The spiritual journey is the longest and shortest journey you will ever embark on. Here is a spiritual journey guide for that most challenging and fulfilling journey. It is the journey you are created to take and to BE.
Here is a personal outline of this journey into the magnificence that love to share with you as I understand it.
The Spiritual Journey Guide
In this extensive reflection, each of the above will have its own submenu with links to the related material.
PLEASE NOTE that this guide to the spiritual journey is being updated on a regular basis as from Feb 2020. On completion I will provide a free pdf download.
I share this invitation to the spiritual journey through a love of mystical poetry, mythological storytelling, movies and inspiration song lyrics. This is not the language of logic but the language of the heart that invites soul alignment and expression.
So let us begin this journey into the magnificence of the Light of your own Being (Hafiz) where to begin with you will be troubled and then astonished.
Before I share with you an outline of the maps that I would like to share with you The Purpose of the Spiritual Journey as I understand it.
Purpose of the Spiritual Journey Guide
Overview of the Spiritual Journey
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To entice you on the challenging and liberating adventure that is the spiritual journey it would be beneficial to at least have an overview of why you might embark on such a journey.
In this spiritual journey guide I sum up the purpose of the journey in one word. This is the word ‘Union.’ The word ‘union’ is also the core meaning of the word ‘Yoga.’ Therefore, this website is titled Yoga Journey for Life.
The direct experience of ‘union’ is the core purpose of the practice of yoga. You might ask, “Union with what?” The spiritual journey is a progressive and revelatory journey of union in the following ways:-
- The personal with the Universal
- Time with the Timeless (Eternity)
- Finite with the Infinite
The sage Patanjali, who is regarded as the historical father of Yoga, says of yoga or union:-
Yoga is the union of the self with the Self through the self—Patanjali
The ‘self’ with the small ‘s’ relates to your sense of the personal self. This is the person you think you are as “Me, myself and I.” This is the personal “I am.”
The “Self” with the capital ‘S’ is the universal ‘Self.” In the Bible this is the “I AM THAT I AM.” You can give it many names such as the Divine, the Beloved (Sufi), The Force (Star Wars) or the Source.
The reason to take the spiritual journey is why you are created. You are a unique expression of Spirit (SELF) as a soul. Rumi says it this way.
You are not a drop (personal self) in the ocean (Universal Self). You are the ocean in a drop,—Rumi.
The master Jesus Christ says it this way:-
I am (personal self) in the Father (SELF) and the Father is in me.
Maps of the Spiritual Journey
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There are various maps that outline the spiritual journey.
These maps include:-
- The Way of Y-E-S—Your Energy System
- The Hero’s Journey—Through Myth and Magic
- The Path of the Mystic
- The Noble Eightfold Path
- The Sufi Way—The Open Path
- The Sutras of Patanjali
Most all the above have stages are similar to the other, but the language is different given the historical time and place in which this guidance is set.
All the above maps are invitations to direct experience of the mystery rather than another system of belief. These maps are invitations to take the journey and not simply believe in the journey, which is a form of spiritual bypassing.
Let me share with you a brief outline of the two maps with which I am most familiar.
This is because I love these maps and have written about them in various articles and books. The two maps I follow are:-
- The Way of Y-E-S and
- The Hero’s Journey.
So let me begin by sharing with you an outline of these maps that give you an overview of the spiritual journey as it will unfold for most people. Please note that the stages as shown are not necessarily linear.
Spiritual Journey Guide – The Way of Y-E-S
The Spiritual Journey Begins with Y-E-S
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
This is the map related to the alignment of your subtle energy. The word “Y-E-S is an acronym for “Your Energy System.” The energy centres referred to are the subtle energy centres called The Chakra’s.
I have found this to be one of the most comprehensive maps of the spiritual journey that I have explored over a lifetime.
For more about what a Chakra is you will find the following of relevance: What is a Chakra—Gateway to Revealing your Full Potential.
Let me outline the way how this spiritual map of the journey outlines the territory. In The Way of Y-E-S, there are seven major chakras.
