The right motive of true spiritual practice is not mere belief or any sophisticated strategy of self-manipulation. The right motive of all practice is the Revelation of the Living God. That is, each individual who is truly moved to take up the Way of Truth must have passed through a critical consideration of the total human situation as well as his or her own habits of action, feeling, reaction, and thinking.
Anyone who seriously considers the human situation will naturally observe that we have not brought ourselves into existence, nor can we continue to exist without accepting the relationship of dependence on various primal processes in the Realm of Nature. We are not self-contained beings. We are transcended by and dependent upon a Great Process, Reality, or God.
The usual individual, full of desire and fear, does not tend to consider this matter seriously in his moment-to-moment existence. He generally opens himself to random influences and seeks satisfaction in the conventional or popular stimulations of his body-mind. Thus, he does not truly discriminate between the influences that surround him, and he, therefore, does not tend to be responsible for his personal and relational existence – except for the casual maintenance of conventional patterns of behavior, reactivity, and popular belief.
But once an individual is awakened to the serious consideration of human existence, he or she begins to transcend the stream of casual survival and self-indulgence. The source of this awakening to serious consideration and insight is always a form of crisis. That crisis may appear in the form of personal suffering, the observation of social chaos, and so forth. But it must always be followed by receptivity to the communication or argument of spiritual understanding, given through Divine Teachings, personal encounters with serious practitioners of a spiritual Way of life, and so forth.
Thus, the origins of the Way of true religion are in the psycho-physical conversion of the individual to the Divine and Living Truth. That conversion is made through “hearing,” or awakened insight. And it is a conversion from casual and random submission to the conventional stimulations of experience and to responsible surrender to the Reality or Transcendental Condition and Process in which we have found ourselves.
The conventional disposition of human individuals in this time and place is founded in self-indulgence and self-possessed struggles for experience and survival. The social machine as a whole is geared toward the accumulation of objective knowledge, or the attainment of the ultimate power to control and manipulate the Great Machine of nature, including Man. It is this ideal and strategy, coupled with the personal habits of self-indulgence and separative self-interest, that is producing the drama of daily events or “News” that control and at times shock us all.
The individual, and the social order of mankind as a whole, must awaken from the chaos of efforts toward mere domination and exploitation of the World-Machine. And, likewise, there must be an awakening from the disposition of self-possession, fear, self-indulgence, and separative or immoral reactivity (such as violent anger, sorrowful despair, lustful preoccupation, and so forth).
The truly human individual is one who has been converted from self-possession to self-transcendence, from self-indulgence to self-control and self-giving. The truly human society permits truly human acculturation, the development of intimate politics or human communities, and the tempering of all knowledge and technological as well as political power by the higher cultural ideals of the Realization of Wisdom and of the Divine Transformation of the world, of mankind, and of the human individual.
Thus, when the individual awakens to the Wisdom of true, right, and serious consideration of the human situation, he or she becomes converted to a new relationship to the Great Process in which we are all appearing. Instead of commitment to mere knowledge, power, and the ideal of exploitation or manipulation of the Realm of Nature, the awakened individual is committed to an intuitive and cooperative relationship to the Great Process and to the personal and relational or moral conditions of human existence. The awakened individual is intuitively established in a disposition that transcends knowledge about the phenomena of the Realm of Nature. He or she is established in the intuition of his or her actual and eternal situation, which is not that of ultimate knowledge and the power to survive by total and vulgar manipulation of self, others, and the world. The awakened individual intuits that his or her essential situation is one of Transcendental or Divine Ignorance: No matter how much experience or power he may acquire, no matter how much he may know about the conditions of Nature, he never at any time knows what any thing, or himself, or the world is . The world, and all phenomena, and even our own personal qualities always transcend our ability to be independently responsible for them. That is, we do not create the world, or ourselves. We are transcended. We depend on the Great Process. We do not now or ultimately know what any of it is . Existence itself always transcends our knowledge.
Therefore, the awakened individual is converted from experiential and social chaos, mere knowledge, and the destiny of self-possession. He does this by intuiting the right disposition of Man-the disposition of Divine Ignorance, or intuitive surrender of self into the Great Process or Reality in which the self is perceived or conceived.
The origins of the Way of real Life are in this “hearing,” this conversion from conventional or self-possessed knowledge and belief and to the intuited disposition of surrender or self-transcendence in Communion (rather than in struggle) with the Great and Divine Process in which Man and the total world are appearing, changing, and passing.
Thus, the foundation of every stage of the Way of real Life is this conversion to surrender, or self-transcendence, in Communion with the All-Pervading, Living, and Transcendental Reality. The foundation of the Way of Truth is psycho-physical conversion from self and self-possession to God and God-Communion. And the initial gesture of practice, founded on this conversion, is adaptation to new forms of action-that is, to right and self-transcending practices in the sphere of personal and relational (or moral) existence.
True religious practitioners are devotees of the Living God. That is, they live-based on intuitive understanding of the human situation-in an active disposition of self-control, self-giving, service, and spiritual or devotional surrender to the obvious Reality or Great Process in which we all exist.
Such devotees value their truly human intimacy with one another-and they also value the establishment of a general social order, or the culture of mankind, founded on higher Wisdom, restraint, and humanizing ideals. Such devotees also enjoy and value the esoteric or true spiritual relationship with a Spiritual Master, or an Enlightened Adept, who has become Full through the intuition and practice of Divine Wisdom.