“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. And she said to Abraham, Cast out this servant-girl, and her son; for the son of this servant-girl shall not inherit together with my son, with Isaac.” Genesis 21:9, 10
“‘Cast out this servant-girl, and her son.’ Everyone who is being regenerated has two rationals. The first exists before regeneration, the second after. The first is acquired by means of the experiences of the senses, by means of reflecting on the things that take place in public life and in private life, by means of formulated knowledge, and by means of thinking based on and presented through these, as well as by means of insights concerning spiritual things obtained from the doctrine of faith, that is, from the Word….But the rational after regeneration is formed by the Lord by means of affections for spiritual truth and good, which affections the Lord implants in a remarkable manner within the truths of the first rational, and thoughts there that are in agreement and are favorably disposed towards them are given life. [Those ideas not given life] have no use and are separated, until at length spiritual goods and truths are gathered into bundles, once those that do not agree and which cannot be given life are cast away, so to speak, to the circumference, this being accomplished gradually as spiritual goods and truths increase together with the life of the affections for them. From this it is evident what the second rational is like. Arcana Coelestia n. 2657
My prior life is complete.
Spiritual growth is cyclical, like plant growth from seed to fruit.
Spiritual life has stages.
There is one when I think from my experience and one when I think from my love of goodness and truth.
Resistance to falsity and evil does not advance me to the next stage in this cycle.
Loving goodness and truth does.
It is remarkable that this happens, and I affirm that it is accomplished completely by the Lord.
I acknowledge that my prior life was good. It has served its use. It is complete now. It is finished.
As I enter into a new year, I am conscious of the choices before me. In fact, they confront me. I have many blessings to acknowledge. And if I stay satisfied with those blessings, I will not advance to the next stage in my spiritual growth. The passage above is the spiritual lesson of Hagar and her son being abandoned in the wilderness. Hagar had carried and birthed a son for Abraham. Abraham was satisfied that his line would thus continue. He thought that God’s promise to him was fulfilled. Abraham was wrong.
The spiritually awake person, the mindful person, lives in the tension between the present blessings and curses and the future ones; in the tension between his own work and the grace of God; in the tension between the death of one stage and the birth of the next. It is wrong thinking to believe that the present is the completion, that I have to do something, and that the blessing or curse will never end.
So I now choose to welcome the remarkable work the Lord can do, and is doing, in me. I am complete in the prior stage. By living in that belief, I am ready to use the love of goodness and truth the Lord has implanted in my experience up to this point in my life. If I live as though there is no prior life, I will not be regenerated by the Lord. I will choose to remain in the blessed or cursed life I have now. (Many of us choose the current cursed life over the next, blessed life, for many reasons, but that is a topic for a future article).
The next stage of my life uses the experiences of my prior life, now vivified by the Lord’s life. This re-generation of those experiences re-creates them. The difference is like between seed and fruit. The use of the seed is a necessary stage. When it ends, the seed is gone and a new life, distinct and yet connected to the seed, begins. This represents what happens spiritually in me. I welcome the seed of my experience in private and public living. I accept what my senses have brought to me. And now I am choosing to accept the Lord’s arrangement of those experiences. He has bundled them into orderly groups of truths related by love. He has left out all the experiences that would bring a curse onto me, that are lies, that would wound me.
By choosing not to remain in my prior life I am letting go of all those experiences the Lord has left out of the bundling process. Certainly they will remain part of my spirit. Some I will forget, some I will never forget. But they are no longer part of my life. I need not resist them. Those experiences have not been selected by the Lord to be given life and brought into the new arrangements of truths. I accept His assessment. My prior life is complete.
This simple truth is difficult to live. It feels very much like I am banishing something important, central to my life. Letting go of those ideas seems like I am abandoning something God gave me. I have to train my consciousness and my body to this new stage of life. But it is a new year. It is a resolution that has no weight. There is no external compulsion. There is no need to label the past as bad. There is nothing that needs to be fixed.
I invite you to let go of the prior life. There was good seed planted in that stage that has now become a plant. Maybe you have leaves, blooms or even small fruit. Welcome the new stage. Love the goodness and truth your experience has become.
Precursor January 2008