Spiritual Tests for Advanced Practitioners

Posted: July 6, 2009 / in: Spirituality / 20 comments

I published this article sometime ago in Yoga Magazine issue number 66 year 2007.

In the current climate, it seems that the issues from this article are very significant for  Natha. Many of the school’s students have reached an advanced level of practise and experience on the spiritual  path and the tests they now face exceed the normal limits of  the tests of a beginner. Some of the recent events may appear strange to those who are unfamiliar with the specific problems of an advanced practitioner.

I hope these notions will shed light upon the infinite mechanisms that can generate such events. For those who want to better understand these complex events, please also read the article  Judas heritage

The tests that mark our spiritual evolution on the path of self becoming are inevitable. It is said that even Jesus experienced them, therefore all of us have spiritual tests. However, we usually hear about situations that test the beginner aspirants and we rarely hear about the tests of those who have been walking the spiritual path for some time.

The regression of the apprentice,the occultation of the teacher

jesus-judaTests that appear in the first stages are much more obvious and they affect many practitioners, selecting those who are truly ready to continue. A discussion about such tests is generally better understood because it refers to the beginning stages, which are widely accessible. Nevertheless, the spiritual tests of aspirants with experience on the spiritual path are just as interesting. Due to the fact that they appear in more advanced stages of practice, they are subtler and more difficult to decode.

“When the disciple is ready, the master appears,” is a saying for those who’ve begun their inner evolution and sometimes express their worry about the way they will be guided further. Triumph over the first subtle tests represents the criteria upon which the aspirants’ selection is based. Therefore, the master only appears to those who have succeeded, as confirmation that they have passed the test and are ready for the next stages. For a while, everything flows within the new frame, the aspirant learns to see things from a new perspective and discovers the value of the truth of this expression, but its reverse can equally manifest: when the disciple fails some major spiritual tests, he regresses; therefore, he stops being ready and the master “disappears”, becoming occult. Of course, this is not only about concretely withdrawing from the life of the aspirant, due to an “apparently objective” situation (he either leaves the physical level, or he moves to another city or another country, or he is stopped from seeing his disciples). The most frequent situation is the one in which he is close to the aspirants, but some of them begin to regress and, by completely changing their point of view, they can no longer perceive him as a master.

The disciple sees differently, the master is the same

This bizarre phenomenon of “becoming occult”, which is specific to the spiritual teacher, is only due to the fact that the aspirant completely changes his inner point of view, and it is not because the master has changed. The one who is in such a dramatic situation begins to make strange and mean projections, he begins to find all kind of unreal justifications and he says that “the master is not as he was in the beginning”, even if – paradoxically – the master proves to be the same for the others, giving them the same divine help and being the same unpredictable enemy of the ego, when necessary.

How does such a distortion of the perception take place? A disciple who practices controlling the sexual energy, for example, will soon face serious tests in this direction. If he fails the spiritual test, he has the tendency to “lower his standards as an instinctive protective mechanism, hoping that in this way he will be protected from the risk of future disappointments. Without realizing it, the disciple narrows his inner horizon, and the master’s impulses and actions appear in another perspective – a darker and duller one. When the master gives him the impulse to mobilize all his forces in order to succeed to control the sexual energies, the aspirant will be less enthusiastic, he will even be ironic or joke about these impulses, sometimes manifesting impertinence or even a de-transfigurative familiarity. If the master advises him to let go of prejudices and enjoy lovemaking with his lover in order to develop control over the sexual energy, the aspirant may have the impression that he is pushed and forced towards something he no longer values, therefore he may consider that the action of the spiritual guide is an exaggeration, an intrusion into his personal life.

