There comes a stage in spiritual development when you will experience the conflict between the fears of the ego and the power of spirit. During this stage of conflict you will feel as if you are teeter-tottering between the two. One moment spirituality is in the forefront. The next moment it is the ego dominating your thoughts and actions. Your True Personality is coming forth into your consciousness and is a more powerful vibration than the ego. As your True Self emerges it will challenge how you think, how you see the world, and how you live your life. As spiritual awareness begins to grow stronger the ego will begin to diminish. The ego has no power against the higher vibrations of your True Self, but it will resist. This time of conflict will be a time of fear and confusion as the ego struggles to survive.
An ego-based identity seeks only that which strengthens it. All else is seen as a threat. Therefore, in the beginning, as you take the next step in evolution, you will feel a conflict, a division within yourself as a new way of being struggles to emerge. This is an important and beneficial awakening. Be patient but also be strong.
It will be a great temptation to go back to what is familiar. The ego will seek that which is known, that which it sees as safe. Even a painful life is preferable to the ego than having to face the unknown. During times of conflict the ego retreats into the familiarity of old beliefs and routine actions, while the True Self instinctually moves forward towards new experiences, new understandings, and a new way of being in the world. Conflict arises during these periods of transition as you move from the past into the future, uncertain of the next step.
Realize it is the ego causing the uncertainty, the confusion and conflict. It struggles against that which it cannot control. This period of conflict will last only as long as you cling to the old way of being. It is a battle, to be sure, but the inner struggle is but a birth into a new awareness. You will face this struggle many times as you reach new levels of awareness and your True Self radiates its power. There will be conflict each time another old belief cherished by the ego is to be sacrificed. Do not fear these conflicts. They are the birth pains of self-transformation.
The trials of conflict will come in stages, as much as you can handle at a time. It cannot be rushed. Take small steps in the beginning. Be kind to yourself during these times of emotional turmoil. Take time to rest and take the time to sit quietly. Take time to call on those spiritual forces that aid you in this struggle. You do not go through this alone.
Peace will come to you again, but the lesson is not over. Once the initial distress of conflict subsides there is an attempt to compromise. This is a time when the ego will try to take what spiritual knowledge you have gained and make it its own. It will take the new knowledge and apply it to the old way of being. To illustrate: rather than exchanging an old shirt for a new one, the ego will take the sparkling clean shirt and place it over the old tattered one. You cannot take the knowledge you are gaining, the new insights and the joy you are feeling and layer it over the ego. It will only be an illusion.
Outside the appearance is spiritual, the words spoken sound spiritual; even the show of psychic ability seems evidence of having become a spiritual being. Beneath the surface, however, the ambitions, the fears, the quest for personal power still remain. The ego maintains control. Be aware of this within yourself. Be aware of such compromises in others; those who seek to appear special in the world, those who use their spiritual knowledge to gain personal power, to accumulate material wealth, to attract attention and adulation, those who see all "rewards" as proof of divine favor. Such individuals often form the more dogmatic, exclusive forms of organized religion where "they teach as doctrine the precepts of men."
This is not to be judged, but seen as an essential step in evolution. It is a valuable experience. Since the vibrations of spiritual consciousness and egotistical thought patterns are different and incompatible, inevitably an even greater conflict results and the individual will be forced to choose a new direction. Conflict has its value.
It is during the mental confusion and emotional turmoil that the differences between the True Personality and the ego become obvious. Become aware of the conflict. Understand the dynamics of personal growth. Know that as the ego begins to weaken it will struggle to gain prominence. Anger and fear and depression may increase. Confusion results because the ego cannot understand what is happening. It is too limited.
As the ego fights to regain its position you will find yourself thinking only of yourself, attempting to glorify your achievements of newfound knowledge that you are only beginning to glimpse. This is a trick of the ego. This is an attempt by the ego to take what is universal and make it personal. During this time you must be your most disciplined and ever vigilant.
