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by David Truman

The true purpose of spiritual life

On the trail of self-improvement

The flaw in the way spiritual life is usually conceived

Correcting our mistaken identity

A goldfish never complains about water

Spiritual life according to ego

On a mission from ego, or a mission from God?

The essential prerequisite of spiritual life

Spiritual life according to Spirit

No waiting required to live the Life Divine

Beloved reader, God loves you and longs for your company -- and your help. We bring you a liberating message to hasten your Divine Parent-child reunion:

There is a simple, sure way to live in direct co-operation with God, the life of Spirit. Here on earth, in this life. The Godly life you long for is yours to live.

The true purpose of spiritual life

What's the purpose of spiritual life? To find God? To find yourself? To obtain happiness, peace, freedom, perfection, empowerment, salvation? All of these are important purposes, and all have justifiably been linked with spiritual life. But none of them is the true -- that is, ULTIMATE -- spiritual purpose.

The ultimate purpose of spiritual life is to live the Life Divine -- an unselfed life of loving service in moment-to-moment cooperation with God. Yes! How true that rings in the heart! How the spirit swells at the thought of it! All else pales in comparison. Finding ourselves is certainly essential to that goal, but even so, that is merely a prerequisite for the supreme fulfillment of spiritual life: co-operating with God. And, if we will only LIVE that blessed Life, our OTHER goals -- happiness, peace, freedom, and empowerment -- will be achieved.


On the trail of self-improvement

But, would-be men and women of God have a concern: What if we don't feel fit for a life of unselfish service? What if we feel unworthy of working hand-in-hand with God? Ah -- that's where people slip off the true path! Here's how it happens:

To the extent that we feel unready, we feel we NEED to get ready. So, if we think we're flawed, we try to improve. And if we think we're bad, we aspire to be DIFFERENT. Thus, we come to think of the spiritual path as a path of self-improvement.

Sometimes, we see the process of self-improvement as a do-it-yourself project (i.e., "I need to help myself," "I need to improve myself," "I need to heal myself."). Other times, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task, we may ask God to improve us ("Help me, fix me, heal me, Lord."). Either way, we work to improve ourselves, and patiently await the results.

But no matter how we approach it, the life of self-improvement is NOT an effective preparation for the Life Divine. It actually POSTPONES that beautiful life. As long as we think we need improvement, we tend to maintain a negative self-image, and doubt our worthiness. Such beliefs obstruct progress along the path, and prevent us from living the Life Divine right now.

Beloved friends, take heart -- there is another way. Listen to the glorious solution, God's absolute truth:


We can begin the Life Divine
as soon as we wholeheartedly
accept our true nature as a child of God.

NOTE: You may have some ideas about what it MEANS to accept your true nature. Please understand, the usual techniques -- affirmations and the like -- don't go far enough in helping us realize who we truly are. Usually, those approaches are just more self-improvement attempts. Beloved reader, put aside your plans and preconceptions for a few minutes, and read what follows with an open mind. It just might free you from limiting preconceptions forever.

The flaw in spiritual life as it is usually conceived

Granted, we may experience a great sense of hopefulness when we earnestly set foot on a spiritual path. We feel relieved, believing we're finally on the way to our spiritual goal. But a major obstacle remains, standing directly in the way of our progress: Our IDENTITY remains insecure. Consequently, instead of enjoying the faith and confidence that would otherwise be appropriate, we suffer the painful combination of hope and doubt.

Insecurity on the path of spiritual striving reveals two unsuspected errors in our approach to spiritual life: First, we're wistfully looking at a goal that's very near as if it were a million miles away. Second, and more important, we're planning to fix something that isn't broken! We wouldn't be viewing the spiritual path as a self-improvement project if we knew what God wants us to know: that we're perfectly compatible with God AS WE ARE. And we can live and work hand-in-hand with God NOW.

Granted, the person we THINK we are -- the ego, the sinner, the poor mortal -- IS indeed flawed, in many ways. It may be small, weak, unloving. It may even be arrogant, vain. It may be unwilling to honestly see and correct its mistakes, or tired of the struggle to overcome them. But listen: that's NOT who we ARE! The person we TRULY are -- the Self God made -- doesn't need improvement.