There is a risk for all of these aspects to appear as a result of the regression that follows the failed spiritual test. The aspirant no longer understands the importance of re-using sexual energy on the spiritual path and he now looks at things from a more “relaxed” point of view, imagining that the systematic use of the sexual energies on the path of transmutation and sublimation is a secondary, optional choice. Another example is that of a disciple who wants to explore the secrets of meditation. In the beginning he makes a daily effort, inspired also by the master’s words and by the example he gives. After a while he becomes looser and stops practicing so intensively, even if his spiritual results do not give him the right to slow down. Now he is tempted to give greater importance to some common aspects of life which he previously considered ephemeral. If in such a moment he has the possibility to choose between spiritual practice and a certain tempting social position that offers him financial satisfaction, but takes away all his time and energy, it is almost certain he will choose the social position.

bhagwad-gitaTricked by the vision which has once again become profane, the aspirant chooses the social position, convinced that after he makes a career and a bank account he will also find time for meditation. After failing this test, the aspirant considers that his action was correct and he imagines that his master’s advice regarding detachment from material aspects of life are strange and exaggerated. This is why he can even begin to intensely criticize some of his spiritual guide’s advice and also to convince others to act as he did. This attitude makes him go even deeper into the mistake marked by failing that spiritual test. In such a situation, the distance between aspirant and spiritual guide increases more and more, without any changes in the attitude of the master.

Playing the statue

For the advanced practitioners, one of the most difficult tests is that of their position and importance on the spiritual path. As one advances in his acquiring of knowledge, part of the spiritual training of a disciple is to share this knowledge with the practitioners from the same school of evolution. They are in the beginning, and he helps them to move on. Self-giving in order to give an impulse and to support the others offers a new depth to spiritual becoming; this is why it is embraced by most of those who reach a certain level of spiritual practice. However, in the significant and detached work through which he helps the others to evolve, a particular amplified “self-importance” can appear, in a very subtle way, without obvious signs. In this way, the spiritual ego awakens and becomes amplified. When the consciousness of self-importance is connected to strictly individual accomplishments or situations, especially very worldly ones, it can be noticed and removed more easily. However, when it is about what the aspirant does in order to serve the others spiritually, the state is insidious and it sneaks into his soul at a more subtle level and is often an important test on the path of inner perfection.

“The graveyards are full of irreplaceable people” – is a saying for those who need to understand that they are too full of themselves. When you truly do very good and important things for the others, you can easily forget that you are not the one who acts, but that God acts through you and He constantly does what is necessary. This is why advanced aspirants must be careful to apply the Karma Yoga principles with great mastership, and to practice humbleness intensely, attentively and consciously. It is not by chance that communities of monks insist on having a state of humbleness –the ally of monks and especially of those who have already had some spiritual realizations. Behind this self-importance, the germ of deviating from the spiritual path can appear very fast. How does this happen? The colleagues that the aspirant helps have the natural tendency to ‘erect a statue in his honour’. The advanced aspirant must be very lucid and avoid identifying himself with this image, in order to break that statue that they built of his image and with which he tends to identify his soul.

The disciple can consider these things as simple, harmless games, but when they crystallize as inner attitudes it is already too late because they lead to serious contradictions, big inner crises and painful errors. These mistakes are not made as a result of a lack of knowledge, but because he had already lost his inner freedom when he became the statue he was playing before.

Candle is the result of the burning flame

Another important test for advanced practitioners is that of “taking out insurance” against the reactions of the master. Any authentic spiritual guide has a crushing effect on the nature of the ego. Therefore, from the first steps on the path of inner becoming, the action of the master scares the disciples who still cling to the ego. As the transcendence of this illusory structure appears later on the path of evolution, it is possible that the aspirant will have a kind of deep subconscious terror that the master will “strike” again one day, hitting him in the core of his being, where the last piece of ego is hiding.

rossio_statue_detail-210x300This is how, once he has gained a certain “importance” in the structure of the spiritual group, the aspirant will have subconscious hopes that the “gained” position will ensure him a kind of protection in front of the objective and uncompromised eye of his guide. The test he has to go through now is about the way in which he deals with the tendency to rely on his so-called illusory position to which he gives imaginary weightiness. This tendency appears because today’s society teaches us that one must prove to be useful in order to survive. The ego reacts in the same way in its desperate attempt to strengthen or even to regenerate its last pieces, after the aspirant had gradually reclaimed almost all his inner territories from of its claws.

