No list of spiritual principles can, on its own, help you to feel a deeper connection to God. But without spiritual principles, life on the spiritual path can feel like a journey where you’re stumbling around without even so much as a compass, much less a map or a guidebook.
Each of us must make the journey to the divine inside on our own. These are not, then, a fixed set of practices for connecting with your higher self or a higher power. Nor do they provide a normative template for how to behave.
Bereft of prohibition or command, they are instead a lens through which to view our world. Use them as a touchstone or anchor to return to when the riptides of life toss you about and, in so doing, invite you to return to older ways of handling conflict and pain.
You Are Light
This has become so commonplace in spiritual teachings that it might seem banal to begin here. But it is so easy to forget what it means and, more importantly, what it does not mean.
The essence of this principle is that you are a spiritual being having a human experience. This means, first and foremost, that you are connected directly to God. Your connection is non-negotiable because you are an aspect of the divine made form. It is your birthright to cultivate that connection. You do not need the permission of a mediator to connect with God, but teachers who can guide you to cultivate your connection can be profoundly helpful.
By being an aspect of God, it means that you are literally energy — cosmic energy. Everything is energy, vibrating according to our nature. We are part of, and inseparable from, a field of energy that can only be partially captured by our physical senses.
In that way, most of our senses are inadequate to understanding the full array of who we are. We typically limit ourselves to the rational mind and the material world — what our five senses and our logical minds, aided and augmented by technology built from those same minds and same senses, can perceive. We assume that what our eyes tell us is reality rather than a version of reality. What we experience is part of a totality that we cannot fully comprehend.
It also does not mean that we are only light. It does not mean that our bodies are illusions, or that we only experience positivity all the time. Our materiality and our pain are critical to understand what it means to be light. As spiritual beings in human form, we are here to move beyond our sense of separation as material beings, while at the same time embracing our materiality. In other words, we awaken to our true nature while still living as beings of flesh and blood.
You Are Nature
In addition to being light, we are also matter. We are both wave and particle. Simply put, we are an extension of nature itself.
Our physical forms are divine temples, which allow us to interact with this world, in time and space. Being in a body is a gift and should be an unbelievable source of gratitude.
Yet most people are filled with criticism of their bodies. They don’t treat them well or provide them with the food, rest, and exercise that they need. We wish certain parts were different, bigger, smaller, flatter, or rounder. We belittle and criticize them, comparing them to photoshopped images.
Being part of nature means acknowledging our relationship to the earth — we are the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the ground we walk on. We would do well to connect with nature, to understand how it does not struggle with the questions we put to ourselves, for they understand their relationship to all of creation in a way that we do not.
All too often in spiritual circles, bodily pleasure is disdained, as if growth meant getting away from the body, escaping it altogether. There’s a sense that our bodies somehow hold us back, weigh us down, when, in fact, they are the vehicle through which we get to have the human experience of a spiritual being. Instead, we must learn to love unconditionally our bodies.
For they, like all nature, will perish. For while our spirit, our light, may be eternal, our physical bodies are mortal. That mortality is not to be decried, but the limitation we need to appreciate what we have now, before it is gone.
Your Words Create the World
Language is among our most powerful tools of creation. The words we use are not outside of us; they are the construction of who we are. Every word we use generates the reality that we experience.
You know the power of words to harm and to heal, to lift and inspire or poison and destroy. The words we use every day to describe ourselves and others are ways of communicating energy. Saying the word “love” ushers in an uplifting energy, whereas an insult or epithet immediately brings in a heavy and bleak energy.
This is not just about speech — meaning that you can withhold angry or venomous words but think them to yourself. It is your thoughts that generate your world. Collectively, we generate the shared world that we all experience through our collective understanding, our discourses, our stories; this is part of co-creation.
This power is why prayer, mantras, and forgiveness are incredibly powerful tools. It is why gossip and lies are so damaging. It is why we must be most conscious of our thoughts and speech, and why the Buddhists emphasized right speech as one of the aspects of the Eightfold Path.
