Awakened Activity

Another result of spiritual development is an ability to be, or to do nothing. The need to do things just for the sake of it falls away, and we begin to relish the present moment, and to spend more time just taking in the reality of our moment to moment experience.
At the same time, spiritually developed people don’t necessarily become passive and inactive. In many cases, they actually become more active and engaged. This increased activity usually expresses itself through creativity or altruism, and sometimes both. When spiritually developed people express themselves as artists, they are often extremely prolific. For example, two of the world’s most famous poets, Walt Whitman and William Wordsworth, were highly spiritually developed people, who were wrote thousands of poems with inexhaustible creative energy.
British author D.H. Lawrence wrote 45 books, despite dying young at the age of 44.This prolific creativity is possible because there is so little interference between the awakened artist’s own mind and the transcendent source of creativity. Other artists might struggle with ‘writer’s block’ or a lack of inspiration, when their own thoughts and concepts obstruct the creative flow, but awakened artists are like channels that always remain wide open.
There are also many examples of awakened individuals who have pursued altruistic endeavours with incredible energy and determination. One of the best examples of this is Florence Nightingale, who is best known for creating the profession of modern nursing, founding hospitals and training tens of thousands of nurses. She initiated many other social reforms too, revolutionising health care across the whole of society, at the same time as writing many books.
She was famous for her endless energy, which became known as ‘Nightingale power.’ But what is less well known about her is that she was a deeply spiritual person, who wrote several books on Christian mysticism. The great scholar of mysticism. Evelyn Underhill, called her ‘one of the greatest and most balanced contemplatives of the nineteenth century’. As Nightingale wrote, ‘Heaven is neither a place nor a time. There might be a Heaven not only here but now. Where shall I find God? In myself. That is the true Mystical Doctrine.’
And Florence Nightingale’s life of intense altruism is by no means unprecedented amongst Christian mystics. The 14th century Italian mystic St. Catherine of Siena spent three years living as a hermit and an ascetic before undergoing permanent transformation. At that point she abandoned her solitude and was active in society for the rest of her life, teaching, serving the poor and the sick and trying to bring peace to the warring states of Italy. Similarly, her 15th century compatriot (and namesake) Catherine of Genoa spent four years living as an ascetic, until she attained a stable state of awakening, in which-in the words of her 19th century biographer-‘her mind became clear and free, and so filled with God that nothing else ever entered into it.’
And from this point on, she was extremely active as a theologian and nurse, tending to the sick and the poor of Genoa and eventually becoming the manager and treasurer of the city hospital. Similarly, the mystic St. Teresa of Avila lived a life of frenetic activity, including founding 17 convents and writing several books.
Part of the reason why it’s possible for awakened individuals to be so active and so energetic is because their energy comes from a transcendent source. They don’t have to make an effort-they simply allow action to flow through them. In Daoist terms, they engage in ‘actionless activity.’ Since they are in harmony with it, the Dao expresses itself purely through them.
So spiritually development usually leads to more altruism, and to more productive and meaningful activity. This doesn’t always happen, of course.
There is a shadow side to spiritual development too, a possibility of imbalanced narcissism. But in general, spiritual awakening is a shift into a healthier, higher-functioning, more expansive state of being-and increased altruism is one of the ways in which this expresses itself.

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