The purpose of creating a spiritual community is to offer a refuge in which we can develop our hearts and minds in the most beautiful and beneficial way possible. We come together in order to become loving and forgiving beings. This is our original nature, but due to conditionings and defensive efforts to cope with unloving environments, we lost our innocence and our openness. Some learned to attack, some chose to anesthetize themselves against the attacks of others and thus deaden their hearts, some chose to seem not worth attacking. Others chose to flee, to hide, or to camouflage themselves. Those who are beautiful must know how to fly.

All the defensive approaches we witness in Nature we can find in ourselves. In human society, we can see wolves and deer, skunks and porcupines. We can see sharks, electric eels, and puffer fish. We recognize that the realm of animals reflects back to us our own images. Thus, we tend to adore those creatures that have retained their beauty, playfulness, friendship, loyalty, communication skills and social mutuality, while coping courageously with a difficult world. We valorize dolphins and whales, elephants, giraffes, many birds, ants and bees, and of course, those animals we have special relationships with, through domestication, such as horses, dogs and cats. We experience a purity of love that is often lacking in human beings.

Ego's Road Blocks

The human ego has become defensive because it has not received enough pure love. And to compensate if not revenge that lack, the ego often becomes arrogant, aggressive, and narcissistic. The person who has grown an egocentric identity may be very beautiful to look at, very talented, very intelligent, but is usually very difficult to get along with.

The lack of reciprocity, of being willing to listen and adapt—in short, the failure to be truly caring—leads to great suffering. This suffering is passed on and increased from generation to generation. It has now reached a climax throughout the world. This suffering can only be healed through the offer of mercy.

Give Way to Mercy

The quality most highly revered among humans, and most rare, is the quality of mercy. The attribute of mercy is famously sung among poets such as Shakespeare, and can be found often in sacred texts of every religion. The mercy of God is celebrated. There are times in the life of everyone in which we need mercy and forgiveness from another. And we are always in need of mercy and forgiveness from God. We must seek that divine mercy by being merciful. We must offer forgiveness in order to receive it.

The Human Perception

Regardless of whether one believes in God in any personal sense, everyone recognizes the interventions of fate in their lives, of synchronicities, of miracles large and small. Such events cannot in good faith be considered merely random occurrences. In the same way, people have been struck by sudden adversities, such as illnesses that seem to have no cause, or attacks by others that were unwarranted, that later, in hindsight can be recognized to have been blessings. We are here in life not merely to enjoy pleasure, but to grow. The experiences that produce the most growth tend to be those that are most painful. It need not be so. But we must be open to perceiving our failings and quick to rectify them. It is important that we grow not only from our waking experiences, but also from our dream experiences. We can learn a great deal from our nightmares, if we study them. And by learning from them and changing ourselves accordingly, we may forestall their need to appear in our waking lives.

Realization of Self

Human life generally lasts long enough for us to gain the wisdom that leads to Self-realization, if that is our intention. Life does not last long enough to conquer the world, and in any case, such a conquest will be lost as soon as it is gained. But we do live long enough to conquer our own ego. And that is the only true freedom. Realization of the real, eternal Self is the only authentic fulfillment of existence.

Paradoxically, this brings the understanding that we do not exist at all. The Self is not the body, nor the mind and its jungle of thoughts. The Self is found within, in silence, in emptiness, in the solitude of inner aloneness. The Self has no form nor name nor any objective existence. The Self is unborn. In everyone, this Self lies asleep within the ego. It must awaken. This is the point of existence. It is by the awakened unborn Self that God, the Supreme Real, our encompassing and inmost divine nature, is realized. Once realized, this most priceless gift will naturally be offered to others. This is the motive behind the foundation of a spiritual community.

The recognition of the naked Self, shorn of egoic attributes, is only the first goal of the spiritual process. It is the beginning of real life—but not the end. Sometimes it takes enormous losses and unbearable pain before one is willing to remove the ego, with all its defensive habits and compensations, and return to the Self.

Giving Is Joy

But we can also choose to take the path of ego transcendence voluntarily, and gain the joys of Divine Presence without spending all our life in the hell realms. And we discover that the greatest joy is giving. Being free of the ego with its incessant demands to enjoy is the most wonderful healing balm. To live in peace, in love, in oneness with each other, with the universe and its Creator, makes all the suffering and spiritual effort worthwhile.

To foster the growth and fulfillment of others is the greatest achievement. Our faith and hope shall be fulfilled, not in terms of egoic satisfactions, but in the currency of ecstatic liberation from both fear and desire, and the completion of our journey to love.

(Continue reading more about love in Invite More Love Into Your Life With These 5 Heart-Opening Asanas.)