Marshall Vian Summers
on September 19, 2008
in Boulder, Colorado
It is natural for people to want to discover their deeper nature, and to discover and to fulfill their greater purpose for coming into the world. For indeed everyone has been sent here for a greater purpose even though very few people have ever discovered this, or even understand that it is a reality for them.
Once you have secured yourself in the world and have adequate provisions—food and water, shelter, clothing and security—a deeper set of needs sets in: the need for personal freedom and self-expression, the need for opportunity, the need to develop and cultivate one’s skills and abilities, the need for political freedom and economic opportunity. But beyond the possibility of fulfilling these needs, there is a greater and more fundamental need within the individual. And while many people in the world today cannot even fulfill the first set of needs for food and shelter and security, this deeper need resides within them as well.
That is one of the tragedies of poverty: it denies the possibility of a great percentage of humanity from making their contribution to the world. The countless individuals who would otherwise become major contributors to their cultures and societies, and to the well-being and progress of humanity, will not even have a chance to gain this greater expression of their lives. They are overtaken by their circumstances, prisoners of their circumstances.
Others who are more affluent become prisoners of their desires and their obsessions. They become prisoners to their ambitions or their personal interests, their romances or their addictions. In all of these cases, people are prevented from gaining access to their deeper nature, the deeper current of their life, and with it the possibility of experiencing and expressing a greater purpose that has brought them into the world.
For some people, enlightenment is held out to be the ultimate goal: to become free of attachment; free of worldly restraint; free to immerse yourself in a greater consciousness, the consciousness of all life, perhaps the consciousness of God; to be unhindered internally; to be free of anger and resentment and low self-esteem.
For some people enlightenment then becomes their new obsession. They think that that is why they are here in the world—to escape the world, to escape the endless cycle of existence and all of the suffering and struggle and difficulty that that entails.
If it were your purpose to discover the deeper Knowledge that God has placed within you and to follow that Knowledge and to be a vehicle for its expression in the world—if that were your definition of enlightenment, then enlightenment would be completely appropriate. But enlightenment, in the minds of many people, is something very different. It is a kind of personal exaltation. It is an escape from life. It is a retreat from the world. It is a great ambition.
Yet if the spiritual practices that lead in the direction of enlightenment can engage one with their deeper Knowledge, their deeper nature, then they will have to come back into the world to serve. For if you discover your deeper nature, if you experience the deeper mind of Knowledge within yourself, you will realize that you have a destiny in the world and a service to perform here, a very specific service involving certain individuals.
Though you may have sought bliss and contentment, in actuality you find that you have a great service in the world, and you must return to the world with all of its difficulties, its tragedies and its seductions because this is why you have come into the world.
You have not come into the world to escape the world. You have not come into the world to pursue personal happiness and satisfaction, for that only makes you a mass consumer, and it leads to self-obsession, which is the source of all mental illness.
If your pursuit of enlightenment engages you with Knowledge, then you will be prepared to return to the world, and your form of service may engage you in very difficult situations, where the need is profound. You cannot escape this service, for it really represents your destiny.
For some people, enlightenment however has nothing to do with Knowledge. It is a personal goal. It is the ultimate experience of happiness and contentment. And that is the goal of their lives: to be happy and contented.
So they will spend their lives—all their resources, all of their self-determination—to try to eradicate or overcome or overlook all of the tendencies within themselves that keep them small and chained to the world. But they will also overlook the power and presence of Knowledge and what it is calling them to do. And they will have to face guilt, the guilt that they are not responding to their deeper nature and to the deeper need of the soul. But they will tend to dismiss this guilt as simply part of the limitations that they must overcome.
Here there is a confusion, a misunderstanding, a misapprehension of the goal and purpose of your life. While peace and contentment are certainly important, these must be the by-product or the result of a deeper and more profound engagement in the world.
To escape the world to pursue happiness is no different than trying to enrich yourself with possessions or with gaining high social position. It is still a focus on one’s own fulfillment. But you did not come into the world to fulfill yourself. You did not come here to be a mass consumer, to use everything in the world for your own edification, for your own satisfaction, for your own happiness.
This is a very important point of clarification because if you do not see this, then you will think of enlightenment as a kind of noble road to take, the ultimate pursuit, the greatest adventure, the greatest and most significant challenge in life. But you risk missing what is fundamental to who you are and to the greater purpose that has brought you into the world.
