Excerpts from the Operating Manual for Human Beings


We, all of us, are designed to be conduits of Divine Energy, which is always available, and which flows through us as creativity, insight, energy, and inspiration to be poured out into the world. But the reason the monotheistic religions have their panty hose in such a wad about idolatry: We are habitually like someone who gets a wonderful, miraculous telephone message and starts kissing the phone.


A conduit of any kind – say, a bridge or an electrical cord – must be firmly connected on both sides, to both the source and the outlet for what it transmits. In one sense, it is absolutely necessary for the “priest” to face the “alter” rather than the “congregation”. Anyone in the position of spiritual teacher must focus a great deal of the time (or always!) on the One, the Inner Source, rather than on the seemingly differentiated and varying outer manifestations of that Source in things, events and beings. Once the Light of God falls upon those manifestations, they begin to glow and to exert their own attraction. Events become so exciting, with everything suddenly manifesting, that there’s quite a temptation to focus on them instead of on the quiet place it all comes from. Too much of this and the connection to Source can appear to be lost. Then all the exciting events fizzle away into nothing as energy and inspiration are spent without being replaced. Of course the opposite problem is also possible: Those who receive without giving are subject to a different set of problems, a kind of spiritual constipation.


For those who think “spirituality” is good and “religion” is bad: Religion is and has been a container and protector of powerful spiritual paths and lineages of light-bearers over centuries and millennia. Think of Gregorian chants, the chants of Tibetan monks, the zikr of the Sufis, the mass and the salat. The ritualized and carefully reenacted prayers, chants and observances of world religions contain something that can break through the appearance of chaos or emptiness, flooding the world with meaning, illuminating everything whatever the outward circumstances. Yes, this can also happen through nature, art, science or falling in love. And yes, the surface of a religion can crust over, hiding what’s underneath (sometimes behind ugly and distorted forms) until someone cares enough and is given the grace to dig it out again, re-establishing the connection.

“Shaykh Nur said to tell you that all life is a spiritual path without boundaries.” 
– from a Nur Ashki Jerrahi circle guide’s luminous dream