Tuesday, January 13, 2009

36.Stages of spiritual development (fourth installment)afnta, afnta-questforallah, Allah, God, love for God, quest

We were talking about the value of praying to God

When life is too hard, either people become angry and sullen with God and banish Him from their thoughts, or they invite Him in their lives and become religious. Religion gives them strength to bear the misfortunes, for three reasons: First, because they may think that it is God’s will. And religion teaches unquestioned surrender to God. Secondly, they may think that there may be hidden benefit in the present calamity. Who are they to question God’s wisdom? He knows better. Thirdly, if they are not rewarded here, then God’s justice makes it absolutely certain that they will be rewarded in the next life. And, through these trials, there may be improvement in the better part of one’s nature.

As I mentioned previously (posting 16), there are spiritual reasons for these ordeals. Let me reiterate Brother Lawrence’s explanation:

What is the purpose of the dark night of soul? Why does God, often, put the seekers through these terrible ordeals? Brother Lawrence gives two answers to it. His first answer, in his own words, is, "…that it is normal for His divine providence to abandon us to all sort of trials, miseries and temptations". The second purpose of these tribulations is to purify the soul

(See sidebar; 'the practice of the presence of God')

We will have a lot to say about this purification process, when we discuss the two dark nights of the soul

The man who coined the phrase 'dark night of the soul', St John of the Cross', had the following to say about the purpose of suffering in spiritual journey:

“…..For the road of suffering is more secure and even more profitable than that of fruition and action, first, because in suffering the strength of God is added to that of man…….; second, because in suffering the soul continues to practice and acquire the virtues and become purer, wiser and more cautious.”

(See sidebar; ‘dark night of the soul’)

This mote can provide one more reason, from his own experience, as to how suffering helps in spiritual journey. When heart is heavy with sorrow. When one is depressed, whether the reasons are worldly or spiritual, one goes in his daily session with God. Sometimes words are not spoken, but one still pours out one’s heart to God. Sometimes tears flow. And you know what happens. If the anguish is great, and one is lucky, God’s grace falls on that person, and he/she feels the presence of God. This is a great consolation. Often depression goes away. One feels uplifted. He /she advances in spirituality .

I will go so far as to say, that for some seekers, like me, who follow the path of love for God (in contradistinction to the path of knowledge), depression is necessary for spiritual journey. Depression, restlessness and discontentment are the fuel that light the fire of spiritual fervor. It is like pouring petroleum over burning wood. I almost never get a great session when I am contented.

To be continued.

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