[Today we conclude our 3 part imaginary conversation…previously we looked at how consciousness and worldviews are evolving (Part One), the types of spiritual practices and their purpose (Part Two)….today: how such practices are serving our evolution.]

So how does developing a relationship with a divine intelligence serve my evolution?

First off, consider that all growth is serving your evolution.  Whether that growth is in your inner awareness, in your outer expression, or in your relationship with others… no matter what area of your life.you are growing, that area of your life you are evolving.  If one considers philosopher Ken Wilber’s integral AQAL model, then we see we are growing in all quadrants and lines.  In each line of development (think for a moment of multiple intelligences) we develop through stages.  As we practice in any area, be it spiritual development or learning a foreign language or whatever, we attain higher levels of mastery.  We can’t leapfrog into higher levels without practice.  Yet once we attain a higher level, we generally stay there and can access it more easily.  Hence, the more we practice tasting the oneness of the divine, the more we build our “spiritual muscle” and the more deeply we can experience oneness.

So what advantages are there to me personally in developing a relationship with the divine?

Mystics through the ages have walked this path before us.  They tell us that in the development of this relationship with Spirit, we release our attachments to the desires of physical form.  We begin to realize that the suffering we bring upon ourselves by our attachments to desires of outer world pleasures can be eliminated.  We begin to realize what is truly important.  We sense that we are not our bodies and the stories we tell ourselves.  The truth of who we are is a spiritual truth.  We begin to sense our interconnectedness to everyone and everything.  With that comes a growing level of care and concern for everyone.  Ultimately our circle of care and concern extends to the entire planet.  We forgive others for the state of ignorance in which they live as we see their truth for them.  We let go of the old stories that divide us and realize the truth that unites us.  Our hearts open in love.  We are called to be in loving service to all humanity.  In an interesting irony, the more we grow in our inner awareness of the divine, the more we desire to be in service to others.  I leave it to you to decide whether growing in this awareness can be seen as a personal advantage.

So how does this evolve the planet?

As we grow our sense of oneness and sense our interconnectedness to everyone… as our care and concern expand to include everyone on the planet… that our actions are guided less by selfish personal need and more by what serves the common good.  We become better stewards of the planet, we become better lovers of each other.  We honor differences recognizing that the differences are just our unique expressions in our humanity.  We move beyond the differences in place more emphasis on our unity, that which we have in common, our spiritual nature and our humanity.

Is there a right way, or a wrong way to do a spiritual practice?

In my opinion, no.  Some spiritual teachers give specific advice on how to do certain spiritual practices.  I trust that they are teaching from experience, and that their advice will guide you more easily to an experience of the divine in the specific method they are offering.  But there are many methods and many teachers.  My advice is to start where you are and begin a practice that resonates with you.  If you find no benefit from it, let it go.  Try another one.  You may find one working for you, expanding your sense of the divine, and then hitting a plateau where it no longer grows you.  In that case, expand beyond it.  Some say it’s important to stick with one practice for a long period of time so that you may move into its deeper levels as you gain experience.  If that resonates with you, fine.  For me, the bottom line is not to get hung up on which practice or which teacher.  Find a path that works for you and grow with it.  If it develops an experience of Spirit more deeply in your life, then all the better.

So where is this evolutionary path taking us?

Mystics and spiritual teachers have offered that the entire purpose of evolution is to grow us in our awareness of the oneness of all of life… to allow us to move through our experience of being separate entities… to gain all we can from that experience… but ultimately, to return back to where we came: Oneness, Spirit, God.

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!