When we focus on self-improvement,
we are focusing on, and trying
to improve the ego, the sinner.
But that's NOT who we ARE!

In the usual approach to spiritual life, we're trying to build upon, and improve, a false identity. That's the bad news. The good news is, mistaken identity is the ESSENCE of all spiritual problems. And therefore, when we correct that one mistake, virtually all of our spiritual problems will be solved.

What we're REALLY suffering from, friends, is nothing more or less than a case of mistaken identity. Because of our misguided ego-identification, the usual spiritual search overlooks both the true nature of self, and the true purpose of spiritual life. The true nature of self -- the self God made -- is not evil or sinful; it is good. And, the true mission of spiritual life is NOT self-improvement, it is service. It's sharing Divine love, in direct, intimate partnership with God.

Correcting our mistaken identity

We ARE truly good, even if we haven't always BEHAVED accordingly. God simply doesn't create bad people! But please do not construe the acceptance of one's true identity as another philosophical belief, or as a mere intellectual exercise. Anyone can proclaim, "Everyone is a child of God! Everyone is perfect, pure and innocent! I am a child of God! I am perfect, pure and innocent!" But it's another matter entirely to deeply, thoroughly BELIEVE these great truths.

Solid acceptance of one's own goodness is a profound emotional and spiritual matter. The test of our success is CONSISTENT acceptance. Unless we can accept our goodness unwaveringly, we haven't accepted it deeply enough.

Meanwhile, negative self-judgments continue to create a vicious circle. There can be no doubt that bad thoughts and deeds result from negative self-image. For example, as long as you think you are selfish, you will tend to behave selfishly. You may feel your integrity depends on it. In that case, you are liable to judge any unselfish impulses you may have -- to give generously, to help freely, etc. -- as hypocritical or insincere. Then, bad behavior further reinforces your negative self-image: "Look what I just did! Clearly, I am a bad person." The cycle keeps feeding itself. How do we convincingly refute the discouraging "evidence," and truly KNOW that we are good? Here's how:

Look more CLOSELY at the evidence! Your own experience proves your goodness every day. Read on, and you'll see why we confidently make that bold assertion . . .


A goldfish never complains about water

Please consider this: WHY do negative thoughts and deeds trouble us, the children of God? If we really WERE bad, we'd see nothing wrong with behaving badly. And likewise, if we really WERE selfish, selfish living would not bother us. Would a goldfish complain about water, or feel uncomfortable swimming? Never!

Dear friends, it's precisely because we're NOT egos, and we're not essentially sinful, that we find egocentric living distasteful and troubling. It is precisely because we're NOT bad people that we feel bad about ungodly thoughts and deeds. Truly, our displeasure with "being bad" PROVES we are good.

Hearing these words, you might think, "Moral sensitivity proves nothing. It only reflects how we were raised. We were TAUGHT to feel these ways." Actually, we've been exposed to a wide variety of values. We've been taught ideas that support selfishness as well as encouragements to be unselfish. For example, we've been urged to be considerate, charitable, community-minded, etc. But we've ALSO been taught the value of selfishness: "You had better look out for number one. You have to love yourself first." The fact is, we've been taught all kinds of things, some of them contradictory. Consequently, if we want to understand our nature, we must consider responses that arise from deeper levels than mere social conditioning. For example: When giving in a true spirit of generosity, doesn't everyone feel happier than when they're "looking out for number one"?

And, if shame and guilt were merely a result of our upbringing, why would people spend so much time and energy on rationalizing and justifying their misdeeds? If selfishness and insensitivity were really natural for us, such efforts would surely be unnecessary -- our conscience would be clear.

A "normal," survival-focused, materially-oriented life IS natural to the ego and to animal nature. But the children of God are spiritual beings. Therefore, no matter what we've been taught about the advantages of a self-serving, survival-oriented life, we can never feel truly at home in such a life. Negative thoughts and deeds are out of step with the person God made us to be. For a child of God, only a life of loving service FITS.

