The Three Ascension Attitudes of Love, Praise, and Gratitude are representative of the trinity found throughout the matrix of existence. They are the crowning glory of a sanctified life. They are the vehicle to the immortality and ascension that await man beyond his present horizon.
Emerson wrote: “Alas! I know not why… each man sees over his own experience a certain stain of error, whilst that of other men looks fair and ideal.” The reason we look back with so much regret at what we regard as our folly, is that the memory of our higher levels of consciousness lies not far submerged beneath the surface of mind. We suppress with pain the memory of the faces we once loved, and guilt taints many of the choices we have made in our lives.
We dishonor the journey of our lives, however, by not acknowledging the worth of our seeming errors as our great teachers of wisdom. Remove one failed relationship or one foolish choice, and one would also have to remove as much wisdom and insight. Nowhere does the sting of self-censure torture us more than in the memories of love lost or misplaced.
The word love is bandied about from pulpits, across restaurant tables, in flowery cards of all descriptions. The fact is that very few philosophers have shed much light on how the love we feel in romance and the love for God and Creation can be reconciled. Romantic love is either extolled in the very abundant sources of literature or the more spiritual writings dismiss it as an unworthy reflection of infinite love. The result is that because romantic love is the most intoxicating feeling most humans will ever have (called by philosophers ‘the enchantment of human life’), the guilt is compounded by feeling that such intense love should instead have been given to God. In the lives of most, no love will ever again compare to the heady, runaway, romantic emotion of youth. Thus we find ourselves lacking in devotion and so try to love God with all the fervor we can muster, to most a nebulous and undefined concept. This often creates religious fanatics who, failing in their feelings, try to compensate through their actions. It is the very turbulence of our romantic love that carves out of our souls the hollows that will hold a greater love. It is through our love for a lover, a father, a mother, a child that our love grows to include all people. Like the stormiest seas carving the deepest caverns in the cliffs, so too the most painful memories
create our deepest capacity for love.
My mother spent her last years in an old age home in a little town 15 hours by car from where I live. I tried to have her moved to where our family could give her attention and care, but the doctors felt she might suffer a fatal heart attack from the stress of the move. The difficulty in reaching her (she later could no longer remember us when we phoned), had her die miles from her loved ones, surrounded by strangers. The pain and guilt of feeling I had failed her arose unbidden within my heart for many years. It has deepened my ability to love older people and constant silent blessings and healings flow from me when I encounter an older person and know they’re someone’s mother or father. Thus very intense romantic love awakens within us the ability to love others more deeply, but it also awakens so much more. The depth an artist brings to art likewise stems from passion inspired by love. Eventually, not only that which we create but that which we are, gets honed and shaped into a maturity that is lacking in those who have never relinquished the love of self for love of another.
So we learn through our earthly loves how to surrender to something greater, that one day we may merge with our own higher identity. We find through love’s muse the poet within us, the spontaneity of the inner child. We remember once again what it is like to follow our hearts and abandon reason. Love mellows us and reduces our resistance to life, and as we grow older what we forfeit in intensity we gain in inclusiveness.
The qualities of inclusiveness and surrender prepare us for God-consciousness, and here we encounter the silence of the mind. The heart cannot fully love while there is an internal dialogue, though one can only know that retrospectively. As the mind silences, the heart bursts open with an all-encompassing melting tenderness for all life. Divine love has taken its place upon the throne of the heart.
As a child, I had a fear of heights. When on the high rides of the carnival or perched in our mulberry tree, I found that I could overcome it by focusing on the far horizon. By slightly altering the focus of my eyes, the dizzy heights became friendlier.
Praise is an attitude that focuses on the distant vistas and allows itself to enjoy the breathtaking view. It acknowledges that there is an unpaid bill, but focuses instead on the nurturing and abundant supply that flows to one who trusts in it. It does not disassociate from the cares of today, but rather sees them in their true context as harbingers of growth. Praise is an attitude of thoughts raised heavenward, nowhere better illustrated than the story of Christ walking on the water as told in the New Testament. He did not focus on the stormy seas, but steadfastly kept his focus on indwelling life rather than form. The disciple Peter on the other hand, who wished to walk on the water also, saw the billowing waves and the high winds and sank beneath the water. The Master had to reach forth his hand and save him. The Christ lived in a state of praise, Peter did not.
