(Continued from Part 1 at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2010/09/29/what-is-the-divine-plan-for-life-part-12/.)
Part 2. The Process of Spiritual Evolution in Detail
First of all,the process of creation, preservation, and transformation that serves the Divine Plan is infinite and eternal. Silver Birch says:
“The Great Spirit is infinite, and so the process of creation is infinite, progressing always in its multitudinous expressions from imperfection to perfection, from immaturity to maturity, through all the countless grades of evolution.
“That process is timeless. It had no beginning, it has no end, for it belongs to infinity. It is part of the infinite Great Spirit, and that self-same spirit finds its expression in human life at varying stages of unfoldment.” (1)
Moreover, Silver Birch continues, nothing stands still in life but all is in constant motion away from or towards the Divine.
“Life, because it is life, cannot ever be static, for that way lies stagnation. Life is rhythm, motion, progress, unfoldment, development, the reaching out towards perfection all the time. Unless there were constant gradations of life, unless there was a constant pilgrimage on the rungs of the ladder of progress, life would not be life. It is in the variety of evolution, with its multitudinous stages of development, that life becomes life.
“If all were at the same stage, if perfection were attained, if there were no necessity for further striving, no need for new attainments, no need for still greater expression, then the incentive to live, to achieve, would gradually become extinct. The motivation of life is always onward, striving to reach out to clasp that which is at present beyond its grasp. And it is always in the striving, in the attempt to conquer, seeking to triumph over difficulty, that the spirit finds itself and God is at work amongst you. (2)
“Ye are spirits placed for a while in a garb of flesh to get training for an advanced spirit-life, where the seeds sown in the past bear their fruit, and the spirit reaps the crop which it has prepared.” (4)
Psychic Researcher Frederic Myers extends that by telling us, from his vantage point in the astral planes, that education and evolution are the reasons for the creation of all worlds, both physical and spiritual:
“The reason, therefore, for the universe and for all appearances, for even the little mundane joys and sorrows of human beings, is to be found in the term “evolution of spirit,” the need for complete fulfillment which can be obtained through limitation, through the expression of the spirit in form. For only through that expression can spirit grow, developing from the embryo, only through manifestation in appearance can spirit obtain fulfillment.
“For this purpose were we born, for this purpose we enter and pass through myriad worlds or states, and always the material universe is growing, expanding, giving fuller and fuller expression to mind. The purpose of existence may be summed up in a phrase–the evolution of mind in matter that varies in degree and kind–so that mind develops through manifestation, and in an ever-expanding universe ever increases in power and gains thereby the true conception of reality.
“The myriad thoughts of God, those spirits which inform with life all material forms, are the lowest manifestation of God, and must thus learn to become God-like — to become an effective part of the Whole.” (5)
In the Earth school, we learn by experiencing, as Betty Bethard’s teacher tells us. Knowing the Self is the object of all lessons.
“[Earth] is nothing more than a school which we go through, each incarnation [being] like a grade. Many times we don’t ‘pass,’ but we aren’t going to fail either. We just may remain on a particular level without progressing. In time, we begin to progress at our own rate of speed.
“And, of course, the more you change inwardly, the more you can comprehend. The more clarity and understanding you have and the more love you are able to bring into your aura, the faster your tests can come. You can be allowed three grades or three lifetimes in one incarnation if your soul is truly advancing and learning.
“To know Self is to know all things. If you watch how you handle things, how you are working with others around and about you, you are given more clarity, more tests, more obstacles. But there are more opportunities for growth so that you can speed things up, too. This is the soul’s choice.” (6)
We heard Betty Bethards’ teacher and John Heslop say in the first article that much more can be learned on Earth than in Heaven. Here T.E. Lawrence, known to Earth-dwellers as Lawrence of Arabia, explains why:
“There is … a reason for stressing the importance of the earth experience. It seems that in the cycle of growth [earth life] is the formative stage when alone any real growth in essence takes place. When the earth life is over and one comes here, the law of affinity takes one into congenial conditions and the general alleviation of circumstances removes all outer sources of conflict. There is no more struggle for existence. Our work here is a kind of mopping-up operation.