These 7 major chakras combine in the following ways:-
- 1) The Personal
- Root Chaka—Embodiment–Prosperity
- Sacral Chakra—Sexuality–Passion
- Solar Plexus Chakra—Personal Will—Power
- 2) The Transition
- Heart Chakra—Love–Peace
- 3) The Transpersonal
- Throat Chakra—Communion–Poetry
- Brow Chakra—Vision–Prophesy
- Crown Chakra—Union–Presence
I have called these 7 Ways to a Wonderful Life.
I love to group these 7 stages by giving each of them a word that begins with the same letter (the letter ‘P’) This is a reminder to me of their energetic invitation.
For a more detailed exploration of this map of spiritual awakening you will find the following article of relevance What are the 7 Chakras and their Meanings—A Map for Finding Life Purpose
Fairy Tales and Chakras
photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash
Enjoy a wonderful telling of the story of Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs as a map of the journey of the soul. This includes my favourite things such as mythic storytelling, inspiration quotes and mystical poetry.
I outline below how the reflection on this spiritual tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs unfolds in the inspirational video below.
Please note that I have set this YouTube video to begin at the telling of the story (41:20). The times stated below are relative to that start time.
- Snow White—The Soul–The Beauty of Presence (41:40)
- The Woodsman—The Protector of Presence/Suppression of Spiritual Feeling
- The Stepmother—The Personal Ego–The Separate Self
- The 7 Dwarfs—The 7 Chakras or Subtle Energy Centres
- The Hero’s Journey – Part III—The Struggle
- The Hero’s Journey—Part IV–The Breakthrough
- The Prince—Awakening to Truth (56:29)
- The Kiss—Awakening to Transcendent unity (58:25)
- The Revelation of Non-Duality (59:36)
- Personal Story of Awakening through Grief (1:01:06)
- In the Heart Snow White Awakens (1:06:12)
- The Poem—I AM There by James Dillet Freeman (1:08:40)
The next map is The Hero’s Journey. I have added a second page because if I put the other video on the same page there may be download issues for some people. I hope that won’t take away from the enjoyment of reading this full article.
Map of the Hero’s Journey
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This is another favourite map of the spiritual journey because it incorporates the power of story, movies and myth. As a storyteller and ardent movie lover I love this map of the spiritual journey.
The mythologist Joseph Campbell coined the term “Hero’s Journey”. The word Hero is not to be thought of as gender specific. When I teach workshops such as Companioning YOUR Greatness a core aspect of such a workshop is the structure of The Hero’s Journey.
Many, and even most, movies incorporate all or some of this map of the journey of the movement of spirit into form. Such movies include:-
- Star Wars
- The Matrix
- The Wizard of Oz
- Lord of the Rings
- Harry Potter
The Hero’s Journey
- What is the Hero’s Journey?
- Examples from Movies
- The Hunger Games (2:48)
- How it relates to You (3:33)
The Hero’s Journey has various key stages. There are substages but the main stages of the Hero’s Journey comprise:-
- The Call to Adventure.
- The Search
- The Struggle
- The Breakthrough and
- The Return
I have written a more comprehensive exploration of this map of the spiritual journey that I think you will find value in reading entitled 5 Stages of Spiritual Awakening to the Life You are Created to BE.
Other Reflections on the Map of The Hero’s Journey
Audio recording and Movie Preview
Includes issues such as-
- Quarter Life and Midlife Crisis and Life Purpose.
- The Hero’s Journey (23:30)-(25:30) 2 minutes of highly recommended Listening
- Recommends the book The Power of Myth (I concur – Love that book – Much easier to read than his other books)
- Sharing making the movie via synchronicity
- Sharing faith in letting go and having faith in the process (especially for men)
Patrick Solomon is an award winning commercial director with over 20 years behind the camera. He started his career in the early 90’s by shooting his favorite activity: extreme sports. He quickly compiled a long list of action sports titles including surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and motocross films. In 1996 he graduated to commercials where he continues to thrive.
His first venture into feature length films produced the award winning, Finding Joe, currently in release. The film explores the concept of the heroes journey, a pattern that is found in every story from every culture and includes all novels and movies. It explains that all humans are actually taking the same journey and once that’s understood, we become the heroes and heroines of own life’s story.
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you.
This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
The Ways to Journey
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Whatever map you follow it will draw you to choose one of two major ways to journey. These two ways can never be wholly independent.