Now, beloved reader, we can unravel the riddle of our true identity. When we think, "I need to be different," what we're REALLY feeling is, "This way of life doesn't agree with me. I WANT to act in a manner which is more consistent with who I am -- a child of God." And when we say, "I need to be different," what we really mean is, "I need to be the SAME. I need to the same as MYSELF, and live in a manner that better reflects my true heart, and my soul."

The people we really are don't NEED revision. We are beautiful and perfect just as God made us. All we need to do is REALIZE who we are -- and then, to support that knowingness, live accordingly. Our true nature is inclined to live beautifully, just as God intended. And truly, until we live such a life, we simply can't be satisfied.


Spiritual life according to ego

Accepting the wonderful truth about our God-created nature radically changes our view of the spiritual path. Until then, due to mistaken identity, the path looks impassable. "I am a bad person trying to become a good person." Under that view, spiritual striving is an effort to become something "I" am not. How? Presumably, by doing what "I" -- as an ego-identified person, that is -- could never naturally, truly, or sincerely do. Now THAT'S discouraging.

Ego's view of spiritual SALVATION is equally disheartening: "I'm a wretched sinner who can be redeemed only by God's grace." Although it's wonderful to celebrate the power of grace, it's demeaning and disempowering to believe that God's children are of such evil nature that only our Creator could rebuild us into something good. Hoping to become worthy of rescue, the poor souls who believe they are wretched sinners will literally spend their entire lifetime in atonement. Like the addict who attends tri-weekly twelve-step meetings for decades after getting sober, "wretched sinners" doing penance never forget -- or transcend -- their painfully limited view of themselves. They're chained to their limitations! That, friends, is hell on earth.

If we believe ourselves to be wretched sinners, the very idea of cooperating with God feels arrogant. Under ego's illusions of self, it seems more appropriate to be far LESS than God would have us be. No "wretched sinner" really feels up to loving -- at least, not as freely and beautifully as God would have us love. To the extent that doing good seems to be beyond us, not even Divine Grace can make us accept our rightful role in the Life Divine.

As long as we identify with ego or sinfulness, we never feel ready to live the life of Spirit YET. We're bound to believe we're unprepared, and must fulfill various requirements FIRST. But in that case, whether we know it or not, we're saying to God, "God, I don't know if You will show up and work through me; but if I do all these things first, maybe You will." Actually, those so-called "requirements" are manmade, NOT Divinely ordained. And they ignore the reality of our relationship with God. God is already with us. God is already speaking to us. And God is ready and willing to work with us NOW!

We aspire to do God's will, we want to live as He would have us live. And we can try to do good, wholeheartedly. But until we accept GOD'S view of who we are, the odds are against us. The best we can do is keep trying to compensate for the depressing effects of ego-identification by suppressing, modifying, or refining our egoic tendencies of behavior. Compensation only relieves the symptoms of any problem, leaving the underlying problem untouched. Furthermore, putting too much attention on symptoms tends to reinforce our identification with the problem.

For example, a judgmental man may act in an overly "positive" manner to hide his harsh reactions to the people and events around him. A timid woman may act overly aggressive to compensate for feelings of insecurity. Neither of them are solving their problems. In both cases, the compensatory behavior only serves to remind everyone -- including the one doing it -- of the underlying insecurities.

The compensatory approach to spiritual life is ineffectual simply because it leaves ego-identification intact. That's why spiritual growth seems to be such a long, slow, and arduous process -- even requiring multiple lifetimes, according to some traditions. No wonder many people give up on spiritual progress altogether: Starting from the premise of being an ego, you can't get there from here! Actually, if we were really just ego, we'd NEVER be fit to live the Life Divine -- not in infinite time. Thank God that's not true!


On a mission from ego, or a mission from God?

The pursuit of perfection, when rightly held, is good and worthy of a child of God. Human beings seek perfection, just as naturally as a plant seeks the sun, and the soul seeks God. But we MUST avoid this pitfall: Any attempt to perfect ourselves AS EGOS -- or as people who consider themselves terribly flawed -- is misguided, and ultimately futile. Even with our best effort, the ego-self can never be truly GOOD.

