Path of the Living Christ
by Jef Bartow
As is discussed within our Living Spirit Community, various methods or Paths have been defined to organize and facilitate our spiritual journey within this planetary and systemic evolution. Most that have been documented were defined during the Piscean Age of the World Savior. This is why they rely on the savior/disciple, teacher/student and guru/chela relationship to provide the instruction, leadership and objective feedback for each of us in our spiritual growth. The most important role of the savior/teacher/guru during the Piscean Age has been to provide a structured and ordered method of pursuing the Path. Now that we are in the Aquarian Age, we have the opportunity for a new, more individualistic method to complete our spiritual growth on earth. Rather than relying on our savior/teacher/guru as our guide, we can utilize the combination of a systematic process and a mentor to help us until we can fully self initiate our own growth to Mastery. This is the basis for the seven Paths defined within the Living Spirit community. The Path of the Living Christ focuses on utilizing the life of Jesus Christ and the writings of various theologians/mystics to facilitate us becoming a living Christ. As is very often cited from the Bible, "the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these shall he do." The process of life, death and resurrection combined with the perfecting expression of love will be our Path to Mastery in this life. Fortunately, our Living Christ Path will not be of the sacrificing savior, but will be of living Christ’s virtues and unification with the God Within. The system that will be utilized as an underlying guide is a combination of the Initiatory process and an Aquarian astrology developed from the process-centered astrology of Dane Rudhyar. In it, the astrological mandala becomes our wheel of life and transformation. We self responsibly focus to transform our lower nature and become a fully self-conscious Soul and Self. As a guard against creating an inflated spiritual ego and as a catalyst at those times of difficulty, the help of a spiritual mentor will need to be periodically present.
The Living Christ Path
A powerful mystic and an enlightened theologian from the 20th century have been instrumental in bringing the Path of the Western mystic to both the Christian ministry and public in general. Evelyn Underhill’s and Adolph Tanquerey’s writings provide a fantastic source for understanding the various aspects of becoming a living Christ. They organize this Path into various phases which include: Awakening of the Self, Purgative Way, Illuminative Way, The Dark Night of the Soul and Unitive Way. This multiphase way of describing this Path comes from the consistent experiences of many mystics over the last 2000 years.
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Unfortunately, attaining Mastery requires not only the transformation of our Personality in this life, but our Soul problems developed throughout all previous lives. With a firm foundation of spiritual orientation and commitment, our next intense phase of growth ensues. The dark night of the Soul is the way that Western mysticism labels this difficult period in spiritual growth. Moses is considered the first initiate to complete this process without dying. Jesus Christ symbolized this process in the crucifixion. This period has been described as "oscillations between states of pleasure and states of pain"; "periods of fatigue and lassitude followed by periods of sustained mystical activity" and "the school of suffering love." In it, we see a whole new level of our weaknesses and imperfections. This "second purification" focuses on "those elements of character unaffected by purgation of the self.
"The self is forcibly detached from the imperfect." This "mystic death" includes that of our ego until it "surrenders its will to the operation of a larger Life." The impersonal support (Grace) we enjoyed earlier gives way to the facing of our karma through all lives. What does help us through this is our growing "passionate longing of ultimate Reality."
In essence, the "self which thought itself so spiritual must turn back and fully integrate qualities left behind." This is the "transmutation of the whole man." Many never complete this phase of growth while in physical embodiment, choosing to leave and begin again in another lifetime or just stepping off the Path as an egoistic Personality. When completed, we stand before the gate of Mastery/Adepthood. Besides a fully developed Intuitional nature and a number of intuitive senses, we have fully opened the Egoic Lotus (spiritual Heart Center) and have objectified our Christ Self functioning in the Intuitional Plane. We are also able to embrace gnosis (spiritual knowledge) and new various senses which include higher reasoning, realization, revelation, knowing and higher creativity. At this point, regardless of the difficulty faced over an extended period of time, we would not trade this experience for anything less transformative.
Rather than Mastery being the end of our spiritual journey, it begins a whole new phase of spiritual service and dedication. With a fully self-conscious Soul and an objective Christ Self as our "power for life," we begin the "spiritual marriage of soul with God." We begin the "self-fulfillment in the union of heart and will" which will bring about a "self-abandonment in the direction of a larger Will." Consummating this "mystic marriage" will be characterized by an intellect "immersed in that mighty vision of truth;" a love which includes a "new order of joy” or “sea of delight" and a will strengthened to match our destiny. This higher Path of spiritual growth will move us from a self-conscious Soul to a true spiritual Being and from a Christed Self to a fully manifested God Within. As it is with every Path, the journey never ends, but only becomes ever new opportunities to live Spirit within Matter.