“We can, in fact we must, graduate from regions where our faults and temper and our sense of guilt are tolerated to those where we have to clear ourselves of these stains of earth. But although we may clear ourselves and in the ascent of the planes gradually purify our being until we are again essential spirit, still no actual growth in this spirit will have been made here.
“What we bring from earth remains our all, so our fate is bound up with our earth experiences; only in the struggle and turmoil of life there are we able to make any real difference to our spiritual stature. So, although this in-between period is a wonderful interlude, the real work has to be done on earth.” (7)
Fourth, spiritual evolution features more than one movement. We have now heard several people say that, in life, to quote Ibn Arabi, “sometimes [man] rises; sometimes he goes low.” (8) In fact, if we remember that Ibn Arabi described life as an arc in the first part of this article, away from and back to God, we see that he has in fact been describing two movements – a sacred arc and a spiritual spiral. The rising and falling in the course of the arc is the spiral.
The sacred arc is the overall parabolic descent into matter and ascent into spirit over countless lifetimes. The spiritual spiral is a periodic rising and falling in any one lifetime as the being responds to its “many tribulations” due to karma. Sage Vasistha, millennia ago, referred to this second movement as the “rise and fall in evolution” that is brought about by “the law of cause and effect.” (9)
Twentieth-century Christian Master Beinsa Douno described this arc as a “partial rise and descent in an oscillating curve.” (10)
Let us now combine the two movements — the sacred arc and the spiritual spiral. As we travel through the sacred arc over evolutionary periods of time, we follow a spiritual spiral on a day-to-day basis. While the movement of the arc may be away from and back to God, the movement of the spiral is through the same situations again and again until we learn our lessons. In the course of this parabolic and spiral journey of many lifetimes, says Al Ghazzali, the individual being “rises from the rank of beasts to that of angels.” (11)
We’ll find the use of this combined metaphor of arc and spiral common in the literature on the divine plan. South African Mike Swain uses the image of a spiral staircase to convey it: spiritual evolution is “a circular staircase of ever-evolving self-perception.” (12) Englishwoman Frances Banks also offers it when she says “consciousness is on an upward spiral and progresses onward.” (13) Silver Birch also uses the image. “Evolution is not in a straight line,” he says. “It is a spiral. At the top, things look beautiful; at the bottom they don’t look so beautiful.’ (14)
Another thing about spiritual evolution is, as Silver Birch says, the more we learn, the more we see there is to learn:
“The higher your soul evolves the greater is the progress it has made — but the more it knows there is to be evolved. That is its disadvantage, it is more dissatisfied. The more sensitive you become to beauty, the more sensitive you are to ugliness. The higher you rise, the lower you can sink.” (15)
Moreover, simply passing over into the spirit world widens the horizon, as Betty’s teacher says.
“Here we know better the meaning that lies behind it all, and realize that it is a small matter as compared with the wonderful scheme that lies behind all effort, all evolution. … When all is known it will be seen that the evils of the earth life are for one purpose only, to train humans in the way to understand right from wrong, and to educate them to choose the right.
“In the process of evolution many fall by the wayside, many strive and fail, many endeavors are frustrated. But the lesson remains, and the individual has grown to a slight extent. Life may be lost, time may be wasted, apparently, but the end has been achieved in some fashion.” (16)
We’ve discussed in other articles the few souls who do not succeed at all in evolution. Betty’s teacher also refers to them:
“There are cases where evolution has failed in some individuals, and the result is downward instead, because of some perverse trait that turned the effort in the wrong direction. But this is far less than is generally believed. All failures, so-called, are not failures. Many prove to be the greatest successes; for an impress has been made on the soul that will last through eternity.” (17)
Philosopher William James reveals that our view of life changes dramatically once we free ourselves from the body and enter the afterlife.