While it may be necessary to retreat from the world, for even extended periods of time, to build an inner connection to this deeper Knowledge that God has placed within you, to experience your life at a deeper and more profound level, and to gain a sense of true direction in life, this retreat from the world for most people must be temporary.
The person who is destined to become a monastic is a rare individual, and their participation in a monastic life must not be driven by the inability or the avoidance of functioning in the world. This represents a false motive. It does not come from the heart.
You cannot purify yourself completely before you become of service to others. It is not possible because the service itself is part of the purification. And while it is true you cannot simply serve people without building an inner life and building a foundation in Knowledge within yourself, it is equally true that you cannot delay service indefinitely while you strive and struggle to gain a kind of perfection within yourself.
The goal of your spiritual practice—in whatever form it takes, in whatever tradition it might exist—is to engage your surface mind, your worldly mind, with the mind of Knowledge that God has placed within you and to follow that Knowledge, which will bring you to experience and then to express your greater purpose for being in the world, which is a specific form of service to life.
Do not think that you are healing the world through your spiritual practice alone, though your spiritual practice does cast a beneficial influence in the mental environment. You have a greater service to perform. Even those living in monasteries must serve one another and do this out of a state of humility and respect.
For life is service for a sentient being. You are not merely a plant or an animal that just has to survive and reproduce. You are here for a greater purpose. You are not here to be a locust upon the world, consuming everything in sight. You are here for a greater purpose.
It is this greater purpose that represents the fulfillment of your soul and the fulfillment of your destiny. To do this adequately frees you from having to return to this level of life. For this will end Separation within yourself and build a strong enough connection to what God has placed within you, and to God, that you will not need to enter into physical life again. Your service then will be on another level. It will be a greater service and a greater responsibility.
Do not seek perfection. You cannot perfect your personal mind, you cannot perfect your body, you cannot live a life of perfect equanimity without divorcing yourself from the world and without divorcing yourself from Knowledge within yourself. No matter how long you take to engage in spiritual practice, you must return to the world to serve.
Everyone was sent into the world to serve. But service requires preparation. It requires the right attitude and the right understanding.
There are many people who are engaged in service as a kind of compensation for their own lack of integrity, and for their own inability to be honest about their lives and to engage with other people truthfully and appropriately. So they seek to counteract the sense of guilt and inadequacy that this produces by engaging in various forms of service. But their service is a kind of self-compensation. It is tied up in their own compromised lives and approach to life.
Therefore, it is not complete. It is not authentic. It does not have the power of Spirit within it. It is more a form of escape, a form of avoidance, an attempt to prove to oneself [one’s] own worth and value.
This is not real service. That is why you must take the Steps to Knowledge and build a connection to Knowledge before you try to give your life to service. In this sense, you must build a foundation, for you cannot determine the form of service. You may try. You may try many different things, you may give yourself to many different things, and while this may be beneficial for others, it may lead you nowhere.
For you were born with a greater purpose. The form of the service that you are destined to give lives within you, kept sacred and safe within Knowledge within you. You cannot figure it out with your intellect. It is not based upon your personal goals or ambitions.
You must yield to Knowledge within yourself, and learn to find this greater purpose, and distinguish it from all the other compulsions and expectations in your mind, and gain the strength and the inner freedom to give yourself in this direction—thus overcoming your other ambitions, thus requiring you to reconcile your life, to bring your life in order and to withdraw from your self-destructive pursuits and from your compromised relationships, which really have nowhere to go and cannot produce anything of value to the world.
This is the self-purification of taking the Steps to Knowledge. But it is not the same as trying to become perfect according to one’s notions or ideals, or the ideals of anyone else, or even the ideals of religion and religious teaching.
Instead of personal exaltation, it is coming down into the truth within oneself. It is a reconciliation. It is not an escape from life. It is a re-engagement with life. And that begins with the re-engagement with the deeper current of life in your life, the thread of truth that has existed every day of your life.
While you may have built an existence that is unrelated to this deeper thread of truth, it remains. It is your lifeline to God. It is the core and center of your real life. Even if you have created a life full of other obligations and commitments and attachments, it is this deeper thread of your life that you must reconnect with.