Do not judge yourself, but simply be aware and learn. Take time to question the ego's influence on your spiritual life. Some thoughts may be quite subtle, convincing you that what you want is of a spiritual nature, whereas, it appeals more to the ego than to the heart. Simply remember the criteria of the ego. Remember its need for self-preservation, its concerns with physical well-being, and its hunger for personal power. If your thoughts are centered on fear and worry and self-defense, know it is of the ego. If you wish to glorify yourself to the world, it is of the ego.
Because you are still a child you may not recognize the ego at work. Therefore, carefully take small steps. The beginning of spiritual awareness may seem wobbly. You may be unsure which foot to put forward. You may easily fall. But if you are sincere in your desire for spiritual growth there will be someone to catch you. You will again have the opportunity to stand and walk.
Allow yourself times of conflict. They are growing pains. Allow yourself to fail at times. You will learn from the experience. On this path of evolution be willing to stumble and fall. Be willing to again stand up and walk. A child is willing to crawl before learning to walk. A child does not give up should he or she fall. The child continues to learn as helping hands support the attempt. Soon the child learns to run. So it is with spiritual evolution.
And, as you stand and take the next step forward, be aware of outside distractions. Old situations, old attitudes, and even old friends will rise up to lead you astray. You are taking a new path, but the old way is still visible, still strong and demanding. Do not judge it. Instead, understand it for what it is, nothing more than the past pulling at you. Find the strength to walk in a new direction. Be willing to stand alone for a moment, and then ask the forces of God to help you take the next step.
Periods of conflict do not last long, but they are a crucial time in your development. If you seek to avoid conflict by being lazy, if you are satisfied with your present self, if you think there is nothing left to learn, then you are a child content to crawl, never knowing the joy of running.
Dear child, keep in mind this is only the beginning. Be mindful that there is much more to life and do not settle for less. A great deal awaits you but first this bridge of conflict must be crossed. Ignore the raging waters beneath it. Become deaf to the voices calling behind you, calling you to return.
Dear child of great strength, do not allow your legs to collapse beneath you, but continue to cross the bridge of conflict regardless of the difficulties. Continue to keep your mind and vision on the other side awaiting you. This will help. This will offer encouragement.
As you cross the bridge you will see and feel your spiritual power. This will encourage you to face the conflict and endure the turmoil. Tell yourself at this time you will not turn back. Tell yourself that you will not leave the road because something glitters off to the side. It is only a distraction appealing to the ego. Tell yourself that as you move into a new consciousness, as you move into a new way of being, God is with you. You are not alone. You have never been alone.
What you seek is far greater than anything you have ever known. There is nothing in the past that can possibly describe where you are going. No past experience will explain the new person you will soon discover within yourself.
You are learning. Keep that in mind as you stumble and fall; you are learning. Keep in mind when you are tempted and become distracted that you are learning. Give yourself the gift of compassion. Give yourself a sense of grace. Remind yourself you have chosen this way and you have the power to accomplish it. During times of conflict and confusion you will find a strength you did not know you had; strength you kept hidden, strength unknown by the world around you. Ask for this strength and it will rise up within you.
Reprinted with permission of the author. ©2000.
Published by Writers Club Press, an imprint of
iUniverse.com, Inc. http://www.iuniverse.com
The Next Step in Evolution: a Personal Guide
by Vincent Cole.
An inspirational and practical book that takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. Inspiring with its unique insight into the origins of the human race as well as a practical guide with easy-to-follow exercises, The Next Step in Evolution guides readers in developing their awareness, increasing their spiritual abilities and discovering the hidden power of human creativity. The Next Step in Evolution is for beginner and dedicated seeker alike, as each chapter takes the reader upon a challenging journey of self-discovery and transformation.
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Vincent Cole is a wandering monk who has been facilitating prayer and meditation groups, as well as Women Healing Circles for the past 15 years throughout the United States. While on a personal yearlong retreat in the desert outside Tucson, AZ, Brother Vincent took a collection of channeled messages given to a small prayer group many years ago, and edited them into the book "The Next Step in Evolution -- a personal guide."