On the occasions that the posts of the Inner Call produce questions, it is always a good sign: readers are being stimulated to consider what the post is trying to convey, and a question shows the possibility of some change in our lives. A few days ago we posted the Spanish translation of a tale about a seeker who had reached some level of realisation though following the advice of his Shaikh to ‘spread his arms wide and accept the love of God.’ The final step of his journey, according to the tale, came when he ‘dropped his arms,’ and allowed himself to be embraced by the Divine.
The question that was posed by a reader is, “When and how do we drop our arms?” Is it possible to cut the journey short by just leaving it all up to God? Is the implication that all our efforts are of no use? Or are we expected to measure our progress and know just when to change our attitude?
Of course, a tale is not divine scripture (unless we define ‘scripture’ so broadly that is includes everything perceptible); it is a structure to present some idea, and with which we may be able to identify. In this case, the seeker went through a sort of evolution, going from a simple, conventional, even mechanical form of spirituality to a deeper examination of himself, by which he began to let go of what he was carrying. The final stage of the journey – or rather, the final step of which he could speak – came in a deep surrender to the Divine Presence. It is quite likely that our readers will recognize something of their own journey in the tale – at least, the first phase, taking us from the perfunctory observance of forms, such as prayers and various practices, to a more earnest study of ourselves.
This stage of purification is not something we can omit; certainly the rhythm of every person’s unfoldment is unique, and there is also the unpredictable Hand of Grace, but learning to let go of all that supports our separation from the One is something to welcome. Yes, it is often painful, but the relief that comes is greater than the pain.
That purification, in which we throw away all our concepts and impressions and identifications, is certainly a form of surrender, but it is only preparation for the real surrender, when we allow ourselves to be embraced, and accept that we are not, and never were separate from the Heart of the Beloved. And as to the question, when and how? – we can only say, it comes when the Divine calls us. If we have diligently awakened our ideal of Perfection, then when we reach the end of the road, when we have nothing left to drop and see no way to go, it will be natural and inevitable to bow and surrender – and to be embraced.