They are really two sides of the same coin which makes up the whole of the spiritual journey. However, neither are they entirely merged. There is an inevitable tension that must exist between the two.
They give the two ways the names:-
- The Exoteric Way—The Way of the Many
- The Esoteric Way—The Way of the Few
In the never-ending evolution of the soul we will all journey these two ways of relating to the world of time and eternity.
Each spiritual seeker must largely choose one as their dominant mode. In my personal experience the individual begins with the Exoteric Way and must choose whether to step unto the way of the Few.
In the Hero’s Journey map they call this The Call to Adventure. It is where you take the Red Pill and see how far into Wonderland you might venture.
I list below what I see as the key differences between each way of taking the spiritual journey.
|The Exoteric Way||The Esoteric Way|
|1||Key focus is on belief||Key focus is on Experiential Knowing|
|2||Literal interpretation of the Teachings||Metaphysical and Metaphorical Interpretation|
|3||Outer Authority from Group Dynamic||Inner Authority from Insight and Revelation|
|4||Spiritual Guidance based on Information||Guidance based on Transformation|
|5||Faith in Scripture or Teachings||Faith in the Unknown and Being Known Through|
Aspects of the Ways
It is important to recognize the key aspects of the two different ways of travelling the spiritual journey. This I think will also help you understand the key differences between religion as a belief system and spirituality as an experiential journey.
I will share these key aspects as follows:-
At the beginning of the spiritual journey, most teachings focus the initiate on the need to believe in the teachings. The problematic issue is that most people become what the modern spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle refers to as, “Signpost clingers.”
Clinging to signposts is the way of the many no matter what tradition they follow. This is where you assert the primary importance of belief rather than KNOWING.
Theologian Tony DeMello described it as finding a signpost to a city and thinking the signpost was the city. These people then climb the signpost and cling to it tenaciously, hoping and believing they have the answer—From Three Keys to Self-Understanding—Pat Wyman.
This is where most of us begin the journey. Belief is the first step unto the path. If you continue to be a believer is like going to a restaurant and eating the menu.
The Exoteric Way of the many favours belief over the focus on direct experience of the follower of the Esoteric Way
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For those who travel The Exoteric Way wisdom teachings will tend to be understood literally. This is understandable when you are young but becomes a barrier too higher wisdom if continued.
For example, if you take the Old Testament Bible story of The Flight of the Jews from Egypt literally then you will miss the deeper and more profound meaning of this story and how it relates to your life.
This story is your story.
It is the story of your Call to Adventure into the unknown desert. You leave the slavery of Egypt and the tyranny of Pharaoh, which is symbolic of your sense of the personal separate sense.
You take the spiritual journey into the desert (the Unknown) to find the Promised Land, which is your experience of spiritual awakening. This metaphysical interpretation, rather than the literal interpretation, has meaning for your life as you live it now.
Otherwise, this is simply a historical story that you might find hard to believe given that parting the Red Sea is less than logical, even for ardent believers.
It will be the same if you read wisdom stories related to fairy tales and myths. These stories and myths will have no meaning. They will have no power to give your life direction. You will consider them quaint little tales for young children and miss the invitation to connection to your Soul that is the real wonderland.
Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash
As a follower of the Exoteric Way your authority will come from without. This is OK to begin with. It helps to have others guide you provided they are not sign post clingers, which most are.
This allows you the comfort of belonging to a group. You simply believe and don’t rock the boat. The challenge comes when you question that authority. Most groups will resist having the group dynamic questioned.
The follower of the Esoteric Way may belong to a group and accept the authority of certain members within that group. This was the case when I was a member of The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order.
However, there comes the point when rather than gain more information from others you really wish to become a KNOWER of the transcendent. No one can ever give you this. It is not more information.
It is transformation through Grace.
You become your own authority. If this kind of authorization is working in the way, it should you become humble rather than arrogant. You recognise that any real insight and KNOWING comes through you.
Not that you become wise. It is that wisdom reveals itself through you and you recognise that you are blessed to be a channel of revelation.
This revelation requires you to be empty rather than filled with beliefs and knowledge. The paradox of real authority is that you allow the authority of the Divine to manifest through you.
