Spiritual activation is not a one-time experience. It is participation in the ongoing cycles of life. If you think, Yes, I was activated once, it begs the question: What is happening now?
Spiritual activation is activation by love, and love has many faces. Love is the universal power of all Creation. Love is a bringer of life. Without love, there is no life. So when we are talking about spiritual activation, we are talking about activation by love, and we are talking about being truly alive. I don’t really know how you could be truly alive without being activated by love. You can only sleepwalk through your life if the power of love is not operating through you.
When there is no activation by love, there is spiritual lethargy. Do you ever feel some of that when you get up in the morning? Spiritual lethargy brings with it discouragement and futility, and often blame of others for the circumstances of your life. It brings a sense of routine—meaningless activity that is not buoyed by a sense of hope and possibility. And spiritual lethargy brings with it a sense of aloneness.
So I would like to reflect with you on what creates spiritual activation for real. In religious circles, the teachings around spiritual activation have tended to come with the wagging finger of shame and the message: You are bad. You did it wrong. You will never be good enough. In the Christian Church, it is often presented as a shaming message, with the idea that God, in some form, is going to penalize you for not having done what you should have done spiritually. Oh, you bad person, because you’re not spiritual.
The reality of spiritual activation is very simple and scientific. And easy when we understand and embrace how it works. We have the joy and the excitement of what it means to let love activate us and to be alive. When the technology that brings spiritual activation is broken in us, there is spiritual lethargy; not because some mean and angry God penalized us for being bad. It is simply an issue of a broken technology.
The technology of spiritual activation is not mechanical, as it would be in a gasoline engine. It’s not electronic, like an audio system or cell phone. It is not that kind of technology. It is a biological technology that works through the physical body. Spiritual activation can be measured in the body as changing heartbeat, the pattern of breathing, hormonal levels and electromagnetic energy. But spiritual activation doesn’t begin in the physical body, and so spiritual activation is not purely biological.
What is transpiring biologically is, in part, a reflection of human awareness. Spiritually activated thoughts accelerate the activation of the physical body. But while thoughts are a key link in the process of spiritual activation, it doesn’t begin there either. It is the emotional body that tunes in to universal love and the possibility for the power of love to flow in our life. Then love has a chance to come in. That power activates the heart, and then changes our thoughts and our biology.
When we use the word love we might think of romantic or sexual love. Certainly romance is a part of what love is. But love is much bigger than the romance between two people. Love is the activating power of the universe. Love moves in us in mystical ways that bring meaning and significance to our lives. The expression of love gives us a true reason to act in the world. It brings an appreciation for all the manifestations of universal love around us.
So how does spiritual activation truly happen? I would think that that would be something worth knowing and understanding, particularly in a way that you could apply in your own life.
Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese says it this way:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
While there are many spiritual paths that portray the process of spiritual activation as extremely difficult—perhaps nearly impossible—it is really quite simple. When we see how it works, the levels of power for that activation are immediately available.
Key to empowering ourselves in the process is identifying the activating force as it arises in our awareness. Ultimately, that force is invisible. It is the power of love that lies at the heart of all Creation and at our own core. That power appears to us in all kinds of guises. It is not only an invisible force. It is an idea, a vision, a dream or a work of art. It is a baby, an old man, a symphony or an oak tree.
However it appears to us, the key is to recognize it when it comes, and to respond to it. Find the most majestic, the most beautiful forms available to you. Find the highest representations of love available to you. In responding to how universal love visits you, you find yourself responding to love itself. This is the second part of the process—letting all our humanity respond to love, taking advantage of the specific opportunities that come to us every day.
Our response to love as it appears to us establishes the nature of our life experience. So…how full will our response be? How passionate?
A full, passionate response to love brings us into union with it. It is the union between all our humanity with the power of universal love that creates spiritual activation. In Western culture, that activation is not the same as being good as goodness is culturally defined. Fervent prayer is not being good in our culture. Loving others is not being good. Leading a transformed life is not being good.
Interestingly enough, those Christians who are wagging their finger and saying, Shame on you for being a miserable sinner are following a teaching that criticizes people for being “good” without being spiritually activated. I’d like to get biblical on you and quote from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 2, on this subject:
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.…
So who does walk with the seven stars in his right hand, and in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks? Actually, that is us—the reality of the Being that we are. We are a Being of love that is walking in the midst of our human experience. Here is the part where it says, “I know how good you’re being, but…”:
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil…
A little self-righteousness in there!
…and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
The first love is both the activating power from within us and also our natural heart response to that activating power. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hold Gracie, an 8-month-old baby of Australian Aborigine descent. I bounced her on my knee and held her in my arms. I realized that it was the first time in several years I have held an infant. It seemed like she could soak in any amount of love and attention the people around her were giving her. In her innocence, she was modeling that natural capacity we all have, at whatever age, to respond to the love that comes to us. At least if we are willing to let it in.
John, the author of Revelation, goes on to name what happens when a person doesn’t settle for being good in their own eyes and returns to their first love:
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
People who overcome their spiritual lethargy live!
In Chapter 3 of Revelation, John says this:
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Here is a picture of spiritual activation. And if you think the words sound unfamiliar, how else would they sound, given the unfamiliarity of spiritual activation in Western culture? White raiment symbolizes the aura of someone who has become spiritually activated. Being in the “book of life” is being truly alive and part of the story of life on the planet. And having our name confessed before the Father and his angels is moving into a field of awareness that includes the heaven of Being.
This is a portrayal of the love that comes down into our human capacity and our ability to receive it. In receiving it, we have the ability to pass it on. A spiritually lethargic, dried-up person doesn’t have much love to give. And we become an old, dried-up person if we cannot open our heart and receive it into us.
The “old” part of that seems inevitable. I’m about to turn sixty-five. In America, that means I get Medicare, an extensive medical package from the federal government. What a shock! I don’t feel 65. But the truth is I’m getting old, just like all of us who don’t face the ugly alternative, which is an early exit from life. So while getting old is inevitable for the living, we don’t have to dry up.
We can receive love into us at any age; and then, because we are receiving it, we have love to give, right up to that very last breath. That is the first love. And the last. It is the same love that Gracie has. It is ageless if we let it be. It animates us and gives us a unique spiritual signature in the world.