Pressure: an Unavoidable Part of Spiritual Transformation
If you Really Want to Change, Expect Some Resistance
Pressure is the sensation (or discomfort) experienced by the exertion of a continuous force against anything which this force is trying to affect. Life exerts pressure. The life force demands continues fuel. Nothing grows without being fed.
Before the spiritual path is known and a soul is wandering through life without a spiritual purpose, seekers experience the pressure of their soul that longs for growth. You could say that the soul within is hungry because the pursuits of the material life have failed to fully satisfy. The soul is hungry for truth and love.
That hunger, just like physical hunger creates a pressure and thus a soul begins a quest to relieve that pressure.
The pressure one experiences once upon the path operates according to the same principles. Now having found a process, one that promises a connection to the source of truth and love (what Jesus called the Living Water), the force of that desire comes up against greater resistance.
Really, when it comes to pressure the less resistance, the less discomfort. In theory the idea of knowing truth and embodying it in all your endeavors can sound incredibly appealing. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48 ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.’
What Does it Mean to ‘Be Perfect’ as Jesus said?
He was teaching that the Presence of the Christ within is the perfection of God which exists in each soul. The quest is to realize the Christ (experience as real) and let the Christ take over as the Mind of your soul. To think as God then would be to think and be perfect. So why the pressure?
The emergence of the Self in its desire for expression is exerting force. This is the source of pressure. The force is acting upon the existing authorities of your being in the form of your mind, body and emotions. When coming upon the path, the ego and the world have been the prominent forces creating pressure.
These pressures are experienced as the desire for high status, great looks, abundant wealth, and power in the material realm, to name a few. Without these pressures, what would motivate a person in society? There is some positive that comes as a result of these pressures. For example, we might work harder in our job partly because we seek recognition for the ego. At the same time, working hard tends to yield good results so there is a balance as far as good coming from a motivation that is comewhat corrupt.
Concurrently, the soul is also exerting a force which causes pressure in its desire to make meaningful contributions, to live in integrity, to serve others and to express positive virtues which are pleasing to God.
A real spiritual path is like boot camp, at least at various stages. In other words, we know we want the growth and we know that boot camp is an intensive period meant to prepare us for service. Thus we surrender to the training and our existing operating systems face pressure to function in new ways.
At the Citadel, a Military College in Charleston, first year cadets are required to maintain the familiar military buzzed haircut their entire first year. They must wear a crisp uniform at all times whether in class or wandering through the city on days off.
From August until May they are subject to demeaning treatment by upperclassmen, much of it meaningless. Towards the end of the school year those who persisted are ‘recognized’ meaning they are seen as part of the brother and sisterhood of students.
It is a difficult 9 months whereby the year 1 cadets feel a constant pressure against their existing operating systems. They are accustomed to having more freedom in how they dress. This is forgone. They are used to being respected as regular people and for much of the time, this respect is denied as they are seen as less than the recognized students.
Strict rules and regulations press against the natural freedoms a person has grown used to even in the 18 or 19 years of their lives up to then. A large percentage of those who begin the first year do not finish and thus are never recognized. The pressure for them to adapt proves too great.
Two Reasons to Endure Pressure
Pressure is endured for two reasons. The first is when it is forced against the will of the recipient as in when a person is enslaved or in captivity.
The second reason is the understanding that pressure precedes transformation. There is a desired change. There is intelligence in realizing a lack of spiritual development. In order for more to flow through, those things that are in the way must be removed.
While they remain, they represent a block to your goal and only by the exertion of a continuous and deliberate force will they be uprooted and moved. That force which seeks to move the lodged obstacles is certain to create discomfort experienced in the form of pressure.
Imagine if you were at the Citadel and required to wear a military uniform anytime you left your dorm room. The mind says it makes no sense. There is no reason for it since you aren’t at war and besides, the weather in Charleston is often sweltering hot and wearing ironed dress shirts buttoned to the top and military slacks is completely uncomfortable, not to mention the cap!
Emotionally there is rebellion because you have no choice and there is frustration at the discomfort of having to do what you don’t want to do. The ego-driven worldly self resists the pressure and transformation is hindered.