States of praise have been employed for eons by those made holy by association. As an ascension attitude, it needs to be tempered by experience. It is not enough to withdraw from life to spend our days singing songs of praise to God. We are here first and foremost to explore the unknown and any attempt at escaping what we have undertaken to do, carries with it a penalty. To shirk our duty and highest calling in favor of retreating into ecstatic states of praise yields a form of praise that is not tested and strong. That which has been sheltered is seldom robust, for it has not been honed by experience nor polished to a high luster by adversity. It is easy to feel praise in the hallowed sanctuary, but can we find the perfection hidden behind the appearances in the time-ravaged faces of the beggars lining a city street? There is no redundancy in the cosmos. If there is a beggar in the street, there is also the need for him to be there. Is it the result of his consistently avoiding his next step that such painful forced change is his lot, or is it perhaps that he is solving a profound portion of the mystery of beingness that requires such a drastic mirror of that which God is not? It could be that a great master has undertaken to play this role to either shed light where there is despair or to give us the opportunity for compassionate understanding. Whatever the reason may be, there will be ample cause for praise if we change our focus from appearances to indwelling life.
Praise fills the cells with light and our footsteps become a blessing to the earth. All life we touch responds with increased growth to such a life affirming frequency. Filled with praise, we also become filled with increased light and life force, and then in the twinkling of an eye, the lightning flash of immortality changes us into an Ascended Master.
If true happiness lies in being happy with what we have, rather than being happy when we get what we want, gratitude is the key to happiness. It helps us value the little joys of the moment rather than wait for the large windfalls, and in doing so we learn to appreciate life. Life consists of the small treasures like the quiet oasis of the undisturbed moment with a cup of tea that allows us to return to the inner world of contemplation.
Life is the succession of the footsteps of time for us to make of them what we will. We can either turn them into the weary tread of drudgery or lighten their gait with gratitude. The cherishing warmth of a favorite quilt on a dark, rain drenched night; the moment of feeling the coming of spring in the air; the rosy cheeked pleasure of rocking a little child to sleep, eyelids weighted by the adventures of her day; all these treasured moments through awareness become ample reason for a heart to brim with gratitude.
Not only does gratitude bless us with joy, but also with increase. One of the most concealed laws of supply is that gratitude opens the floodgates of heaven, increasing anything it focuses on. Would we wish to increase our health, our abundance, and our abilities? Then the place to begin is in grateful acknowledgement of whatever allotted portions we already have. Instead of seeing how small the supply is, let us focus in appreciation and joy on how much it means to have it. With each dollar we spend with sincere, heartfelt gratitude, many more will find their way into our pocket.
Like the other ascension attitudes, gratitude is life affirming to all who come in contact with it. Indigenous peoples have always known that nature responds favorably to gratitude; that species thrive and evolve under the grateful recognition of man. Gratitude sanctifies not only the giver, but also the recipient. The true testing of a grateful heart is found in the challenges life brings. Inclusiveness demands that gratitude, like the sun or the life giving rain, not deem one as worthy and another as not, but shed its radiance on pain and pleasure alike. It takes in-depth insight to probe behind the appearances and extract the eternal truth that God sends nothing but goodness. He sends gifts or challenges, but challenges are themselves gifts in disguise and worthy of gratitude. When this principle is applied, it soon becomes apparent that the faintest glimmer of gratitude from the heart begins to unravel the illusion concealing the gift of insight challenges hold.
If we can master the ability to be grateful in all circumstances the transfiguring power of gratitude will shine forth, changing the cells of the body into spiritualized matter. And so we become what humankind is meant to be: Ascended Masters.
Also read the counterpart to this right brain method of ascension: left brain path to ascension.