Why were Jesus’ followers called “disciples”?
In a word, the answer is discipline.
A disciple of any spiritual teacher – as Jesus was – is asked to follow the disciplines of their teacher, if they truly desire to experience the freedom and enlightened state of being which are available to them. It is easy to be inspired by impressive words, but if we truly desire spiritual awakening – which in essence is the full awakening of the heart to the Divine Truth, the transcendent Light – we must go beyond mental comprehension of spiritual truths, and implement the disciplines of spiritual practice in our lives. This usually takes the form of daily meditation (or prayer), a healthy active lifestyle, a pure diet, helping others, refraining from greed and any other practices which encourage selfishness or ‘spiritual sleepiness’.
To adhere to such disciplines requires a degree of commitment, determination, and trust that not everyone is readily willing to embody. Is it any surprise that of all the people Jesus encountered, only 12 were courageous enough to commit to follow the disciplines that he set before them and become true disciples?
But does it really matter whether we have such disciplines in our life? Is it really important that we awaken spiritually?
Yes it does matter very much, because being ignorant of the spiritual Truth is like being asleep – like living in a daydream. And while we are asleep, we are unconscious of the beauty of Divine Truth, the light that shines above this material realm, like the Sun shining above the clouds, felt deep within our heart as Love.
As a result, we are destined to experience suffering to a greater or lesser degree, as we seek light and Love in all the places where it is not – in thoughts, in entertainment, in consumerism, even in another human being. Disappointment and frustration are inevitable. And therefore what we contribute to the world – all our actions, words and thoughts – will reflect this lack of consciousness. If we truly wish to enrich the world, as many people do, we must do it with our own state of consciousness, joyful and inspired
It is certainly a great challenge to stay awake, for our mind to always remain in the presence of Divine Truth. Even if we have previously had a significant spiritual awakening in our life, that awakening is not an attainment. Yes, it is a revelation – a revealing of the true nature of Reality – but our awareness of it can easily be covered up again, as our mind sinks back below the clouds once more, to perceive the level of dualism – of light and dark, good and bad – that the thinking mind creates for us.
This is why we need disciplines; behavioural parameters that help us to remain aligned with the higher truth, conscious of it, able to experience it within our being as an illuminated reality, rather than just a thought or understanding in the mind. Disciplines keep the body and mind on the right track.
For example, you could consider the banks of a river as disciplines that guide the flow of water in a certain direction. If they were not there, you would have a swamp or a lake, as the water would just spread out in all directions. But the river has a purpose; to return to the sea – just like our purpose is to return to Divine consciousness, to a heavenly state of happiness and Love.
So the river banks are needed to guide the water, and disciplines are needed in our life to guide our energy and our awareness in the right direction, so that it does not wander aimlessly or become dispersed.
For many people, this is the part of spiritual awakening that they do not want to accept. They want to be free. They want to have no rules and no obligations, and this is totally natural. But the rules and obligations which we need freedom from are the ones in our mind; the ones which are constantly telling us “you must do this” and “you mustn’t do that”. They creating a sense of pressure, restriction and guilt with our being.
It is like having an oppressive nagging parent in our mind, commentating on everything we do, always telling us we are doing it wrong and that we will fail. It creates such a sense of limitation within our being and within our heart – which constantly expects either punishment or disappointment – that we thirst for freedom from it. We long for a sense of approval, a sense of unconditional love and warmth which is ever present, never judging, all embracing.
But if we do find freedom from the internal voice of pressure – the voice of judgement, of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ within in our mind – does that mean we will have no conscience to guide us along the path of goodness, to steer us away from selfish or destructive behaviour? No, because our heart does that job much better than the mind, and it does it without saying “you should” or “you shouldn’t” – without the heavy weight of obligation on our shoulders.
Every human being needs freedom from this burden, which weighs us down and obscures our experience of joy and lightness. We feel like we have to behave a certain way to be a good person and to receive approval – from ourselves, from others and from “God”. But that is not freedom. It cannot bring joy into our lives. Joy and happiness are most present when the mind is not in the driving seat, but rather the heart is directing us; guiding our thoughts, words and actions in a very selfless, caring and loving way, inspired by the eternal Light which shines from beyond this realm.
If we stray from the beneficial ways of living – the disciplines that keep our mind focused and our heart strong and healthy, enthusiastic and eager to care and to give – we consequently experience suffering to some degree. We might experience frustration, unhappiness, a lack of fulfilment or a sense of purposelessness and meaninglessness to life. These are all indicators that we have strayed from the path which is most beneficial for us. Yet because of the rebellious nature of humans, sometimes we see this happening and we say “I don’t care, I am free to do what I want” and we continue to follow a path that brings us suffering. This is the stubbornness and the insanity of human beings at its most obvious. However, because there is no escaping natural law, sooner or later our suffering will become so acute that we will seek correction. We will look for the way back onto the path of Life, to rediscover a sense of harmony, purpose and peace.
This is currently happening on a global scale, as people realise how they have strayed from living in harmony with natural law. People are realising that they cannot be happy and healthy just by eating whatever they feel like eating, behaving however they want to behave, speaking however they feel like speaking. The disciplines of health that the body informs us of are essential. The disciplines of goodness – kindness, tolerance, patience and care – that the heart informs us of are essential.
Such disciplines do not come from thought. They come from feeling. If we eat chocolate bars and cakes and sit on the sofa all day, we won’t feel good in our body, because we need activity, exercise and foods that give us a healthy feeling in our body. If we treat people badly – if we are impatient, rude, unhelpful or hostile – we will not feel happy, positive or warm inside. Our heart will feel cold, and we will perceive the entire world from this negative perspective.
Natural law simply encourages us to live within the parameters which bring us the greatest happiness and fulfilment possible. It is working 100% on our side, for our total benefit. When we realise this, we whole-heartedly embrace the disciplines that bring us the good health, the inner harmony and happiness that we all enjoy so much.
You may find the following suggestions helpful:
Lead an active and strengthening lifestyle, free of aggressive pursuits. Enjoy as much time in nature as possible every day, and treat all living things – all animals and plants, irrespective of size – with equal respect and care. Develop a feeling of connection with the natural world that touches your heart, and do not let technology dominate your life. If you have children, focus your energies on creating an inspiring and joy-filled life for them.
Always speak in positive terms. Never criticise or judge, but seek to understand and thus develop compassion for those who are suffering in some way. Speak honestly, but gently and with humility, free of the arrogance of righteousness. Listen more than you speak, and listen from your heart.
Read more: http://thedivinereality.org/communication/
Eat simple and light vegetarian food, low in sugar, rich in greens and other wholesome vegetables. Eat more raw food than cooked food, including good sources nutritious digestible protein.
Read info: http://thedivinereality.org/the-diet/
Start and end your day with thoughts of gratitude, for what you have. A home, a warm bed, food on your table, friends who care about you. Whatever you have. Let your daily thoughts be consumed with what you can do to spread more positive energy around you, and in the world. On a daily basis, think of who you know that needs help, or support, and communicate with them.
My entire life philosophy, divinely inspired, has been laid out in the following book, which is free to download. “How to Live in Love” : http://LiveinLove.eu
Thank you, and enjoy