In reality, there is a purpose to the rules. They begin to break down a certain willfulness in the individual that represents an obstacle to serving a higher authority. In accepting the conditions imposed, the person subjugates their will in favor of the will of something they believe in. It doesn’t mean there is no discomfort because surely there is a period of transition. We are used to things being one way and suddenly that way is eliminated and a new way is imposed. Parts of us may accept the new way while other parts resist.
Teachers, Priests and ministers who are raised up to guide souls seeking greater Truth and Love may be seen as the officers in the Army for Light. They create organizations sometimes called Mystery Schools in which your existing systems of operation still driven by mind and emotions will come under scrutiny.
Our goal is never to demean your soul however we will help you to see and discredit the attitudes and behaviors that are preventing your soul from greater connection to the Self. On days where your mind resists not the truth, you will feel uplifted, inspired and hopeful. Not a ton of pressure.
But eventually the systems that are in place which stubbornly want to remain, systems which you may secretly want to keep even though you know they are obstacles to the desired destination of your soul… they will buck against the pressure and stir fierce rebellion. This is what causes many to stall on the journey.
For those who have consented to direct one on one teaching, it can be said that the during first year the pressure is quite manageable. God is guiding their Teacher to address the low hanging fruit where there is minimal resistance. The exercises and wisdom they are taking on and taking in is yielding immediate liberation. Despite some ups and downs, there is a feeling of progress and hope.
Towards the latter part of the first year and into Year 2 however it is common for the Light to begin to reveal some of the more stubborn obstacles. This is most common when it comes to giving of oneself. The mind gets incredibly defensive not to mention creative in finding ways to explain away or discredit the guidance. The ego may be appalled. The transformation from selfish to selfless can be quite grueling.
Of course no one claims they want to be selfish however the ego doesn’t accept one’s behaviors as selfish. It twists the words of the Priest or takes a warped view of reality in order to justify holding on to its will that is based in self. It resists the will of the high Self.
Tools to Minimize Internal Pressure
There are two tools we will discuss in this lesson to help you withstand and minimize the pressure. The first tool is clarity of purpose. The more confidence you have that your soul deeply wants truth and love and the more you are certain that what the mystery school is teaching is taking you there, the clearer your purpose. Like any hard course of study, those who tough it out when it feels unbearable are those who, on some level feel they have no choice.
In John 6, Jesus is teaching a large group of disciples as well as the Apostles about how they are to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life. Many are confused and discouraged.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
They know emphatically that this is what they want and staying with Christ means they’ll eventually accept and understand it. They find strength in their commitment and resolve. The ones with this perspective always have the breakthroughs.
The second tool really fuels the first and that is faith. What do the Citadel cadets have to ensure that enduring the hardships for months will yield a worthwhile payoff? They can see those who have passed through that gate and decide if they seem to have the thing that is hoped for. As well, they can reflect mid process if there is transformation occurring.
This is why our daily meditation practice is so important. It allows the individual to develop an active inner life. As time passes, one will feel how their thinking has evolved. They will recognize greater maturity in processing difficult emotions. They will begin to hear the voice of Christ speaking very personally to them!
These very landmarks increase one’s faith. They are signs that something is changing despite not really realizing how it works. On one level it works because day by day you have chipped away at resistance by implementing new patterns of behavior.
On another level, we realize that the Almighty has graced us and opened a door to a new level of understanding. We can’t explain it save to say something feels different. Remember to give glory to God for that.
Be clear in your desire for spiritual growth and let the pressure generating in your soul lead you to the right school. Once you find it, switch from being a seeker to a finder and commit to the process. Determine early on if the goal of the work is meaningful enough for you to withstand the pressure that is inevitable. Then let the small gains along the way grow your faith. With clarity of purpose and good faith, your tendency to resist the transformation will greatly reduce and discomfort will be minimized.
As well, be prepared for parts of you that stubbornly want to resist even though you realize they are obstacles to being a good servant. For these parts, pray fervently, seek divine wisdom and guidance so your understanding might change and then hang in there. Time will be your friend. Be patient and you are sure to breakthrough.