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“There are as many ways to God as there are created souls.” — Muhammad

In our culture, who assumes the role of holy or wise one? In more traditional cultures, the holy, wise one is a central figure. Often, they advise the king/queen, sit at the right hand of the chief, understand human behavior and prescribe medicine, help pass along the oral history of the tribe, and have an inner connection with universal wisdom and Truth. When a difficult societal issue arises, this individual is central in helping decide direction or outcome. Daily, they are consulted on a variety of issues.

Today, this diverse role and function has been spread across a team of specialists. For guidance, we go to a priest, counselor, doctor, psychologist, historian, politician or lawyer. Because of the complexity of some issues, this specialist may not even live in our own community, and to consult them we make an appointment, months in advance, travel to get the advice/treatment and pay a fee.

This specialist model has pluses and minuses. Because of training, specialists have information and expertise not available to others. In some endeavors, these people are essential and our culture cannot be without them. However, by separating out problems and going to others for solutions, we lose sight that it is possible to manage our own concerns. Within the wise one model, a majority of issues can be solved by one person, who is readily accessible, knows us and is part of our tribe/family.

In both models, the holy/wise one and specialist model, there is reliance upon others. While it is important in today’s technological world to have the option to work/consult with a specialist, generally, we have forgotten our own individual potential and multi-level capacities. With training, we can become our own source of wisdom and through inner perception manage a wide range of daily issues, consulting with specialists as indicated.

Gradually, we are returning to a model of self-reliance and individual responsibility. We are shifting away from dependence upon others and searching for our own inner wisdom to manage our life. Tomorrow, each person will be their own wise one, consulting with specialists far less frequently and only when required. This is the next stage in the evolutionary process.

Building Self-Reliance
How will this shift in personal awareness occur? We are in the beginning stages of it. Look around and notice the increasing interest in different religious philosophies that maximize individual human potential and how so many are returning to spiritual-based living. See the general discontent in the way government is being run and the growing awareness that Republicans or Democrats cannot save us. From the outside, our way of life is being attacked by terrorists who want to return to a more traditional and religioun-based social system (as defined by them). It is generally recognized that greed in the market place is destroying our middle class. The family fabric is being strained with couples having to work three jobs. Soon we will be a society of rich and poor.

Many are beginning to wonder, what went wrong? Also, many are searching for real, lasting answers.

We are living in an age when people are turning away from authority-based to individual-based action. Over time, many realized we have given up too much responsibility to authority, government and institutions; gradually people are taking back control of their lives and working locally to solve their own problems.

The shift has occurred and will continue. Remember: a better world is created one person at a time.

Missing Ingredient
To create better, more complete people, we have to add the missing spiritual ingredient. This enriching element balances individual greed and helps the individual realize that because of our complex world, often our best interest is served helping our neighbor. For example, we may have to spend money to upgrade the air filtering capacity of our car engine, so we have clean air to breathe. This may cost personally, but in the long run, our air quality is healthier.

According to the mystic, the missing ingredient and balancing factor is higher consciousness. This consciousness, because of its alignment with Truth, enables the individual to work toward collective interest. This potential is latent in everyone, and its individual development and operation will help save us; and we can continue with our own evolution.

Personal spiritual development is a new frontier and area of inquiry. How can each traveler develop inner wisdom and reach higher consciousness? How can each become a wise man/woman and achieve excellence in their daily life?

There is a way to do this, but we have forgotten where and how to look. The next phase will see its full reemergence.

How do I go about finding the missing ingredient? Turn back to the religion of your birth; become a better Christian, Jew or Moslem. Seek the inner core of religious experience; do not be satisfied with the outer shell of religious teaching and fossilized rules created by others. Find your own, inner, vibrant Truth, and become a spiritual traveler. Each of the great religions provides a structure or framework from which to begin the inner journey of exploration of self and higher consciousness.

And if for some reason, your journey is restricted by the religion of your birth, seek Truth and higher consciousness in another spiritual path. Pray and ask for a different way to open to you. Pray for a guide and teacher who will show you your own inner potential and teach awareness of your own growing spirituality. Find a teacher that is aligned with Truth and will give you tools to uncover your own strength, and teach you how to proceed on your own.

In this endeavor, three factors must be aligned: the student, the teacher and the grace (Baraka) of the path.

It is tradition that the teacher calls to the student’s sincerity or purity of heart; this is the factor that enables the student to be successful.

How do you grow sincere in your efforts? Seek Truth or wisdom for its own sake not for what it will give you. Seek Truth because you love and must know it. Then, as The Light — or God — wills, the golden or inner path will open to you.

This is the balancing factor, the missing ingredient. One day this awareness will be as common as the growing realization that there is an underlying or connecting energy in the universe.

Balanced Living
Until I achieve this inner understanding, what am I to do? Try to live a good, balanced life. Achieve excellence in something. Seek to help others and develop the many aspects of yourself. Make time to listen to your inner song. Stay away from that which is destructive. Do things in moderation and try not to hurt someone. Be kind to yourself and others. Be a good, loving person that is an asset to their family, community, and world.

If you do these things, in time, the inner missing ingredient will develop. As it develops, it will help you fully utilize all of your skills and abilities. Added spiritual capacity is a balancing and enabling element; helping travelers reach human excellence and completion.

And when this occurs, you will be a king/queen in this world and the next — having your own inner wise one to consult.

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Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff is an avid student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally, specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment, Bitkoff holds a doctorate in education and has served as a faculty member for six colleges and universities. He is the author of Sufism for Western Seekers, The Ferryman's Dream and A Commuter's Guide to Enlightenment, among others. Visit www.stewartbitkoff.com.

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