Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Circular progression

Guy Finley is great author in the tradition of spiritual empowerment.
In his book ( “Let Go and Live in the Now”, by Guy Finley - Published by Red Wheel / Weiser, 2004), he wrote the following regarding Spiritual growth.

"Our real spiritual development is under invisible laws: To grow, we must learn. To learn, we must teach. To teach we must lead. To lead, we must make mistakes."

A friend who visits my blog asked what I understand by these words.
Now let me put forward my understanding of this particular part of his writing. This applies to common folks and may not apply fully to advanced spiritual practitioners such ascetics and mystics ( who are in advanced intuitive spiritual journey)

Every unfolding in the universe follows what are known as a set of physical laws. For example, heat always flows from a hot body to a cold body and time is not reversible and the arrow of time always points to the future, etc.,
But when we come to spiritual unfolding which is the basic purpose of our life, the laws that govern this unfolding are imperceptible and beyond rational comprehension. There can not be a set of laws which can define spiritual unfolding. It is highly tailor made for individual consciousness. Only a broad set of guidelines can be given. These in themselves can not guarantee spiritual progress.
This is the vital principle why social laws and religious stipulations can not be fully identified with the rules of engagement for spiritual development. This was the reason for Christ to go beyond the letters of the law into its moral and ethical dimension. (Sabbath, ritual cleansing, Circumcision, etc.,)

It is only through the contextual and continuous learning and adapting to increased awareness, which the unfolding of the cosmos brings into contention, that one has to grow in the spiritual path.

To learn we must teach means that our spiritual advancement can not progress in isolation. Teaching here really means sharing what we have learned and experienced. This can be in the intellectual or in the social realm. In the Christian tradition good examples are Thomas Aquinas (intellectual) and Mother Theresa (service to humanity).

In sharing we must lead. Leading here means that one should be lamp that is on the hill top. It is only through a high spiritual visibility in the community either through selfless service or imparting spiritual knowledge one transcends to higher levels of spiritual attainment. This is a propelling energy that we intake from the milieu. This is the operating vehicle of the Holy Spirit.

It is inevitable that we will make mistakes. Mistakes are nothing but experiences outside the norms we set ourselves or which have been set for us in a specific spiritual discipline. As long as we learn from these mistakes and do course correction, there can not be progress. I use the example of an autopilot in the modern aircraft. The intended course is set by the onboard cruise computer but various atmospheric disturbances and other parameters can deviate the aircraft from its intended course. The autopilot detects these changes and corrects the course.

Take a close look at the sequence of the progression and reverse the order. What do we get?

“Make mistakes so that we can correct and become leaders. By leading we teach and for teaching we must learn and to learn we must grow out of our fixated and outmoded laws.”

This is the natural and circular progression of our spiritual and physical lives. This is the universal law of Cybernetics which governs a closed loop system. Our physical growth is also determined by this progression but we do not stop to think about it. If the cells in our body get locked into a singular operating code then there can be no growth and the organism must die. At various periods in our lives, our cells learn to bring into operation sections of the gene that were dormant. Mistakes are made and are corrected leading to beneficent change. Imagine the orchestrated operation of 100 trillion cells in a human body, What law can define it and yet it is most well defined manifestation.

Love to you all.


  1. Thanks dear Tiburtius for such a broad reply to my query in your blog (Tib-et). Thanks for enlightening me through this post. God bless you! Fr Delasal

  2. Why should students go to educational institutions when so much of knowledge availble to them outside? Why do they need good teachers? When students are taught in classes they are not just given the significance of any lesson but it is combined with all the experiences gone through by the teachers. In Tamil we say the teachers combine their 'padipparivu'(knowledge) and 'pattarivu'(experience) to give their best to those they taught. The implication is that going through the process and find out from follies moulds a good person/teacher/ leader. Thought provoking article. Thank you

  3. Thank you for this fine thought and sharing.