The Great Spiral of Spiritual Evolution

“A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral”

~ Maynard James Keenan

You have heard, I am sure, of the circle of life.  Anyone who has watched the Disney Classic “The Lion King” has felt themselves tearing up (or at least in awe) while sitting through that opening number where the interconnectedness of all of nature is emphasized (and with a phenomenal musical score nonetheless).  But when it comes to the concept of spiritual evolution, it isn’t so much a circle as it is a spiral.

Circles are perfect.  Just ask the Zen masters who saw the circle as the embodiment of absolute enlightenment.  Called the ensō, this circle represented strength as well as elegance.  It was used to represent both the void and the universe in all its wild complexity and, more recently, has come to be seen as an expression of the moment and the perfect completeness of “now.”

This is all fine and good for representing the perfection of enlightenment.  But what about what comes before?  Better yet – what about that which comes after?

Enlightenment, you see, isn’t the end.

Wait, what?  Isn’t that what this is all about?  Isn’t enlightenment the whole purpose of spiritual evolution?  Isn’t the prospect of enlightenment all about the perfectness of the moment, of that instant when everything becomes clear to you and you finally realize the true nature of reality and the reason that you have been put on this earth?

Of course it is.  But that doesn’t mean that enlightenment is the end.  Becoming enlightened does not mean that you instantaneously become perfect; never have a bad thought or speak a bad word ever again.  In fact, enlightenment is, if you will, simply the beginning, for it isn’t enough to know the true nature of reality; to know the reason that you have been put on this earth and how everything fits into place.  Now that you know it, you have to live it. You have to live your truth and that, quite frankly, can take some doing.

In fact, living your truth and the progression that comes after enlightenment can actually be more confusing than what came before, and that is because you are no longer on a journey.  You are no longer following a path to actually get somewhere.  Now that you have got to where you are going you have to create an entirely new life; a new existence; a new reality for yourself, like the pioneers who traveled out west in their covered wagons.  They didn’t always know where they would end up, but once they got to where they were going, it was time to get started on the real work; on creating a life for themselves out of the wilderness they had discovered.  It is the same with enlightenment.

Once you have awakened; once you have become aware of the true nature of reality and of your real reason for existence, you stop searching and begin creating a life based on your new realizations, and that isn’t so much a circle as it is a spiral.

Imagine if you will a giant slinky.  A slinky is not much more than a flexible coiled spring whose individual spirals are all part of a much larger whole.  Now, when you condense the spring into its smallest form you see it for what it really is; a slinky.  But when you pull the spirals apart – stretch that flexible spring out to its maximum length, it almost appears that the slinky is made up of individual spirals.

In fact, if you were small enough (and if you turned the slinky on end) you could start at the bottom end of the slinky and slowly but surely walk your way up; spiral after spiral; to the very top.

Congratulations!  You’ve just made a visual picture of the evolution of the soul.

That’s right.  Once you’ve broken free from the infinite loop of habit; of years and lifetimes’ worth of repeating patterns and conditioned responses; once you’ve attained enlightenment as to the real nature of reality and of your place in the universe, then and only then can you start your real journey, the journey that will take you up the spirals of your soul’s spiritual evolution as you create for yourself a life based on those things that you have come to hold dear.

Each level of the spiral is a circle complete and contains within it that reflection of eternity attributed to the ensō.  And yet, as the Zen ensō leaves a small space at the end of the brush stroke completing the circle, so too does a spiral leave a space for the one walking the circle to move up to the next level, completing the circle while transcending it at the same time and integrating everything that was learned in transitioning the circle below into the creation of the life currently being lived.

Snow White and the New Age Fluff Bunnies

Redefining the Misperception of Love and Light

I suppose that I should apologize for not being one of those kooky new age fluff bunnies who skulks around under random pieces of furniture collecting negative energies and dispelling them with love and light and a trilling song to small animals  a’ la Snow White.

