The journey toward self-actualization is in fact, one spiritual initiation after another. Spiritual initiation takes place every time we are faced with an opportunity to remain in the perceived safety and security of what we have known or take another step toward the fulfillment of our life purpose. The spiritual initiation is successful when we move through the fears and ego attachments that seek to keep us imprisoned within our small selves and away from the expansion we are driven toward by our Soul. Some of these initiations are small and some are so significantly huge that we soon become aware that we are facing a major crossroad in our life. It is at these crossroad moments that our spiritual practice becomes even more critical, as does our diligent attention to these practices.
Stephanie Azaria in Monday’s post in her column “Cosmic Consciousness” had the following to say about the crossroads:
“…a crossroad is a series of four very specific paths that are all equally available to us when we approach them from the observer’s perspective. We can send our conscious awareness down all four roads at the same time until the heart begins to resonate fully with one (or more) of these paths. At that time we can take action to follow that road knowing it may or may not be permanent…..such is the way of the new world. Nothing is permanent.”
A crossroads occurs when the life we have known has come to an end and the new life has not yet revealed itself. It is a time of spiritual initiation ripe with opportunity and danger. At the crossroads, possibilities seem endless and many opportunities (or twinklings of opportunities) may present themselves. At this stage, none of these possibilities are yet fully formed, so a decision (or even a discernment) cannot yet be made. Some of these possibilities will die on the vine. Some are not in our highest good or reflective of our soul’s purpose and therefore should not be pursued. And some are just beginning to grow roots so are not yet strong enough to support our unfolding. For these reasons, pursuing or chasing after possible opportunities prematurely will only end badly. We will know that the opportunity is not yet ripe if in its pursuit we find it either drawing away, or find ourselves coming up against a brick wall. Instead of requiring effort, opportunities that are ripe and good for the soul will fall into our laps in a miraculous and effortless kind of way.
While the crossroads is ripe with possibility, it is also rife with danger. This is true for it is at the crossroads where we make our deals with the devil. At the end of what has been, we are vulnerable and afraid. We have left behind (or are being asked to leave behind) what has been so as to replace it with something that is not yet known. It is in our human nature to crave surety and to long for “the same.” When we have neither of these creature comforts, we grow anxious, worried, and fretful. Often, our first response is to bargain for the old life to be returned. “Please let me go back to…….(insert relationship, job, home, etc. here)….at least I knew what to expect there.” But our Soul desires nothing if not growth. As such, as much as we might want to, we cannot return to that which has already died…or which no longer supports our growth. (Well….actually we can…..we just end up with a zombie like life along with the constant shame of knowing we are living an unlived life…mind numbing substances and behaviors come in handy here as we try to escape our true feelings about the unlived life we have chosen).
After bargaining, we must now face the possibilities that lay before us. Some will be known. Some will only be twinkles. And MANY will be the paths which lead us only into the “devil’s trap.” These are the paths which are ruled by fear and/or which tempt us through our ego attachments. Those paths ruled by fear are the possibilities that are based in our unhealed and unresolved fears: fears over money, time, acceptance by others, belonging, etc. etc. etc. When we choose a path that is ruled by fear (I’m afraid that the path of my Soul won’t make me any money, so I’m going to find a path that insures at least a regular paycheck…..whether or not it has anything to do with my gifts, my mission or my purpose in this life…..), this is the devil’s trap. The result of choosing this path will only be more fear and a deepening sense of imprisonment. Those paths ruled by the ego are those which tempt us through our desire for fame, power, control and material wealth…..in other words, “the lifestyles of the rich and famous” – another of the devil’s games. While fame may be an outcome of pursuing our Soul’s path, this will not be true for all, and the path of our Soul is never driven by our desire for fame. In the quest for the Soul, we must always check our ego at the door.
When we find ourselves at the crossroads or spiritual initiation we are vulnerable. We feel insecure and afraid. The possibilities might seem overwhelming and our fears are running rampant. The crossroads is the devil’s playground, but it is also the domain of our Soul. At the crossroads, the Soul is seeking after and longing for its natural movement toward growth and it will not rest until the appropriate path for its growth reveals itself. Until that happens, the Soul is restless….making us even more vulnerable to the “devil’s trap.” At the crossroads, our spiritual practices become even more critical, along with our resilience in the face of temptation and our diligence in tending to these practices. While at the crossroads we must not act, pursue, chase after or be tempted to make something happen. Neither should we make any decision based in fear or arising out of the ego. Instead, there is only ONE THING we can do when standing at the crossroads….and that is WAIT. Wait and watch. Observe and discern. And when the waiting and inaction become excruciating (which they will)….we wait some more. For it is at the crossroad where we endure the greatest of all tests in our spiritual initiation …the test of whether we can wait long enough for the path of our Soul to arrive and the next stage of our life to begin.
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS is a trained spiritual director and spiritual counselor, transformational educator, ordained interfaith minister and published author. Lauri supports the spiritual awakening and self-actualization of humanity and does so through one-on-one mentoring, writing, online classes and workshops. Contact Lauri at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.