“For the one who is still ignorant, the flame is the result of the burning candle; for the one who became wise, the candle is the result of the burning flame.” This is the test of successful individual practice. If we see things from a limited perspective, after the euphoria of the results of the beginning passes, a major inner conflict tends to appear between what we understood partially and what the master sees from a universal perspective and what he shows us with lucidity and detachment. If we do not aim to “raise” ourselves to the level at which we should be, according to the things we learned so far, it is possible to gradually lose the overview that is open to us in the first stages of the spiritual path, because we trust our master “no matter what”.

In this way, a feeling of being astray from the master appears. This feeling manifests as apparently “fair” criticism, phantasmagorical discontent, and a mean and exaggerated selectiveness towards what the master does. In this situation, his actions start to appear to increasingly lack the real divine meaning we used to perceive at the beginning of the spiritual path. Why is that? It is because now we no longer have the same vision. We live with the false impression that the flame appears now due to the candle and we consider it absurd to act upon it if we want to change the shape of the candle.

The image in the broken mirror is a distorted one

These aspects seem unimaginable for those who are in the first stages of the spiritual path (this is because in the beginning the inner vision is borrowed from the master to a great extent, and it represents part of the grace we receive in order to be able to move on). Yet, in the case of advanced aspirants who have a natural tendency to clearly understand this and to form their own spiritual vision, it is possible – if this crystallization does not take place at the highest spiritual coordinates that have been shown – that the aspirant can gradually lose contact with his master through an obvious alienation of ideas.

If the aspirant has the revelation in the beginning (transmitted by the spiritual guide) that everything in the Universe is love and he allows this new perspective to give him an impulse, it is nevertheless possible that over time he can no longer validate this understanding through personal experiences in meditation and in daily life. Scepticism, doubt, regression and various difficulties appear once again in the heart of the disciple, but now he has other “certain” perspectives and nobody sounds the alarm bells. In his subconscious, the regressing aspirant builds the conviction that not everything is quite like that, that there is not only love in the Universe and for him things become “different” and much more nuanced. He even has the tendency to be ironic, as if he is joking, about this revelation “for the beginners”; gradually, he will start to live further and further away from that principle, returning, without even noticing, to a profane vision, hidden behind the imaginary behavior of a “saint”, of a great “wise man” or even (why not) proudly claiming he is a master, (and, ridiculously enough, having the impertinence to give lessons to the spiritual guide from which he learned the little that he knows).

Even so, the master will continue to manifest in a detached manner and to apply this principle everywhere. If he interacts with the disciple and corrects him, the disciple will have the tendency to judge the actions of his spiritual guide according to his own perversity, according to abject and limited human interests, and not according to the universal principal of love, which he abandoned without noticing when he passed from the master’s direct support to the results obtained through individual practice. It is especially then that he imagines that the master acts out of certain personal interests and he interprets the master’s intention and action of correction in a distorted and mean way. This is only a part of the most famous tests that the advanced aspirants face on the spiritual path. Usually these situations are hard to understand as long as we do not have the inner point of view; they are especially hard for those who are not yet at that level of spiritual practice and realization to understand.

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Advaita Stoian

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Comments (20)

  1. finding truth says:

    Dear Mihu

    I am very happy for this article about spiritual test. To receive such information’s is very valuable and always helps a lot to avoid the traps and reconsider the wrong impressions from failing the test.

    Personally I feel that you are such a master who always really is challenging the ego and creating a huge spiritual ascension whenever I am near you.
    I am very impressed by the way it is done because I realize that in the same time with the challenge, the test that comes from attacking the ego (and the attack always being right on the core of it) is given a strong subtle support and help in actually passing that test – if I truly want it in that moment.

