Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Q: What is spiritual experience? Is spiritual experience- God?
Each traveler is a universe with many levels. In this age, we are just beginning to experience and explore the complexity of our consciousness and spiritual experience.
What is thought? What is consciousness? How is thought and consciousness different, or similar to spiritual experience? Is spiritual experience the same as religious experience?
Historically, other cultures have studied what we are beginning to call consciousness and spiritual experience. Some of these cultures have hundreds of words to describe the complexity of this experience. Today, we have a few (i.e., states and stations).
One of the limitations of this inquiry is that it is impossible to describe in written or verbal communication the intricacies of a multi-level experience. We can talk about it,
write about it, but it is not the same. A spiritual experience occurs on many levels simultaneously in our body and consciousness.
As example, poets and songsters have been trying for eons to describe the complexity of romantic love. At best, their words and songs are an approximation of this sublime and multifaceted experience. Further, overtime this experience may fade, change, or grow deeper.
While words can get you close to describing romantic love, they are not the same thing. Similarly, once you have tasted of authentic spiritual experience, you realize words may take you to the door, but cannot get you inside the room.
To further confuse matters, different religions and paths, use different words to describe, what is believed to be the same or similar experience (i.e., peace of God, Unity, and Nirvana). Experience must be experienced within the context of a specific path or system. Conversely, it is specified by spiritual teachers that the closer the traveler gets to the Source, regardless of path, the more similar becomes the unifying experience.
Spiritual experiences are distinguished from emotional or physical experiences by the level of energy or vibration involved. These experiences are not similar to other experiences and involve a different part of our consciousness. Also, these experiences are given or provided so you can learn something and move forward along the path.
In the beginning of some traveler’s training, there is a period where the student is provided with experience that opens the door and awakens the soul. This experience is akin to feeling one with all living things and is a unifying experience. In part, it is a foretaste of things to come, displays the direction to travel, and helps place the student on the path.
Some think this is the end product and are content, because it is a sublime experience, to try and repeat this over and over. It is a beginning and there are numerous other experiences along the way.
Spiritual experience is not God. It is experience of the Essence from which we all came, through a part of this essence: that is the center (heart) of our soul. Remember, that which enters the physical (universe) is different than that which exists outside the universe. God is greater than the creation.
The following is an old example to help explain this. While it is possible to know a great deal about a potter by examining a bowl, we cannot know the potter entirely. We can hold the bowl and feel its texture, examine it under different lights, and over time feel artistically one with it and the potter. However, no matter how many aspects of the potter we experience through his creation, the potter is greater and more complex than this one
piece. In time, the potter can go on to create all sorts of other things which may be totally different. Each of these creations, all have aspects of the potter in them, but under examination do not explain all that is required to make the bowl. For example, where did the idea of design and choice of color come from? How did the artist learn his craft? Over time, what were the factors that influenced him? You can not get all of this from one bowl or just studying the artist’s life. Always, the potter remains different and greater, that is more complex, than the bowl.
Travelers can never duplicate
The majesty of God.
But travelers can touch the glory
For an instant
With their heart.
Q: The traveler speaks of knowing God. What exactly does this mean?
It is possible to know a little about God through the Light. Through training and grace, the traveler is able to sip of that aspect of the Divine that is present in the created universe. This inner experience, or perception, is a taste of that which is essentially (totally) unknowable, and in the creation, partially, present.
While the traveler gathers a fleeting glimpse, through this experience, this taste is not the same as total experience. In a sense, the traveler is able to speak about glimpses of God’s qualities or attributes. This experience and perception is extremely powerful and when in this mode of perception, or awareness, the traveler speaks of being unified with God. For most, this experience comes and goes, and helps provide the energy that is necessary for the traveler’s work.
And beyond experience
There is knowledge.
There is God.
Here the traveler
And the goal is united.
Q: Along the path, there are various stages. What is the significance of this?
As with any endeavor there are levels of ability that are dependent upon a variety of factors. These include individual capacity, training, experience and good luck or fortune.
As an example, let us discuss learning how to swim. In order for learning to occur several things must be in place. You need someone who wants to learn, a teacher who is able to teach, and a place (i.e., pool, lake) where swimming can occur. Also, there must be an interaction between the student, the teacher, and subject being taught. The student must want to learn, the teacher must have skills and correct temperament to impart the lesson and the setting must be conducive to learning. Over time, as the student progresses, has certain experiences, completes various swimming exercises, he/she moves along the learning continuum.
It is similar along the spiritual path and progress is dependent upon an interaction between the traveler, the teacher, and the grace inherent in the path. Travelers have the capacity to learn at different rates and understand what the teacher is trying to impart.
The teacher is one who has traveled the path to completion and has been selected to help others make the journey. Not all travelers who have completed the journey are designated as teachers.
The magical element in all of this is the grace, or Baraka, inherent in the path. Without this, which is the Divine element, none would successfully make the journey. It is this magical element the teacher uses to call the traveler and confers the Grace to begin the journey. The spiritual Baraka of the path ensures that it remains a viable road to completion.
The different stages of the journey refer in part, to the activation of specific capacities and spiritual centers within the traveler. In order for these spiritual centers to be activated without harm, this activation must occur under the guidance of a teacher. To activate these centers prematurely, through spiritual exercises that are not correctly prescribed, may result in lasting psychic damage.
As with swimming, in spiritual studies, there are beginners, intermediates, those who have given-up, drown, and advanced practitioners of all kinds.
O Lord, now I see
Why You created humanity.
What a lonely place
This earth can be.
When the house is empty
And those you love have gone,
It is so quiet.
Loneliness can weigh heavily on a heart.
O Lord, our laughter and smiles
Are joys to You.
Humanity provides the wings
Upon which your heart can soar.
If you liked this article check-out my new book Songs Against The Darkness: available on Amazon in paper and Kindle.
Go to: https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Against-Darkness-Stewart-Bitkoff/dp/099157754X
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