Some engage in spiritual work for greater personal growth. Some seek “inner peace” through spiritual practice, hoping to experience a calmer and more relaxed pace in life. Others search for clarity, balance, self-knowledge, or enhanced skills. Still others walk the paths of the Spirit because they have already attempted to travel other roads, and found them wanting.

However, whatever our motivation for setting out on the terrain of the Spirit, we always find great blessings from this endeavor. If there were no results from this practice of watching the breath, being attentive to our bodies, examining and polishing our minds, exploring inner realities, the deep and true aspects of ourselves – our souls – we simply would not bother. But all who enter the spiritual realms know: we experience wondrous things and taste of sweet fruits, beyond what words can describe or express.

Each person who journeys inward, and is thereby able to discern and act wisely in the outer world, receives their own special gifts. Each can testify to their own unique learnings and insights, growth and expansion. And each soul, as it travels the Spiritual Road, unfolds its own qualities and character, its own beauty and truth. The early Christian writer Paul sets out what he thinks the Spirit provides: “love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). However, though many of us have received these things, we each receive something unique and different.

In our time, however, I have found that, whatever else we receive from the Spirit when we seek it, explore it, and grow from it, we receive POWER. And this is the Spirit’s most valuable gift!

As the outer world’s forms shift, break, and disappear; as what we see and experience is transformed, re-formed, and constantly altered, many of us may feel confused, disoriented, uprooted – and even disempowered. Some may seek money, fame, or physical strength as forms of power; to express power, to maintain power. And though each of these is a kind of power, none is the deepest or truest power. All are fleeting. All are impermanent. All will fade.

The power of money DOES assist us – and in the current economic and cultural structures, it remains necessary. But money itself is only a sign, a marker, a humanly created instrument of exchanging items and measuring value. It is only as real as we believe it to be so, and only powerful when we operate according to its rules. Money has no power on its own, apart from what we give to it. Pieces of paper printed with green ink; circles of silver or copper-colored metal; sets of numbers in apparent accounts in supposed locations – these are cultural constructions, which can easily pass away – and they WILL pass away.

Fame: notoriety, “being seen,” being celebrated – all of us wish to be noticed, valued, and loved. But those who become “public figures,” and seem to influence others through their actions or speech: this, too, is an unspoken “cultural agreement” that people make with “the famous.” All human stars, whether stars of music, film, or some other aspect of mass media manufacture, are always fading stars. They rise into the firmament of fame – and begin their dissolution even before they are fully formed. Fame is an ephemeral power – it cannot stave off change, or loss, or shifts in circumstance. It is truly weak; a false pseudo-power, dying even before its birth.

Physical power — especially violent physical power — whether it comes from blows of the fists of one person to the body of another, or from weapons like swords, knifes, rifles, missiles, or bullets – or the threats to use them – this too is limited, though apparently effective. Physical strength can do great harm to bodies. And when it kills someone, its destructiveness causes great grief to those who love and cherish the one who dies. Physical strength can also do great good, when utilized to build, to defend, to create. But like fame and money, this form of power arises, and then falls away. As the Tao Te Ching teaches: “Green plants are tender and filled with sap. At their death they are withered and dry. Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death. The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life. The hard and strong will fall. The soft and weak will overcome.”

All three forms of power – money, fame, and physical strength – are useful, when understood and exercised wisely. But they become weaknesses when they are the primary object of those who use them. They are mere things – they rise and fall, are born and die. They are derivative types of power. They are passing forms of the greatest power.

The greatest power is the Power that Creates, Upholds, and is ever Re-making the universe: All Life, All Physical Reality, All Things, All Unseen Energies. Love may be one of its manifestations, but in its essence, its truest existence, the Real Power is deeper by far than any one attribute or characteristic. It is deeper and stronger, more vast and intimate, even than Love.

It is ours. It is yours — and mine – and everyone’s. It belongs to each, and to all, and to none. It is always available. It costs no coin. It never fades. It has greater strength than bombs or bullets, fists or weapons. It is always available.

But how are we to reach it, to access it, to receive it, to shape it, to use it?

It is actually quite simple. As our previous posts have set out, especially “On Beginning” and “On Entering the Realms Within,” all we need is to breathe, become fully attentive to our bodies and surroundings, and then turn our gaze and our attention inward. Look to the place within which is aware of the rising and falling, the coming and going, of perceptions and thoughts. Allow images to arise from our imagination. And go to the source of the risings: the dark place within, the doorway to the Inward Universe. “Darkness within darkness, the gate to all mystery.” It is with us always, awake or asleep, conscious or distracted. It is the Primal Darkness, our own participation in the Unseen Presence. As the poet Rilke puts it:

“Darkness, my darkness, I stand here with you,
And everything passes outside.”

This Darkness, this Source, is the inner ocean from which all things come. Whenever we need power, let us turn to it, stand in it, rest in it, become and remain conscious of it. It is the source of dreams, the place of deep rest, of creativity and command. This is the Power that gives us all other powers.

Careful, consistent, and courageous spiritual practice brings us to the gates, and then the dwelling place, of this greatest of powers. In our inner journeying, we can converse with this power; listen to it; rest in its silent strength; receive its exquisite embrace. Returning to it, we will always discover something new from its depths and riches.

This Great Power will guide us in all our required tasks. Let us allow it to bring to form what we seek, what we need. Let us work with what surfaces from it. Let us claim its beauty. This is the power of the Creator, the Creative, the Creating – our Power, the Spirit’s greatest gift.

Basking in it, we are the Creators. We are the New World Coming. In us, the realm of blessing and beauty and bounty is awake, and alive, and active. “Be really whole, and all things will come to you.”