Dark Night of the Soul
As a solar initiate, it would seem that the arduous part of our journey is completed. We are regularly dealing with spiritual energies and have developed some specific spiritual talents and expertise. This can be symbolized by Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem toward the end of his three-year ministry. These mystical types of experiences can include a "joyous appreciation of the Absolute, visions, automatic writings and dialogue with beings.” Our perceptions are heightened to include the reality of both a transcendental and immanent spirituality. Spiritual energies from the Intuitional and other spiritual Planes are substantially increased. In effect, we begin to live in the world, but not of it. Through the practice of living Christ’s virtues we gain a "foothold into the transcendental world." We move from a "self-centered to a God-centered world." Beyond being enlightened into a "new standard of conduct and thought," we develop an intuitive life which includes "glimpses of truth" in our now illuminated mind. Life becomes dominated by humility, faith and intimate love of ourselves, others and God in nature. Just as we have experienced previously through poetry, music and mystical writings, we become capable of "outpourings of love and rapture." There is various ways to group these virtues. One group which includes prudence justice, fortitude and temperance are labeled cardinal or natural virtues. The key is to make these virtues habits. Developing these key virtues include attitudes and behaviors of patience, constancy, meekness, chastity, deliberation, modesty, mercy, order and peace. Combined with a developing sense of humility, surrender and obedience, we are led to be as "wise as serpents and simple as doves." As we complete this phase of spiritual growth, we exhibit many of the following characteristics of a spiritual initiate. These include an intellect that is illumined and our heart is afire. We have increasing moments of clear sight and enhanced perception with a sense of the presence of God. We exhibit a gladful mind and an ineffable peace with a "new life" goal of peaceful charity. As we now began to live a more intuitive life, various intuitive senses become activated including telepathy, healing, inner vision and intuitive perception. We have completed the first raising of the kundalini with open and active ajna, throat and heart centers. And even more powerful, we've taken major steps in transforming our entire Personality including some soul problems.
As Job was provided a more fruitful, prosperous and fulfilled life after his trials, becoming a Living Christ is not just about purification and mortification. Once we have built an integrated personality and further opened our feeling and thinking senses to include passion, appreciation, analytical thinking and discrimination, we are now prepared to fully internalize and express various "virtues" of Christ. By this conscious focus on living a virtuous life, various mystical experiences and spiritual realities become normal and natural ways of being. This first emergence of that "passion for the Absolute" is considered metaphysically the First Initiation in the Initiatory process. We feel a sense of liberation or victory within ourselves and a "sharp stimulation of the will, which can only be obtained through the emotional life." Some experience it as a "new and more active plane of being." For others, it is "a sentient love toward God." What we know is that we can't live life the way we have, that it is truly time to pursue our spiritualization, whatever that may bring. In Jesus’ life as portrayed in the Holy Bible, this awakening of the Self was his experience in the temple at 12 years old when he said: "… I must be about my Father's business." For most of us, this awakening or first spiritual initiation does not come in childhood or even adolescence, unless we're already a highly developed Soul/spiritual Self. Ideally, it will come sometime in our 20s. But regardless when we achieve the Awakening of the Self, it is a powerful catapult in separating ourselves from our parental and collective conditioning.
The Awakening of the Self is further characterized by fully active and open sacral and solar plexus centers. Not only are our physical and instincting senses fully activated, our five imaginative senses are being stimulated and developed. These include what are typically called the "psychic senses" of psychometry, clairaudience and clairvoyance.
This phase of the living Christ Path in is what many of us have read about regarding the life of a mystic. It focuses on dealing with our lower nature in the various ways it expresses. It involves detaching from our "vices." The seven vices identified are sensuality, pride, vanity, anger, envy, uncharitableness and jealousy. This phase also involves both prayer and mortification. First we purge our “illusions, evil and imperfections” through a "self-stripping." Next, we make character adjustments or a "remaking of positive elements of our character" through mortification. In other words, we adjust our human nature to the demands of our new life. The typical obstacles that we face include our lack of generosity and a lack of appreciation in life and much of our conditioning from parents, relationships and society. The purgation part of this phase is identified as a combination of renunciation and purification. We detach (gain poverty) through both chastity and obedience. Chastity is equated with cleansing our personal desires and senses. Obedience is the "abnegation of self-hood, holy indifference to the accidents of life." We become impoverished or detached from our "riches, habits, religious observances, friends, interests, distastes or desires and will." And as is repeatedly outlined: attitude is the key, not just actions. The goal here is purity or "detachment of the heart." It is a "ruthless abandon of everything which is in the way." If this seems to be a daunting commitment, it is. Our saving grace is that for every step we take, the Christ energy provides an exponential support and catalyst for change. In actuality, the first few steps are the toughest. As we progress, it becomes easier and easier to identify and negate both the seven vices and our attachment to our old life. At first glance, mortification seems to just compound the difficulty. It does involve "death of selfhood" and sublimation of our personality to become a "new and healthy man." This death of selfhood is of our individualism, which is typically a combination of our rebellion to authority from adolescence and the conditioned or fortified parts of our instinctual nature. Mortification seen in a positive light is about bringing out the positive elements of our character and Soul. The self-discipline and other orientation necessary is focused on bringing "new habits" and character traits out from within in us as we live our new life. A key part of this is to identify and begin living one or more of Christ’s roles such as teacher, healer, rebel, redeemer and perfected love. Even though you will feel the changes you're making are very difficult, various practicies will also help you live with charity, a stronger faith, a more balanced inner and outer life and an abundance of appreciation and gratitude for others and your life. Every Path to Spirit and Mastery consistently requires this period of purification and preparation to living the soul you are as an important step to becoming the Christ/Buddha/spiritual Being you can become..
Awakening of the Self
In essence a pre-phase to this Path, the Awakening of the Self comes after an extended period of oscillating between living a normal worldly life and a vague but growing spirituality. We more and more experience both our superficial self and a deeper self within. After a "long period of restlessness, uncertainty, and mental stress," there comes a powerful mystical experience or "opening of eyes." This "awakening of transcendental consciousness" has been variously described as a "conversion, new birth" or "conviction of the nearness of God."