This is power, but it is beyond a sense of personal power. You are authorized by Divine intent. You are awesome and authentic. There is no need for you to defend your views because they are beyond you.
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When you follow the Exoteric Way, your focus is on concepts, words and for some people on dogma. You live your life from the direction of the voice in your head that is a collection of myriad voices of others. This is the voice of the sense of the personal sense of self.
This perception of the personal separate self is who you think you are. As my teacher of revelation Jiddu Krishnamurti would say, “You think you are a collection of memories.”
We carry about us the burden of what thousands of people have said and the memories of all our misfortunes. To abandon all is to be alone, and the mind that is alone is not only innocent but young — not in time or age, but young, innocent, alive at whatever age — and only such a mind can see that which is truth and that which is not measurable by words. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
The movement from the Exoteric Way to the Esoteric Way can be either progressive or revelatory. If it comes through the grace of revelation, then your perception of who you think you are radically changes.
As an initiate of the Esoteric Way you KNOW that who you are is far beyond anything you can think or define in words. You become a true follower of The Way.
You recognize (KNOW) that the separate sense of the personal self is an image, but it is not your Essence. Now you live in two worlds rather than one world.
With the grace of revelation comes the KNOWING that you are both a creature of:-
- Time and Eternity
- Personal and Universal
- Finite and Infinite
- Form and the Formless
This KNOWING is what you wish each and everyone to KNOW. It is way beyond belief. It takes you far down the rabbit hole (The Red Pill). You are a revelation of wonder. You are, A Soul in Wonder (Van Morrison)
A key practice of the spiritual journey is learning to listen and have faith in that other voice. It is the Still small voice within that arises from the paradoxical power of silence. Have faith in this unknown but not unknowable power.
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In the experience of this writer those on the Exoteric Way use the word ‘Belief’ and ‘Faith’ in the same way. Y
For the individual following the Esoteric Way the word ‘Faith’ invites a very different focus than it does for the one who is the believer clinging to signposts.
Faith is symbolized in the story of The Flight for the Jews from Egypt by the entry into the desert. The desert is empty. There is, mostly, nothing there.
This is symbolic of being willing to enter the unknown. You cannot be a believer and a KNOWER at the same time. The potential KNOWER has to take the preliminary step of entering the UNKNOWN in order to be KNOWN THROUGH.
To enter the unknown you have to declare, “I don’t know.” You have to want to KNOW. You have to want to FEEL connected to the Divine rather than believe in the Divine. This is the difference between faith and blind faith.
This is the transition point where you cross over from the Exoteric Path to the Esoteric Path. The stepping into the unknown is symbolized in the scene in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford as the hero has to step into the unknown.
Notice how the script writer uses the phrase, “You must believe,” before the character steps into the void. Setting into the void is an act of faith, not belief.
It is a real challenge because you are often left feeling alone. The group dynamic you were part of you are no longer a part off. You step out into the emptiness and trust that it will hold you up.
You might stay within a group dynamic but you are changed. Some people make the choice to stay within the group they are familiar with. I always left even if it left me lonely.
The Guide to the Esoteric Way
Your Way is Unique to You
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The focus of this website is to guide those who would follow the Esoteric Way. This is not an invitation to follow a specific religion or wisdom tradition. It is the invitation to be an explorer of how the Divine expresses through you.
You are unique. You are a religion and a revelation of one. Here you are invited to be true to that uniqueness.
I am not affiliated with any religious group. I have my love of different wisdom teachings. Once you are a KNOWER, you realise that all the religious and wisdom teachings arise from the same Source.
As a KNOWER I have only one wish. This is expressed by the mystic poet Hafiz of Sharaz in this way:-
I wish when you are lonely and in darkness that I could show you the magnificence of the Light of your own being—Hafiz of Shiraz.
What will teach you about wonderland is the magnificence of the Light within. I am not here to tell you what that is. I am here to keep reminding you to go toward that Light and share with you the practices that invite you to live as the unique radiance of Love in form that you are.
Let me end this section on The Ways of the spiritual journey with a favorite poem by Robert Frost entitled The Road Less Taken.
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I am presently writing the outline of The Paths of Spiritual Awakening and will post this as soon as possible. (Feb 2020)
Meantime I share below other post that I think are essential reading for traveling the Spiritual Journey.