One spiritual master still with us, Jim Finley, who spent his early adult years with the late Thomas Merton, has helped provide structure for this book. In our conversations together, he helped to clarify a certain understanding that the great mystics of all traditions have seen consistently. When I use the term mystic, I do not mean other-worldly, visionary, or beyond human. One of the main invitations of this book is to ask all of us to really take ownership of our humanity and by doing so, take responsibility for our own awakening to Truth. Each of us has the capacity to see clearly, love more tenderly and live out of our true nature. This is not just for the so-called mystics and saints, why would we think Truth/God/Ultimate Reality was reserved for just some of us? We must really shed this belief if our transformation is to happen in this life. The following structure forms the chapters of the book – the Six Stages of the Soul’s Journey:
1. Oneness – Oneness with God is already perfectly present. God is loving us into the present moment.
2. Forgetfulness – We tend to forget this union with God and this causes much of our violence, sadness, despair, and disconnection.
3. Glimpses – There are moments of experience where we see as God sees all of the time.
4. Holy Longing – We do tend to forget but in those glimpses, a holy longing, a dis-ease awakens us. We despair, go unconscious or we go deeper.
5. The Path – True Self/False Self – We seek out a path that allows us to live habitually in awareness of the oneness with God. Each day, each moment, we are cultivating an attitude and awareness that leads us to what is true or false about who we really are. This is the fork in the road in all of our lives, in each moment that we are living.
6. Love – At the most basic level we are loved through and through no matter what. Love sustains all things regardless of what we do. Oneness and Love are two sides of the same coin.