Then there is life itself which poses endless problems. Even if you have a reasonable standard of living and no serious personal or financial difficulties there are numerous irritations and annoyances which can disturb your peace of mind and trouble your heart. How do you deal with them? And if you are at all sensitive to spiritual truth what can you do about its apparent destruction in the world, a destruction getting worse by the day as right and wrong are inverted and goodness submerged in falsehood? I posed this question to myself recently and received the following answer.
Submit everything to God. Keep him in mind at all times of the day. As an undercurrent when you are doing things which require your full attention and right at the forefront of consciousness when you are able to do that. At these times lift your mind up to him and try to feel his presence. This won't be easy at first and you may fear that you are just imagining things but persist and you will eventually find a supporting presence to which you can consign all your troubles and problems. You will realise that what takes place outwardly can never affect you if you are centred in God, and that the truth can never really be damaged, whatever takes place in the world, for nothing good, nothing true can ever be lost. In the real world, which we do not currently inhabit, the sacred is always protected from the profane, and it is always there to be accessed by those who purify themselves of worldliness and fix their minds on God.
This is stunningly simple. At least, in principle it is but it isn't easy to remain focused and undistracted. The flesh may be weak but the mind is often even weaker. And yet it is simple in the sense that all one has to do is keep the idea of God in one's thoughts and in one's heart. I mean by this that we acknowledge the Creator and know that our 'I' only exists as a gift from him. It is a gift so we can do with it whatever we like but the only way to enter into the higher life, the life of spiritual growth and freedom, is to give it back to the Creator in love. Then we can enter into his life. This we do by accepting him and receiving him into our hearts. The modern intellectual type hates this. Such a person wants to be independent. He is too proud, too clever, to be simple and to do something that any uneducated peasant could do. But he lacks wisdom. He lacks love, he lacks humility and he lacks truth. Let us not be like him but let us joyfully acknowledge the Creator.
Now this does not require loud praise and extroverted celebration. Almost always any extravagance of this kind is the sign of an ego seeking emotional excitement, someone who wants God to come down to their level and adjust himself to them instead of them going up to him. But God is not to be found in emotion. He is to be found in feeling, and true feeling, deep feeling, will be quiet and unwilling to draw attention to itself. God is not known in noise and excitement but in stillness and silence. Remember that when Jesus wanted to commune with God more fully he withdrew from the crowds and towns and went into the deserts and mountains, and this remains true today, if not always literally, then certainly symbolically and psychologically.
So when the world oppresses or perplexes you, hand your troubles over to God. Submit them to him by imagining his presence beside you or lifting yourself up to him in thought and imagination. As the Masters said you will then find relief.
This approach might be criticised as 'dualistic'. You are envisaging God as something outside yourself, and the more enlightened mystic is surely past that sort of thing as he knows that his being and God's being are woven from the same cloth. God is within you as your true self. To seek him outwardly is the mark of the spiritually immature.
That may well be so but I challenge anyone who takes this position to maintain it in times of darkness when the spiritual glow is withdrawn from their life, and any experiences they may have had of a non-dualistic nature have dried up. And believe me, this will happen. The mystic will one day find that his connection to the divine has gone. He will be thrown back on himself. This is inevitable and it is necessary because it takes the mystic away from his attachment to spiritual experiences and forces him to walk the spiritual path for the right reason. He is being purified of egotism and selfish desire by being made to be, and to accept being, nothing. He is being taught that God may be within as your life force but he is also the Creator with whom you can have a relationship of love and, in fact, it is only by means of such a relationship that he can truly forget himself and go beyond his identification with the ego. For the ego is not an illusion to be seen through by knowledge. It is a real fact of human nature that can only be transcended through self-forgetfulness in love. And this is only possible when you open yourself up to God, knowing that you are as nothing and that all you are comes from the Creator.
So the true mystic does not seek spiritual experiences. He will surely welcome them if they come but he is learning to love God for himself not his gifts. Only in this way can his soul be transformed into a suitable vessel for the living God. That may mean that he will find rather more suffering than joy on the spiritual path but this is to cleanse him of sin, the greatest of which is the identification with self. When this suffering comes the only way through it is to hand yourself over to God, and that means, in effect, to submit yourself to his will. Know that whatever he sends you is what you need and accept whatever comes in that spirit.
Which takes me back to how to deal with this world when it assails you. The answer is simply keep the fact of God in mind. Don't let anything distract you from that. It's all in the first commandment really.