What feels like backsliding in the middle of the journey is actually a return to parts of yourself that need spiritual attention. The soul is constant; only your perception changes.
You see yourself leaping forward or falling back. You find inner peace only to lose it again. You struggle to overcome discouragement and the temptation to reclaim the normal life you had before this whole seduction of spirit lured you in.
We tell ourselves all kinds of stories on the path. And what they all have in common is that they’re never completely true. When you refer to yourself as “I,” who is that person? The “I” when you were three years old or the “I” on your wedding day? The “I” who found a vision to live by or the “I” who now feels that her vision can’t be attained?
Every self is provisional. “I” is temporary and subject to everything that time brings: One day it was born, and one day it will die. The ego shifts constantly. We experience this whether we’re on the path or not.
No matter whether “I” feels victorious or defeated, elated or discouraged, these are mere phantoms compared to consciousness itself. Out of consciousness everything else is built. The world consists of images on a screen, and consciousness is the steady light that emanates from the projector.
It would be tidier if spiritual seeking were just a matter of enduring one dark night of the soul, after which you would feel secure in your link to God. But there are many dark mornings of the soul, many shadowy afternoons and dim twilights. The middle of the journey concerns all the things Jesus taught his disciples about reaching God-consciousness.
Adapted from The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).