    When you are near there is a strong push to become much more than what I am now, to become really integrated into the divine will, really full of heart, really efficient…

    How to overcome when the ego is seeking its own security by becoming inert?
    Probably it is also related to the spiritual saturation problem.
    It’s the ego that wants this security and status quo – not me, right?

    There must be somewhere in the true me, the aspiration to really go for the ultimate transformation?
    How to find this and contact it efficiently and fast so that I can become really attuned with the divine?

    I am grateful to you
    Seeker who wants to find

  2. Peter says:

    Dear Mihai,
    This is a truly remarkable text, and I feel it is directed strait for me.
    What I don’t understand is, how come is it that it seems to me that I am confronted, at a subtle level with some of these tests, and yet I don’t think I can be defined as an advanced practitioner, definitely not on the basis of my spiritual achievements and level. So, who is ”an advanced practitioner”? Am I really confronted with these tests or is it just my imagination? If so, how come?
    With love, Peter

  3. admin admin says:

    @ finding truth
    regarding the spiritual saturation i am preparing an article. it is true that the inertia is a defense mechanism for the ego. the true YOU don’t need any insurance or status quo. deep inside of you, behind the layers of “make up”, you are fresh and full of life, aspiring to manifest the perfection that you already have in the core of your being. it is just this “make up” that is deviating your aspiration and manifest it as inertia, desires for all kind of exterior experiences, mental agitation and so on… find this truth inside and these “make up” layers will be washed away, your life-force manifesting unhindered in its pure form.
    you can start defeating ego’s inertia by eliminating delays from the daily program. the rest will come. enjoy!

    @ peter
    an advanced practitioner doesn’t mean only that you have exceptional spiritual results.
    being a viewpoint regarding the ego, “advanced” refer mainly to the time and experience on the path. if you have experiences on the path, accumulated in time, they become also the pillars of the new structure of the ego: the “spiritual ego”.
    advancing on the path can be on results and on time. when you consider the spiritual results you are talking about the evolution. when you consider the time on the path you are talking about the ego and there we are talking about the spiritual tests we mentioned in the article.
    the more you accumulate time and experiences on the path you are an advanced practitioner, the spiritual ego start to appear and here are the tests.
    so, you are probably an advanced practitioner and it is not your imagination 🙂

  4. Lia says:

    Dear Mihai,
    The article about spiritual tests is reminding me about “my place” in life.
    You touched in the article many points and you underline some clear situations.
    I recognized myself in the situations that you explained there.
    I can name myself “advanced practitioner” because of the numbers of years of yoga.
    I encounter many experiences but it is obvious now for me that the number of experiences is endless if I don’t really change something in my way of living and understanding the meaning of the life.
    Reading the example that you gave, with the “statue”, I was smiling.
    I had a nice statue, built most of it by myself – according with the spiritual results accumulated in time – and of course with the help of the others.
    The interesting moment for me was when the spiritual guide just shows me this situation, the nice statue that I had, by putting a mirror in front of my eyes (by sending me a letter, without me asking anything). I cried when the statue broke, suffering even if I understood, I saw how right the spiritual guide was.
    I increased the prayer to God and I noticed that the humbleness rises and made me again simple and without expectations or demands from life.
    Of course, as you mentioned in the article, the humbleness was the one helping me to reestablish good connections with the others, with the life itself.
    You write that in the beginning of our spiritual path we are more open towards the spiritual guide and we belief more in him and in what he is saying.
    From my experience I noticed that still I am open and I belief in Grieg.
    What I lost more is the innocence and the “emptiness” of the mind. Now I “grow spiritually” and I interpret all what is happening around me.
    I recognized to myself when I interpret wrong, or even sometimes I know that I judge the things and the people.
    From this perspective it is clear for me that I am the one covering the things with my mind, my interpretation, but, in essence, the spiritual guide is there, very present in my life.
    I am the one “hiding” him, making him to not appear so much in my life, “occulting” him, because now, I know the things.
    I “know” the things; I don’t ask truly the help and guidance of the guide, and, paradoxically, I am the one complaining that he is not always near me.
    “The child how is not crying, the mother is not feeding.”
    The spiritual guide is very present in our life as long as we are keeping our hearts open for him.
    Even if we don’t know when to ask for an advice, he is giving the best advice in the moment of need.
    I noticed that many of us we are asking him all kind of things, most of the time waiting his answer just to convince us that he is taking care of us. We are hoping somehow that our lack of practice will be covered by his grace.
    It is funny to notice that even here, on your blog, is like the same pattern. Some were asking you to write about the spiritual tests. You did it. Kind from you, thank you very much! Just that you have only 2 comments for this important and expected article even if many were asking for is. To go from the mind to the practice it is quite a trip.
    Thank you very much for shearing with us your wisdom.
    Good luck in everything you are doing!