Only Knowledge knows why you are here and what you are here to do. So while you may attempt to do any number of other things, trying to fulfill yourself or even trying to serve the world, only Knowledge within you knows where you need to go and what you need to do. And even more importantly, Knowledge knows the pathway you must follow to prepare yourself, to regain your integrity and your clarity of mind in order to recognize and to render this greater service.
Here personal ambition and self-avoidance are great obstacles to reconnecting with Knowledge. People have invested heavily in their personal pursuits, in their personal relationships. They want to keep trying to prove that their investment was wise and efficacious. So they keep trying to make it work. They keep trying to make their relationship work or their pursuit in life be successful. And they keep trying and keep trying and keep trying, only postponing the day when they realize that they are not moving in the right direction and that their constant investment of themselves and their resources is only furthering and deepening their dilemma.
That is why you must begin by taking the Steps to Knowledge, for this will bring clarification into your life. This will restore to you your greater power and greater sense of certainty. This will free you from other obligations or commitments that have no future and which are only wasting your life.
Never think in this regard that you are right where you need to be, for in truth you are trying to get up a mountain. You are trying to get up beyond the valleys and the trees to see and to know and to have the clarity to understand the parameters of your life and the greater journey you must take.
Here many things will have to be set aside—even enlightenment. Personal goals, ambitions, ultimate achievements—they are all driven by personal insecurity and self-doubt.
Without Knowledge to guide your mind, your mind is like a wandering child. It is like an orphan in the world, forever insecure and fearful, forever feeling inadequate and longing for some kind of reunion or reconnection with a greater reality. It drives you. It drives you ceaselessly to try to find yourself in people, places, things, or even in enlightenment.
Whatever the stated goal, the driving incentive is the same. It is born of Separation. It is born of the fact that you are not connected to Knowledge and that your personal mind is running wild, trying to seek fulfillment, trying to seek security, trying to seek happiness, trying to seek the ultimate happiness. It is driven by insecurity and a profound sense of personal failure.
As you continue to dedicate yourself to these pursuits, whatever they may be, your sense of personal failure and anxiety only increases, for you have not met the deeper need of your soul. And though you keep trying to fulfill your goals and ambitions, they keep robbing you of time and diminishing your opportunity to gain access to Knowledge and to reconnect yourself, your mind, your consciousness with the greater purpose that has brought you into the world.
Some people may say: “Well, there is no real greater purpose for me. I am just here to become enlightened so I can become free of the world and its restraints.” But this is the kind of ultimate expression of Separation, that there is no greater purpose for that person. They are just here to try to create an ultimate reality for themselves or to leap into ultimate reality as they conceive of it.
But their problem is that what is motivating them is fear and anxiety, and a profound sense of deficiency in their own life and nature. They are trying to create and fulfill the answer, but the answer has already been given to you.
The answer was given at the beginning of time when the Separation began. God instantly created Knowledge in all sentient beings—a deeper conscience, a deeper sense of connection and responsibility, a deeper experience of fulfillment and relationship.
If your idea of enlightenment is aimed towards Knowledge, then it is appropriate. But your understanding is still incomplete. For you must see that your pursuit of clarity, certainty and strength will lead you to a greater form of service in the world. The goal is not bliss or contentment or peace, but instead engagement at a higher level.
If your idea of enlightenment is to achieve a kind of escape from life, then you must reconsider your objectives, and consider seriously the reality that God has already placed the answer within you, and that you cannot find this answer alone only through spiritual practice. For the answer is a movement. It is not just one realization. It is not just one sudden moment where your eyes are opened and your mind is completely clear.
You may have such lucid moments as a product of your spiritual practice, but ultimately you are here to come to terms with the greater movement of your life—a movement that has a direction and a purpose in the world, a movement that will take you into the world to engage with certain people for a greater and more specific purpose.
The separated are reclaimed everywhere in the universe through Knowledge. Whatever your understanding or orientation, whatever be the nature of your spiritual practice, the truth remains that you are saved through Knowledge.
Knowledge is not some distant shore. It is not some remote place. It is not the result of a long and arduous journey. It is within you now. It is talking to you every day, but you cannot hear it because your mind is too full of noise and is too engaged in its own pursuits.
It is not perfection you seek, but this deeper engagement and this deeper relationship with God. This brings you back into the world to contribute something to the flow and evolution of life here, and to the well-being of humanity, and to the world. Do not try to define this ultimate role for yourself, for that will only hinder your progress.
