by Michael Maciel
Do you keep a spiritual journal? Many esoteric schools require their students to write down their spiritual experiences in a personal notebook. There is something about putting pen to paper that has the power to organize our thoughts in ways that merely thinking about them cannot. It’s a way to bring our experiences of God into focus, giving them a higher resolution, which makes them better lenses through which we can see which of our activities are spiritually beneficial and which of them are not. When we are better able to understand ourselves and how we live in the world, we start making better decisions, and our spiritual lives begin to radically improve.
We understand that in order to gain the full benefit of spiritual experience, we have to LIVE it. But in order to do that well, we must first learn to articulate it, at least to ourselves. Because thinking and writing are self-reflective — they help us discover exactly what it is that we know. Our spiritual experiences are difficult to describe, but in describing them, we give shape and form to what in most cases we can only feel. And by giving them shape and form, we are better able to integrate the deep subconscious stirrings they represent.
Writing in our spiritual notebook can also be a form of prayer. Perhaps you have done the exercise of writing to someone close to you who has died. It gives us the opportunity to say things that were left unsaid. By telling the truth, we tap into our deeper emotions in a way that allows them to express in healthy ways. Writing a letter to God can be just as healing. The only prerequisite is honesty. If you’re mad at God, tell Him. And I think it’s appropriate to use the masculine pronoun in this case, because it’s almost always the Father that has hurt us, right?
In writing down our thoughts and feelings, it’s important to not hold back. Our spiritual notebooks have to be for our eyes ONLY. This gives us the freedom to explore areas that are no one else’s business but our own. It’s not that we are trying to hide or keep secrets, it’s that our inner thoughts are PRIVATE. Privacy and secrecy are two different things. There is a practical reason as well. If we expose that which is still in its early stages of development to the harsh light of public opinion, it will die before it has had a chance to be born.
The ability to maintain and respect our own privacy is a benchmark on the spiritual path. One must become sovereign in their person, both inwardly and outwardly, before real spiritual development can begin. This goes way beyond words and ideas – establishing boundaries is an energetic process, not a conceptual one. However, we must first have the concept before we can move the energy, and sound concepts bring sound results. This is why writing them down is so important in our spiritual lives, because writing is a form of truth-telling, and there’s nothing like telling the truth to find out where we really stand. It’s not what we want to believe but what we actually believe that counts. And we cannot discover our innermost beliefs unless we articulate them in a way that makes them physical. So, write them down!