Crisis and Transition
~ The Soul’s Gesture of Liberation ~
Spiritual development is always founded upon the principle of transition. Life is ever in a condition of change and movement. This is true whether we are referring to the life of a human being, a blade of grass, or the Being that ensouls our solar system. All categories of life are subject to endless movement from one condition of existence to another. In truth, transition is an inescapable aspect of life, for it is a function of evolution itself. From the human perspective, the understanding of transition, its nature and challenge, is crucial to continued spiritual development. At this time in humanity’s long evolution, spiritually minded people are earnestly trying to understand the developmental requirements that will eventually liberate them into a condition of freedom and enlightenment. An understanding of the deeper implications of transition and crisis is therefore essential. In many ways it can be rightly stated that evolutionary success is contingent upon one’s capacity to master the transitions of life, particularly those impulsed by the soul itself. In this article we will examine the deeper aspects of spiritual transition, as conveyed within the ancient Esoteric Tradition.
We begin our discussion by accenting the idea that all spiritual transitions are governed by the soul within each of us. As such, it is the inner compass of the soul that guides the process of change in one’s spiritual life. This guidance comes by way of one’s intuitional capacity, coupled with a discerning mind. Over countless incarnations the soul is gradually seeking to gain mastery over the form nature. That is to say that the soul seeks to master the mental, emotional and physical vehicles that it finds itself encased within. When such mastery is finally achieved, the individual has reached a fully enlightened state of existence. S/he has become the soul in its fullness, and is now able to perfectly express the spirit through the personality (lower-self), and this without distortion. This is the goal of spiritual evolution, in that the soul ultimately seeks to express itself in the outer world with perfection. I emphasize the importance of understanding the enormous amount of time and incarnational experience required for the soul to radiate its beauty without encumberment. Nonetheless, every incarnation sees the soul closer to this achievement. Every life is one that provides opportunity for the soul to incrementally be more of itself in the outer world. Importantly, when an individual is consciously seeking to spiritually evolve, the soul is then able to accelerate this process leading to perfected expression. For such people, major transitions in life represent milestones of development for the soul in this regard.
Spiritual transition is always accompanied by an inner experience of crisis. This is an occult fact of major import, and must always be kept in mind. Crisis is ever an indication that an opportunity for soulful expansion is upon us. To understand why this is so we must consider the experience of the soul while in the incarnated condition. While the soul is in incarnation, it is enwrapped in three layers of substance, each representing a vehicle of expression in the outer world. In the Esoteric Tradition, these sheaths are called the mental, emotional and physical bodies. The sumtotal of these three vehicles are referred to as the personality or lower-self. However, while the Self (soul) is in incarnation, it tends to confuse itself with these three vehicles of the personality. In short, the Self mistakenly believes itself to be the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that it is experiencing. Within human consciousness are found countless associations that lead one to believe in this illusion. In point of fact, the soul is transcendent to all thoughts, feelings and physical impulses. The soul is that which experiences phenomena, but is not the experience itself. Evolution of consciousness is really based upon the soul’s gradual realization that it is the thinker, not the thoughts it creates; the feeler, and not the emotions being felt. In this light it can then be understood that spiritual transition occurs when the Self (soul) disidentifies with some aspect of the lower-self that it had falsely believed itself to be. The experience of such a disidentification is at the root of all spiritual transitions. As such, spiritually profound changes in life indicate that the soul is freeing itself from an illusion of itself. By so doing, it reclaims a measure of its divine knowledge and Self-understanding. And, with this reclamation, it is then better able to rightly utilize the personality (in service to others), while still remaining detached from it. The reflection of this on the personality level is a feeling of crisis. Yet, it is a crisis preparatory to expansion of consciousness and further liberation into the light of Spirit. It foretells of greater joy and more intimate union with God.
The pain associated with crisis is inevitable, for it always involves a death of some kind. It is death to whom one thought him/herself to be. Yet, it is also indicative of new life. For when people die to some previously cherished view of themselves, a resurrection will take place, and this with irrevocable certainty. This is the nature of spiritual grown and development. It is therefore not surprising that transition is viewed as both an exit and an entrance. It is a wrenching departure from a previously relied upon way of being, and the reward of admission into fuller spiritual life. Accordingly, pain precedes deeper Self-realization. Always discomfort is the predecessor to greater spiritual light. Verily, life demands that that which is adorned and believed to be true about ourselves must give way to that which is higher and more sacred within us. Such is the nature of evolution leading to eventually liberation and spiritual perfection. Every moment in life offers the opportunity to die to some aspect of oneself that no longer suites the evolving soul within. And, as already mentioned, resurrection into heightened soulfulness is the consummating reward. The pain that occurs at such times in life reflects the fact that renunciation must always precede resurrection. Hence, a form of faith and trust is needed to rightly navigate through transition and spiritual crisis. I am here not referring to the type of faith that governs the majority of believers within various world religions. Such religious devotion, though having value at times, is essentially dependent upon an intermediary (be it priest or sacred text) for assurance of its merit. Rather, I am referencing the faith that comes from having an internal experience of the soul. When the light of the soul is felt, devotion to that light gives inner assurance to travel through the crisis unscathed and transformed.