Here your mind must live with questions and not rely upon answers. You must have the sense of security and self-confidence to know that you are on the right track, that you are moving up a great mountain, that you cannot leap to the summit and that you do not know what the summit is or what it will be like or what it will mean for you. You do not know what you will see as you gain a greater altitude on this mountain. So you go forward with a kind of faith, but it is not a passive faith, for you are fully engaged in your preparation.
You are not waiting around for a bolt of lightning to strike you. You are not waiting around for some magical event or some miracle to open your eyes. You are making the journey. You are getting up the mountain, step by step. You are learning to take the Steps to Knowledge, to gain an ever greater sense and experience of the deeper current of your life. This is more a process of letting things go than taking things on, more a process of reducing yourself to what is really essential and real in your life as opposed to taking on more ideas, more activities, more commitments, more relationships.
It is like an emptying out, but it occurs gradually because you must choose along the way what to value and what not to value. You must see what is good from what only looks good. You must gain this wisdom through discernment, through decisions, through the process of assuming certain responsibilities and letting others go.
That is why sudden enlightenment does not mean anything; it is only a moment. You must still make the journey. There is no secret magic carpet that is going to take you up this mountain. The presence of a great teacher, even contact with the Angelic Presence, will not transport you up this mountain. You must make the journey.
It is in making this journey that you become strong, that you gain wisdom, that you mature as a person, that you learn to make wise decisions, and discern with greater and greater clarity the truth and the falsity that exist in so many things, and to separate them, and to discern truth from falsity in an ever-increasing number of situations. You learn to do this without condemnation, without self-hatred or hatred for others. You become more sober about life, more clear about life, but ever connecting with the promise of life.
There are spiritual teachers, or those who claim to be spiritual teachers, who promise enlightenment, liberation, complete freedom, complete contentment, a life without difficulty, a life without conflict. But what is this? It is an escape from life. It is an avoidance. It is like giving someone a drug, and having them become addicted so they do not have to experience themselves or their condition anymore.
People who are attracted to this are unwilling to live a real monastic life, with all of its restrictions and restraints. They want to have the world, but they want to have it on their terms. They want the world they want. They are unwilling to face the world as it is. They want to have love, but they cannot accept themselves or the world, and so love remains beyond their reach. They want to feel good about themselves, but underneath within themselves, they do not feel good about themselves, for they are neglecting some kind of primal responsibility in life. They are missing a connection.
So they try harder. They become more adamant in their spiritual practice. They become more critical of their own state of mind. They become more judgmental of others, seeking to have their idea of perfection or liberation.
It is like the person who is going to seek material wealth, and they are going to do whatever it takes. They are going to forfeit their relationships. They are going to forfeit their health. They are going to forfeit participation in life to achieve their goals. They are determined; they are obsessed.
God has already placed an answer within you, but this answer will only emerge as you are prepared for it and as your desire for it becomes pure and clear. It will emerge as your life is brought into greater order and harmony, as you have reconciled your activities and have become honest about your engagements with other people.
Then the world itself will call this Knowledge out of you, for you cannot call it out of yourself. The world will activate your greater purpose. It will tell you where you need to serve, where your service can be of the greatest benefit, to whom it must be directed, and how it must be expressed.
How different this is from people trying to fulfill their idea of enlightenment, or trying to escape the ego in all things. Here it is the ego that wants to escape the ego. The ego goes along for the ride. It is being empowered. Even while you seek to escape its limitations, it continues with you.
It is like trying not to feel pain. If you try not to feel any emotional or physical pain, you will withdraw from life. Life is uncomfortable. Life is challenging. Life presents problems and predicaments, some of which are very difficult to understand and to resolve. Some you cannot resolve. If you do not want to feel these things, then you are taking yourself somewhere else, removing yourself from the world and removing yourself from the possibility of fulfilling your greater purpose here.
Your first responsibility is to take the Steps to Knowledge. Your second responsibility is to bring your life into order, which means that everything you are doing is true and that you have gained the strength to release obligations, commitments, behaviors and attachments that do not represent this fundamental truth within yourself. For many people, this takes years and years, but it must occur.
Then you learn to look at the world without condemnation. You look to listen, to feel the need for Knowledge in the world, and to see where Knowledge within you is taking you.
