The Spiritual Self

The Spiritual Self Workshop: Opening Lecture


Rick Phillips

November 12, 2009

When we look back through time, history shows us the evolution of consciousness. We see the human imagination of higher forms. We see the fascination in stargazing, the rising and setting of the sun and moon, the wonder of the celestial forms, the natural forces and cycles. We see the movement through time attempting to understand the world we live in and our place in it. We see the evolution of gods and goddesses, the mythologies that create larger than life characters and their stories that reflect the challenges we strive to overcome. Through the lens of history we see the progressive changes, that evolution of the human being and the evolution of our different cultural philosophies, the evolution of our world and cosmic view. And we imagine where that evolution may lead us.

Through the millennia, we must notice an important theme. Life demands adaptation to a continually changing world. Paradoxically, change is a certain, unchanging reality. And in order to survive and progress in this realm, we must find a way to handle change. It is interesting that our ego’s normal response to the stresses of this world is to try to maintain control and keep the status quo in place. We constantly resist change, we encourage habit, we try to protect ourselves in countless ways in order to preserve out-dated customs and the ignorance of ages past. Suffering continues despite our efforts. Like Zysiphus in Greek mythology, he continually attempts to push the boulder up the mountain over and over again, even though it crushes him each time it slips from his grasp.

Yet, this realm of suffering has purpose. And that purpose can be seen and heard in the perennial wisdom of the ages. What we see through time is a different strategy for human success, the ability to adapt, to learn, and expand consciousness in the midst of a challenging world of change. This human realm offers each soul that incarnates within it a divinely designed environment conducive to facing that pain and suffering. We are asked to see the opportunity within the crises of life challenges, those karmic themes that by their nature come to us repetitively, unless miraculously we solve the task at hand immediately, which is rare, if at all possible. We need the reoccurring presentation, always slightly modified, like a variation on a theme until we know it, heart and soul. Our soul incarnates and enters into the collective karma establishing itself individually to face the struggle as it presents to us personally. We all desire happiness though we are surrounded by unhappiness. We all desire love though we dwell in a world of separation and judgment. We desire for wisdom but we are programmed in ignorance. And to make it even more challenging, souls get overshadowed, overwhelmed, shocked by the intensity here. And, we enter with the past memories, the past karma that is unresolved and already active on our current agenda. This is a significant burden right from the beginning. But even though we carry this burden on our back, we are also coming in with the greatest gift of all, a Spiritual Self. This Spiritual consciousness, or what I call Higher Self, is our source for personal transformation. It is a reservoir of the pure energies, the spiritual inner knowing, that guidance which will lead us to liberation. Higher Self is the designer of our life’s lessons, so the Higher Self is the perfect teacher to show us the Way. Even though our karmic themes create potent difficulties, we must know that we have a source of inspiration and guidance. It may not be an easy path, but we can do the inner work to open the possibilities into realities. Our karmic themes are the opportunities for growth, the grist for the mill, that environment in which we will transform. In other words, we can use our Spiritual Self to guide us through the difficulties and create liberation by learning and practicing the lessons they teach us.

The Creative Intelligence of our Spirit offers a new way to approach the age-old problems. We not only flow with the adaptation to a constantly changing world, but we evolve in skill, we evolve to a higher form ever approaching a life of enlightenment. One that is a model for our fellow beings.

But what is the Spiritual Self? This has been the question for the ages. Most would agree that it is transcendent. It is beyond description, indefinable, no words can ever truly say what it is, though we may try. It does not seem to be a “self” at all since it is formless and beyond any concept a limited mind can create. But it certainly fills me with deep feeling to speak of it in my life. So I want to keep trying. How would I ever stop searching for it?

For me, the Higher Self calls me forward, like the grand attractor that pulls me toward infinity. Imagine the gravitational pull of a great star and as I approach it I accelerate toward it. Though I may have been in orbit around it for countless ages, each revolution around it brings me closer where I feel its radiance, and at some critical point I let go of my tangential journey and hurtle into communion with my source.

At first the Higher Self needs to be personal, not because it is, but because I want it to be. It is my personal God/dess. And I use the descriptions of religions to imagine such a Being. But as I begin the journey of personal experience, religion gives way to a personal spirituality that has even more meaning. I find the mystics speaking to me of their experiences and I use them to help understand my own. Not all of it is comparable or even useful, but it is in the search and the attempt to communicate where I find progress. Finding words where none are ever enough, recognizing spiritual energy with such diverse and beautiful expression, it becomes a constant reminder that Spirit is within all things, nowhere is it permanently hidden. To notice the Divine Intelligence makes me happier than almost anything. So it becomes part of my practice to see Spirit consciously wherever and whenever I can. To practice putting Spirit into life, living it as both the witness and the protector, the guide and my patient confessor. This ideal form embodies the highest imagination that is possible for me and I always know I cannot begin to imagine such a form, and then my heart takes over and just starts loving. And then I realize that I don’t have the stamina to maintain the ecstasy limited as I am in this human body. But there are moments of a brief taste so exquisite that I am content to wait for the next and the next, knowing that Spirit is continually opening the Way for me and all others.

In this I am full of gratitude.

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