The benefits of spiritual partnership are the highest goals you can reach for, such as freedom from fear, and also the most grounded, pragmatic, and useful tools you can develop, such as how to use power struggles to grow spiritually. All the benefits of spiritual partnership are interconnected, and each leads to others. Here are some.
Love for Yourself. Love is a state of being. It is not an emotion or response. You cannot create Love, but you can experience it, and when you do, it envelopes you. You cannot love one person or one thing more than another. Love makes all things precious, including you. It eliminates all constraints. Love is without limits, conditions, judgments, and hidden agendas. A flashlight can be turned off and on. The sun cannot be turned off. Confusing need with love is like confusing your flashlight with the sun. When you love, you and Love become indistinguishable, and love for others and love for you become indistinguishable.
Meaning and Purpose. Traveling in the direction that your soul wants to go fills you with meaning. Traveling in other directions diminishes meaning in your life. Traveling in the opposite direction empties your life of meaning. The intentions of harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life take you exactly where your soul wants to go — toward people, Life, health, fulfillment instead of satisfaction, and joy instead of happiness. Your life becomes worth living, and you become worthy of living it. These are experiences of authentic power.
Joy of Conscious Co-creation. Every species and individual loves to play. Children play with grass, flowers, pets, food, and one another. Theater (“plays”), music, movies, sports, and social interactions are forms of play. Creativity is play. Co-creation is the nectar of play. The less fear is present in your life, the more play is possible. When fear is absent, all is play. Athletes love the zone, musicians love the groove, and artists love the energy of the work because fear is absent there. As spiritual partners learn to co-create without fear, their endeavors become play.
Courage enables action when a frightened part of your personality is active. Some courageous actions are noble, such as risking injury to save another, and some are not, such as attempting to impress others (pursue external power) by doing something dangerous. Fear generates courage when you challenge frightened parts of your personality in order to be accepted, admired, or successful. Love generates courage when you challenge a frightened part of your personality in order to benefit another or to create authentic power. That is real courage.
It takes courage to do dangerous things in order to prove yourself worthy (such as parachuting and combat patrols), but it takes so much more courage to challenge a frightened part of your personality that wants to shout, judge, resent, withdraw, or rage. Creating authentic power requires real courage. Spiritual partners help one another develop it.
Intimacy that Comes from Integrity. Integrity is honoring the needs of the healthiest parts of your personality. Integrity is different from conscience. Conscience is the sense of what you should do in order to honor the expectations of your culture, peers, or family. If you do not “follow your conscience,” you feel guilty. Integrity means wholeness. Living with integrity means acting with the healthiest parts of your personality, choosing loving intentions, and creating constructively even if you are frightened. Integrity opens the door to intimacy. Spiritual partners walk through it together.
Ability to Use Dramas and Tragedies to Grow Spiritually. “Dramas” and “tragedies” are experiences of frightened parts of the personality. When you say, “What a tragedy this is!” you can more accurately say, “What a fear this is!” When you are immersed in a drama around you or within you, you can detach from it and recognize it as an experience of fear. Scan your emotional energy system, consult intuition, and choose responsibly. Spiritual partners help one another do these things.
Deeper Commitment to Spiritual Growth. Commitment is the foundation of spiritual growth. Without it you float on thoughts, wishes, desires, and ungrounded aspirations at best. At worst you are blown about by frightened parts of your personality like raindrops in a gale. Commitment to growing spiritually — creating authentic power — moves you into the driver’s seat of your life. Without it you are taken for a ride to unpleasant places that are chosen by frightened parts of your personality.
When you reach joyful destinations of your choosing that fulfill you in ways you could not have imagined, the benefits of authentic power and spiritual partnerships become undeniable. You do not need to believe in them because you are living them. That is the way to discover that nothing is more important to you than growing spiritually.
Compassion for Yourself and Others. If you are unable to distinguish between frightened and loving parts of your personality, you will not be able to distinguish between frightened and loving parts of other personalities either. A “passion to protect the environment,” for example, may come from love or fear.
When I stood in clearcuts that extended as far as I could see and hated the timber industry, my passion came from fear (powerlessness). When I am grateful for Mother Earth, my life, and awed by the exquisitely beautiful and delicate ecology around me, my passion comes from love. Protecting the environment to feel worthy or superior is a fear-born passion. Protecting the environment without making others villains because you love Life is a love-born passion. Compassion comes naturally when you can experience all of your passions (frightened parts of your personality and loving parts of your personality) and realize others have frightened and loving parts of their personalities, too.
Experience the Universe as Compassionate and Wise. If you lived in a white house you would not need to trust that it is white. If friends moved you into a new house while you were on a trip, you would have to trust that your new house is the color they tell you until you could see it for yourself. The more you trust your friends, the less doubt you would have about the color of your new house, but you could never be certain until you saw it yourself.
When you embark on the spiritual path, you trust that the Universe is compassionate and wise because intuition and some of your experiences tell you (or at least you are open to the possibility). As you create authentic power and spiritual partnerships, your experiences show you surprising and beautiful results.
Eventually you see opportunities for spiritual growth in each of your experiences, including those that are painful, and also in the experiences of others. Then the compassion and wisdom of the Universe no longer require belief, because you experience them yourself. This is the experience you were born to live.
“Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power,” published by HarperOne, is now available at your local bookstores. For more information, visit: zukov.com
Gary’s photo by Christopher Briscoe.