mystical purgation

Saints and sinners


The irony is that only the realized saint is capable of seeing and understanding the depths of his own flaws and evils. The rest of humanity lives in ignorance of itself, believing that it is good.

I’ve been on a strangely unfolding journey about the subject of saints for quite some time. I’ve shared with you here some of my thoughts along the way, and now I think I’m getting closer to the right understanding.

The thing that makes a saint a saint, aside from the canonizing process, is not his or her goodness. That’s something we overlay onto them; an idealization, a pedestal we put them on, so that we may worship them and reach for some ideal of perfection. (It’s the way religions typically operate, using certain mystics as preferred role models.).

In reality, it’s something vastly different. Those mystics who attained the conditions of stable union with divinity (the advanced authentic mystics) all typically say the same things: “I am not good. Don’t call me good.” Because the thing that makes them capable of union with divine consciousness isn’t “goodness.” It is rather their capacity of consciousness to see the depths of their own evil, and to process, digest, and heal the conditions that make it so.

Part of the mystical ascension process is an ego-destroying descent into the truth of oneself. In there, there is nothing but the reflections of one’s own evil, one’s own selfishness, one’s own wretchedness – guilt and shame soup as far as the eye can see. That’s all that’s down there. (It also usually involves tons and tons of terror, like absolute blinding terror, but that’s a different part of the process).

And the work of the real mystic involves enduring that darkness, purging and processing all of that out, and coming into peace and forgiveness of it; allowing oneself to “be evil” at the core of one’s being, which is a thing others, who aren’t called to mystical life, don’t have the capacity to do. (The normal human ego structure is too rigid and fragile to see itself as anything but good, even if slightly flawed.). It is a seeing, an acknowledging, and then an excavation of the roots of it, so that the egoic desires cease arising entirely.

The pain of this process is excruciating, but that’s precisely what transforms the consciousness, making it “pure” enough to receive the energy of divine love. We must see the horrifying ugly depths of truth, feel the shame all the way through, and then let it go.

It is a mistake to call this process or the results goodness. The person going through this process, or coming out of it, doesn’t exactly conform to notions of goodness. Tender, loving, prudent and temperate is one side of them; their depth of compassion and tenderness for suffering is unmatched. But on the other side, they can be harsh, ruthless, impatient with liars and falsehood, lacking in sentimentality or tolerance for concocted emotional displays, vicious with evil and those who promote it.

It’s rather the path of virtue, which isn’t about goodness, but about balance, wholeness, and integration. The mystic who emerges from the purification process is virtuous, meaning that his emotional body is completely at rest, free from wrong reactivity, free of all manner of passions. His egoic motives, rooted in wounding, have been healed and no longer operate. And he is capable of moving with great courage, great fearlessness, and great peaceful detachment in whatever direction the divine will instructs. He is able to express himself completely – with authentic joy, authentic grief, authentic anger, within the bounds of wisdom, compassion, and justice, all without the fears and limits of the ego.

Our concepts of goodness would often be too limited to properly understand the depth of complexities of this sort of virtue. In practice, we would find these people very strange, unsure of how to understand them.

Becoming nothing (part 2)


Thirty spokes share one hub. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the cart.

Knead clay in order to make a vessel. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the vessel.

Cut out doors and windows in order to make a room. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the room.

Thus what we gain is Something, yet it is by virtue of Nothing that this can be put to use.

Tao Chapter 11

The value, the use, the purpose of each of these objects is the emptiness within them. They are the containers of negative space, into which or with which something can be made, created, or produced.

This is the entire journey for the mystic – it is a purgative path – becoming nothing, becoming empty, becoming a pure and unencumbered vessel for the cleanest expression of the divine will. 

This is another way of understanding the transformation of consciousness work. Consciousness must be transformed, its pain transmuted, so that very slowly, step by step, it can become free of its attachments, impurities, and fears (which are polluting and activating the emotional body), and elevated enough to match divine consciousness, so that in a unitive state it can serve and express itself cleanly, without an egoic filter hindering or mis-translating the message. 

This emptiness idea has been misapplied and misunderstood for a long time. (To be honest, mostly by popular and charismatic but deeply disordered types). 

The work of becoming nothing is not a getting rid of the self. It is a getting rid of the wounds and fears that pollute and polarize the authentic self. This sort of alchemy is much much harder and infinitely more painful than merely discarding the self, were that even possible with a healthy psyche.

The process is a purgation and purification (and a training, strengthening, and rebuilding) of the authentic self. It is an extinguishing of the entire complex system of desires, hundreds of layers deep. And it is a surrendering of the personal will completely. It also involves the loss of all earthly or material things connected to self-worth – reputation, money, career, status, etc. This is why many authentic paths lead, at least temporarily, through poverty and asceticism, even if it’s later tempered.

The sage in this case does not end up lacking any sort of personality – he does not become a human robot. A perfected realized mystic is not lacking a self, quite the opposite. He becomes a strong, balanced, fearless, virtuous, whole personality, which operates in reverent service to divinity. He isn’t pulled or swayed by various egoic temptations. He isn’t hampered by fear or the prospect of loss or shame.

He can and will eagerly do anything that he is directed to do to carry out the work of divinity, without fear, without personal hesitation. He has become empty of his own ambitions, desires, and fears, but he has become full of the virtues – courage, compassion, temperance, wisdom, love, understanding, etc. 

He is then used like a vessel or a grail (one might say) for the operation of the divine will.