Love and Compassion on the Mystical Path
By Kenneth Chan
Love and compassion are crucial on the mystical path. Regardless of any other achievements, without love and compassion, one does not deserve to be called a mystic, simply because one has excluded oneself from the most important mystical process of all.
And this process is also the crucial difference between the Path of Light and the "Dark Path".* On the Path of Light, we open ourselves to what may be termed the unitive state. This is a state where we experience a sense of oneness with the all, a sense of nonseparation, and is generally a state of profound bliss and compassion. We must understand that, just like love, there are many levels of unitive experience. The highest level is perhaps what a number of Western mystics have termed the "union with God". Those who deny the practice of love and compassion have automatically excluded themselves from the process of inner transformation whereby higher and higher levels of this unitive state may be attained. This is because love and compassion is an inherent and necessary part of the process.
And this process is far more important than any control or mastery of any specific mundane situation we may find ourselves in. The inner transformation of our being is the true mastery of life. Actually, in characterizing the mystical path, it is preferable to call it a path of surrender, rather than one of trying to take control. For it is through the process of surrender, at higher and higher levels, that we attain deeper and deeper levels of the unitive experience.
There are many thresholds we have to cross on the spiritual path, and the main ones are all in the form of a surrender of some kind. One of the early thresholds is to relinquish the notion that we can become master of our world, in the sense of being able to manipulate our world to suit us. We have to surrender this desire and, in the words of the OMCE, learn "not to take, but to receive".
The next major threshold we have to cross is to surrender all our striving for the mundane goals in life, and to focus purely on the spiritual path. After that, we will have to cross the threshold of surrendering the sense of a separate self. Then, on the following threshold, we will have to attain the willingness to endure suffering for the sake of others. And, on the higher threshold after that, we will have to relinquish all trace of our self-cherishing completely, so that all our motivation is based purely on the welfare of others.
All this may sound extremely daunting, but there is help at hand to enable us to keep going. For, on crossing each threshold successfully, we will attain to a higher level of the unitive state. This is a state of profound bliss and compassion, which is more and more intense at each higher level. And it is a state of bliss greater than anything one can imagine in the mundane world. Even a small glimpse of this state will transform one's life, for there is nothing in the mundane world that can match it.
The way to build a better world will then also become evident. We have to learn the path by taking it ourselves, in order that we may then guide others onto it. There is no other solution to the fundamental problems of our unenlightened existence. We have to get beyond the vicious cycle of karma that is binding us in our deluded state of separation. And no amount of controlling the mundane external circumstances of our existence is going to get us out of this. If we understand this, our choice is clear. We have to practice love and compassion, and we have to take the Path of Light. There is simply no other way.
Of course, all this is a long arduous struggle, and we may falter many times. However, if we gain even a temporary experience of the unitive state, we will also have learned never to give up. And this occurs simply because we will then know there is really nothing else in this world worth doing that can compare with it.
(*Footnote: There are two types of paths that explore the esoteric world: the Path of Light and the Dark Path. The Dark Path is based on the assumption that the human will has the power to control everything. This is a path of separation, and does pose a real danger of inflating our own egos. It is thus best avoided. The Path of Light, on the other hand, is based on the understanding that we are an integral part of the whole, and that there is a higher principle beyond that of our individual intellect and will. And on this path, we cannot succeed without love and compassion.)
Copyright © 2001 Kenneth Chan