No matter what kind of limitations we live with or create, the labeling of these as failure diminishes the intrinsic respect that needs to be given not just to the outcome of our efforts to improve ourselves and change our lives, but also to the ways in which we strive to overcome what stands in the way. The process of overcoming limitation is a spiritual practice in itself, worthy of respect and dignity, worthy of being viewed as an essential part of the journey toward greater wholeness.
Many people judge themselves because they are not further along on a spiritual path or because they have emotional residues from the past that they carry with them that cannot yet be put down. Often, there is a part of the self that refuses to let go, and a part that wants to embrace the new. This state of tension between the two must be considered not only as a handicap, but also as a productive arena in which a new balance and equilibrium is being worked out that will produce a different assessment of what the self needs.
Such a re-balancing cannot be hurried. It has to happen in its own way and in its own time, for this is the nature of purification – the bringing of all limitation and darkness to the light. It is also the nature of healing – the eradication of symptoms and patterns of behavior that do not represent who we are and who we wish to be.
What needs to be remembered is that ‘failure’ is not the opposite of success. Rather, the opposite of success is indifference. For indifference places us on a road of unconsciousness where the striving to reach toward a new and for the moment unattainable goal does not matter. It is not given importance. And so there is a kind of retreat into the comfortable and the familiar, rather than a movement forward toward a goal that is just beyond reach. If the goal is just beyond reach and we are trying with all our might to reach toward it, then success lies in the process, in the reaching itself, in the integrity with which body, heart and mind are joining to pursue an aim that is wanted by all three.
In relation to spiritual growth, we cannot judge progress along a spiritual path by the amount that yet remains to be accomplished. For we have no way of knowing how many lifetimes have been spent preparing us for the one particular challenge that we must meet today – a challenge that though it looks easy, is actually quite hard, and represents a significant step in the maturing of our soul’s expression upon the earth. Certainly, we cannot know how far along we are on a spiritual path based on how far along someone else is. The reason is quite simple: it is that the person whom we observe as being able to accomplish things that we cannot, may have significant difficulties in other areas that we know nothing about. Because they are invisible, we assume that they are not there. This is never the case.
Every being at every level of development is overcoming something and moving toward something in a movement from level to level of spiritual truth and light. There is no other path of growth than this. It is not given. It is attained. And it is not attained by virtue of a simple mental decision to attain it. It is attained through the experience of the soul as it grows in the soul-qualities that are necessary for movement to the next level.
What are the levels of transition from failure to success? They are the levels which constitute the maximum amount of freedom from limitation in a particular area. This does not mean that success looks like a particular outcome according to the world’s standards. It means that success represents the outcome of being true to oneself – the outcome of being free to become exactly who we are and to express as exactly who we are within our deepest self. Success that looks like it in the world’s eyes has more to do with popularity than with truth. What is currently popular in a culture or society is awarded a label of success. Yet, in the next moment, the next year, the next generation, or the next phase of spiritual evolution, it will no longer be considered success. But the expression and expansion of the truth of who we are will always be a measure of success because it is a measure of truth, and this truth can only move from freedom to greater freedom – from light to greater light.
By Julie Redstone