There may be hard journeying through many eventful years before we realise that even in our youth there was a silent, guiding hand that lay softly upon our soul to keep it on track within range of its destiny.
The ambitions of youth are many and strong, and the hunger of the heart is keen and insistent.
Yet only after active search and eager endeavours along many paths do we recognise that inner guiding hand, and awaken at last as it beckons us towards the mystic quest.
Is there something sombre and suggestively unreal in this thought?
If so, you will have to wait until the force of ambition in your everyday world has done its work. At this moment, I am thinking of those who have run the full range of emotion, taken the full measure of mental action and reaction, and returned with empty hands, yet with full heart and mind, to the same door from which they entered.
There is something unreal and discouraging about things when we return to the point from which we set out.
We wonder what all the struggle has been for: the usefulness, the point of it, the justice of it all.
Perhaps we regret the time spent, if not wasted, which might have led to something more enduring and peace giving.
But rest assured, it is a timely and fortunate awakening, and signals none other than the unseen guiding hand laid gently upon the soul.
Those who have travelled far in this way and returned with empty hands and a burdened heart ask the same anxious question:
Why should this be? If there is a guiding hand, why did it not hold me back from this or that long cycle of cruel experience, of disappointed hopes and frustrated aims, of misdirected efforts and false beliefs?
This is to mistake the meaning and purpose of the guiding hand.
If life is a meaningless jumble of uncoordinated events with no underlying purpose and no promise of the soul’s noblest and highest attainment then yes, we may question the point of it all.
But there is both a purpose and a promise, and the guiding hand is in everything, both in conquest and in failure, in what we have done and what we cannot do.
There is no value in attempting to separate the good from the bad, victory from defeat, the next step onward from the perplexing pause where we just cannot see the path ahead.
We cannot compartmentalise our life in this way, as if one part were God and the other part devil, and decide that the latter should not have been allowed to happen.
The history of the whole journey is with us from the beginning, and the mystery of our inner guide is with us to the end.
The Same Stories
In your own personal questioning, take comfort from the fact that the lives of virtually all who have trodden the mystic path have the same story to tell.
Those who have gone far on that path are now at peace. They are inwardly assured because they have paid the price of attainment and have embraced wholeheartedly the consequences of their life’s labours.
It was a different story before the ‘apprenticeship’ began.
Every one of them has passed over the troubled waters of life, explored with restless heart every avenue that seemed to promise satisfaction and fulfilment.
Such men and women sounded the depths wherever they explored, but the eternal hunger persisted and everything failed them.
Of only one thing were they certain, amid the flux of desires and ambitions, countless ideals and changing goals: it was the unsatisfied and unfulfilled soul, and the impulse to continue in their unceasing search and enquiry.
Eventually, weary of it all, the soul turned back upon itself. Life’s experience had done its work and they stood, with empty hands, before the path of the mystic quest.
The strong soul, when it reaches this point, does not regret the past or question its value.
It may not understand, nor be able to reconcile the inconsistencies and contradictions of the journey, but it instinctively knows that it has all been important and worthwhile.
It accepts the whole train of events as a necessary preparation for the mystical training which lies ahead and recognises the laying of the foundations for future conquest.
Everything on the way of an aspirant has been subject to deep scrutiny and investigation. And although thoughts of injustice may sometimes have crept in, and the mind may have rebelled at its self-imposed standards and retreated many times from mistaken paths, self-critical of its own blindness, the cycle of self-discipline has been accomplished, and experience has built a structure of knowledge which will now be called upon for the mystic quest.
Today, more than ever before, many now stand before the path of the mystic quest.
The Advancing Mind
The controversies within many well established religions, and the frantic efforts of its leaders to coordinate forces to meet the needs of people, is sufficient proof that the tide of individual evolution has passed far beyond the reach of orthodoxy.
The advance of the spirit within is asserting itself, and forcing us into the wilderness and mountaintop to pray alone and relieve ourselves for a moment of any creed or dogma in order to look within.
For these students of life who are seeking under the urge of the guiding hand, the mystic quest opens a path of spiritual adventure. As a mystic classic says:
For man creates his own life, and ‘adventures are to the adventurous’ is one of those wise proverbs which are drawn from actual fact, covering the whole area of human life.
But adventures are only possible for strong souls which have something to build upon.
This is why I speak only of those who have already taken their full measure of life, have already sounded the depths of their emotions, have already explored the far reaches of their thoughts, and have the fullness of experience which can stand them in good stead in this adventure of the soul.
Fear of the unknown holds back countless otherwise ready aspirants.
They will go as far as the general mind has gone, but no further; for they believe they are the majority and are therefore right.
They dare not push thought beyond the confines of the world they know, and tremble at an emotion that would carry them one step beyond the physical, sensory world.
If they would just forget themselves for one brief moment and relax their grasp upon the obvious and real!
This is what the adventure of the soul demands. Something must go so that something better can take its place.
Changed people are no longer what they were.
Many of the things they formerly accepted without question become in their eyes futile endeavours before they can welcome the opening portals of mystical initiation.
In the simplest terms, entering upon this training means that a changed mental attitude has been achieved.
There is a looking within to the guidance and impressions of the indwelling soul, instead of a constant immersion in the life of the objective mind and sensory life.
The Need For Withdrawal
Such a path requires a periodical withdrawal into the wilderness and a solitary place for the purpose of meditation and reassessment of one’s core values as seen from the vantage of the stillness of the indwelling soul.
The aspirant has to fall out of step with the self-seeking multitude and set up a new life rhythm within the self.
Undertaken under proper guidance, the initial dialogue with the soul often varies from person to person, depending upon the type of person the aspirant is.
However, it is comparable to the stillness in nature after the storm has spent itself.
Such a calm will come to the harassed spirit; and in the deep silence, the mysterious event will occur which will prove that the way has been found.
The testimonies of young and old confirm this, and from that moment on, the rhythm of life has been changed and they have moved forward to deeper assurance and insight.
But there are the many others too, who have to wait at the portals until the old rhythm they brought with them has fully spent itself and confidence in the new way has been established.
But their wait may not be long.
How could it be, when at last they have recognised the presence of this inner, mystical ‘guiding hand’ which has brought them safely through many struggles, battle-scarred yet safely to this great turning point in their lives?
There is now only the certainty of sure guidance and the unfolding of intimate contacts with the genius the soul itself.
And when, with perfect abandon, they have learnt to regularly, willingly and with yearning commune with that ever-present inner genius of life, the first steps of the mystic apprenticeship will have been taken.
Adaptation of “The Unseen Guiding Hand” by Raymund Andrea from the Rosicrucian Beacon, March 2016