What is the shortest distance between two points? We all know the answer - a straight line, of course; not a curved line, not a wavy line; a straight line. When we apply this rule to spiritual ascent, the answer is no different. The shortest distance between the point of this world and the point of His world is a straight line.
What does 'straight' mean? 'Straight' means free from curves, angles, bends or irregularities; it is generated by a point moving continuously in the same direction; it is direct and uninterrupted. On an ethical note, it is honest and fair, candid, frank, trustworthy, moral, upright, pure.
Straight, however, can also be spelled as 'strait', which means narrow, constricted, tight, difficult, limited in time or space, restricted in freedom or scope.
Thus, when we speak of the shortest distance between the two points of
this world and His world, we can think in terms of straight and
and the shortest distance between the world of matter and the world of
Spirit becomes, not just a straight line, but a 'straight-strait' line - a direct and narrow line, an unobstructed, undefiled, pure line.
Christ's teaching is (St. Matthew 7: 13 & 14):
Enter ye in at the
for wide is the gate, and broad is the way
that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is
and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it.
Here we see that the 'gate' into the His Kingdom is strait, i.e. narrow, constrictive, limited in time or space, restricted in freedom or scope and. . . difficult. There is no easy access to the inner spiritual worlds, an unfortunate dilemma for the mass consciousness which has become saturated with and expecting of 'instant' results, instant food, instant cash, instant service, instant sensual gratification. Such an 'instant mentality' denies an individual the reality of long-term work, effort, struggle and sacrifice, the actual ingredients needed for graduation through the Strait Gate.
There is a belief that if we simply believe we'll be accepted into His Kingdom through the Strait Gate, it will be so. Are we accepted into any institution of higher learning just by believing we'll be accepted? Of course not. We must prove ourselves equal to a high enough standard to be accepted, to be allowed entrance. It is no different in gaining entrance into the University of the Spirit, entrance which is made by passing through the Strait Gate, a gate which we will never find by walking a crooked line, a crooked line of morals, a crooked line of ethics, a crooked line of spiritual values. We must walk the 'straight-strait' line leading to the Strait Gate, for only the straight-strait line leads to the Strait Gate. "Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." (St. John 1:23)
Christ stated quite clearly (St. Matthew 7:21):
one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;
but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
In this quote from Christ is echoed the teachings of all Mystics and Saints
- the 'way in' to the kingdom is by following His will, not our will, not
the will of the world but His Will, the Will of the Lord. His will
is spiritually pure, holy, sacrificing, restrictive, constrictive, devotional,
enduring, in other words - strait. Notice that it is not one who
'saith' but one who 'doeth' the will of the Father who wins the game of
spiritual ascent and, thereby, enters the Kingdom. Not words but
actions, this is the key to spiritual victory. Yet, how often, in
a worldly sense, do we 'talk the talk' rather than 'walk the talk?'
Doing, doing, doing. Forget words. They're meaningless.
Spiritual success is a matter of strictly doing, not talking. It is a matter
of walking the 'straight-strait' line, not talking in curves or perambulating
in circuitous semantics.
Entering in at the strait gate is not a right, it is a privilege. As Christ said and as all Saints concur, we don't all make it through the Gate, let alone to it. Mouthing words and engaging in false beliefs will not get us there. It is daily conduct, everyday behavior, behavior of a Godly nature, a strait, disciplined, controlled, restrictive nature that makes us fit to be accepted through the Gate.
When we, therefore, think in terms of spiritual attainment, of gaining access to His Kingdom and graduating from this lower world of phenomena and forms to the Inner Worlds of Love, Life, Light and Sound, we can think in terms of entering in at the "straight-strait" gate, for His way is not only the straitest - the most difficult and restricting, it is also the straightest - the shortest.
Unfortunately, we all want shortcuts. We want life to be smooth and easy without problems or struggles. We want to believe there is an easier way to spiritual success than LIVING THE WAY. We fool ourselves into thinking that if we simply believe we will get there, i.e., to Spiritual Salvation, we will. Frankly, we won't. As long as we simply believe it will happen, it will never happen. The only thing that will happen is that we will get to the end of our life and realize we have played the role of the fool as we are hurled back into the abysmal pool of transmigration, forfeiting the priceless opportunity of using the human tool to gain our release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. As Tukaram, a 17th Century Saint says,
"Realize the Truth, you ignorant fool. Stop revolving in the eighty-four."
'Eighty-four' is a reference to the Wheel of Transmigration [Chaurasi], the spiritual-cosmic superstructure of eight million, four hundred thousand forms into which our soul can incarnate. Once we are returned to this wheel, it may be ages before we get the human form again, the form which is the tool providing an opportunity for our release from this dimension of pain and suffering. As Jagat Singh, a Twentieth Century Saint declares:
quality in human life, which is not present in other forms,
is the capacity for God-realization and permanent release
from the prison-house of Chaurasi. This rare privilege
is not bestowed upon any other species."
So how do we begin to gain our release? By walking the 'straight-strait' line. Simply put, we must lead as pure a life as possible. Dadu, a 16th Century Saint, beautifully sums up how we should behave in one sentence:
"Hold pure, stay pure and say pure; take the pure and give the pure."
PURE. That's the way of spiritual living. That's the way of walking the straight-strait line, the way of getting to and through the strait Gate. That is the essence of the spiritual walk. Hold PURE. Stay PURE. Say PURE. Take the PURE. Give the PURE. In other words, BE PURE. Thank you, Dadu.
PURE what? For starters, following a pure diet - a vegetarian diet. There is nothing pure about eating death in the form of some rotting, decaying, putrefying carcass filled with all kinds of impure substances. Too, consume no alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs [recreational] are poisons which dull the mind and desensitize us from contacting the Spirit Within. There is nothing pure about poisons. Furthermore, lead a PURE life, a moral life. Be honest. Be ethical. Keep sexual relations confined and restricted to a lawful marriage. Don't underestimate this aspect of living a spiritual life either. All Saints and all spiritual scriptures have condemned sexual relations outside of marriage, and don't be deceived by those who say otherwise. Finally, contemplate and meditate on God, as much as it is possible for our finite minds to comprehend the Infinite. Do these things. Hold to these things. Persevere in these things. They comprise the lifestyle of those who truly desire to get to and through the Strait Gate.
The shortest distance to spiritual salvation is, indeed, a pure life, a
strait life. It may not be the most materialistically satisfying,
but, then again, material satisfaction is not what the spiritually thirsty
soul seeks. The spiritually thirsty soul seeks Him, and, therefore,
to live a pure life following a straight-strait line is not unacceptable
but wholly appropriate and positively obligatory. Life is about choices.
Choices are about consequences. Living a pure life may not be exciting
to some, but it is definitely Liberating, and, whether we like it or not,
whether we want to accept it or not, it is the shortest distance to spiritual
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