Spiritual Realization Requires a Spiritual Master


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The need for Grace



An interesting aspect of many contemporary addiction treatment programs (particularly twelve-step programs) are the steps in which the addict acknowledges the powerlessness of "man as machine" to relieve himself of his addiction, and accepts the need for Grace, or the intervention of a Higher Power, in his life. Just so, all the spiritual traditions of humankind are oriented around the need for Grace, and the establishment of a genuine connection with It, in order to grow not only humanly, but spiritually. But once one intuits the need for Grace: Where to find It? How to link up with It? How to benefit from It?

In Western religious traditions, Grace often is viewed as a theological problem: we can readily identify those who got "It" in a big way
from Jesus to Teresa of Avila to Moses to Mohammed. We even have stories providing some details of how "It" came to them. But, so far as we know, only a rare few among us are genuine saints, sages, or Spiritual Masters. Up between the lines of these stories sneaks our suspicion that, not only are we not able to help or improve ourselves in any kind of truly radical way; but maybe even the choice of linking up with that which could make the difference is not in our hands either. Hence the thorny theological conundrums about predestination: if some are chosen by God to be recipients of Grace, are all the rest of us simply spiritually damned, with not a thing we can do about it (even though we spend a lifetime at spiritual practice)?

Curiously, the traditions of the East communicate an entirely different picture: Grace is readily available! Here Grace is not merely a synonym for "luck" or "good fortune", or available only to the predestined. Rather, Grace is a tangible Spiritual Transmission from the Greater Reality, accessible to anybody who is interested, and willing to live the kind of life that supports its steady reception. The living Spiritual Master (or Guru) is the means by which one contacts that Spiritual Transmission. Unlike miraculous visitations, which, by their very nature, can only come and go, the human Spiritual Master serves as a stable bridge between the material world and the Greater Reality.

 

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