I want to keep talking about my spiritual practice in this post. The last post focused on the practice itself, but now I want to focus on the individual undertaking the practice. From this perspective, the emphasis shifts toward an appreciation of spiritual disposition. The practices described in the previous post really only become fully intelligible when you realize that they are directed at realizing a kernel of possibilities contained within the singular individual, in this case me. These possibilities are specific to me and my life and so the more clearly I identify them, the better I am able to activate them.
The disposition finds its basis in the organic (i.e., messy yet dynamic) unity of my physical, mental, and spiritual being. It shapes how I experience the world and so I make value judgments about it. While it seems fundamentally temporal, I have found it increasingly difficult to differentiate from the aspect of eternity it comes to reflect. The work I have done with that disposition in mind has been more deeply rooted than that undertaken in a more formulaic fashion. The disposition rests on a level deeper than my conscious self-identification and sometimes runs counter to it, as my self-identification, my ego, is deeply inflected by how I want to present myself to others.
I’ve come to distinguish between two sorts of spiritual discomfort based on this. One sort of discomfort rests in the ego, arising as the work challenges and diminishes it while strengthening something more fundamental in me. The other sort of discomfort arises when my disposition resists what I am attempting to realize in my work. I tend to respond to the first sort with gentleness, giving myself time to process and release the sense of control I am trying to force over the work. When it is my disposition itself that resists, though, I approach myself more harshly and force myself away from what I am attempting to manifest.
Attention plays a major part in this sort of process, but unfortunately I find I can pay attention and exert will over myself for only so long. This is why self-knowledge is vital to the work. Self-knowledge gives me a basis of presuppositions about myself that I can deply even when my self-awareness is not at its height. Self-knowledge isn’t as good as self-awareness, but it helps guide the process of speculation mentioned in the last post, making the process of clarification easier. When fatigued, it can help ameliorate the influence of ego and prevent it from leading me (too far) astray from what is best for me.
That process necessarily entails a bit of psychological reflection and for that I return more often than not to Jung’s psychological types. I have found it worthwhile to pay attention to my shadow functions because spirits seem to use them when introducing complex ideas. I assume that they are a sort of channel of least resistance since my conscious functions are occupied with what I direct my attention toward. Of course, this is also where my inchoate desires sit, so I try to be very discerning about material that comes to me this way, testing it consciously lest I end up following an impulses around as if it were counsel.
A geomantic technique has been very helpful to me. I have taken a life chart for myself and used it as a guide to make sense of my disposition and how best to develop it. It provides a backbone, too, for my cosmological speculations, allowing me to test them against its structure to see how they illuminat each other. It seems to point toward which of the many trees of life descending from God my disposition finds its eternal aspect and provides the basis from which I can explore that more deeply.