Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.
The Why Of Within
This is the fourth and last in my series on meditation and contemplative practices in Paganism. If you have not read the previous parts, I encourage you to do so.
Meditation and contemplative practices vary from tradition to tradition and from system to system. The nature of the influence and the transformative effect of the various approaches are informed by and embedded with the goals of their religion/system of origin. As Pagans, Heathens, or whatever it may be that you call yourself, it is important to spend some time thinking about whether or not you are in alignment with techniques that have been developed within other cultural or religious streams. In some cases you may find that no significant change is needed and in others a considerable amount of adaptation will be required. This of course begs the question of the goals and outcomes of these practices. This must be determined before proceeding with the practices that you choose.
The following will not be all encompassing and will certainly be my personal perspective, but you may find parts that work with your path. These are the three most important fields of endeavor that are tended by meditation and contemplative practices from my Pagan perspective:
My goal in spiritual evolution is to become more consciously engaged with the Universe. This also means to have all my parts integrated in a way that allows access to the inherent patterns of the Universe. States of bliss and/or union with specific God/dess/es or other Divine Beings is a means towards this end or a side effect of the work rather than the goal itself. The more spiritual evolved a person becomes the more quickly and profoundly do they find insights into matters of every sort. By understanding meaning, causality, and synchronicity a sense of peace and alacrity is achieved regardless of the challenges at hand.
Meditation and contemplative practices are the surest route that I know to develop your consciousness so that it might see the light that was always there. Enlightenment is more than anything the process of clearing away the clutter and learning to open ourselves to what was always in front of us and within us.
Joy & Happiness
I define joy as being a durable style of response to and an understanding of the experiences of life and a state of wellbeing fostered by those choices and perspectives. Happiness is an appreciation of the ephemeral but important sensations and perceptions of the act of living. These distinctions can also be called the eudaimonic and the hedonic pathways to wellbeing.
By clarifying our thoughts and feelings, meditation and contemplative practices can also augment our capacity to be more aware of states of wellbeing. This creates a positive feedback loop that builds more joy and happiness. This augmentation of wellbeing in turn helps us to apply ourselves more fully to our personal evolution. Moreover, this is a shield against the struggles of life.
Enhanced Magickal Practice
We are the most effective when we are at peace with ourselves, in alignment with all our parts, and in awakened contact with the Universe. The quality of our consciousness and concentration are the upper limit of what we can accomplish magickally. Meditation and contemplative practices bring us to the state that makes us more capable in matters of our magickal practice. Not only are we more capable but we are more likely to make choices to use the gifts and skills that we have developed wisely. Some may say that the development of the soul/spirit is far more important than the development of magickal prowess. I believe that there is lesser value in mystical attainment when it does not lead to doing better in the world into which we have incarnated.
One Of The Limits Of Meditation And Contemplative Practices
My dear friend Katrina Messenger has often repeated in her lectures that “knowledge is not transformative.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement which is often presented in the context of experience being the agent of personal transformation. By extension, I would also say that meditation and contemplative practices in and of themselves will not cause self-actualization or integration. There are many who have led contemplative lives and yet clung firmly to racism and misogyny. There are many who have a regular practice of meditation who give little back to the world. The danger in an over-reliance on these practices is the ease in which the Earth becomes less important than the Cosmos. There is such a thing as positive and negative detachment. The challenge is to use what is gained in meditation and contemplative practices to become integrated with all the worlds and levels within and without with an eye towards evolution in each.
This concludes this series of blogs and my next post will be a response to the question about the nature of evil from a Pagan perspective.
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