maciel-wide
This warning is for all of us. It is a general principle that governs everyone who sets foot on the spiritual path. In fact, the farther along on the Path one travels, the more important the warning becomes.

For ages, mystics and priests alike, have referred to the Path as the Razor’s Edge, a reference to the sharp ridge of a mountain that leads to its summit. One misstep in either direction can plummet you to your doom.

It’s a metaphor for holding the tension of the opposites. On the one hand, we can say, “I am God,” and on the other, “I am human,” with all the frailties and sinfulness that that implies — the sacred and profane wrapped up in one package.

No one likes to be condemned or to feel like there’s something wrong with them. The slightest accusation of that will make anyone defensive, because deep down we all know that we are God.

But here’s the truth, perhaps one of the greatest truths ever given in sacred scriptures throughout all lands and times — a truth that everyone who has ever approached the summit of the mountain of spiritual attainment knows most intimately: Freedom from condemnation comes through being utterly condemned.

Fundamentalists, the really thoughtful ones (and believe me, there are some) take great offense at the New Age statement, “We are all God.” They hold one side of the tension of the opposites. They know instinctively that unless both sides of that tension are held faithfully, the Razor’s Edge will take you down.

New Age fundamentalists (and believe me, there are some) are just as adamant in their faithfulness to the other side of the equation. They refuse to be called “sinners.” They refuse to be called anything but “Sons and Daughters of God.” They say, “I am perfect just as I am.”

But those with mystical training see themselves as both. They know that either side of the equation, taken alone, spells disaster. Like the Hermit in the Tarot, they stand on the summit, but they keep their head bowed. It’s the LIGHT they hold that is the truly holy thing, not themselves.

And the Magician, though he stands proudly erect, knows from whence his power comes. It comes from above, not from himself. He holds the symbol of his power over his head, knowing himself to be the CHANNEL, not the source.

These two poles of the tension of the opposites stand like pillars at the entrance to the Holy Temple, the temple of initiation. Unless candidates can demonstrate that they can pass between them, without leaning on either one, they will not be allowed to enter.

“Being God” is tricky business. Lots of people have tried it and failed. They slip into megalomania and start proclaiming themselves avatars. They make people chant their names and throw flowers at their feet.

Ironically, being God has nothing to do with being yourself. This is the whole message of the Crucifixion: “He who loses his life will find it.” This doesn’t mean you have to die in order to know God. Neither does it mean that your ego has to die. It simply means that you have to be able to put your ego aside when the situation calls for it. You have to be able to create a space for others to shine, not just you.

Being yourself, trusting yourself, and overcoming the judgments of others is an essential part of the spiritual path, but it only frees us to set foot upon it; it isn’t the goal. The goal is the top of the hill, the crucifixion, where we let go of it all, where the ego says, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

The Middle Path
The name “Jesus Christ” is a mystical symbol — an equation: “Jesus” is our human identity; “Christ” is our divinity. “Jesus” is nailed to the Cross of Matter. It is “Christ” who rises from the sleep of death, infusing the body with life. This is the Word made flesh, the union of the opposites of Spirit and Matter.

The spiritual path is for rebels only. No one is celebrated for leaving the path of others. It is the flight of the alone to the alone. In the end, all of our rebelliousness comes to a laser point of intensity, that point where we finally rid ourselves of the tyranny of “me-ness.”

Therefore, it is never wise to proclaim, “I am God.” Never. We can know it, but we never proclaim it, because the second we do, we are at great risk. This is the “tricky” part I alluded to earlier. It is a warning to us all. And when I say “us,” I mean everyone who ever has or ever will set foot on the spiritual path.

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” — John, 14:10

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Michael Maciel
Michael Maciel is the author of the website The Mystical Christ (mysticalchrist.org) and two books on contemporary Christian mysticism--The Five Vows and World Priest. Michael lives and writes in Redwood City, California. Contact Michael at michaelmaciel@me.com.

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