  5. admin admin says:

    @ lia
    thank you for sharing these experiences. it is always wonderful when people share their experiences regarding some spiritual techniques or even regarding the path itself because else the ones that are not on the path are screaming their speculations louder and sometimes the beginners get confused. it is also useful to hear from others the way they see the same reality and in this way to get more viewpoints.
    the fact that people are asking for something and they are not following up when they get it is a frequent way many are doing especially with the things they are asking for superficial reasons. when you are hungry and you ask for food you are waiting to see if you get some, you are not going after few minutes to play football and forget about the food.. unless you are not hungry and you were just asking. this is the situation with many people on the spiritual path that are asking for evolution but when the chances for evolution come they are not attentive anymore … because they were not serious when they asked for it. yet i can see that the ones that are “burning” for answers are participating even to the debate here.

  6. Lia says:

    Dear Mihai,
    It is very good indeed to learn from others experiences and to see other points of view regarding the spiritual path.
    Reading your articles and participating to your lectures time to time, I learned many things about life and started to understand what means tantric path.
    Now it is more clear for me why the lucky ones how are really on this path, tantric path, can go further so fast.
    Also I understand now why this path it is so “difficult” and it is just for those how are prepared to really live their lives.
    It is not so easy to “face yourself” truly. Many times the preconceived ideas and the superficiality that we are manifesting in our lives is blinding us and we cannot see correctly anymore. And we start to live like in a dream, pretending to live.
    I think that also Celia is facing such a situation. She was pretending so long time to be another person that in the moment when she remained with herself she did not like what she saw and she started to blame the others for all kind of reasons. It is like she wants to have a guilty person – or even a guilty school if possible – for not succeeding to be perfect (as she probably expected from yoga).
    Those how are really living their lives, they know that they can change the things if they want, by just doing what is needed for the transformation, and acting not just reacting.
    And the transformation should be continuous, because otherwise is not any more transformation, it becomes just a story or a dream.
    You are a very good teacher for me, dear Mihai, you are a very good example of person how embrace the life in all her aspects.
    As you can see your teachings are starting to give fruits in our lives.
    All my consideration and respect full of love,

  7. Seeking the truth says:

    dear Mihai

    concerning the spiritual test, I feel that maybe I am in the desert periode that you describe in your lectures about cornerstones in meditation with the cosmic powers, or maybe I just have the saturation phenomenon active in my spiritual life.

    or maybe I am having a situation like Milarepa, who had to do a lot of karma yoga to purify himself before he could actually do spiritual techniques.

    it is like this: I have actually practised a lot for many years and had a lot of wonderful revelations, wonderful states and somehow I feel, that I know …
    somehow also I feel that I do not need more states, I need just to “wake up” and to do my duty.

