One of the great things about this site is that we can all be pieces of each other spiritual puzzles....or lets just say, part of each other's growing lives, whether we call that 'spiritual' or not. Whether its Stormie's polling questions or Charlies blogs or member feedback to my blogs or the latest video that teaches as well as inspires love and empowers my life. Usually the blogs I read here take a day or two to sink in to where I can best process them. That was the result of reading one of Charlies blogs yesterday on meditation and prayer.
I too have always liked the phrase: "Prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God." And for years I have always practiced some form of meditation through exercise, breathing, palms up, palms down, breath in Spirit, exhale non-Spirit or the 'things' in our lives that need exhaling and dumping. But I'm growing into a different place and spirituality now.
I can clearly see what I would call the stages of my spiritual growth over the decades, or as some would call it, "Our becoming more fully conscious." It began in my late teens when for the first time I realized there actually existed a God of love---not out there, but in here, in my heart and in my life. Even though I grew up in a Christian home and went to church a lot, by dads alcoholism and family dynamics did not lend itself to understanding a personal, loving God.
My first 'revelation' was there existed this God of love who not only loved me unconditionally but also chose to come and live in me. My second understanding was that this loving source not only lived in me but gave me gifts---hard-wired me to live out a life that I was best gifted for in sharing that same love with others through music, preaching, teaching, writing, art, and more. The third revelation of God in my life was not only was my understanding of God a loving Power that called me and equipped me for what gave me the greatest joy in my life, but I finally understood that this Loving Personal Power RECYCLES EVERYTHING in my life. I don't have to wonder or debate whether this or that is God's will or sent from God or whatever......I can just KNOW BY FAITH that all things will continue to work together for my eternal good, regardless of how 'good' or 'bad' they were or even if I made really stupid choices which I often still do!
And lastly, my fourth revelation of God is simply this present life---the mysterious moment and miraculous present. I don't have to go and meditate or practice a form of special meditation so much as living that meditation more in each moment. I'm not saying I do not need to keep calming my mind and heart and listening and praying to God and somehow trying to hear that mystical voice---those practices are needed to go deeper and better get to this present point I am trying to describe, if that makes sense and not clear as mud.
My friend has the phrase: "Do NOTHING and nothing will be left undone." There is the 'practice of presence.' Every moment is sacred, not just the times we sit and pray and meditate and do whatever is spiritual. I won't try to describe what the next life, or the afterlife, or eternal life is all about, but I do believe one thing is very clear about my understanding of 'eternal life' and that is there will be no more time. I will NOT be enslaved or blessed by time. I will just BE. I will be a bit like nature and children and my dog---not thinking about the past or the future but fully enjoying the present---'growing up to be a child'.
If this eternal presence has any truth to it, I also believe that heaven, 'eternal life' begins NOW in a relationship with the Divine, whoever I understand that. NOW IS ALL WE HAVE....This is why another big revelation for me over the years was that my 'God' is the I AM----that's simple but so deep. If my God sits before me and I talk to Him or Her or Spirit or ????, that power is completely immersed in this present moment---not condemning me for the past or punishing me in the future---only loving me now. This is so freeing. Eternal life begins NOW and goes on forever. Then death is not to be feared but is simply 'stepping across the line', falling asleep and waking up in eternity, another life, or whatever actually happens.
Yes, I know, we use so many words to simply describe the Present Loving Power that transforms our lives, gives us inner joy and strength and flows through us to give the same to others. We are blessed to be able to love God and love others---our vertical empowerment so we can reach out horizontally to others.