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The purpose of spiritual exercises - the value of progressive verification

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Spiritual exercises are indispensable for Soul creation because consciousness can only evolve consciously. Broadly, spiritual exercises can be classified into three interrelated categories:


1. Disruptive


This is where the exercises attempt to provide 'shocks' or interruptions into the mechanism of our habits. Habits of thinking, feeling and posture - or our 'conditioning' - can significantly impact (reduce or destroy) the possibilities of creating a Soul. They must be seen for what they are and not what we 'imagine' them to be.


More often than not, the introduction of these little shocks can produce enough conscious energy to enable a 'seeing' (if only for moments) of our habits for self-study. One point must be emphasized, these exercises are only for seeing and NOT for changing anything.

 

An example of a disruptive exercise is when I intentionally brush my teeth with the opposite hand than I would normally use. This unaccustomed way of brushing will, for a time, allow me to see something different inside - potentially opening new areas of exploration about myself.

 

Initially, disruptive exercises need to be guided by an experienced person(s) to provide for the right individual mix and difficulty. Too much of a shock can be harmful, and too little, ineffective. Too narrow a range can limit possibilities and understanding, and too broad a range can lead to inconsistency and confusion.


For Soul creation, the 'obedience' to the application and work with disruptive exercises takes a very long time as we need to see all sides of ourselves in every situation. Ultimately, their purpose is to help 'purify' the working of the energies associated with the lower part of the Soul and provide the quantity and quality of material for use in the next category of exercises.


2. Directive


This is where the exercises attempt to enable one part of one's consciousness to influence another part through 'self-discipline' and so 'direct' one's manifestations. This is the beginning of change or 'work on oneself'.

 

An example of a directive exercise is when I have an 'aim' to connect to the organic sensations of my left foot to 'anchor' myself before moving into a potential situation of conflict. The bigger aim of this 'anchoring' is to hinder my thoughts and emotions from becoming too 'identified' or 'attached' to the situation by intentionally directing part of that energy into the body. As a result, I become more 'present', more mindful of the situation rather than consumed by the cacophony of associations and reactions that might be generated by the conflict itself.

 

Directive exercises are critically underpinned by a relative, impartial understanding of oneself gathered through the 'results' of the disruptive exercises. It must be said that the directive exercises are hazardous as self-discipline, if uncoupled from the subtle intelligence discerned through the previous exercises, can lead to self-destruction.


For Soul creation, the 'self-discipline' of the application and work with directive exercises takes a long time as it deals with the 'purification' and 'crystallization' of the middle part of the Soul. Self-discipline is really 'self-direction', and the individual becomes less and less dependent on the guidance of experienced person(s) and relies more and more on the guidance of their 'inner life'.


3. Contemplative


This is where the exercises attempt to produce a contemplative (a bringing together) or 'active-receptive state of being' that innately understands that only submission to a higher intelligence can provide the necessary 'action' to nullify the 'egoism' that prevents further stages in Soul creation or destroys it. One moves from work on oneself to allowing oneself to be 'worked upon'.

 

An example of a contemplative exercise is various forms of traditional worship. A specific contemplative exercise is provided here.

 

Contemplative exercises can only be approached when the need for it has been thoroughly verified by the results obtained through long work on disruptive and directive exercises. This need must be 'felt' very strongly for the contemplative exercises to work effectively - otherwise, as it is said, it is like pouring from the empty into the void.


The first two categories of exercises rely on 'self-effort' to determine results. However, the results of contemplative exercises are not determined by us at all but are governed by 'higher world laws' that operate very differently (though 'laws' nonetheless). These are, in a real sense, truly acts of 'Grace' that are little understood in modern culture.

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