    I am doing karma yoga, but not with the same enthusiasm as before, I dont know really if God is flowing throgh me still. The only thing I know is that I must do this and that it is the right thing to do, but I cannot find the enthusiasm and aspiration to practise a lot anymore like I could and did before.
    is it bad?
    am I still on the good path?

    with concern
    seeking the truth

  8. admin admin says:

    @ seeking the truth
    it is clear from what you describe that the “spiritual ego” is growing fat in you and limit your spiritual aspiration, transfiguration and the capacity to act in a lucid manner. this is the way down and not the way up. you have to be very attentive and make a steady practice for a while and even assume a tapas that will not be too much for you now so that you are sure you finnish it. in such situations it is also important that you don’t let yourself in situations when you are doing things just because you know they are good like that. while acting and even after, look careful for the good results that you know that are coming out of those actions. ignoring the results that we are getting from our actions is a common mistake that make us after a while “blind” to the spiritual results that we have and the lack of results is “poisoning” the spiritual aspiration. if you are doing karma yoga, every time you are acting in this way seek for the specific state of being a channel for the Divine manifesting through you. even afterward search for the differences between the integration the karma yoga action have and the other actions, in this way become aware of the effects of it.
    you also have to realize as long as you are acting only out of duty then you are trapped into this mental scheme. and when you are not anymore motivated by a certain spiritual duty then you don’t feel motivated to practice. learn to involve your heart into actions. learn to give your heart what is needed. this will make you always connected with the state of aspiration and enthusiasm that will not need a motivation because the heart have reasons that the reason cannot understand. learn what are the aspects your heart is missing and you didn’t give for a while because your spiritual ego was busy inventing duties. and after you learned what is your heart missing, GIVE IT! you will be surprised what an immense source of aspiration lies into your heart and for now was replaced by the pseudo-aspiration that is simulated by the mind and is always conditioned by the satisfaction of some inferior small desires. and now when these are not exciting anymore you are not having this pseudo-aspiration anymore.
    rediscover what your heart need and urgently provide it and then you will be back on the track.
    wish you a heart full of love

  9. seeking the truth says:

    Dear Mihai

    thank you very much for this reply, which contains a lot of things that I can see that I need to consider deeply.

    I have your reply with me working on it.

    with love
    seeking the truth

  10. seeking the truth says:

    Dear Mihai

    I was reading many times your advice today – and I am sure that tomorrow I will have to again read it many times…

    I was asking my heart what it needs.
    First it did not talk to me – no answer, just a wall
    then it came up with all kind of sadness and missing

    in the evening I was looking at the ocean, the nature
    and it seemed more beautiful than ever before:

    The colors of the sky, the many different kinds of purple flowers
    the ocean seems to stream towards me from all angels, and the dogs sailing in the ocean seem to be sailing in a firmament of pure bliss
    the very feeling of so much beauti, seem to be connected to this firmament
    rather than to the actual flower, or color, or ocean?
    the beauty is a mysterious energy there “in the air” between my eyes looking out and the thing that I look at…?
    Full of wonder I studied this phenomenon: beauty
    a beautiful, overwhelmingly beautiful flower – does this mysterious feeling of beauti really come from the flower?

    I feel so much longing in my heart, like it is just an endless void of longing and I belive that it is God that my heart is longing for, although I dont know

    I dont know if my heart would be more happy
    and getting what it needs
    if I would go out more in the nature?

    I just know that when I have the time to practise very much
    and almost all the time
    or at least enough time to have an ecco of it for the rest of the day
    to focus upon God
    then my heart is happy

    maybe I just wait to come home to God
    and while I am here waiting,
    I can as well be useful as much as possible?

    and what is this the need of this experience of beauty
    and blissfull evening ocean
    isnt it there anyway in the dept of my soul?
    is it needed that I am feeding it again and again to my heart
    so that it will not starve?