We navigate our relationships with each other primarily through the words we think about and say to each other. We shape the world with our words, and we send and receive energy through the words we think, speak, and receive. That is what it means to be the Word of God.
You Exist In the Present
Each of us can only experience the present moment. And for each of us, that present moment is unique — our present as filtered through our particular consciousness.
Our memory of the past and our anticipation of the future are constructs of the mind. These are objects of contemplation conjured within the crucible of a particular consciousness in the present moment.
When we are in the present and neither the past nor the future is the object of contemplation, we naturally feel the connection with all that is. Being with the present, without resisting it or criticizing it, allows us to connect with the essence of the present moment, which is our own essence. This is the place of love and peace, our natural state, when the machinations of the mind do not get in the way.
The antidotes to residing in the past and worrying about the future are forgiveness and gratitude. Forgiveness erases the emotional pain of the past that often is still being dragged with you. Gratitude helps you to appreciate, and thereby stay focused on, what you have right now, and thus keeps you drifting to the future.
The power of the present moment resides in the fact that each moment is a rebirth. In this very instance, you are recreated anew, from moment to moment. True, we typically recreate ourselves in the same image, again and again, from one moment to the next. Yet we are always gifted with a new choice.
When we embrace that we are light, that our essence is love, that we are connected to God, that our words constitute ourselves, we can reclaim a new self from one moment to the next. This is the truth of resurrection. To die in each instant and be reborn anew the next, and in so doing, to proclaim for ourselves our whole selves, our true selves.
Your Pain Is a Portal
The spiritual path is not about creating a life where you only experience bliss. It is not about constant positivity. Rather, it is about complete and total acceptance of what is in which you remain present to whatever is arising. We have all been hurt; we are the repositories of countless moments of sadness, anger, fear, unworthiness, self-loathing, and hatred.
Our bodies contain emotional energy that has not been resolved. Whether you speak of the Akashic Records, chakras, pain bodies, or emotional and etheric bodies, the terminology doesn’t matter. What matters is that we contain with us lifetimes of unresolved pain, mirrored again and again until we resolve it through acceptance, forgiveness, and a new understanding of how we operated out of fear.
We must give permission to our emotions to be there, and we do that by being present to them, rather than pushing them away or numbing and distracting ourselves from them. For all of us who have been on a spiritual path know that when we dive into our pain, into the trauma, into the inherited patterns from our parents and ancestors, we begin the work of healing at the level of the soul.
For most people, their reactions to the world are the expression of an inner child, some prior moment in time where you learned some kind of lesson about the world. At some point on the spiritual path, you learn to dive beneath the surface, beyond the mask you project for others, and enter the many psychic rooms where the unresolved parts of your past reside.
As you enter those memories and feel the pain rise, you are clearing the way for more light. Each dive beneath the surface opens you further to the divine inside, allowing more of the authentic you to emerge. It’s like chipping away at a mask that you learned to wear. You could paint another picture on top of it, or you can do the hard work of chipping away to see what’s beneath.
This is the inner work of the spiritual path. Resolving and releasing infinite levels of pain and suffering based on misperceptions and beliefs that no longer serve. This is the path to finding the divine inside. The deeper you go, the more room there is for light to fill you.
Your Essence Is Love
This is, in truth, a repetition of what it means to be light. The experience of yourself as light, as the highest energy possible, feels like complete and total unconditional love. This is the truth of who you are, beyond all thought, emotion, and experience. This is what you discover as you excavate layer after layer of pain.
Love, then, isn’t the emotional state that takes up the central role of so many romantic comedies and pop songs. Love is your natural state when your body is not in pain, and your mind is not suffering. It is the feeling that overtakes you when you no longer see yourself as separate but in unity with the rest of creation.
When your awareness lands on something that inspires some kind of negative reaction, your work is to go within, to find that part of you, some wound or limiting belief, that has laid the foundation for this reaction. This is the clearing or healing that must occur as you move through the world.
