The Wisdom of Zeal

You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. i Gospel of St. Matthew 5:13)

The Beatitude regarding persecution strongly relates to those who take up the active role of light-bearers and who serve as apostles of light, teaching and guiding others in the path to enlightenment and actively engaging in the light-transmission. In so doing, one is more likely to encounter actual persecution. In this context, the salt of the earth relates directly to the zeal or passion necessary to actually serve as a light-bearer, so that one does not allow discouragement to overwhelm in the face of challenges. Yet, the same principle applies to all spiritual practitioners, for without great zeal, no one has ever attained enlightenment and liberation.

Salt is essential to survival in hot and dry climates,- it helps the body retain water. In earlier times, it was essential for the preservation of food, allowing survival through lean times as well as allowing long-distance travel. In other words, salt was absolutely essential to life. Zeal is to the spiritual life what salt is to the material life—a key preservative.

In a similar way, in the Kabbalah, we arc told that the divine labor of spiritual adepts and masters serves to sustain and preserve the world, and that the spiritual practice of the faithful and clect brings the influences of enlightened beings into the world, thus serving to bless the world. In a very real way, spiritual practitioners are akin to salt, which sustains and preserves life.

Among Gnostic Christians, daily spiritual practice and the spiritual life, like honoring the Shabbat, are not only viewed as an effort of individuals to consciously evolve themselves towards supernal or Messianic consciousness, but they are also considered a divine labor to uplift all living spirits and souls, visible and invisible, and, specifically, to up'nit humanity and this Good Earth. Quite often, in our immaturity as spiritual practitioners, we are looking for personal results in ou spiritual practices, or for some son of validation that there is a tangible result when we practice for the sake of others. Yet in truth, more often than not the results of spiritual practice are rather transparent in terms of our own development. Genuine growth and transformation is a gradual process seen only in retrospect with the passage of time. Likewise, it may well be that the largest fniition of our spiritual labor does not appear until we depart this world—hence, Yeshua's frequent comments regarding a "reward in heaven." In terms of benefit to others, more often than not it will be completely hidden and invisible to us,- most who receive some blessing or divine assistance we will never actually meet in this world.

Truly, we labor in very subtle and sublime dimensions as spiritual practitioners, and the real value and power of our spiritual practice can be almost completely hidden and secret, even from ourselves. Nevertheless, we must have confidence in our spiritual practices and the divine presence and power they invoke into our lives. We must be very careful not to grasp at results,- to do so is a great obstruction to the enlightenment experience, and would likely lead to discouragement and departure from the great work. Thus, our zeal for spiritual practice must be liberated from the vital demand for results. The ideal is to practice for the joy of spiritual practice itself, and with the intention to bring a positive influence into the world.

In this saying, more than anything we might do outwardly to extend the light, Yeshua is directly speaking about zeal to spiritual practice and the spiritual life. Everything that accomplished outwardly is dependent upon the interior life and the continuum of spiritual practice, and it is through this that we actually experience communion with the Living Yeshua and are empowered in the great work as conscious agents of the divine will.

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