“We get different viewpoints on many of these [matters] because of our ability to understand some things that were beyond our grasp there. We see that many things which we looked upon as evils there, appear to us now as problems that were placed in our path for us to solve. We find that many things which we considered blessings were only some of the more cheerful events of our life. The real evils we did not fully understand, the real blessings have been left for this life.” (18)
Thus we can see that the Divine Plan of spiritual evolution can be described in the long term as a sacred arc as it moves away from and returns to God, and in the short term as a spiral motion which sees life rise and fall in response to karma. In the course of this journey, we pass through infinite experiences that school us in righteousness, maturity, and self-identity, until we find ourselves in a position to fulfill the purpose of life, which is to realize ourselves as God.
This is the grand design of life, the Divine Plan, the architecture of spiritual evolution, one step of which is now about to be realized in the process of Ascension on Dec. 21, 2012.
(1) Silver Birch, Silver Birch’s Teachings. Located at http:/www.angelfire.com/ok/SilverBirch/Tcon.html, n.p.
(2) Loc. cit.
(3) “Imperator” (Malachi) speaking through Stainton Moses. Spirit Teachings. London: Spiritualist Press, n.d. (Prior to 1883), 52.
(4) Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, ibid., 65-6. Scot John Heslop: “Earth is the training ground of the spirit.” (John Heslop through F. Heslop, medium, Speaking Across the Border-Line. Being Letters from a Husband in Spirit Life to His Wife on Earth. London: Charles Taylor, 9th ed., n.d. , 22.) American journalist Julia Ames agrees that physical life is an essential part of the process of spiritual evolution.
“For reasons known to Him who is over all, it is deemed essential that the soul should be passed through the training of physical life. It is part of the process by which the soul attains its ultimate evolution.” (Julia [Julia T. Ames] through W.T. Stead, medium, After Death. A Personal Narrative. New York: George H. Doran, n.d.; c. 1914. , 156.)
(5) Frederick W.H. Myers through Geraldine Cummins, medium. The Road to Immortality. Being a description of the after-life purporting to be communicated by the late F. W. H. Myers [Frederick William Henry Myers, 1843-1901]. Located at http://www.trans4mind.com/spiritual/cummins/cummins1.html. , n.p.
(6) Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, medium, There is No Death. Novato, CA: Inner Light Foundation, 1976; c1975. , 8-9.
(7) T.E. Lawrence through Jane Sherwood, medium, Post-Mortem Journal. Communications from T.E. Lawrence. London: Spearman, 1964., 91.
(8) Muhyidden Ibn Arabi, Kernel of the Kernel. trans. Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Sherborne: Beshara, n.d., 20.
(9) Venkatesananda, Swami, ed., The Concise Yoga Vasistha. Albany: State University of New York, 1984, 94.
(10) “Brother of the Smallest One,” Lectures, 1 January 1917, www.beinsadouno.org., downloaded 7 March 2005.
(11) Al-Ghazzali, The Alchemy of Happiness. trans. Claud Field. Lahore: ASHRAF, 1971; c1964, 32.
(12) Mike Swain in Jasper Swain, From My World to Yours: A Young Man’s Account of the Afterlife. New York: Walker, 1977, 86.
(13) Frances Banks in Helen Graves, Testimony of Light. London: Churches Fellowship for Psychical & Spiritual Studies, 1975; c1969, 40.
(14) Silver Birch, Light from Silver Birch. Comp. Pam Riva. London: Psychic Press, 1983, 19.
(15) Silver Birch, SBT, ibid., n.p.
(16)Unnamed spiritual teacher to Betty Bethards, medium, There is No Death. Novato, CA: Inner Light Foundation, 1976; c1975, 11-2, 264.
(17) Ibid., 264-5. On Irma Grese, who was liquidated after descending too far, see “Verifying SaLuSa on the Dark Planes,” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2010/09/15/verifying-salusa-on-the-dark-planes/
(18) Philosopher William James in Fred Rafferty, ed., Charlotte E. Dresser, medium, Life Here and Hereafter. Author’s edition. Downloaded from http://www.harvestfields.ca/ebook/02/001/00.htm, 2 Feb. 2008, 107-8.