Copyright 2006 Tom Russell
How can you get the seeds of knowledge past the intellects filters so they reach deeper ground, germinate, and grow?
Spiritual seekers tend to be far too passive, as though they can just sit back and listen or read and let the knowledge transform itself. In my experience, it doesnt work that way. Deep spiritual knowledge requires initiative and effort, combined with a willingness to take risks. No teacher, no matter how gifted, can drink the water for you.
Here are seven proven ways to plant the seeds of knowledge deeply using such means as reading, personal instruction, discussion, contemplation, and so on. With them, you can raise the profitability and enjoyment of your study to entirely new levels.
1. Write your own journal of development
Dedicate a journal to capturing pearls of wisdom as you read, listen to CDs, and attend talks. Summarize your insights and note your questions. Create drawings or include photos. One good technique is to leave lots of space around each journal entry so you can return again and again, gradually filling the page with new connections and insights. For example, reviewing an entry from, say, from five years ago may arouse even more intensity than it did when you first made it. This shows how spiritual insights are connected; they are not separated by time.
Your journal will help you dig deep and mine the gold from rich veins of experience around you and within you. By referring to your journal often, youll easily recall valuable lessons. When you have the discipline to develop it, youll find that, over the years, no other reading is more profitable.
2. Contemplate for short periods and long ones
Contemplation is defined as the use of a single word, a concise sentence, or perhaps a mental picture or parable. Its good to activate your contemplative powers by probing with questions such as, What is here I have yet to detect? What connection does this idea have to other ideas? Or, What am I afraid to see? What would disturb me? When your contemplation has carried you as high and far as possible, let go and transition to silence. Author Vernon Howard said once, Learn from books and classes, but most of all learn from silence.
You may wish to keep a card or computer file of ideas youve used for contemplation. Retain these cards and revisit them from time to time. Keep adding new insights to your notes. Doing this can be like a bounty in the garden as you see the seeds you planted years ago continue to sprout.
Contemplation can be take place for extended periods when youre alone, but its also perfect when you only have a few, spare minutes.
3. Read aloud when youre alone
Read enthusiastically and with conviction. Stand and let yourself gesture freely. Imagine that youre addressing a large audience, and that people in it care about applying the wisdom youre conveying. Those in your imagined audience can powerfully symbolize your own thoughts as they receive new information and begin to change.
Reading silently involves your intellectual center, while reading aloud adds to your speech center. The more dimensions of yourself you involve in an activity, the greater the impact. Add to that your kinesthetic awareness of muscles and tension, and now you have activated three centers in a single activity. Put your whole heart, mind, and spiritthe whole of your beinginto this task. Start with ten minutes and expand from there.
4. Stay with the same pages awhile
In addition to your other reading, select four or five pages from a truthful, engaging book and read these same pages every night for a week before going to sleep. After a week go to the next four pages. This is an effective way to deeply plant the seeds of knowledge into the fertile soil of your innermost mind.
5. Be a metaphor hunter
Doing this can be wonderful fun! Be alert to daily life experiences, historical examples, and experiences with nature that resemble or connect to a spiritual principle. For example, you walk past a building site and hear a carpenter declare, Thats not done to our standards. Lets take that door out and do it right. This perks you up; its a sudden ray of rightness that reminds you of the high standards youve set forth in your inner world.
As another example, while on a hike, you observe an old tree that has fallen into a stream. The tree gets lodged, but the flowing water gradually breaks it away and takes it downstream. You think with delight how the movement of Truth, like the flowing water, clears away old thinking that no longer serves your purpose.
6. Express the knowledge you gather
Art, music, and dance are healthy venues of creative expression. Likewise, being a good parent, cooking, building a home, running a business, and even honest salesmanship are some of the many ways to express the knowledge you glean. If you instruct others in your area of expertise, this offers more potential for gathering knowledge.
See yourself as a conduit of information, similar to a lake that stays pure by taking in fresh water on one side and releasing it on the other. This is a master key for a rich and purpose-filled life. Refuse to be a stagnant pond! Find ways to live what you learn and expand your horizons to step out of familiar zones of competence. This includes finding ways to do much better what you now do well. The discomfort of pushing the envelope, of trying new things, of being a beginner greatly benefits your spiritual growth.
7. Participate in discussion groups
People who gather to discuss books can use a simple format with surprisingly good results by arranging chairs in a circle and letting participants take turns reading. The facilitator should allow frequent pauses for contributions and ensure all the attendees participate. It helps have someone summarize the discussion at the end of the meeting.
In addition to a book, your group could discuss a CD or DVD. Just sit close to the player so you can hit the pause button often for discussion. Contributions that include experiences about applying the principles and lessons learned are especially helpful and welcome.
Enjoy the endeavor
Gathering spiritual wisdom is one of lifes most enjoyable endeavors. Our work is to collect all the facts we can about ourselves and our inner development. When we place this treasury of life-changing facts inside our minds, higher spiritual forces activate themlike the morning sun shining on a garden of rare and beautiful flowers.