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 —
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,
Spiritual Master serves as a stable
bridge between the material world and the Greater Reality.