Seeing the negative tendencies of ego and egotism, a person may say, "Those awful characteristics should be overcome." True! Negative ego qualities SHOULD be disciplined and corrected. But the fact remains, although behaviorial changes are a great place to START, they don't help ENOUGH. For example: a blaming person may concentrate on saying "I" statements, not "you" statements, when talking to others. But beneath the new, improved behavior, the blaming disposition may remain. That's why improving BEHAVIOR is far less effective than wholeheartedly embracing true goodness WITHIN. And embracing true goodness is never going to happen while ego is our guide. Ego never WANTS to be TRULY good, because it doesn't want to accept the higher responsibilities true goodness implies. Unselfish love threatens ego's sovereignty. Generous giving runs directly against ego's perceived self-interest. So, no matter how hard we try to improve the ego-self, ego distorts or aborts our well-intentioned attempts. What doesn't WANT to be good, won't be.

What ego WILL do is let us struggle forever on a self-improvement program that supposedly leads to Divine cooperation -- AS LONG AS we don't have to reach true rightness, NOW or EVER. That's what the name of the self-improvement game is -- endless, insignificant improvements, never arriving at the goal. Essentially, the self-improvement game often amounts to little more than a face-saving way to buy time. In our ego-identified mode, we want to be ON THE WAY to goodness so we don't have to BE THERE NOW. That way, we can postpone and avoid the higher levels of functioning we don't really want.

Ego is not just opposed to US being good; egotism stands directly, persistently in the way of all that is TRULY good and TRULY Godly. The higher power of Spirit wants to work in us or through us, for our own upliftment and the upliftment of others. But until and unless we release ego-identification, we invariably resist the flow of Divine impulse in life. For example: Imagine God says, with the voice of inner prompting, "Go love and heal this person." Typically, an ego-identified individual ignores the voice of inner prompting, and declines God's request. "I better not try to do that. I'd probably just mess it up by feeling insecure, or insensitive, or superior, or something. I think it would be better for everyone concerned if I just do nothing." Or, alternatively, what if God's would-be instrument feels such concerns, but acts anyway? In that case, the person is liable to mess up -- just as anticipated -- because of those concerns. In both instances, negative self-image thwarts Divine prompting.

As long as we identify with ego, it twists good intentions and actions out of shape -- making what could have been truly good LESS than truly good, LESS than Godly. How frustrating it is for a child of God to see otherwise good intentions corrupted, and otherwise good actions polluted! For goodness sake, nothing should be allowed to stop us from giving the beauty we and God, working together, can give to others. Since our ultimate spiritual mission in this life is to let God love through us, the ego needs to be rejected, not perfected! True beauty comes ONLY from the sincere heart of positive self-identification -- never from ego identification.


The essential prerequisite of spiritual life


Our negative beliefs about ourselves
can’t change our potential. But negative
beliefs CAN dramatically change what we
BELIEVE is possible for us.

Though we may have temporarily redefined ourselves in ego's image, we don't become TRULY incapable of the Life Divine -- only APPARENTLY so. Mistaken self-identification doesn't change who we are or what we can do; it only changes what we BELIEVE we can do. But that is quite a significant change.

We are always experiencing life according to the premises/beliefs from which we're operating. If we don't believe we are capable of doing something, then most likely, we won't do it with sufficient confidence to succeed. We may try only half-heartedly, or we may not even attempt it. At that rate, our saga will consist mostly of mistakes -- and, possibly, a lot of apologies and amends to offset them. ON THE OTHER HAND . . .

If we start from accepting and identifying with our True Self, we're ALREADY where we want to be. We're actually STARTING FROM a good place -- our (previously unattainable) "goal." All because our self-identification is now POSITIVE. THEREFORE . . .

The first step towards
effective spiritual living
is to remember who we ARE.

That great step into reality is absolutely indispensable. There is absolutely NO WAY to live an effective spiritual life otherwise. Unless you start with accepting that you ARE your Higher Self, no one in the universe can make your life what God and your Higher Self would like it to be. Not EVEN God, because God respects your free will!