    On the other hand;
    it seems that the heart feels abandoned because I ignore it while trying to finish all the work that I want to do in this life
    its just that there is so much, that I do not have time for it all

    Mihai – what would a heart need?
    am I very bad in listening to my heart?

    seeking the truth

  11. shanti says:

    dearest seeking the truth

    your description is very beautiful and heart touching.
    It seems that you know the answer yourself: yes your heart needs this, just like you need food and drinking and sleep, – are you also skipping this because you are busy?

    I would like to tell you though, that I myself had the feeling of working a lot, but still inside my heart, or my soul was this feeling of beauty, of holiday or nature.
    so I do not think it is needed all the time,
    the problem is just to be attentive and catch the moment when it is needed and then give it.
    when it is not needed, then no problem – then of couse you dont have to give it.
    but obviously for now, you need something – endlessly as the longing of your heart, dont you think so?

    with devotion,

  12. shanti says:

    sweety! I found this one for you:

    The true nature of your Beloved.
    In His loving eyes your every thought,
    Word and movement is always-
    Always Beautiful.”
    – Hafiz

    loving from Shanti

  13. Apollonius says:

    Dear seeking the truth,
    You cannot ignore your heart meanwhile doing something if you are putting heart in what you are doing.
    If your heart is in need with something, if your heart is longing for something (and that something is not God because in that case your heart will be full of happiness, overwhelmed by divine grace), the most clear proof for this is that you cannot really taste the life. It is like you are just a dreamer, just like having an anesthesia.
    Start to experience the life more deep and you will begin to feel the taste of living and the contentment and peace of the heart.
    Make your heart happy with small things, the big ones will follow naturally.
    If you feel to do something just do. The experience will teach you if is good or not. Don’t remain in the expectation state. Live your life and you will see that your heart will tell you what she wants.
    with friendship and love

  14. Sundari says:

    Thank you Mihai for reminding me again and again..
    And thank you for this spiritual space you created for us to share and thank you all who keep it alive with your hearts!

    For you all who choose your path with the heart, from “The Alchemist” written by Paulo Coelho, inspirations for the heart, about the heart and also about an important spiritual test. Enjoy!

    “They crossed the desert for another two days in silence. Tthe alchemist had become much more cautious, because they were approaching the area where the most violent battles were being waged. As they moved along, the boy tried to listen to his heart.

    It was not easy to do; in earlier times, his heart had always been ready to tell its story, but lately that wasn’t true. There had been times when his heart spent hours telling of his sadness, and at other times it became so emotional over the desert sunrise that the boy had to hide his tears. His heart beat faster when it spoke to the boy of treasure and more slowly when the boy stared entranced at the endless horizons of the desert. But his heart was never quiet, even when the boy and the alchemist had fallen into silence.

    “Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked, when they had made camp that day.

    “Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

    “But my heart is agitated,” the boy said. “It has its dreams, it gets emotional, and it’s become passionate over a woman of the desert. It asks things of me, and it keeps me from sleeping many nights, when I’m thinking about her.”

    “Well, that’s good. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”

    During the next three days, the two travelers passed by a number of armed tribesmen, and saw others on the horizon. The boy’s heart began to speak of fear. It told him stories it had heard from the Soul of the World, stories of men who sought to find their treasure and never succeeded. Sometimes it frightened the boy with the idea that he might not find his treasure, or that he might die there in the desert. At other times, it told the boy that it was satisfied: it had found love and riches.

    “My heart is a traitor,” the boy said to the alchemist, when they had paused to rest the horses. “It doesn’t want me to go on.”

    “That makes sense,” the alchemist answered. “Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”

    “Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?”

    “Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”

    “You mean I should listen, even if it’s treasonous?”

    “Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly. If you know your heart well, it will never be able to do that to you. Because you’ll know its dreams and wishes, and will know how to deal with them.