I’m sorry, but Snow White has always annoyed me to no end.  Forget all of the quips about her living with seven men and still acting like she’s all sweet and innocent, it’s her voice (in the animated Disney version) that drives me absolutely batty; all high and squeaky.  But more than that, it’s her naive attitude towards life in general that leaves me shaking my head.  Come on already, who actually takes (and eats!) apples from withered old hags who appear at the door of your cottage; a cottage that is in the middle of nowhere nonetheless?  Not to mention falling hopelessly in love with a man you’ve only met once!

I actually met Snow White once.  Well okay, it wasn’t Snow White.  It wasn’t even the actress that played Snow White (actually I think she died back in 1997). She didn’t even have a squeaking voice.  Actually the woman I met had an attitude that reminded me of Snow White

I was visiting a New Age psychic fair with some friends and the woman was running a stall where she sold lovely little crystals that she had strung together with colorful beads to make “power prisms” that you could hang in your living room window.  There was nothing wrong with her stall.  The beads were very lovely and she seemed like a really nice person, but when she criticized me for “not being positive enough” when I mentioned a news article that I had recently read (and which tied in with the conversation we were having) I was, quite literally, flabbergasted.

“You really shouldn’t talk about things like that” she said, putting one hand over her heart.  “You’re not going to get anywhere if you think about or mention negative things!”

I admit that I had to blink at her.  There was really nothing to say.  She was totally sincere in her reaction and seemed genuinely aghast that I could call myself a lightworker and still mention something negative.

What I wanted to tell her is that she clearly misunderstands the concept of a lightworker.  There is nothing written anywhere that says that a lightworker has to be all light and love.  There is not even anything that says that a lightworker has to be continually positive and upbeat.  A lightworker is any being dedicated to the cultivation of inner presence as well as the elevation of awareness not only in yourself but in others as well.

Come to think of it, like so many others out there, she probably also misunderstands the concept of light.

Anyone who thinks of light as being all love and etheric gentleness has obviously been standing too long gazing at the moon and has probably never stood too close to an open fire when the sparks are flying or has gotten a serious sunburn while lying on the beach.

Think about it, what is the source of light (and life for that matter) on this planet?  The sun of course; and the sun is no gentle etheric light that soothes and calms the soul.  The sun is powerful. It brooks no argument.  You can’t hide from it.  It cuts through the darkness like a knife through butter and has the power to transform whatever it touches. There’s just one problem, the touch of the sun is not always gentle.  In fact, while it can be soothing and nurturing, it can also be downright painful.

The caress of sunlight is what encourages a seed to crack itself open, put down roots and become a plant.  Its gentle touch coaxes the leaves into unfurling and the flowers into bloom.  But it can also destroy.  When exposed to direct sunlight bacteria tend to die in hoards, as do many fungi, molds and mildews, and too much direct sunlight can turn a verdant meadow into a dry and barren place.  In fact, our planet cannot handle true direct sunlight and still be hospitable to life.

Much of the sun’s power is filtered through our atmosphere where the dangerous rays such as X-Rays, UVC, UVB and UVA (all of which can be damaging to DNA) lose much of their destructive force as they pass through the ozone layer and atmosphere.  But even these rays can be used discriminately to fight everything from the spread of skin fungi by using germicidal lamps to PUVA therapy for psoriasis. But then there are also lasers that concentrate light for precision work in eye surgeries and the treatment of cancers. You just have to know when it is the right time to use the light for gentle healing, and when it is more important to cut right down to the heart of the mater.

Have you ever seen a picture painted by an artist who didn’t use shadows?  There is no depth, no perception, no way to gauge distance or to orient yourself in relation to your location in space and time. By using shade and shadow an artist breathes life into their work.  It becomes alive.  It is the balance you see that makes all the difference.  Knowing when to use the light, and when to let the light speak for itself, and when to make room for the shade and shadows that will put it all into perspective.

You see, aside from the light, discernment is the true lightworker’s most important tool.  You have to be able to understand just how much (and what kind) of light is needed.  In order to understand this you also have to be able to discern the usefulness of shade and shadow (when appropriate), especially when it casts what the light illuminates into sharp relief or brings it into clearer focus.  Without it the light would go unnoticed and unappreciated, and awareness, after all, is what being a lightworker it is all about.


©Stephanie S. Henry 2012