Spiritual life according to Spirit


True spiritual practice aims
to express our real goodness,
not to compensate
for our presumed badness.

The Spirit's view of the spiritual path is quite opposite from the ego's: "I'm not a bad person trying to become good; I'm a good person trying to live as who I am." That's a most important difference!

When you truly accept yourself as a child of God, you inherit the functionality of your Divine genetics IMMEDIATELY. Don't be surprised if the results of shifting identification seem huge. Friends may tell you, "You seem so different!" Actually, you haven't changed at all. You just released your mistaken identity, and accepted your own reality as a child of God. "I used to be different, but now I'm the same!"

When you accept who you truly are, your entire perspective and relationship to EVERYTHING changes. It's like getting married. You're no longer single, and everything seems wonderful. But, as any newlywed soon learns, it's one thing to FEEL totally different. It's another thing to LIVE totally differently. Marriage is a growing, evolving adventure of learning to live and love together. Living as your True Self and cooperating with God is the same.

The primary discipline in true spiritual practice is to accept our true nature as God created it, and then to learn how to express it under all circumstances -- as an outworking of that enlightened self-identification. Living goodness may take time and effort to replace well-rehearsed habits of egoic living. But it's not hard to do; it's a joy. Hold firmly to positive self-identification, and old habits will fade fast. You'll see.

Starting with our True Self as our basis, our good works are wholehearted, not compensatory. Therefore, every time we do an authentically good deed -- such as helping someone without concern for personal gain, taking a risk to do what's right, assuming responsibility for our errors -- we greatly reinforce our positive convictions about who we are. Sincere good works are TRULY good, and therefore wonderfully EFFECTIVE.

Ego-identified people experience spiritual life as a difficult struggle. "I've tried so hard to be good for three days -- I owe myself a chance to be bad." It's a strain to be good when goodness feels out of character, and therefore unnatural. But surely you have observed, on many occasions, that when a person is strongly identified with their spiritual identity, it's never hard for them to be kind, compassionate, patient, etc. True goodness is an authentic (sincere) expression of our true Selfhood, and of the Living God who created our True Self.

No waiting required to live the Life Divine

Your graduation into the Life Divine truly need not take time. God would certainly prefer that we place NOTHING before our partnership with Him.

No child of God needs years of penance or spiritual practices to be receptive to God, or to serve effectively as a conduit of Divine Intention, Divine Love. Just start living an enlightened life -- a life in which, moment to moment, you intentionally set aside selfish interests and remember your Source, your mission. Feeling all the beings who need love, simply love. You already know how to do that! And surely, remembering that your true nature is love, you can love more intentionally, more purely, more constantly.

It's your loving motives, precisely, that make you into a ready and able vehicle for God. Because you love people so much, and you so intensely desire the best for them, you want them to have GOD'S love, not just yours. You become willing, on account of your love, to let go and let God. You get your ego out of the way for their sake. You turn the reins of self-direction over to God.

True love is letting go of ego. When selfish pride says, "I want to be the one to give my beloved everything, and if that doesn't work, forget about it," love says, "I'll give my beloved the best that I can come up with, even if I can't do it myself, and have to recruit help." When ego-style control says, "I'll give my beloved everything I can as long as I maintain control," love says, "I'll let go if that helps me to give my very best."


Click here to read more about
why depending on God is NOT a sign of weakness

Cooperating with God is not just a lofty aspiration. It is God's will to work this way, and you can be His partner, if YOU will. When you realize the nature of God and the nature of your True Self, it's obvious how perfectly the two of you -- Parent and child -- fit together. A match made in heaven! You're a chip off the old block. That recognition leads naturally, gracefully, into doing God's work -- in happy cooperation with God. Now you KNOW you don't need to "improve" before you can work with God. With God by your side, how can you possibly fail? Just accept your nature, give thanks, and do what you were born to do -- WITH GOD. Welcome home.

Click here to read more about sharing God's love

by David Truman

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