Only then will you discover that it is not external circumstances or outside people who will make you feel loved. You are inherently loved — you are the embodiment of love. But you must release all the parts of you — the wounds, the inherited trauma — that tell you otherwise. You are not becoming love; you are letting go of the parts that lie and say that you are not love.
You love without effort because love requires no effort. It does not ask if the recipient is worthy of love, for love is who you are at your core. To withhold love would be to defy your own nature. As this truth embeds itself in your psyche and body, any distinction you might hold between love, light, energy, and God dissolve.
You Are One With All That Is
As you embody such divine love, you can no longer hold onto the fiction that you are an entirely separate, autonomous being. You are a series of relationships. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the home where you live were all the work of others. You were raised by caretakers, taught by teachers, and grew up constantly negotiating relationships with others. Even if you felt alone, you never were.
That sense of oneness — being intertwined with others — is a key spiritual truth. The awareness that your entire life is tied to the labor, generosity, and kindness of others can help you to see everything you do as part of a larger web or tapestry in which you are one golden thread.
But it goes even deeper: Everyone you encounter is you because you are really meeting your perception of them. Your perception, based on how you’ve absorbed mass consciousness and all of its constructs (race, gender, sexual orientation, national identity among the key constructs for identity), and your personal experience, all shape how you perceive — and, more importantly, react to — everyone you encounter. The world, in this way, is your mirror.
This is what is meant by co-creation: Each relationship you have is a creation of two levels of consciousness mirroring each other. You realize that you are just an aspect of all that is, and so are you for everyone else you encounter. We are all just slivers of the same Creator. You recognize that your separation is an illusion — a powerful and necessary one, without which you could never come back into unity with God.
Truth Lies In Paradox
Every spiritual principle is a paradox whose resolution resides in being able to hold the paradox without resolving it.
You are light, yet you are also matter. You are one, yet you are also an autonomous sovereign being with a material body that is separate from others. You are filled with emotional energy yet your essence is love. You are perfect just as you are, but also in need of profound healing. You only exist in the present moment, yet our psychic lives are tied invariably to the past. We will die physically, yet our spirit is eternal.
This is duality. Being a spiritual being in human form is about polarity and paradox. The resolution isn’t some kind of “ascension” that leaves the body, where there is only bliss and everyone shares the same level of consciousness. Instead, it is about reaching the point where you can hold both duality and oneness, relativity and universality together without resolving the opposition. Learning to live in the intersection of this paradox — that you are separate from and one with all at the same time — is ultimately what the spiritual path asks of you.
Part of that path is to accept that each person awakens according to the divine blueprint between them and God. While some may cultivate that relationship more deeply than others, that effort doesn’t make them more special or more loved by God. To assume otherwise is hubris where humility is called for, and judges what no one is permitted to judge.
This is one of the most important paradoxes. You are here to awaken others by embodying divine love. Yet not everyone is going to awaken. And still you are not separate from them. What does it mean to be one with those who are not awake and will not wake up in this lifetime? It means your journey is never over, and your job is to love them all, just as God does, regardless of their state of awakening.
These are not principles that you can simply read about and agree with, as if mental activity alone were sufficient to incorporate them into your life. They are aspirational principles that must be tested and analyzed with your life experiences. Only in that way do they come to be meaningful and powerful, as you determine how they are to be lived, for you.
As you live these principles, you will come to appreciate how each principle folds into the next. Your emotions tie you to the past, as does your body. As you explore them and meet them with love, your capacity to be light, to remain present as love, grows. The deeper you go, the more expansive you become, the more light you hold, the more your words will change, and the more world around you will transform. The more easily you see your interconnectedness and appreciate the divinity in everyone you encounter.
Yet we will always negotiate duality as we encounter those who are not yet awakened to their true nature and those who are awakened but still integrating that truth. We are never separate from them. The path of awakening continues from moment to moment, each instance providing another opportunity to fall back into separation and then step again into unity.