Spiritual transitions represent intersections of potential travel in life. At important points of crisis, there will invariably be found a choice to be faced. It is important that this be clearly discerned when confronted by such a crisis. Normally it is a choice between being the way we were, or risking change in support of that for which we intuitively sense ourselves evolving toward. The further one is progressed upon the Path, the more frequent is recognized the opportunity to transform oneself. I use the word “recognized” with deliberateness, in that transformational opportunity is available to all people at any time. Yet, it is not until the soul within is truly and experientially sensed that the individual becomes committed to challenging his/her life in support of further transformation. Up until such time, people are essentially passive in their spiritual development. This is not a criticism, but simply a statement indicating a necessary stage of development preparatory to consciously taking one’s development in hand.
When consciously striving to have more of the soul expressive in life, certain measures can be inculcated that will greatly assist in one’s continued spiritual development. For example, it is well to acquire the habit of assessing the extent to which life seems comfortable. I am not here referring only to physical comforts, but the general level of comfort experienced within consciousness. When walking the spiritual Path, there will come a time when the quality of “divine discontent” becomes operative within one’s consciousness. It is an inner discontent with those aspects of the personality that seem to hold one back from further development. This dissatisfaction then leads one to evaluate which aspects of life are ripe for change. As such, assessing one’s relationship with comfort can be useful in this regard. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable in life. When rightly utilized, comfort can be a very nurturing force in our lives. Yet, from the spiritual perspective, comfort can also be a great obstacle to further spiritual growth. It has been said, “comfort is the cemetery of the soul”. Though these words may seem rather harsh, they nonetheless do beckon us to consider how comfort effects our spiritual development. As earlier mentioned, spiritual transition will always have a measure of pain accompanying it. Comfort, as the antithesis of pain, can actually lull one into a dangerous sense of tranquility and inertia. When not mindful of this, well meaning people can easily make the mistake of thinking that comfort (internal and/or external) is an indication of spiritual success. This is an erroneous assumption, to be sure. It is the personality (governed by desire) that holds this view, not the soul. For true spiritual transitions to take place, there must be a degree of tension felt within one’s consciousness. It is a feeling of dissatisfaction, and a knowingness that something deeper and more soulful lies behind such discontent. Ultimately, it is this feeling that propels the individual to ride the storm of discomfort in order to break through into higher realms of spiritual living and being. Such is the nature of transition, and the role discomfort plays in its fulfillment.
Let us consider this subject from the perspective of astrology. It has been asked, “what planetary indicators reveal the transitions destined to occur in one’s life?” Though there are several variables within an individual’s astrological chart (esoterically interpreted) offering insight into this question, the position of Uranus and Saturn are both revealing. Uranus is the planetary deity that triggers release from outworn modes of living and being, while Saturn stages the discomfort needed in order to discipline one’s life, and therefore earn the right to onward move. Understanding the unique and specific roles that these two sacred Planetary Lives play in the drama of one’s spiritual unfoldment is of much value. This is true whether considering the natal, transiting or progressed charts.
Transition and transformation represent fundamental aspects of spiritual evolution, and are relevant to all forms of life. For the spiritually minded human being, they indicate that the soul is learning how to detach itself from identification with the mental, emotional and physical sheaths that it is encased within. By so doing, and over the course of many incarnations, the soul gradually learns how to remain disidentified with these three vehicles of the personality. This process becomes more rapid when the individual begins to consciously take his/her own spiritual development in hand. Spiritual passivity must yield to spiritual discipline. When this is the case, the rapidity of one’s development increases proportionally. With greater speed the soul disidentifies itself from its triple container, thus giving added capacity for it to radiate itself through the personality, and this with less distortion. Triumphant is the soul that perfects its outer expression, for karmic debt is now in the past, and radiation without encumberment is its honor and its reward.
© 2000 William Meader
William Meader is an author, teacher and counselor. Much of his work is focused on the subjects of Spiritual Creativity, the Evolution of Consciousness and the Art of Meditation. At present he is teaching in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He resides in Oregon, and can be contacted through his website at meader.org.