Grist for the Mill

This article is about how we change. Everyone is a “spiritual student” doing “spiritual work” because everyone is here and has to cope, one way or another, with life. The difference is that an aware person learns from their pain and they eventually create a happy life. An unaware person also has pain. However, as they do not know (or do not want to know) how to help themselves, they learn little or nothing from their pain. Thus their journey to happiness is long and indirect. The following article describes the process of going into painful emotions rather than running away from them or attempting to kill them with drugs or alcohol or any other means of temporary pain relief.

Spiritual Work

Many people wait until a crisis before they are willing to question their way of being in the world. However, as spiritual students, we have constant work in the moment-by-moment content of daily human life. We consistently practice the principles of healing and consciousness evolution. In many cases, this will prevent acute problems and crises from occurring. When they do occur, the healing process is already very familiar and so the stage of suffering is greatly reduced and, sometimes, completely eliminated. We can thus use all experiences of pain as grist for the mill of our spiritual development.

Upsetting experiences tend to connect us with the underlying energy field which lies beneath our awareness. Some of its accumulated pressure is released. When we are distressed, we enter the lower energy fields of fear, anger, guilt, pride, apathy, grief, shame, and hatred. As we become connected to one of these negative fields, the others tend to join force. We often start to remember numerous buried, corresponding experiences and memories. They have been triggered in our mind and will bring up the linked emotions. All are opportunities that are asking to be healed. As someone once said to me, “When the negative emotions start pouring out, it feels as if I have to heal the whole world from its very beginning.

This is the place where the real spiritual work is happening. Reading, studying, and thinking are merely preparation for the real work of authentic, deep, internal transformation. Without the latter, we are just playing around; amusing our egotistic, mental selfhood. Real spiritual work can be tough and, at some places, very tough but it is worth it for what it brings. After a while, the new light brings such a fresh easiness that one forgets the toughness. Sometimes, one can even feel that it has always been a bright, breezy, and beautiful walk in the park, although some places may have been a very dark wood.

Crises and Resistance

Healing is initially aided by surrendering to whatever has happened. We accept that it has, in fact, happened. We do not deny it. We do not fight it. We do not run away and hide. Denial, resistance, and running away are great barriers to healing and will only exacerbate the suffering. The mind tries to use reason to manage crises and suffering. However, the rational mind will be overwhelmed with the far more virulent content of the swirling energy field of fear and sadness which is released in intense suffering or a crisis.

When we become willing to go deeply into the energy field which is spontaneously activated by acute pain, we draw one step closer to our higher self. Suffering initially brings about feelings of loss and powerlessness. Strong negative emotions come rushing to the surface. These are the repressed emotions of many forgotten experiences of the soul. These emotions are also part of the collective consciousness of every group we belong to – family, race, country, humanity.


We learn to go deeply into these emotions and the underlying energy field of the experience in order to see it through, ride it out, and let it come to a natural release. Balance is then brought to the psyche. The whole experience must be bravely faced with the knowledge that such an opportunity is beneficial to one’s development and will have substantial rewards. The fear is temporary. The rewards are permanent.

A seemingly small incident can sometimes give rise to emotion that seems to far outweigh the current situation. This is because each issue which arises in our life carries the emotion of the current situation and also a stack of similar situations with similar emotion. A rejection, for example, can bring great despair as if an irrational force has overtaken us. Each painful situation is an opportunity to work through and heal the stacks of repressed emotion which keep us from the goal of spiritual evolution. Bringing up unconscious memories and hidden pain may not be easy but they hold the record of our past issues. We learn from them and then we release them. In this way, we draw closer to the serene stillness and profound peace we ultimately seek.

This article is from The Love of Devotion

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