Now that we've clarified all the basic elements in the first part, it's time to understand how we can work with it all. We can't expect our lives to change overnight once we understand this information. As with anything in life you have to put in the work. Make the reps. Fall and get up. Do the work! ### As Above, So Below The experience of the outer world is a representation of our inner world. We often try to fix feelings of lack by filling them up with external things. Buying more stuff, have more sex, do more drugs. Trying to hide or escape from the real problem. While we all know these are just temporary band-aid solutions. Most of us are aware there's something inside that needs fixing to remove the feeling of emptiness or addiction. By taking away the root cause we eliminate the problem forever. Which is always something caused by some kind of emotional injury or trauma. An experience we try to avoid facing head-on, so we flee and distract ourselves with the things we're personally most inclined to run towards. Whether it's porn, drugs, gambling or whatever. These are the bad habits the self-help communities are eager to replace. The problem with the self-help hype is that it remains similar to fleeing from your internal problems if you don't do the inner work. You simply replace an unhealthy addiction with a more healthy one. Even healthy habits can be bad for you in excess. Or you fall back into old habits and feel more defeated than ever. Or you notice that the feeling of emptiness is still there. So in the end, you haven't won anything, and sometimes things can even be worse. To see real change in the external world we need to heal our internal one. This is why it's called inner work. Which is more easily said than done. A good start is to understand the actual dynamics. By knowing what's going on you can become more intentional and effective with the action you take. Let's look at a few simple diagrams to understand where this work is taking place. ## The Pyramid Of Personal Change A good place to start is this simple three-layer pyramid, that was first developed by Peter Koenig. It helps to point out where "the work" needs to take place. So let's dissect the levels: ![]( #### Life Circumstances This is what we ultimately want to improve. Things like being poor, nihilistic and sad. Or being rich, fulfilled and happy. Most of us recognise that it's virtually impossible to change these things directly. Because these circumstances are a result of our ... #### Habits, Attitudes, Beliefs, Behaviours & Perspectives These are the systems and processes in our lives that we hold, consciously or unconsciously. We commonly resort to altering this level to see changes in our life circumstances. We start trying things like exercising, journalling or meditation. Yet the results of such attempts are variable, and we often remain stuck or revert to old behaviours.  It simply depends on what kind of person we are, which is the result of our ... #### Identity This is what we see ourselves as, or are afraid to be, and what enables or prevents personal change. Our identity is the repertoire of characters we show up as in life, and the characters we resist playing. Our struggles ultimately boil down to clinging to who we want to be or resisting who we are afraid to be. Which is coloured in by what influences our formative years. Things like family, culture, religion etc. These are the parts of ourselves that we need to inspect to learn what our life circumstances ultimately are a consequence of. ## The Facade & The Inner Self Over our years as children, we're constantly exposed to expectations from our environment. We're taking on characters that conform to societal norms. While this might not align with our authentic selves. We built up a facade over who we are deep down inside. Here are a few examples: - Growing up, someone might have been discouraged from pursuing artistic endeavours due to societal expectations or family pressure. But this person might have a deep passion for art, music, or writing and may find true fulfilment by expressing themselves creatively. - Social norms may suggest that a stable and settled life is the ideal, leading someone to believe that constant travel or adventure is impractical. But he or she may feel a deep calling to explore different cultures, travel extensively or engage in adventurous pursuits. - Cultural or family values may prioritise stability and job security, leading someone to believe that entrepreneurship is too risky. However, someone may have a strong desire to start their own business and thrive in the dynamic challenges of entrepreneurship. It's these kinds of situations that make people suppress their authentic selves. And built up a facade in which they don't feel at home, empty and unfulfilled. If we want to structurally affect our life circumstances we need to reclaim those authentic parts of our identity. We need to breakdown that facade to reach our inner self. ![[The Crystalised Facade.png]]We need to reclaim those parts of ourselves to become whole again. This concept is also popularised and commonly known as "healing the child within". The child represents the early pure version of ourselves that has not yet been damaged by familial, cultural and societal norms. Healing is the process of correcting these damages. In line with the metaphors that are previously used in this book, I would like to propose one more perspective: ## Polishing The Crystal In [[How Meditation Can Expand Our Consciousness]] we introduced the metaphor of seeing our physical being as a highly crystallised form of our thoughts. In that chapter, we discussed meditation as a practice to evolve our consciousness. To see how everything is connected and develop a relationship, or communion, with the Source. This is related to the generic part of our deeper purpose of becoming an agent for spiritual evolution, peace and harmony. But next to developing such a habit we also need to develop a deeper knowledge about who we truly are. To understand what makes each of us unique, how to embrace it and how to apply it through our skills and interests. Both are essential