There are beings who exist in a world of doubt so profound that for them the emptiness and absence of belief is like a dark nothingness. They live in an empty void, for their doubt extends to everything around them. They are in a stage of growth that is fairly common, and sometimes even necessary.
Lucky for most of us that the doubt we experience goes no further than indecision or uncertainty over daily matters. Imagine, however, this doubt magnified many, many times, until the doubter can scarcely believe that he himself has any meaning — much less that there is a Divinity that shapes our ends.
This state of being is in itself an illusion; like a yellowjacket bumping desperately against a windowpane when two inches below him, where the window is open, lies freedom. We can always get out, at any time, for God does not close the window.
I think spiritual progress works consecutively through confidence, doubt, faith. The three words encompass a great deal — sometimes many lives of slowly gathering understanding. A spiritual life is a kind of a separate thing for most of us. We live our daily, practical, necessary personal lives, and during waking hours think very little of anything spiritual. Yet this life of the spirit is there all the time, going along its individual way, and though we may not think so, linked very strongly to our everyday life. For when we are depressed, when anything that is too overpowering to face comes along — we turn immediately, however unconsciously, to that silent, inner spirit of ours.
If we do not turn to it, we begin our descent into that valley of darkness and self-doubt. Merely a state of mind, you may say; but I believe manic-depressives are often in this state, having gone past the bridge to awareness. And many of us don't turn to it for the simple reason that we do not know it is there. The most important lesson anyone can learn is that his own inner spirit — god, divinity, whatever name you have for it — is linked inextricably, indeed is verily a part of, a far greater god or divinity.
Many of us have turned away from an orthodox God, and rightly so, I suppose, if it no longer satisfies. And so we may come to believe that there are lives and gods and many worlds, and universes within universes, from our bodies to the heavens above us. And it is inspiring and uplifting, it is stimulating intellectually and spiritually.
However, if we dwell merely on these aspects, we find one day that it is insufficient for our human needs. We are indeed human, and we must have some help. We cannot count on other humans for help, for they are as frail as we. We can count, we say, on our inner self which is strong and is a part of a greater — for us — omniscient God.
This is the key. It is also a gentle joke upon ourselves perhaps, for in finding an outer God to lean upon, we are in turn leaning on ourselves, on our inner tranquil self which is strong and fearless, which looks at all things objectively without passion or pride.
You will, if you have not already, some time call upon this self that lives so quietly within. It is there, always. And as steady and strong as itself are you, for it is God, and you are it.
Think about this when you need it, for unfortunately that is the only time we do think about it. It may be, on the other hand, no help at all to you; for what can you say to another who is suffering the deepest grief? What can you tell the mother who has lost her child, the wife her husband; the father, his son? To whom can they turn when tragedy comes? Surely not to you, for you cannot help them; you can only delay their thoughts. We suffer that we cannot help them in their extremity. How the gods must suffer for us, for in their compassion is a realization of their helplessness, even as it is in ours.
Our faith is merely the trust in ourselves. And if there is trust, no shadowy valley will hold any terrors for us.
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There is no purifier in this world to be compared to spiritual knowledge; and he who is perfected in devotion findeth spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself in the progress of time. — Bhagavad-Gita