Here you are going from an old life to a greater life, but you cannot put a greater life on top of an old life. You are taking a journey from one reality to another, but you are in the world while you are doing this. And you are maintaining your spiritual practice in The Way of Knowledge while you are doing this.
Unless you are destined to become a monastic, which is a very unique role with very specific requirements, do not think you are going to escape the world. Do not think that you are going to live in the world but not in the world. That is like being in relationship but not really being in a relationship, which is the condition of so many people’s relationships. Yes, they are there, but not wholeheartedly.
You have to be in the world wholeheartedly. You cannot be ambivalent about this. Otherwise, you just want the pleasures of the world without any of its pains, and this is dishonest. This is unreal. That is like wanting to be in the ocean without getting wet. This is wanting to be in a relationship without experiencing difficulties in communication and in understanding another person. This is like having only dessert for dinner and missing that which really nourishes you.
Enlightenment is either true or false, depending on where it is taking you and what it is emphasizing. If it is a path to Knowledge, if it is a preparation for a greater engagement in life, then it is moving in the right direction. Yet if it is not oriented in this manner, then it is taking you somewhere else. It is deepening your self-obsession. It is taking you further from the world, further from true relationship, further into yourself, a self that has no reality in reality.
Here your understanding must be clear. You were sent into the world for a purpose, so you do not need to create your purpose. God has given you Knowledge to redeem you, so you do not have to redeem yourself. God has given you a greater direction in life, so you do not have to create this direction. But you do have to actively prepare—to discover Knowledge, to bring your life into order, and to take the steps towards experiencing and expressing a greater purpose in life, which the world more than anything else will reveal to you.
Here you gain a greater relationship with the world, a greater relationship with yourself, and a greater relationship with others. And it is these greater relationships that end the Separation within yourself, that demonstrate you are really connected to life and to a greater life beyond this world. This ends Separation in all directions. It establishes relationships above you and below you and all around you, simultaneously.
This is how God’s Plan works. It is not the purification of the intellect. It is not just a shedding of the ego. For the more attention you give to your ego, the stronger it becomes. It loves attention; it lives off of attention and investment. Here you can diverge from your true path and spend your life trying to seek a goal that you yourself cannot fulfill.
For it takes a greater surrendering, not to a distant God or a distant power, not to a spiritual teacher, not to an idea or a set of beliefs, but to the deeper current of your life, which is here to take you somewhere and to prepare you for living in the world in a very different way.
God has sent a New Message into the world to clarify these things, and to provide Steps to Knowledge. There are other pathways to Knowledge that have been established over time in the world, and many of them are very potent and authentic. But they can be very hard to find. And those that teach them are not in the public arena and can be very difficult to find. That is why God has sent the Steps to Knowledge into the world, to become a pathway for people who cannot find any other way and who need the blessings and the power of Knowledge in their lives today.
God’s New Message also reveals humanity’s destiny within a Greater Community of intelligent life in the universe, and how humanity must prepare for the Great Waves of change that are coming to the world, as your planet undergoes environmental change.
To understand your purpose, you must understand the context in which it will be expressed, and that is why a permanent retreat from the world is so counter productive.
You must learn of humanity’s emergence into a Greater Community of life and the great threat to human freedom that is existing in the world today by those forces from the universe who are here to take advantage of a weak and divided humanity. And you must learn of the Great Waves of change that are coming to the world: environmental degradation, resource depletion, violent weather, changing climate, growing economic and political instability, and the threat of war and conflict. You are here to be a part of all of this, so you must learn of the condition of the world and what is coming over the horizon, which only a Revelation from God can provide.
To know who you are and why you are here, you must understand where the world stands and where it is going. You must understand your environment to know what to do in life, correctly and wisely. You are here to serve the world, so you must understand the world with a greater clarity, a greater objectivity and a greater courage. You cannot be apart and be in relationship at the same time.
Knowledge will bring you into a greater association with life and with the world and with yourself. But you must take the Steps to Knowledge, and you must bring your life in order, and you must prepare yourself for a greater engagement with the world, for this is why you have come. And it is this that you will reflect upon once you leave this world.
The power and the presence of Knowledge is with you. It has always been with you. You must begin now to feel its deeper current, to recognize its signs, to respond to its encouragements and its restraints, to give over your ideas and your beliefs to serve a greater power that lives within you in this moment and which will carry you forth into the great and uncertain times ahead.