, the home you live in, the things you do—all of these things are going to be dirty or messy in some way. And Jeffrey, when he reads the Bible or goes to a church or works on any kind of spiritual writing, is not going to change the way these things are. He’s not going to change the way the Bible’s been written; he’s not going to change the way people use it, so in many ways the focus has to be very different. It’s helpful to explain some things, but it is important to be able to say more about what you are and what you do and how you approach things, rather than what you’re not. Another thing that Jeffrey needs to get used to is that he wants to somehow own or be able to restate what Jesus Christ is or who he is. And there are already so many ideas out there and so many different understandings that if he’s not careful, he’ll continue fighting a battle that will never end. Just as he said before, he can’t take ownership of what people believe. The best thing is for him to take ownership of what he believes and to continually find ways to rephrase this and state this, and it will attract the right people. Because he is so connected to me through Christ, he’s not going to escape Christianity. He needs to understand that I need him there. I need him expressing other ways to understand what it means to follow Jesus Christ. And just get used to the idea that some people are going to be like little children and want to have someone hold their hand. And that just because he does that sometimes doesn’t mean that he’s the same way or that people around him will be the same way.
2012-73 There is no pattern that exists in the church that knows or understands how to support what Jeffrey can do. There are people who can understand and support this, but any earthly form of church or denomination, at this point in time, cannot see beyond traditional forms. This is where Jeffrey’s purpose is so important. That he can enter the church from the outside at this stage of life and find ways to say what it is, for what it is, and then break the pattern and create something new. This is a unique purpose for Jeffrey, because those who are young and enter the church are still under the spell, in some ways, of the church as it has been known. And the danger is they take the new ideas and put them into the same structure and the new ideas become encased in the institution. They become just as oppressive; they become just as dominant, just as out of balance, as the old ideas. But one with experience, one who has seen both, one who is willing to speak about the change, one who can look like he is part of the institution, works from within. And just like many structures that are built, they are built to withstand the pressure from the outside; the pressure from the inside breaks them apart. This is even why Jeffrey can hear the explanation of the submarine, built to withstand the pressure from the outside, but the small explosion inside tears it apart—and this is the lesson and the opportunity. Know that the small voice inside has great power to destroy, and that there is a balance that has to be understood and learned about how to be effective at change from within. This is why we say that Jeffrey is connected to these groups, these churches, this institution of Christianity, because this is the change that is needed. But it must be understood that this change that is needed is for the people who are captured by the structure. The change is in the people who break free of the structure. Don’t confuse this with the purpose of destroying the structure. The structure will come apart on its own. As the people move and change, the structure changes. Jeffrey is right that the key to this change rests inside each person, and that unlocking this change is a process of interior development, and meditation becomes a process that facilitates this change. Meditation seeps into the life just like water seeps into the rock in the ground. At first it just seems to wet the surface, but as the water penetrates, it expands, it cracks the rock, fills the spaces, pushes things into different alignment. And yet the rock and the structure, because the water is so subtle, hardly knows the source of change. And this is the way that meditation can work with a person: It seeps in, fills some of the empty spaces, and expands. The breaking apart comes from the inside, not from attacks made on the exterior. We can see this as awakening the presence that exists inside the person—the presence that has been planted through baptism or conversion. The seed of the spirit, the seed of everything contained in the power of the Christ, this comes from the creator. The water comes from the gardener.
2012-87 Jeffrey has questions about how people would come to him and how he might respond. Though he may want certain information, the primary piece of information that is relevant is whether the person has come seeking the truth, and if the person is open to the truth. These are the things that will make the most difference to anyone who comes seeking help. Sometimes you will be able to see this, sometimes not. It would not hurt to ask anyone who comes why they are coming. It is always up to the person seeking truth to be forthcoming about their quest. If there is the desire for the truth, and truth in the context of compassion, it is the soul that is being changed, the soul that is seeking help, the soul that must integrate its own intention with the experience of the truth.
2012-160 You must be prepared for spiritual warfare. Frequently the conflict that exists between persons tends to be understood as a conflict between desire on one side and desire on another side. This is only true on a very superficial level. Underneath these desires are deeply rooted concerns about the purpose and the manifestation of the soul’s purpose in the world. No matter how this is expressed, remember that the soul is trying to express a relationship with God. A human being and the many parts of a human being’s mind alter, change, or distort this expression. When you provide guidance, it is important to remember, even if those who seek guidance do not know that you are working with the expression of God in the world, the greater or more important spiritual warfare is inside of each person, not between people. This is why the struggle feels so difficult when there is no awareness of God. You understand that each person’s lack of ability to tolerate a different purpose is connected to, or a reflection of, a lower level of development of the purpose and the life. When you express your purpose, and when you pursue the attempt to understand your purpose, those who would stop you or try to stop you have been stopped or hindered in the expression of their own purpose. Too often this expression is made a matter of what one thinks. In these situations resolution and help can be facilitated by the integration of other aspects, components of human expression. In this case of which I speak, it is the integration of all the parts of a human being working together for the expression of its purpose. You and Jeffrey sometimes believe that your purpose is tied to worldly things, but it is not. And so we want you to be careful that you don’t entangle your purpose in material matters. If this is too entangled in the material, it will continue to be difficult to touch or facilitate the expression of God in each person and understand, even for you to help them understand, that it is the expression of God inside of themselves.
2012-194 You are learning so much from the resistance to growth and change. You have been so much a part of groups where the growth and change have been valued and understood. For both you and Jeffrey, there is an incomplete understanding of the soul that does not choose growth—and the very manifestations of the life that has chosen to remain small in some way. This is not to say that spiritual growth is not occurring, but the dynamics present inside each individual are based on fear and other emotional experiences. It is hard for you and Jeffrey to understand the kind of fear that generates this kind of response. So first, here is the purpose: to learn. At present, if you want to call it “Stage Two,” you are learning to deal with the reaction from those who would choose not to learn or not to engage. You are learning the reaction they have to those who wish to engage, who wish to learn. How many different ways have you now experienced people who will say, “We want to learn and grow” but find they do not. Whether it be because of comfort, because of isolation, because of fear of knowledge, fear of hell, even without understanding the source of hell in creation inside the person. These are very complex things. The manifestation of which, and behavior, is necessary for you to understand and learn in order for you to be truly helpful to those who will be coming to you for guidance and direction. As teachers and guides to those who you identify as desiring to learn, or wishing to make changes, even for those who will sign up for your classes, you will not escape from those who say they wish to learn, but in fact wish to justify their present situation.