in understanding how Source is meant to express itself through us. Picking the crystal metaphor back up, we can distinguish two types of pollutants that affect the clarity. Ice crystals can be: 1. Opaque and have bubbles in the core. 2. Dirty and scratched on the surface. Meditation should be seen as a way to purify the thoughts that are being crystallised. So that opaqueness and bubbles are dissolved in the core. And light can shine clearly through it. Inner work is how the facade is broken down to expose our inner self. So that the dirt and scratches are taken away from the surface. And all the different facets shine bright. The facets that are extra dirty and let almost no light through can be imagined to be our shadow aspects. But these facets are still a part of us and need to be integrated, as they are part of what makes us whole. Another way to phrase it is to reclaim those parts of ourselves. It's clear now that healing and re-integrating these parts of ourselves are essential in the process of building a relationship with Source. But what could you expect that process to look like? And how long will it take? Evelyn Underhill is one of the foundational thinkers who came up with what she calls "The Path of the Mystic". ## The Path Of The Mystic This describes the process in 5 clear steps. We're using the same names of the steps she came up with. But we will make some translations wherever necessary to make it rhyme with the terminology used in this book so far. #### 1. Initial Awakening Experience A moment of revelation, or opening up to the understanding of a bigger reality than previously thought. It seems like you're waking up a seeing the world through new eyes. You'll start to question the conventional and see deeper meaning in life. Usually through a lot of trauma but could also be triggered by a beautiful illumination or epiphany. For me, this was the psychedelic experience described in the introduction. Which wasn't a traumatic experience at all. But oftentimes you hear about people going through a very difficult experience that completely transforms their beliefs and worldviews. Making them more open to spiritual or existential perspectives. #### 2. Gross Purification Once the beliefs and worldviews start to transform a lot of new information will come to light. We will experience an insatiable thirst for new knowledge and start to understand the vastness of the journey ahead. We'll develop our intuition as a compass that guides us to new experiences and knowledge that resonate with our awakening spirit. The synchronicities will fly around your ears. By understanding all these new things a lot of initial trauma will be burnt away. So we can start to receive more information, which involves both the light and the dark. This step can be described well with the "unclogging the pipe" metaphor that has been used earlier. The more we purify and get in touch with our inner self, the more likely we will have other mystical experiences. #### 3. Subtle Illumination The phase of deepening and integration with our inner self and Source. We will be experiencing transcendent, or mystical, experiences that break apart the conventional sense of self and give rise to visions and experiences of “oneness”, radiant lights, visions and so forth. We'll start to experience a sense of purpose and being part of something greater. At this point, we should beware of any convictions on having become an enlightened being. This could lead to becoming a rather deluded and dysfunctional member of society. It's important to understand that these experiences are just the beginning and not the end. They are good signs and genuine experiences, but there is much work to be done yet! #### 4. Dark Night Of The Soul When there's no more escaping from the purification work that needs to be done on ourselves, we often arrive at a darker period in the process. This stage is alternated with the previous stage like a pendulum swing. The experiences of stage two, where we start to awaken to our ‘true nature’, tend to stimulate all that is deluded, dysfunctional, hurt, wounded, devious etc… within us. These things will rise and “fight back” so to speak. Which can also be described as swimming in the dark. This struggle can be really hard, but remember that it will strengthen your knowledge and resolve. They will fortify your inner strength and commitment to the path. #### 5. Alignment With Source The process of going through stages three and four repeatedly over some time leads finally to a stabilising of our "enlightenment". Aligning our life with the benevolent mystery of life. Rather than just with our ego and self-centred purpose. We are returning to ordinary everyday life to either teach what we have learned or to live as an awakened example. In this stage, we learn how to harmoniously integrate our everyday personality with our enlightened self.  While expressing ourselves in whatever way is most appropriate to benefit others. ### The above five stages give an outline of the development of the path of the mystic painted in broad brushstrokes. In reality of course these stages unfold organically, with stages crossing over each other, coming and going in cycles and so forth. Down here we'll go into my attempt to bring everything we've covered so far together in a graphical way. By combining the onion model, the crystallised self and the three layers of unconsciousness from psychotherapy we end up with a very useful graphic. ![[Combined Model - Narrow Field 1.png]] Expanding toward the higher unconsciousness the crystal grows, and points slightly upwards. ![[Combined Model - Higher Expansion.png]] Expanding toward the lower unconsciousness the crystal grows, and points slightly downwards. ![[Combined Model - Lower Expansion.png]] By having achieved a stable, fully expanded middle field of consciousness the crystal is at its biggest. It's whole again: ![[Combined Model - Full Expansion.png]] By polishing the crystal, it becomes slightly smaller. We are conscious of what we were be choose not be like that any longer. ![[Combined Model - Full Expansion of Inner Self.png]] ![[Awakening Process - Sinuswave.png]]