    “You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

    The boy continued to listen to his heart as they crossed the desert. He came to understand its dodges and tricks, and to accept it as it was. He lost his fear, and forgot about his need to go back to the oasis, because, one afternoon, his heart told him that it was happy. “Even though I complain sometimes,” it said, “it’s because I’m the heart of a person, and people’s hearts are that way. People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.

    “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

    “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

    “Every second of the search is an encounter with God,” the boy told his heart. “When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I’ve known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve.”

    So his heart was quiet for an entire afternoon. That night, the boy slept deeply, and, when he awoke, his heart began to tell him things that came from the Soul of the World. It said that all people who are happy have God within them. And that happiness could be found in a grain of sand from the desert, as the alchemist had said. Because a grain of sand is a moment of creation, and the universe has taken millions of years to create it. “Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,” his heart said. “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them—the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out indeed, to be threatening place.

    “So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.”

    “Why don’t people’s hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?” the boy asked the alchemist.

    “Because that’s what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don’t like to suffer.”

    From then on, the boy understood his heart. He asked it, please, never to stop speaking to him. He asked that, when he wandered far from his dreams, his heart press him and sound the alarm. The boy swore that, every time he heard the alarm, he would heed its message.

    That night, he told all of this to the alchemist. And the alchemist understood that the boy’s heart had returned to the Soul of the World.

    “So, what should I do now?” the boy asked. Continue in the direction of the Pyramids,” said the alchemist. “And continue to pay heed to the omens. Your heart is still capable of showing you where the treasure is.”

    “Is that the one thing I still needed to know?”

    “No,” the alchemist answered. “What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one `dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’

    “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

    The boy remembered an old proverb from his country. It said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn.”

  15. Seeking the truth says:

    Dear Apollonius

    Thank you for your reply to me.

    I have to admit that my first reaction was the same like the subjective girls: how can you say this about me, when you only read few lines from me and never saw me?
    (meaning you are probably wrong – how can I be a dreamer afraid of life).

    But you know what – I think you are right, at least to some extent, and the very fact of getting such a question: “am I a dreamer who is afraid of life” is really valuable.

    Not that I found a definite answer – but for sure I am taking into consideration to face life more.

    I am actually thinking to post more of my problems here – getting such good answers.

    What is life actually?

    Thank you Apollonious
    With love Seeking the truth

  16. Seeking the truth says:

    dear Sundari

    It seems that you are the reminder around here.
    I was crying when reading your story, and definitely I will find and read that book. what a wonderful aproach to the heart, which answered all my questions.

    I will listen to my heart like the boy

    thank you
    Seeking the truth

  17. Sundari says:

    To Seeking the truth

    Dear friend, once we walk on the spiritual path we are all seekers (of the truth) and reminders (to each other) aren’t we? Please do not make me this statue ;))

    Years ago I asked Mihai as a friend to never let me fall into such mistakes as the ones described here in this article. At the time I was very young 🙂 but one thing I knew already that the heart will never mistaken me. And many times he talked to me as he was the voice of my heart that’s why I asked him to remind me always if I somehow forget.. Sometimes it is not convenient, what the heart wants to say, but I found I have no escape from my heart whatever I think or plan from other reasons.. Sometimes i make mistakes, and oh – those spiritual tests, and the failures sometimes, other times victories, but give me a reason of the heart and I cannot go against it! I am in love with my heart and so far is the love of my life.. What I do is still learning how to love in the divine way.

    Wishing you to find it (the truth) 🙂

  18. Seeking the truth says:

    okay my dear heartful reminder and hartfull seeker sundari

    then you will just have my big kiss
    and wishing you to find it too 😉
    and thank you for what you are writing here – I like it

    Seeking the truth

  19. Anna says:

    Thank you for this post that I found just when I needed it – thank you for sharing it so it could be here for me just in the right time – It gave me grace in many different aspects and I feel my heart is opening again, happy to benourished and understood.

    Kærlige hilsener

  20. […] Anna: Thank you for this post that I found just when I needed it – thank you for sharing it so it could be here… […]

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